Reach

Fixed my hair. Check.

Brushed my teeth. Check.

Got ready for choir practice and church, and drove there, arriving on time. Check.

Enjoyed the sweet fellowship under the cathedral.

Ebb and flow.

Returned home to do some scrapbooking.

Oh, and I made some cornbread to go with dinner. Used vegetable oil instead of butter (what was I thinking?? I never do that.) To me, it was intolerable.

Blah.

Fetched some hangars off the back of my bedroom door and figure that is one goal truly met. Placed them in the laundry room where I wash and hang my uniforms.

Tonight, I wonder why people think you have to be a rock star to be amazing. Or famous. Or anything that is noticed by all.

Do you have to have a fabulous house, an enchanted life? Do you have to impress? Or is it ok to be ordinary?

Looking back over my family’s heritage, I can say that not one of them were what I would consider famous, or known by huge numbers of people. They worked hard, kept clean houses, donated to charity when possible, went to church and invited neighbors and friends to dinner.

Collectively, my family has inventors, teachers, artists, businessmen, government workers, night watchmen, beauticians, homemakers, seamstresses, girl bosses (we call it being assertive), and more.

And of my family who maintains a presence online, they are pretty simple people, post a few things to be social. Realizing a need to connect, we enjoy seeing pictures of what we are all doing.

Yet reaching the masses, not so much.

And I think of my writing and whether it will blossom (I have written for newspapers, and those days are over, as I have launched a new career that I love, while also maintaining my love for creative writing.)

I say all this to present a question.

Am I using my writing to help people, and are others touched or motivated, inspired or encouraged by it?

I hope so.

What gifts we are given, when shared, shine on the world around us and help us all reach our dreams.

Side note.

Was also grocery shopping today, and heard a young lady singing in the parking lot of the grocery store, and a few aisles away, heard a young man playing a concert violin.

He had a sign for donations, but wow, his contribution to this beautiful day was so worth any money people could throw his way.

I saw the young lady in the bakery, and told her she had a pretty voice and that she needs to sing like that everywhere she goes because the world needs more of that.

So here is my offering for today’s blog.

May we all sparkle with the stars we hold in our hands and toss them frequently about, giving light and warmth to those around us.

Thankful for the little things

Thankful muses, there are.

Or rather, muses of thanksgiving.

Dreary days with little sunshine can tip the mood meter to the sour.

Yet thankful hearts have a continual feast.

What if we can change our mood with positive, deliberate thoughts.

Coffee.

Just the thought of a coffee shop, any coffee shop, makes me smile.

I think of books, and comfortable chairs, and journals and pens and time to enjoy all of the above with a steamy ceramic mug of joe.

Yet there are other things for which I am thankful. Some are simple, every day things like hot water and a great washing machine, while others are more complicated, like considering the depth of all God created, the earth, the heavens, the creatures and the forests, mountains and oceans. Breathtaking.

Presently I am thankful to have spent the afternoon, after work, at a birthday party for my daughter and two of my grandbabies.

The energy of a child on their birthday .. we were all smiling at the kids and the joyous looks on their faces as they opened their presents and ate cake.

On a whole different note, am looking at some projects I need to finish soon. My next grandson’s blankets, kitchen curtains, two quilts and two shawls.

And then the cleaning projects. Bookshelves that need organized, photos that need to be arranged (my old cloth photo albums are really showing their age and harboring dust, so will work on a new system that is easier to keep clean.)

A year or so ago, I had used an old sewing table as a desk, then moved it to replace it with shelves. And the shelves are ok, but I miss my desk corner. Then I think well wouldn’t I like a small corner type desk and a chair that would fit under it and not be in the way.

Goals. A bicycle with a basket. A corner desk. And at some point a laptop that is not an albatross (mine is a dinosaur, truly.) Simplify. Add. Subtract. Remake.

In the midst of compiling my many lists (both figuratively and actual lists in my day book), I still must remind my soul to both reach for my goals and dreams while also being thankful for the present moment of life in all its glory.

Add that one to the list

The small cork board tacked to the wall is dotted with notes of to do items and reasons why we want to do them. And magazine clippings of waterfalls and hopes of traveling to intriguing places and community festivals.

Would you believe I have an entire shelf full of journals (some of which I may combine in typed form for my kids some day, just not now)?

Much of journaling is a purge of thought and feeling, pondering the what if and stewing in the oh I should have done that differently, peppered with the by the way I forgot that and yes, don’t forget to take care of yourself.

I have written prayers and written the answers to the prayers. I have questioned my existence and also praised God for it.

And I am in this season of hey I want to go see a splendid teapot race, I want my picture taken in front of real magnificent sunflowers, I want to paint rocks and finish writing the two books I am working on.

(Make believe counselor yawns and the glasses slide to the end of said nose. No not really. But maybe everyone needs a life coach. Maybe that is a good idea for me to pursue.)

Our church has a Stephen Ministry.

(Look up the concept .. Episcopals offer it as a way of tending the flock of parishioners through either trying times or maybe just because they need an ear, a voice, a sounding board that is impartial.)

I have used one before and she helped me for months to navigate a number of questions rolling through my head.

What I want to know is this:

Why don’t we talk? Why is everyone so bound up in hey let’s keep this all surface conversation (i.e. wow the weather is crazy lol, as one example.)

I do have friends where the conversation is two sided. I am blessed with my family and my bestie and a small circle of other super close trusted friends. I know I could call any one of them and they can do the same.

But I am talking about every day life.

Once upon a time, people talked a lot more than they do now.

(This is just my opinion. You may have a different opinion and perspective and I respect that because we are all different and perceive things differently. And we can grow by sharing perspectives. I have a couple friends known as my voices of reason. Not every friend you have needs to have the exact same life knowledge or approach as you to be a blessed friend.)

Anyway.

Some days I find myself longing to hear people share their true hearts and feelings, and stories of the past and dreams of the future.

Or maybe they are, and I am distracted, chasing the pondering of my own heart.

Maybe I just need to listen.

And then maybe I would hear.

Add that to my list of goals.

To listen more, and observe more, and let myself enjoy this moment of life as it unfolds.

Whether in the coffee shop, or nestled in a book over lunch, or on my knees at the garden shop checking out the half price gardenias.

I might be on to something here.

Seeking God in the chaos

Psalm 63:1 “O God, You are my God, Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You, In a dry and thirsty land, Where there is no water.”

Many words have been written about the noise of this current age.

“When I get home, I want it absolutely quiet,” said a woman I knew years ago.

“Quiet,” I said, “as in no music even?”

And she said that yes, silence is what she sought.

It seems to me that worship can be musical, loud, cheerful, mournful, patiently waiting, shouting, quietly meditating, dancing, art, cooking dinner and more.

Our world is moving at such a fast pace. Cars get angry when they have to wait in line, or traffic slows. Everyone is moving fast and the wheel of life seems to be speeding up with the pace of the pack, so to speak.

Then you draw into your quiet place at the end of the day, and “chill.”

Or do you?

When my kids were little, such quiet time only occurred at 5 a.m. It was hard to sit in the glow of the kitchen stove light with a cup of coffee and try to read my Bible and pray. Some days it lasted a whole hour. Other days, five minutes or a half hour.

What does your life look like?

Everyone serves someone. There are those you are either responsible for (moms and dads take care of kids, older children care for aging parents and so forth) or to whom you provide a mentorship. Maybe you have a job, community or church responsibilities.

But are you “on” once you are “up” in the morning, or does that take time?

As social a person as I am once the sun comes up, I admit that until I see that golden orb peek above the horizon, I am not truly “up.”

Or I might be up, just not ready to be social 🙂

Why is that?

The more you pour out in a day to the world and your family, the more you need to be filled up with the benefits of prayer and positivity before you head out to face the world.

There are some who tell me, no ma’am, I have my quiet time at night before I go to bed. And they give all their concerns to God so they can sleep.

Another tells me that for them it is a constant conversation with God throughout the day. Not a set time.

Whatever it is for you or me, or anyone else, the important thing is to somehow carve out time to seek God.

I find that when I hit a dry period, a thirsty period of my life, I ask myself when was the last time that I truly eliminated distractions so I could seek God.

In the mountains of West Virginia are a million little streams of crisp, clear rushing water. Just the sound of it soothes the frazzled nerves, rejuvenates the weary.

The streams beckon our souls. In the midst of our day, we are seeking God.

Swimming in the sea of humanity

As the sea gulls chirped at each other and hopped around on the sand, the beach started to fill up with people, it seemed, from all over the world.

Beach umbrellas and chairs, towels and coolers dotted the shore for as far as the eye could see. Listening to chatter in other languages, someone turned on some Latin music, and the celebration began.

Families gathered to smear sunscreen on each other, talk about their trips thus far, and sprawled across the sand here and there, some even taking naps in the middle of the day, while others enjoyed beverages and still others bobbed up and down in the waves.

This truly is the sea of humanity, I thought.

And I am in it, like a grain of sand among other specks on the sea shore.

The white sand clung to my legs that I had carefully smothered in sunscreen (to no avail, I still am red as a lobster.)

So instead of trying to brush it off, I played in the sand with my hands.

It was like sugar.

How it reminded me of baking as a kid. And how I loved equally making sand castles.

Somehow I must make more time to go to the beach. My happy place, indeed.

The salty air is good for all things that need healing.

Tonight, I will sleep, knowing I swam a little in the ocean.

“Vitamin Sea,” my youngest daughter calls it.

Time with God

An antique lamp illuminated the bedside table where my great grandmother’s Bible rested. But she did not rest at night until she had, as she said, her “time with God.”

Every night, she read the Bible, and prayed for her family, and thanked God for the day. She was widowed many years prior, and she slept in a twin size, adjustable, hospital bed because she had numerous heart conditions.

She was active in her church, and Saturday night was a busy evening, preparing Sunday dinner for an after church spread, ironing church clothes and setting the table.

Prayer was folded around her day, every day, from sun up to sundown.

Her kitchen table was a welcome sight in the morning as she drank her coffee and read the paper and her edition of My Daily Bread, a free devotion book that churches distribute to their masses in order to help guide their quiet time.

It would be decades before I would come to see the fruit of a dedicated quiet time in my own life.

I was pregnant with my second son, Aaron, when I started having those times with God, and it is interesting that he is also the child who has been actively, non stop, working in the church in some capacity since he was a teenager.

Presently, I have two devotions a day.

After listening to an online devotion by Rick Warren, I put on contemporary worship to listen to and use to praise God as I get ready for work.

Night time devotions are shorter.

Everyone has a different approach to their time with God. One lady I know says she prays in the shower because that is the only time she is alone. Another goes for a walk with worship music in her headphones and that is when she prays, as she takes care of a husband whose health is failing.

Anyway, today was a great day. Had some fellowship time after work with one of my spiritual mentors.

Also took some time to get a haircut and get my nails done. Vain? No. I just like feeling put together. Then my head is free to deal with the other parts of my life.

On another whole side note (and yes I changed the subject three times), I feel grateful tonight for life, and my senses of sight, sound and smell. These are all things we take for granted, right?

May you be blessed as you explore your own quiet time with God.

The thinking of thinking

Where do you do your best thinking? And when?

Do you like to think in the silence of an evening, or the whisper of fresh air just before dawn?

Or do you need noise, some noise, any noise?

Isn’t it pretty cool that God made us all so different?

And we all have a thinker.

Or at least that is what the thinkers think.

Think about how many times the word think is used.

I think it is used a lot but those opposed might say, “I don’t think so.)

My head is always going, admittedly. Very seldom can I say I am not thinking something.

So now the question is .. what do you think about what you are thinking?

Is it something easy for you to think about, or do you really have to think things through?

A thinker is a pretty necessary part of our lives. Great creativity yields great joy.

When I think about what I am thinking, I have to laugh, for there you go.

Thinking upon thinking. And think some more.

It has been said that the direction of our thoughts guides the ship so to speak. Think a negative thought, yield a negative result.

Think a positive thought. And poof, a positive result.

I have often thought how much our lives would be blessed if we would think more and worry less.

What do you think?

The children grow up

“I can’t believe you have kids in their thirties,” a precious lady said to me tonight.

I laughed and said yes indeed, I am blessed.

And my mind wanders this evening.

How the babies grow up, make their own lives, and call sometimes. Once in a while, they visit. As life has it, most families are scattered all across the globe and only get together on holidays. Or special events.

I am so thankful this year, that I was able to visit my baby who moved away, and she was able to bring her sweet hubby to be and youngest baby to Florida to meet the rest of the family. I do miss her so much. But we talk. And always have a connection even though we are miles away.

I am thankful that my other little granddaughter who lives with her dad keeps up with me on Instagram. I have not seen her face in three years in person. She left as a little girl and is now a young lady. So fast.

I am thankful for all the rest of my babies who still live in Polk County, and their families, so I cannot complain lol, that I never get to see them. My boys call me often. It is a cool thing to hear their voices and know they still love their mama. And my youngest is up for a tea party, or a nail day, any day. She came running with flowers, groceries and a card a few months ago when I was sick with covid.

Time marches on. And sometimes I wish we just all lived on a large piece of property (wouldn’t that be cool, a homestead), but unless you inherit the farm so to speak, that is sometimes rare.

One of my aunts is a widow. Watching her deal with my uncle’s death has impressed on me the value of your family connections and friendships. She has a rich social life. The one who remembered birthdays. The one who went to Tupperware parties, bought wedding gifts, and always sent me the coolest little things when I was a kid. She loves literature, especially children’s literature. And all things up and bright. Another aunt of mine is likewise joyous. Neither of them live near me. We talk when we can. Or when I can. And I realize that sometimes when we feel like life is speeding by, we are the ones who seem to be moving that hand of the proverbial clock.

My parents each live in other places. Mama dwells in my home state of Indiana. My Dad lives in Florida. Each are aging as gracefully as they can. I think to myself, my goodness where did time go. It is getting away from me. And yet they each chose to live where they do. And have their own lives. I am heavily involved with Mama. Daddy prefers to talk once in a while. He likes to read and watch the news, and when we do talk, he is an expert on all sides of politics. I love my parents and wish I knew when I was younger how valuable the lessons were they imparted to me. Maybe I would have been a more kind and attentive child. Or maybe I was and am not giving myself enough credit.

Time.

I guess that seeing my friend Roslow’s old obit (my former editor at The Polk Sun) who passed away two years ago today, made me think of time and what all I want to do.

And let me not forget my bestie. She has walked through some tough stuff with me. She is the only person who ever met my sister (or rather, my sister’s grave), met my perpetrator (his grave), my great grands and great great grands, and grands (their graves.) She has met all of my family and loved them all. She bought teddy bears, diapers, holiday gifts for my kids’ children. She motivated me to finish college when I felt like giving up. She taught me how to be bold, or rather, how to tap into the inner boldness she said I already had. She helps me consider what others are going through when they are brutally unkind (sometimes life is like that, and that is well, just life, right?) Because of her, I have learned much about life and people, and how just because something does not work out the first time, it might work out at another time.

“It just wasn’t God’s timing,” she says.

She was the one who read the Bible to me when I had a faith crisis. She played Christian music, showed me funny skits with cats and dogs, and in countless ways, showed me and shows me that goodness still exists in this world.

I am so grateful.

No, I am not sad as I write this blog. But making my lists of goals and dreams.

And I am not going to give up on my writing. Sometimes it terrifies me to be transparent with people. Like maybe if I am, they will think I am too much.

Too loud. Too cheery. Too bouncy. Too analytical. Too creative. Too wordy.

So here I end with this thought .. that life is precious, family and friends are everything, and yes, you can aim for and reach the stars if you keep trying.

And if Roslow were here, he would tell me I changed my topic three times and should end with an offer of food. If he wrote it, it would read “and there will be hot dogs.”

Goals and then some

“Enjoy the journey,” a New York Times reporter once told me.
(Photo provided by free Word Press Media Library.)

Having had a befuddled day yesterday, my inner self was determined not to have a repeat episode, so everything I needed for my day, I laid out ahead of time, as is usually my custom.

The next few days are going to be very busy for me. If I blog tomorrow, it will clearly be at lunchtime, as otherwise the day is packed with activity.

Do you enjoy life?

Like the little things, like washing and drying clothes, maybe cooking a little, perhaps joining friends or family at an event or for a meal?

Do you enjoy your work? Your side hustle, if you have one? Do you take a deep breath of life and say you know I am thankful for this moment?

I love what I do, and I love my life. Everyone has challenges, things still on the to do list, day to day tasks that must be done, as the dust will not carry itself out, nor the trashcan trot to the curb? (Although that would be a sight, wouldn’t it, lol?)

There is a metal wall hanging I have had for years inscribed with the saying “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”

So what do you love?

Well, there are many things I love to do. They say if you really want to find your passion, look back at your childhood. What did you love?

My treasured possessions were my books and journals, paper supplies, stationary, scented apple erasers, a large tin of crayons (which smelled so wonderful), blank art journals, school supplies, my dolls, magazines, jewelry boxes, a recorder (since I had no flute), and as I got older, I loved all things girly .. makeup, perfume, nail polish, purses and shoes!

The loves? My bicycle. The outdoors. Mud puddles. Tall trees with low knobs to climb. Nearby lakes, rivers or oceans. My grandmother’s wooden rowboat. Baking cookies and making homemade bread of all kinds. Cooking. Sewing. Smelling the fabric store as all the fabric had this unique smell. I still love that.

So yesterday, if you remember, I talked about the teddy bear boss I met. What a sweet lady. She said she used to crochet, but as she got older, her hands hurt and she could not see nor keep up with where she left off. But she sure could still see to sew and manage a number of other teddy bear makers.

I feel like I am in this phase of life where I am looking both backward and forward. Where have I been and where am I going, and what things would I like to do that I have not done.

A piggy bank.

So I am not sure where the proverbial piggy bank idea started, nor how it was that a pig was selected to hold a bunch of coins for young folks saving money for a rainy day.

And I don’t have a piggy bank. Probably should.

Yet it is an illustration for me.

A bicycle. I want to save enough money to buy a reasonable (i.e. not competitive, just serviceable) bike. I am going to install a bike rack on the back of my car. And when I get time off here and there .. as often as possible, find places to ride. I am not sure if I want to lean over or ride the prissy upright bike, but in either case, it is something I want to do.) And a basket. I want a basket on the front. Maybe one on the back too. Will see if it is practical.

I have absolutely no aspirations to compete, ride in races or any of that. Just to feel the wind in my hair and enjoy the weather as it is, and maybe someday, if time permits, ride in a slow roll our town has from time to time. Depends on the distance.

Enjoy the journey.

As I write, it is late, and dark thirty comes early tomorrow. May your day be blessed.

Teetering on the edgy of edge

The sunrise was beautiful and jet trails scribbled their journey across the horizon as I haphazardly dumped all my work gear on the driveway to search for my keys.

Seriously?

I have a certain routine, and usually place all of my work stuff in one place, and place my ID badge, keys, belt and work phone all in my “go” bag. And my uniform and shoes are laid out. Lunch is a cinch because I have in mind what I am taking.

But this morning, I woke up and all morning felt like I just could not get one thing right lol.

Couldn’t find just basic stuff. Had my quiet time before work, but this morning I sat in the living room, snuggled with my coffee and stared like a bug eyed squirrel into open space as the sun came up.

Sweetness, the coffee finally kicked in and I thought hey I got this day handled forthwith.

Seize the day, they say. It will be fun, they say.

I dropped things I was holding. (My peanut butter crackers wrapper in the elevator. Thanks to the kind soul who retrieved it for me.)

Have you been there? The one day out of a thousand where it seems like you cannot get it together.

Later in the day, I met a sweet lady who makes teddy bears. She is known as the “teddy bear boss” in her teddy bear making group. How adorable is that? How she chooses to spend her time, helping others.

And all of a sudden, my day got better.

Peppermint.

You might wonder why I chose peppermint candy canes as the photo for this blog today.

Peppermint is a smell that soothes me when my nerves are frazzled. Just being real here. Everyone has a frazzled day or two here and there, and mine was fuzzy indeed.

So I thought the visual of candy canes might do the trick.

Aromatherapy, they say.

Anyway.

My day got a lot better and I thought about various things going through my head. And how there is nothing wrong with hope and positivity, and how healthy that is, even, to pursue such things. How it is good to encourage yourself and believe in yourself and also to believe in God and His power to hold you when you feel like all the crackers are crumbling, even if they really are not.

Side note here. Someone said there was some sort of solar flare or solar storm.

Well there you go.

The keys buried in the bottom of my bag seemed almost relieved to be rescued thereof.

Tomorrow is Tuesday, and I have already decided it shall be a Happy Tuesday. How shall we celebrate just being alive?

Let me know what you do to celebrate your ordinary day tomorrow.

Maybe by all of us sharing a little light, the world will be a brighter place.