Stored up tears!

I rarely cry. I don’t know why this is. I sometimes wonder if my psyche or subconscious has built a impenetrable wall around my heart to protect it (and me) from being hurt or bruised more than it can handle. I didn’t even cry at my Mothers funeral which was really strange because I had/have such intense feelings of love for her and a longing for her to be with me in the physical sense once again…I missed/miss her so much. My sturdy reinforced psyche’ opened all the floodgates about 6 months later when something triggered the release of those emotions and the tears flowed like a tsunami. It was exhausting, but offered relief from the pain I felt.

When I first heard the news of our friend’s death, I felt great sadness but did not cry. Al cried and so I comforted him, but as I did so, I stood strong and dry eyed.

Last night I was going back through photos, reliving times gone by with people we have loved. Upon viewing these pictures of people who are no longer in our life, it felt as if with each death, or loss, a piece of my heart was damaged and shriveled up.

It was late and Al had gone to bed. As I continued to go through the photos, I began to imagine what it would be like to lose Al and that is all it took for my emotional dam to break.

I cried and cried and cried…great big shoulder shaking sobs. Poor Al, it woke him up and there he stood, taking his turn at comforting me. I just could not stop.

My mind went over all the people we have known and loved who are no longer here. Then I thought of so many of our friends and family who have suffered the unimaginable loss of a spouse, a child, a parent, or a close friend and this really let loose all the tears I had stored up..

Loss of love is not confined to death. Loss happens with divorce, estrangement, rejection, being ignored, moving to new places, having a friend or beloved family member(s) move away, and the disintegration of a relationship. They all create their own kind of pain with the void remaining and sometimes it just hurts so bad, one’s mind, unbeknownst to the person, begins to build an emotional wall to survive the many psychological, emotional, and heartbreaking injuries.

I am certain we are here to learn about love and I realize that sometimes we have to suffer the loss of love to understand it’s priceless value! With each loss we begin to understand why God keeps encouraging us to understand that between faith, hope and love…the greatest of these is love.

Love is NOT free, though it may seem so. There is a price tag to love where we have to give up a piece of our heart and give up some of our imagined control to allow us to feel love fully. We really pay the ultimate price when the love we invested in is lost to us.

I have always been told that I am too sensitive and I used to take offense with this because it made me feel inferior to the person who said this. It made me feel weak. However, as I have matured, I have come to understand that it takes great strength for my spirit to coexist in the same body as my sensitive, deep feeling heart. It takes courage to open my heart to others knowing that an injury created by hurt may well be in my future.

In the end, though, it is worth it to give your love to others, even if they don’t love you back. Love is the way we fill up damaged pieces of our hearts. If a piece of my heart is missing due to loss, I find new love with which to patch the hole. The patch doesn’t eliminate the scar from that loss, for that scar will always be there, but it does help keep the heart from breaking into a hundred million little pieces.

I do not feel sorry for those that have died…they are beyond the pain of this world. However, I do feel sorry for all of us who have been left behind in the vast, quiet void and emptiness of their leave.

My nature is to automatically like most people no matter what walk of life they are on. We are all made by the same creator which makes us brothers and sisters, and by way of this connection we owe it to each other to show love and grace to one another. All of our journeys are hard…it is just the way life rolls. But we have the God given power to make the road a little less lonely by showing love and compassion to our fellow travelers as we traverse our life’s path.

My eyes are swollen and I am so tired today. But the tears provided the materials with which to patch the most recent crack in my heart. The crack represents a blessing that once made a home there. This crack is the mark our friend left for me so I can see him in my minds eye.

Love…it isn’t easy but it is definitely worth it!

Jjb/8/7/2018

Tom

Today is not a good day!

There is no end to it. There is NO END to the endings in life and that is all there is to it. We are born, we live, and then we die. Most of the time we tend to delude ourselves into thinking we can make plans for tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, but then we get “the phone call”, which acts as a reminder that all we really have is today and maybe not even all of that.

Our phone rings and when we pick up the call, we hear a voice that is at once familiar and unfamiliar. We recognize the voice but can immediately detect a heaviness to it, a sadness, a stricken grief about to spill over the cell phone waves and within a few sentences you are told about another ending.

This is what happened to me this morning. One of my very closest friends called and when I saw her name on my phone, I found myself smiling as I cheerily answered,

“Well hello there dear friend!”

It was unusual for her to call me on a Sunday morning so when I heard the timbre of her voice as she greeted me, I instinctively said “Oh oh!” to which she replied, “that’s right Juanita, this is not good news”.

My mind immediately scrolled back to our last conversation when she told me her sister was diagnosed with cancer. My mind then leaped into anxious thoughts about what she was going to tell me about her sister because she and her sister are very close despite the 18 year difference in their ages.

But, then as she continued talking I heard,

Tom’s gone, Juanita!”

(My mind silently reacted with the word WHAT?)

“He had a stroke”

(TOM?????)

“They moved him around to three different hospitals trying to save him”

(NOOOOOO! This. Is. NOT. possible).

I began to gasp in shock and stuttered as I said “Surely this is not possible?”

“It is Juanita…he is gone”

(“Stroke?”) (HOW is this possible?) He was the healthiest friend we had. He was a walker, a runner, a daily golfer. He did not smoke, rarely drank, and he ate healthy. He was slender and strong and vital.)

She said despondently,

They said something about a brain bleed…I am not sure”

i responded with “If you need me I will hop on the next plane”

“No, its o.k. I have so many phone calls to make and so many people to tell”

“O.k. I totally understand….I won’t call you for a while because I know you will be inundated with family and friends. But please feel free to call me the minute you feel the need of anything, even if it is just to talk”

“I will. Thank you Juanita”

We have known this couple since we moved to Cloquet, Minnesota in 1980, and this little town is located about 15 minutes out of Duluth. I remember the first day I met her. I was around 3O years old and I was busily wallpapering our newly acquired house, (yup, even back then I was always on a ladder). The doorbell rang and I opened the door to a young, beautiful, dark haired, slender woman. She greeted me and introduced herself as our neighbor who lived 3 houses down the street from us. She smiled as she meekly told me she was collecting for the heart society. (Ironic since it would be over thirty years later that she would undergo a quintuple by-pass herself). She apologetically said “This is legit, really it is!” I remember throwing my head back and laughing out loud at her genuineness. I immediately liked this sweet sincere woman.

We attended the same church and we introduced our husbands to each other, who really enjoyed each other a lot. They formed a strong friendship too. Lucky us because this 4 way mutual admiration society doesn’t always happen with couples. Her boys were slightly older than ours and they occasionally would come over to watch our children. All 4 of us enjoyed going out dancing and we enjoyed our young adulthood together as we raised our families. They were both born and raised and married in the same general area of Northern Minnesota, so they are well and widely known. My husband and I just kept moving to accommodate his career changes….so we leave little pieces of ourselves with our friends every time we move.

She and I began to form a deep friendship that came to resemble a chosen sisterhood which endures to this day. We have laughed together, cried together, mourned together, and been there for each other. I always tell her that despite the odds, I stubbornly continue to aspire to become like her though I regularly fail miserably. I will just never be as good of a human being as she is. I try, but I fail. I satisfy myself to live in the shadow of her goodness and light.

Unsurprisingly, she has a multitude of family and friends who not only love her but adore her! She will be well attended to by many people who care a lot about both her and Tom. To my utmost amazement, despite all of these admirers, she thought to call me within 45 minutes of his passing. I was and am deeply moved.

Ahead, it will be a long road to recovery for her, especially since she and Tom have been friends since Junior high school, and eventually married and stayed married for over 52-53 years. They were a very devoted couple and he took such pride in his best friend and wife.

Life is such a mystery. There are unhealthy people who live long and perfectly healthy people who die unexpectedly. I have long said that the greater the pain of a loss of a loved one, the greater the blessing of that person was to your life. Right now though, any type of feel good philosophy is lost on the person whose heart is broken and who is just trying to just breathe to get through this.

Years ago, when I was voicing frustration about hurtful things I did not understand about people or life, I would say to my Mother….

“I will tell you what Mother! Some day, when I die and go to heaven, I am going to sit down at that heavenly table with Jesus and ask him a whole lot of questions!!!”

My mother smiled and responded with, “Oh Juanita, she when you go to Heaven you won’t even have to ask. When you die, it will ALL become very clear!

Bye Tom…In the wake of your leaving, we already miss you so very much. Husband, Father, Brother, brother-in-law, Grandfather and very good friend. Al cried when I gave him the news of the phone call. He is so sad!

Al said he loved golf and beer…not necessarily in that order. Oh, and he said

“I loved that guy. He was a very good friend to me”

Please save us a seat at the banquet table!

Love, Juanita and Al

Oh, and the rest of you use every chance you get to give a hug to those you love. It may be the last hug between you!

The Sounds of Silence

I am sitting within the cool, softly lit and quiet interior of my home. The only sound I hear is the whir of a fan our daughter gave to us a long time ago when our a.c. unit went out. She ordered two of them and had them delivered out of concern for our welfare. By the time they were dropped off at our front door step, our a.c. was back up and running. We offered to send them back to her, but she declined saying it is always good to have them as a back up. So now, each time we plug one in, it is reminder to both of us of her caring and love for us. I like this excuse to think of her. It makes my heart swell.

I love silence. I love wandering around within our home and private courtyard, coffee cup in hand, in a set of old pajamas! It is here where I cherish the freedom of being absolutely, completely and most genuinely myself. I am grateful to my Creator to have placed me in this time and this place. As I have aged I have come to really like this old girl. I am the only person on this planet who knows her as well as I do and I love her because I know her heart. It is a very good and loving heart. The Holy Spirit has done a very good job with her as the two have cohabited in this body all these years. In the whole of my life, I have always been happiest when in solitude. Yet, I am not anti-social…not at all! I love being with people one on one or maybe in a small gathering where one can share thoughts and hearts and ideals in the quest for enlightenment and sometimes just for the merriment. But it is when I am alone where I love hanging out and reacquainting myself with ME!

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Years ago when we were overwhelmed with activities thrust upon our life, my husband said, “Sometimes I think the definition of the Devil is “busy.” “If he keeps us busy enough we won’t have time to reflect and feel gratitude for all things good in our life.” He is right, of course, because It is only when one sits in quiet and reflection where one can truly realize and appreciate and feel gratitude for the many blessings we already have.

I love our home. Actually, I have always loved all our homes. They wouldn’t be regarded as anything particularly special to someone else, but our homes are very special to us because this is where we hang our hat and nurture our hearts. Our home is our sanctuary from the busyness of our modern world. It is here where I surround myself with the people and things I love.

If you like blue and I like red, who is right?

We are BOTH right. It is called personal preference. These days, marketing people love to have us believe that our homes and cars and clothes are not “in” anymore. Out with the old and in with the new. It is the way the industry makes money off of us. The trouble with this theory is that we are all so individually and uniquely created, it is not possible for us all to like the same thing. Yet, year after year, in the spirit of encouraging the public to continue to spend their money, new products are introduced and suddenly the things we love are not considered acceptable. Few people entertain in their homes anymore for fear of comparisons which is unfortunate because I remember the days of early marriage when we and all our friends were poor and just plain happy to even have a house. We would have our friends in and they would invite us back. I don’t remember even paying much attention to their houses in those years because they were all modestly appointed and we all lived similarity. As the years went by, somewhere along the way homes went from being “homes” to being “showplace” houses. Houses kept getting bigger and more ornate. A lot of them didn’t feel much like a home anymore because they were so perfectly and “correctly” done by a decorator.

These are the types of things that run through my mind when I am alone. I see the things surrounding me and I am reminded of the person who gave it to me, or I remember where I was when I bought it. A lifetime of memories collect in a home if you let them.

I sometimes fantasize that I am an old soul. I love having my surroundings reflect a time long gone, a time when my Grandmother was a young wife. The old days. I doubt my house would fill the bill for the latest and greatest. In fact I know it wouldn’t. I have petite point pillows, a woven table topper, and I even a rectangular crocheted piece on my only table, which makes me feel close to Esther, my maternal Grandmother, who I can still see in my minds eye looping thread into and around her finger with a metal crochet hook. My house feels like an old friend to me, a friend with whom I can kick back in where we share our mutual memories. We have both seen a lot and have experienced a lot within these walls. We are both a bit worse for the wear, a bit frayed about the edges, but this is just proof that we have lived long and have been loved hard.

O.k. Coffee cup is now in the sink and it is time for a shower. The day is heating up outside and I don’t care because my sweet little home offers me relief from all of that summer heat. So does my gifted fan. I think I will go make my old iron bed and go find that book I have been wanting to read.IMG_0485

“Today is the day which the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Indeed!

RED, WHITE & BLUE,

So, the house is now finally refreshed with the exception of painting the home office which won’t be a big project. It is now ready to sell…..if and when we decide to do so! Gone are most of the personal effects, the family pictures, custom colors, custom drapes, favorite wall art, and dramatic wall coverings. Out went a lot of decorative items. All the walls, ceilings and woodwork is painted. As I sit here and look around, I actually like the look. It is clean and neutral…(well, mostly neutral if one ignores our deep cherry red sofa bought 20 years ago and a couple of chairs I had covered to compliment the drapes and sofa back then, which means they have their fair shade of red too). Recently, I couldn’t keep myself from scanning furniture sites for that perfect light taupe or off white sofa and the perfect neutral chairs.

The problem here is this…we have always been very kind to our home furnishings so they don’t show any wear whatsoever. It has also helped that this is an empty nest house. There is no wear and tear to speak of.

This pondering reminds me of Old Blue, our older blue Buick, when hubby is scanning new car books with a yearning on his face. Does one get rid of something that is technically old even though it looks new, and in the case of our car, is comfortable and looks showroom clean? It is a big question, especially since we bought a shiny new black car 3 years ago that usually sits in our garage as we continue to drive “Old Blue” around. We have put very few miles on the new car since purchasing it to replace our 20 year old Jimmy. The only time it is driven is when Al and I need to drive separately. (Yes, HE drives the new one then because I really don’t care one way or another)…(Do you see a trend here?)

After all these years of living, I have come to see that it does not make sense to replace something just because you want something new. (UNLESS you have a huge bank account) In our house we always ask the following question when we want to purchase something. Do we really NEED the item or do we just WANT it? There is a big difference between the two. My husband always says, “Just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you SHOULD! I especially see the truth in this now as I read insurance actuaries that show average life span. Does it make any sense whatsoever to buy new furniture at this age, unless we were downsizing and finding ourselves in need of smaller furniture? The answer is obviously no. I don’t mean to imply that we feel old because we do not! It is just that we have so much like new furniture in this house already that will have to be sent on its way at some point and we would rather not add more, only to be hauled out!

So, I am satisfied to have accomplished what we set out to do which was to neutralize our “surroundings”. Once we move our stuff out of here, the walls are now neutral, the floors are neutral, and curtains are now sheer and neutral. Gone are the heavy custom drapes and I must say I like this look better anyway. Lighter & brighter.

I have made friends with my old sofa again, tossing the old throw pillows aside and appreciating how nice it looks, the sleek lines of it, despite its age. It is kind of like an old friend come to visit, where one exclaims, “You haven’t changed a bit!” Is it my imagination or does my sofa seem to sit taller when I say this?

Good ole “Red” the sofa. Good “Old Blue” the car. Both have served us well for many years and both look great despite their age.

So, we co-exist…all the inhabitants of this house…the older furniture and the older people. Seems right somehow. I am glad I decorated it to suit my taste, despite the neutrals. It has an old world feel to it. Yeah, I like it a lot!

I just realized…we are a patriotic house…RED (sofa), WHITE (walls) and BLUE (Old Blue the car). Think I may just sing America the beautiful!

I hope your 4th of July was wonderful! We sure enjoyed ours.

Until next time….

Thank You to a FRIEND!

I recently was invited to a friend’s home for a light lunch. She and I have known each other for many years now, but we have always visited in the company of others. She is beautiful inside and out! She is intelligent, witty, lively, deep thinking, incredibly talented in designing just about anything, and can often physically orchestrate what she creates in her mind by her own hands.

In all the time we have known each other, we have enjoyed each other’s presence, but again it was most generally always as part of a group or gathering, be it small or large. We have been to each other’s home, but always in the presence of a few friends. Being invited one on one to her home was new because, again, this has not happened on the part of either of us suggesting it, despite the many years.

She was just finished with the remodel of her home. Let me be clear…her remodel and the “refreshing” my husband and I have been doing at our place lately are not even remotely in the same category. She and I have different size bank accounts, (we are long retired) and she and her husband are still enjoying an income, so for her, the redo was only limited by what she could imagine (and her imagination is limitless).

For us it was a matter of fresh paint and taking down old curtains to put up new. To my delight, as I was shown all her new applications (which, by the way, are drop dead gorgeous) I did not find myself feeling jealous or envious. I was just very happy for her. She did an outstanding job!

Through the years, and through all of our moves, I have been invited into all types and sizes of homes. I have seen some that are are a lot larger and more imposing than hers. But I have never seen a more beautifully appointed home! It was pure pleasure to walk around and see what she has accomplished. I don’t think there is one square inch of their home that did not have an updated look brought in. The things that remained from before were arranged a little differently and she has surrounded herself with all the things she loves best. It was a joy to just take it all in.

We sat down for lunch, and then afterward, she invited me into her sitting room to visit. She showed me a new painting on her wall which was beautiful in its simplicity and its soft lovely hues. I was surprised to hear her tell me that she had painted it. Later, as I was leaving, she told me she had painted another picture in her formal living space which was an appealing abstract. At this point, I turned to her and asked, “Do you spend a lot of time by yourself?” She paused and then said “Yes I do”. (Of course I knew the answer before she responded because, in order to create, every creative person needs time and space to do what they do, whether it is writing, painting, decorating, landscaping , or wherever a persons passion lies.) It was fun to realize that one thing we have in common is that we both paint. We just use different tools and my canvas is a lot larger. ūüėŹ

Earlier, as we were visiting over lunch, I told her how much I was enjoying our one on one conversation, and introduced the fact that I do not feel comfortable in large groups because no conversation goes uninterrupted, and no deep or profound thoughts are exchanged. It is just not possible. However,a lot of people in one room invites a person to meet new people that you would not have the opportunity to otherwise meet. This certainly is a positive that comes from a group gathering, so these gatherings do serve a good purpose. That said, it is not my preferred path to friendship. As she and I conversed, she shared in return that she felt much the same way as I do. We both love and enjoy people, we are both animated and gregarious when we are with others, but we both agreed that we only need so much of that. As I told her, my dance card is nearly full! I always keep a couple of dance slots open just in case another kindred spirit comes along and aligns with mine. We both love our quiet time at home where we can read, paint, write, decorate, landscape and just “be”.

Once I took my leave and arrived home, I was pleased to note that I was happy to be here too! It means I am content with my lot in life. She lives in a gorgeous home on a hill and I live in a lovely little cottage. We are both blessed.

She grew up in a similar background to mine in a small midwestern town. Her value system is much the same as mine. I love her mind, the way she expresses herself and I love her heart. I guess one could say our one on one visit went very well.

Long ago, in a different time and place, friends used to entertain in their homes. Women would sit down over a cup of coffee and share what was on their minds about families, friends, themselves and just life in general. People don’t do that so much anymore because it is easier to meet at a restaurant. This is unfortunate because communing with a friend in a home where one lives gives you a sense of who they are just by taking in their surroundings. It doesn’t matter who has what or who has more when you are with a friend. What really matters is that they are sharing a piece of themselves within their most loved of spaces, their home. This is where true bonding begins.

Thank you dear friend! You know who you are by now if you have read this. This, I think, is the longest thank you card I have ever written and is probably the longest thank you card in the history of thank you cards which is why it was not possible for me to write this out in ink on paper. But, hey! You can print it and save it for your rainy day blues box, right? I wrote it publicly because it serves as a message to others that sharing our inner sanctum is a symbol of opening our arms to a deeper friendship.

I thank you for all I have just now noted, but most of all I thank you for opening your home to me. Few of us do this anymore and I am grateful for your time and the sharing of your space. Sitting in your surroundings, I know you a little better now. I like you even more than I did before and that says a lot!

Love and hugs,

Jjb

Inch by inch

 

So, yesterday was the final day our friend/carpenter was here and today we have just a bit of painting to do and then we will be done with updating our 20 year old house. In all the years we each have lived, neither one of us has ever lived in one place this long. In the years since Al and I have been married, we have moved 9 times. I had at least 10 moves under my belt by the time we got married, so basically had developed a “love ’em and leave ’em” relationship with my homes.

We love our home…and we love how long we have lived here…our home has become our dear friend where we retreat from the world, where we invite our friends to break bread with us, where we celebrate family, and where we find comfort in just “being”. It is said that a mans castle is his home….but so too is this true for the woman of the house.

That being said, our castle was in need of a face lift. 20 years ago we moved in and thoroughly personalized our home with deep, rich and vibrant colors and have thoroughly enjoyed our surroundings. Now, however, as we face the final chapters in our life, however many that might be, we decided to neutralize the colors in our home to make it sale ready. Down came the beautiful custom red drapes, down came our wall of deep blue matted prints that we have loved so long. Out with the old, in with the new. Less IS more for us these days, and we are still walking “things” out our door. Inch by inch it is a cinch, they say, and it is so true!

Down came another wall of pictures, only this time it was large framed professional photos of the kids. Al hand delivered most of them to the kids as they cast surprised, slightly offended looks his way. He told them we are doing them a favor by getting this done now so THEY don’t have an enormous undertaking when we make our next move.

I am surprised by how well I like the look. Despite the neutral backgrounds and curtains, we still have plenty of detail going on with our remaining “stuff” and some of that Al will be walking out the door as well. This brings to mind a comment a friend made to me many years ago…She said, “Isn’t it interesting how we spend the first half of our lives accumulating things and the second half getting rid of it?” Seems to me we could have saved ourselves a whole lot of trouble.

On the last two visits, our son and family from the north chose to stay at his brother’s home because there is more space there for the grand girls. This means we essentially have had all our excuses for not downsizing removed. They will still come to Texas for visits and whatever our home size is will be of no consequence. So that invites us to do some exploring of options.

We have no immediate plans…we will see what the future will bring and that will determine how long we live here. I am a nester of the first order, so I have always needed my own nest. My next nest may be a smaller home, a room in an old folks home, or my mansion in heaven. We just don’t know. But, we are making progress with separating ourselves from our things. I find it interesting how, when I look at something I felt a huge need to purchase years ago, I now wonder what the pull was at the time. Most things become…..just things. It is in the love relationships of our lives where we find our true identity.

O.k…..coffee cup is empty and there is some woodwork begging to be painted. Hopefully, by tonight our work will be done and we can sip some single malt scotch that was gifted to Al by our daughter. It is his favorite night cap, and wifey has come to enjoy it too!

Blessings to all. Live your most authentic self…which happens to be custom made by God! Love being sent to you from Austin Texas…our favorite place in the whole world!

In line

Another friend has died. One by one our friends and family draw their last breath, and with each persons passing, the line moves forward. I am in the line.

It is difficult to imagine my own death, though I know it is inevitable. I feel sad. Death is a part of life, but I still choose life for as long as I am allowed. I like this life I have been given.

I know what is ahead at some unknown date in the future, but still want to savor this gift of life. Someday our questions will be answered. We will see and know what is in the life beyond this one, but for now I am content to stay here and live this one.

Goodbye Billy. Goodbye Chuck. I am sad to see you go, though it is probable that where you are now is a far superior life to this one. God Bless!

Jjb/2/21/2018

Life’s journey

When I was growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s, I had the good fortune of living in a community of hardworking common people. I suppose by today’s standards we would have been considered borderline poor, but we had a roof over our head, soft beds, people who loved us and our tummies were always full due to home cooked meals and mouth watering baked goods provided by our “housewife” mothers. We were happy in our world because for the most part, the people we saw and spent time with were content with their lot in life. No one had a lot, but we all had enough.

We were taught respect…for our elders, our teachers, our Pastors, and each other. We were not allowed to express our displeasure in an unpleasant way. Civility was encouraged. No! Civility was demanded.

We knew where we stood competitively because only the best and brightest were awarded. Those of us who did not place well in whatever event we were in, accepted the fact that we just did not do as well as those who won. This was where we learned the “specialness” of high achievers, and where we were left to ponder if we wanted to increase our efforts to do better, or if we just accepted our loss as a reality of the limits of our ability. Were we content to be average if we tried our best and still lost? Yes! Average was respected too. As Abraham Lincoln said, “God must have loved the common man because He made so many”. Because there are so many common people, there tends to be comfort in numbers and we enjoyed our life and what we had been given. We were content to know those who excelled and enjoyed watching what their success brought to them. We were realistic about life not being fair and we were realistic that we could live with that.

Before the days of mass media, our world was limited to our local communities and so our awareness of sickness, poverty, and death was also limited. The news was on a couple of times a day and most of us children never watched it because it was “boring”. We were able to grow up in a world where our belief system was supported by those around us and I can honestly say, I do not remember anyone being angry with the world. In fact, sometimes it was the child from the poorest circumstance who was the nicest and most generous because they learned early on that their personal wants and desires were not as important as the greater needs within the family.

Here we are now, 60 plus years from the days when I grew up. As a society, we have never had more financially or materially than we do now and sadly, we see more anger than gratitude, more “me” than “you”, more pride in self, and ego is running rampant. These days our society tends to place more importance on our children than our aging parents. Even while most parents and grandparents understandably tend to love and lavish praise on their children and grandchildren, wouldn’t it be better if these same children were taught that love is nice in the receiving but BLESSED in the giving?

I guess my point to this is that sometimes less IS more. If we learn to live with less we are free to enjoy the things in life that are outside the parameter of “what is in it for ME?” There are no easy answers to fixing our anger infused society, but in all truth, teaching acceptable behavior begins at home. There used to be a saying about children needing attention. It was said that if a child couldn’t get attention by being good, they were likely to get attention by being bad.

Love your children with all your heart, but at the same time one should teach the dangers and destruction of self importance. It is absolutely o.k. to be average. The average person has a lot to contribute to this society. Life itself is not a competition to see who is the best, brightest, or most noticed. Rather it is a journey down a road to self growth. We never grow during the perfect times. We grow through our challenges. There are no man made awards for humility….no man made awards for the humble. These awards are reserved for our almighty Creator to present to us when our life is finished. What we should really want for our children is, at the end of their life, for God to say “Well done, my child, your life on earth was well lived!”

 

Jjb/2018

Blessings

It has been a busy couple of days! We made a decision to lighten up the color in one of our guest rooms, so we spent the last two days painting, each of us having our own part in this project! It looks larger now, minus the rich chocolate color that has been there for the last two decades. The room is now happily sporting a very light pale green paint on the walls. We both love it! The room still looked new with the chocolate brown walls and complimenting comforter and drapes, despite all the years they have been there. The drapes and spread have been barely used. Yet, after 2 decades it was time to change it out and bring light into that room!

I like puttering with things in our home. It makes me feel young somehow. Most older people just live with what is, but because I don’t feel old, I am always in the process of refreshing our home here and there with anticipation of the life that is still to come. We have been downsizing our “stuff” to make it easier for the time when we can’t stay here anymore. The updating is in anticipation of years and years of still living here. So, in my mind we are working towards two different outcomes. We know NOT which it will be.

Aging is a funny thing! If we add up our years, we recognize that our age is considered by others to be old. Yet, our spirits do not recognize this being the case. I think the fact that our souls are “eternal” gives us the ability to think youthfully. Never, ever, do I feel “old” and I imagine this is also due to relatively good health. To date, I haven’t had an “oh, oh moment” and I am grateful.

My husband has gone to bed after making a fabulous dinner for both of us. It would be an understatement for me to say I got lucky when I met Al. Never in all my life have I ever had anyone who has been so good and kind to me, and I have to say, I have been blessed by many caring people around me. He is an amazing man, and I often find myself in awe of the blessing of him in my life. All that I have and enjoy is directly due to him. I thank God daily for the gift of his love and devotion in my life.

I have had an amazing life. My life hasn’t been perfect by any means. But, looking back, I thank God for those who have tested me, betrayed me, rejected me, ignored me, not appreciated me, or cared for me as much as I have cared for them. These people brought to me an appreciation of those who were there for me. The contrast in the behaviors of people I know has taught me to cherish those who treat me with love and respect. They are not as plentiful as those who don’t.

I am tired. Despite the energy one feels when involved in a project at this age, it is later when the body begins to complain! The room turned out beautiful. Thank you Lord for the energy supplied to complete another project. Thank you for another day! Thank you for those who love me. Thank you for those who don’t. The contrast is good for creating a true appreciation of the blessings in our life. Amen!

Jjb/1/25/2018

Bye, Bye, Baby

After an extremely busy holiday season which included four family birthdays and one anniversary, we are finally back to our project of material cleansing, meaning that we continue to take down, put away, or give away anything that does not serve its purpose anymore. We finished our laundry room and are extremely satisfied with the light and bright new look. Previously we had 5 upholstered picture boards where we had attached individual and random pictures of the whole family at various outings and events and non events. They were fun to look at in the beginning, but after a while it just looked like clutter. So down they came.

Yesterday we took down all the kids pictures that we had in our guest bedroom hallway. Most of them were incased in large, beautiful dark frames. These pictures were taken when our children were babies and children and teenagers. There was also representation of their high school and college graduations which happened a long time ago. When pondering what to do about these photos, we remembered that our children, the subjects of these pictures, do not display these in their own adult homes. We also noticed, when we visited our children’s homes, that they most generally do not display family pictures, and of those who do, they are certainly not of the size and number that our collection of pictures are. As we took down these very large dark framed photos, our guest hallway visually grew wider and taller and certainly much brighter. Yes! We both liked the new look very much! It doesn’t seem to make much sense to have such a huge representation of times gone by hugging the walls of our interior. We have all these same photos at our disposal in a much smaller form in our photo albums.

As I stood in our Master bedroom, I was looking for a space to hang our daughters bridal pictures. They are so beautiful, have light ornate frames, and I am not quite ready to wrap them up and put them away. The only available space to hang them is a wall where a framed photo collection of some of my own baby pictures are displayed. I hung it here because of a memory my Mother shared with me. She told me that back when I was the photographed baby, they had spent all they could afford on the pictures themselves. My Mother was thrilled to have a daughter after giving birth to two sons. She also did not have a sister, so I was highly celebrated when I was born. She told me that my paternal Grandmother generously had these three pictures put into a frame and she delivered it to my extremely surprised and thankful Mother. This happened well over a half century ago.

With a feeling of sadness I took down my long ago framed baby pictures and hung my daughters wedding picture in its place. Now what? What do I do with these baby pictures? The frame was purchased by a grandmother who was not any more flush with money than my parents, so these pictures must have been important to all of them. Now, for me to toss the frame and put the pictures in a box seemed ungrateful. It also meant that my baby self would be destined for obscurity. I am the last person on earth who knows the story behind this framed baby picture and the last one to even care about it because I am the last one in my immediate family to remember the women involved who created this lovely framed collection. This act of “taking down” underscores the fact that my grown up, “grown old” self is also destined for obscurity. My earthly ego finds it incomprehensible that I, me, and myself will recede into nothingness in the minds of even my own descendant. No longer will my baby picture be an object of love and gratitude, rather it will be an object of curiosity to people who won’t know me. Even if I write my name and date on the back of these pictures, at some point in time, this is exactly who I will become…just a name and date to some future family member.

Somehow, I make peace with this inevitability. Everyone eventually has to accept the fact of their inevitable demise. All I can really hope for is that our teachings about morality, encouragement in developing good character and understanding the importance of kindness and love to our children will have taken root, because this is the only real way “we” will live on in this life. I often observe all of our children and how they conduct their lives and I feel proud and grateful that the seeds planted so long ago have taken root and the result is a group of middle aged adults who are each contributing in a very kind, very positive and very caring way to the people of this world.

I take a deep breath and take down the baby and put up the bride. Both sets of pictures give me pleasure and both brighten our room. That was then and this is now, so bye, bye, baby, good-bye!

Jjb/1/10/2018

Tappity tap

Tap-tap-tap-tappity-tap-tap….followed by a ZING!

This is how my typewriter and its carriage sings!

I like typing the words that keep filling up my head.

These words don’t have to be verbally said.

My Muse comes and whispers to me each night.

I think and dream then write, write, write.

I am a writer, and this is my passion.

I write and write til my brain starts crashing’

There are many words and not enough time.

Sometimes I write stories, sometimes I write rhymes.

This isn’t about making a name for myself.

I don’t care if my scripts gather dust on the shelf.

I am just grateful for the time and a place to express,

all the things I have never had a chance to address.

My audience is just one and it happens to be me.

Which suits me just fine, if it is meant to be.

I go into my room and then I close the door.

I begin writing and rewriting what I wrote before.

When my Muse shows up and gives me a sign,

She feels like a wonderful friend of mine.

She encourages me to write one more poem or story.

My thoughts can be calm and sometimes they are soaring.

I like to write my stories late into the night.

It is then where my imagination takes flight!

Writing brings me joy and an enhanced way of living.

I am happy to keep my typewriter tapping and zinging!

Jjb/copywrite/1/3/2018

My Muse

I did not choose to be a writer. The “writer” has chosen me.

I suddenly picked up my pen one day and began writing eagerly.

It was when I first began to write where my pen wrote fast and furious.

It seemed the words came “through” me ¬†which made me very curious.

Is it true that some people have muses? Do muses guide and inspire?

I think this is true because when my muse is around, I never seem to tire.

I feel such passion as I write, my fingers fly across the keys.

When I write, my mind is alight with words which flow with ease.

My need to write Has become so strong, I cannot seem to stop.

I do not care who reads my words, nor if the piece is thought a flop.

Memories bring words about those I have loved who are no longer here.

These words have the power to bring them close so I can hold them near.

I get to remember those I have known, from the moment I came to earth.

Yes, this includes even those who were here and present at my birth.

THIS writer is never lonely because of the memories within in my head

It is here where the memories of my life are encouraged and also fed.

When I am tired and it is time to sleep, and words I begin to lose,

I go to bed and in my dream filled head these memories are fed by my Muse! 

Jjb/copywrite/1/2/2018

What is it like to be old you ask?

What is it like to be old you ask? Well, let me ponder what to say.

I don’t remember getting older…..(Wasn’t I young just yesterday?)

Old age doesn’t change who we are inside. We are the same as we have always been.

The only thing about us that changes, my dear, is the body our spirit lives in.

Where once our hair was thick and full, it is now thin across our crown.

Where once our face was smooth as glass, there are many wrinkles to be found.

Our hearing has faded just a little bit, and our eyes need glasses to see.

When we pass the mirror we stop with a start, wondering who this reflection can be?

The outside does not matter that much, for we have new bodies waiting for us.

The time will come when after our death, our ashes will mix with the dust.

In Heaven we will be new again! We will be renewed in body and spirit.

I am in no hurry to live there now, but I really do not fear it.

Our souls are always young and alive, and alive our souls will always be.

This baby, turned child, turned adult, (now old) will live for eternity.

I am all the ages I have ever lived, it just depends upon the day.

Some days my spirit is much like a child, and some days I am old and gray.

I see the world just as I always have, I have not noticed the passing of time.

I am as happy as I ever have been and I am feeling just really fine.

Don’t let my exterior fool you. I am not as old as I appear.

My spirit was created to be ageless and it does not count the years.

How does it feel to be old you ask? You will just have to wait and see.

If you are as blessed as I have been, some day you’ll be old like me.

Life is how you see it. Life is what you decide it will be.

Feeling old can be a happy time, if you make up your mind it will be!

invest your energy into your inner self and create the beauty you want to be.

The ageless beauty inside my soul is the truest reflection of “me.”

Jjb/copywrite/1/1/2018

Grandpas house

Grandpa’s house was small and white and it sat upon a hill.

Flowers were growing happily in the ground which he had tilled.

On the front of his house was a small square porch with bushes at each side.

These were called “Bridal wreath” and their branches spread far and wide.

They arched up towards the heaven, then looped back down to earth.

To little white bouquets on its branches, each spring this bush gave birth,

Along the front side of the house, (the one that looked over a field),

Tall and swaying holly hocks gave colorful blooms their yield.

Outside the living room window, growing not very far from the road,

Grew a thick circle of tiger lilies, proudly bearing their load.

In the front of the house in a garden, not far from a low lying ditch,

Grew great big pink peony bushes in a black soil so moist and rich.

In the orchard grew some apple trees and each spring their flowers came.

If ever a blossom smelled sweeter, I just do not know it’s name.

But, as beautiful as these all were, there was one I loved the best.

It was a tall, tall bush that grew really big, much taller than the rest.

It was so big we created a house where inside we created a room.

We loved its perfumed fragrance and enjoyed its lavender blooms.

Nothing so much depicts Grandpas place as this giant lilac tree.

How it grew so tall and large still remains a mystery to me..

The house is no longer bright and white, it is old, faded and worn.

The flowers have gone back to Mother Earth and this I often mourn.

But no one can take away the memories I have of my Grandpa’s home.

These memories often bloom themselves and within my mind they roam.

So now as I am old and gray, as old as Grandpa was then.

Many scenes of lovely flowers come, through old memories my Grandpa sends!

Thanks Grandpa Art!

Jjb/12/31/2018

A moment in time

It is New Years Eve morning and we just finished watching one of our favorite television ¬†shows, titled, ¬†“CBS Sunday Morning.” We love this show because of its positive content in a very negative world. ¬†They host and report stories about both famous and unknown people who are bringing good things to life by way of their individual talents. This morning they did their usual end of the year goodbye tribute to famous people who have died in the past year. As we watched clips about these people, the thought came to me…where does all this talent go? I can’t help but reflect on how much these people have added to the pleasures of my life and undoubtedly many others lives, ¬†just by sharing their God given talents. Now they ¬†are gone. It always feels sad for me to say goodbye even though I did not know them personally. ¬†People are born, they live and share their lives with others, and then they die. Here today, gone tomorrow…more or less.

Life really is mysterious, even to those of us who believe in the hereafter. There are so many sides to life, the good, the bad, and lots of in between. Some people are extremely gifted from a young age..they are the prodigies we hear about.  Some discover their talents later on and develop them throughout their life. Still others never seem to find the gift of their talents. God was very generous in His gifting of talent. Everything I do that seems to me to be a gift is also a gift He has given to many others.  No one person on this earth is without equal, even though we are unique in our presentation of this gift.

I have become pleasantly aware of many talents God has gifted to me as my life has moved along. I know better than to take credit for them, because they do not come from me.  Rather they manifest their presence through me. I like that it happens this way.  My moments of inspiration are a gift of Divine intervention which is the best kind of intervention to experience.  All we have to do to tap into this power is to ask for guidance, inspiration and the strength of will to orchestrate it.

I am so grateful for this life I have been given.  It has never been perfect, nor will it ever be.  All my life I have had to deal with the imperfections that exist in this life, and it is through these challenging times where I have grown as a person.  I have learned empathy through the suffering I have experienced. I am grateful for this gift of empathy and I am also grateful for thie gift of encouragement because it was born and grew through many trials I have been given.  

Right now though, in this moment in time, I feel I am being given a taste of what heaven will be like. ¬†I am enjoying our home in this first unbusy, uncommitted day that hasn’t existed for us in a long, long time. ¬†My husband used to say that the definition of the devil is “busy” because if the devil keeps you busy enough, you won’t have time to reflect on the Divine and all that comes from Him. This morning I am sitting in my favorite chair in my favorite room listening to a gospel station on the radio. I have lit some candles in our fireplace, and our little indoor bird water fountain is making a lovely swooshing sound by way of its running water. This is a warmly decorated very cozy room in which to sit and I always feel at peace here. I feel a tremendous gratitude within my being.

“Be Still”, He whispers, “and know that I am God”. ¬†

Oh yes, God, I know who You are and in this moment I am reflecting on this life You gave to me. ¬†Thank You for all of which You have blessed me…the good, the bad and the in between. ¬†Tomorrow we ring in a New Year and my resolution is to honor You by living my life in a way that will make You smile and nod Your head. ¬†I know I am weak, but You are strong and together we are whole… With YOU, I am whole!¬†

Welcome 2018….My New Years resolution is to let my little gospel light shine!

jjb/12/31/2017