Category Archives: MUSINGS!

Tolerance versus Intolerance

I just read an article by a woman who was ready to cut her children’s grandparents out of their lives because of what she saw as their “intolerant” views. The further I got into the article, the more upset I felt because as I read “her” litany of “their” intolerant remarks, it became apparent to me that their views represented a lifetime of social and religious and political teachings and experiences.

Her in laws are in their 70’s so they were uncomfortable seeing two people of the same gender kissing on t.v. to the point that her father in law walked out of the room saying he had had enough of this. This would have been a teachable moment for the children if handled with love and understanding of their elders past history.

She wrote that they commented on the huge amount of immigrants in L.A. and said “who would want to live there?” (Another teaching opportunity for the children at a later time.)

She wrote that they liked Trumps stance on illegal immigration, which to her was an unforgivable offense. She felt they were intolerant people because they voiced opposite views to societies changes over the past 50 years.

Now, certainly there is much to debate here depending on your religious or world view, but what was clear to me was the writers intolerance for her in laws views. She did comment at one point that her mother in law was sweet and softhearted but she did not want her children subjected to their voiced ideology.

I am sure she felt proud and empowered by “her tolerance” of todays society, but what was interesting to me was how she did not see her own intolerance for her in-laws views and that her intolerance could possibly lead her to take the Grandparents away from her children. How did she not see her own blatant lack of tolerance?

Grandparents are vitally important to the psychological growth of their grandchildren even if their world views are different from the parents. I am not sayin it is o.k. to spew hate! That is never o.k. What I AM saying is how could it ever be justifiable for a mother to separate her children from their Grandparents because she did not agree with their views? Children are perfectly capable of forming their own opinions while observing the mechanisms of three generations within a family. Cutting off contact between Grandchildren and their Grandparents teaches intolerance by that very act. Why not let the Grandchildren socialize with their Grandparents and then be ready for any of their inevitable questions. It could be a valuable teaching tool, rather than isolating ones children to only the parents view of life.

Too often I see this willingness to “cut off” loved ones rather than make the effort to meet in the middle. We are all a composite of every one of our life experiences which means no two people will ever see things exactly the same. Hate is the great separator while love is the binding agent.

Families have a tough go of it in this day and age. Children are often glorified while elders are sometimes vilified. The older we get in this country, the more vulnerable we become because so often our elders are cast aside and seen as an imposition, old fashioned, and unenlightened. Listening to the elderly and understanding where their viewpoints originated while holding onto our own differing views is respect. Listening to the elders in our family teaches our children to do the same.

Intolerance disguised as tolerance is sad because often the person who sees themselves as tolerant does not recognize that they, like everyone else, still have their own set of intolerant views. Loving people despite our differences is a true form of love. Tossing out family members over differences in how we see the world is really not the kind of lesson we want to teach our children, is it? Why not agree to disagree and then move toward topics we, as a family, all embrace?

Tolerance or lack of it is taught at home and within families. Let the children see both and form their own opinion. Generally, a kind heart and tolerance wins when seen in direct opposition to a lack of tolerance.

Jjb/8/7/2019

Choosing our own way

It is summer in the south and we are unpleasantly reminded of this when we go outside mid to late afternoon. By then the sun has heated up every surface not shaded by a tree and these surfaces magnify the feeling of heat. There is no opting to go barefoot on these hot surfaces unless one has a penchant for burned feet. Throw in a little humidity and the air begins to weigh on a person. Because of this, in the summer, most people in the far south choose to spend more time in the comfortable air conditioned interior of our homes, stores, movie theaters and the like. We also love our swimming pools where we can plunge deep down into the cool refreshing water to give us relief from the heat.

In contrast to the extreme heat of the south in the summer, there exists also the extreme cold climate of the north in the winter months. I was born in the upper midwest and growing up there, I quickly learned to come out of the cold once winter rounded the corner. Winters in the northern climates are often long, gray, snowy and very cold. Scenes of fireplaces with dancing flames are frequently pictured in many of the holiday films, depicting a warm and cozy atmosphere away from the freezing temps outside. There is even a song about chestnuts roasting on an open fire! Without a doubt, I think most people embrace the idea of a fireplace in their home because it represents comfort and contentment and warmth. Anyone can easily imagine sitting in a large chair near a fireplace, warming themselves while sipping wine or coffee and reading a book. It brings to mind love filled thoughts and the perfect Norman Rockwell painting for all to enjoy

Here in the south in our retirement years we are busy all the time. I slept in late this morning because the last couple of days we were hard at work on an exterior painting project which carried on into the late and very hot afternoons! Thank goodness for the restorative power of hydrating water! We must have consumed at least a gallon. We hired painters who are now here to finish the project, so I decided to allow myself some sleep therapy. This means when I woke up this morning I laid there a while and then rolled over for a few more winks. Pure luxury! When I finally decided to get up, I padded down the hallway to the kitchen and went straight to the warming coffee pot and poured my first cup of the day, a cup of rich freshly ground coffee with a splash of cream a bit of sugar. My Swedish Grandmothers would have approved!

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The house was quiet with the exception of a fan whirring and clocks ticking. I think mornings are my favorite time of day when I am able to just relax and enjoy it. The air conditioning turns our home into a cool oasis and I find myself remembering an article I read a while back that said the population of the south grew in leaps and bounds after air conditioning was brought into mainstream residential living. No wonder there!

We love our Texan home. I am reminded of a fairy tale where it was written that one house was too big, and one house was too small, but one house was just right! The last one would be our home. It is just right for these two retired people. We are aging in place and hope to stay here until our next move which should require no packing whatsoever because where we are going we aren’t going to need a thing! Imagine that!

Life simulates the climate in different parts of the country. Sometimes we feel the chill of discontent or loss of love. Sometimes we feel the heat of passion or anger. Either way, we find a way to counter those emotions and bring ourselves back to feeling right within the world, until we are once again productive and of service to others. It is all a balancing act.

People often comment in wonder about how physically hard we work on our home projects and they wonder why. It isn’t that we HAVE to do these things. It is because we choose to do so. If I had to give a reason for why we choose to do a lot of the things we do, it is because we take great comfort and feel immense gratitude in knowing we “can”. We have become aware of far too many friends who have serious health issues, memory issues, and those who have died. We do not know when we will be handed our own departure tickets, so until then, we take pleasure in feeling our bodies reach and bend and stoop and stretch and ambulate. There are many who do not any longer have these abilities!

Our home is our Oasis and we take pride in caring for it! Maintaining it gives us something to do so our bodies don’t seize up. Creating artistically is a good way to keep the brain oiled and greased, so to speak, and I hope to keep it from rusting and grinding to a halt. The most amazing discovery I have made along the way is how ageless my spirit is, and proof of this is how it just keeps wanting to do the things I have always done, not understanding that its home is getting old and sometimes in need of repair! Yet, my body tries to do what my spirit wants it to do. Granted, I get tired sooner and I have to rest more often, but I do find that I am happy despite the exhaustion that sometimes visits me. I offer up thanks for my physical abilities and plan to show gratitude simply by using them. As an ad recently declared, “A body in motion stays in motion!” So, I shall keep rolling along!

Jjb/7/27/2019

How Facebook helped me say GOODBYE!

I started Facebook approximately 10 years ago. In its early years it was an amazing site for connecting with people all over the country. It was so much fun reconnecting with people I was related to, grew up with, and had met along the way with our many career moves. I quickly became addicted to being on the site many times a day, checking to see who had stopped in to say hello, and to see the many pictures people were posting. I became so involved in the communication and sharing, I was not fully participating in my present day life, sad as that is to admit!

But, then, as time went by, Facebook intervened by introducing algorithms that interfered with which friends postings I saw, and which friends saw mine. It was not too noticeable at first because there was always someone I interacted with which kept the fun social aspect of it going. Slowly they introduced ads in place of friends posts. It got so that if I was perusing an internet shopping site, and then moved on to another site, both sites would present pop up ads on my newsfeed with exactly the item I had been shopping. Creepy!

I missed the amount of interaction I once had with my friends but stubbornly pursued it anyway, hoping against hope that things would change, which they did, but for the worse. I want to THANK Facebook for helping me break the most addictive habit I have ever had! When FB eliminated a lot my friends posts by choosing whose posts I would see, and which posts of mine my friends would see, it changed the beautiful rhythm we all once had with each other.. It wasn’t personal anymore and it sure was not fun.

So I started to get back into my life and get involved again. I was no longer obsessively checking my phone anymore and I began a blog where I can share my writing with random people and where I could store my writings for myself. I revisited my creative side and began doing fun projects around the house and yard. I began reading again and painting. How could I have let facebook steal my time like I did? It was quite the obsession.

So, thank you facebook! You helped me kick the facebook habit! When you chose to sell spots for ads on the site in place of posts between friends, I can see now that this was a genius way to help people like me finally move on!

Oh and the photo with this writing? It is a paint project I just finished for my courtyard. Such a fun morning that was!

Let freedom ring!

Jjb/7/ 25/ 2019

Return to me

Growing up, I spent a great deal of time alone and became very attuned to my spirit. We coexisted in this habitat called the human body, and we spent a LOT of time together…that is to say, the three of us. Me, myself and I.

Through the many years that I have lived, I have had to navigate around communities of people for reasons of school, work, children, husbands career, as well as life events that always brought us into the company of other people. Yes, I do like people, but not in large gatherings. I prefer them one on one because the intimacy of two people visiting together gives me the sense that our communication matters so much more than just sitting in a room listening and contributing to inconsequential chatter. Oh how I hate the feeling of having to change who I am to “fit in” to any particular group.

As I have aged, I have given myself permission to be my authentic self, however that may present itself.. I like being one with nature for it frees up my soul to coexist with other living parts of Gods creation. No audible words are needed. It is soul enriching to just see and BE a part of it. When I do this type of living, I revert back to my comfortable company of three. Me, myself and I.

Perhaps this is why I am a writer. I like putting my thoughts down on paper to be read by myself at a later date. It is fun to revisit those thoughts from a different vantage point in my life. To write, one must be alone and yet I never “feel” alone because I am together with my thoughts and whatever brings them to mind.

Today, I am alone in my home and I see the sun sporadically peeking in through my windows. The fan is whirring softly as it rotates from left to right. The clock is ticking determinedly from the mantle, while the cuckoo chirps in the distance from our home office. The Grandfather clock also bongs its announcement of time. At some point I must have had a love affair with clocks for I have so many so of them. These are the only sounds I hear in my house today.

Sometimes, I have music playing from the speakers overhead, reflecting and echoing my mood for the day. I will sing along and let the sound fill my ears and wash over my soul with something that speaks to my feelings.

There are times I love to sink deep into our big old chair to read a book which takes me far away from here both in distance and lifestyle. As I turn the pages, I form a sort of friendship with the characters and the story fills my heart. A good movie can do the same.

I do enjoy people…just not a lot of people at one time. I love my husband and absolutely know God gifted me the blessing of this beautiful soul with whom I share my life. He and I are so much alike, we could easily close the door on the chaotic world beyond our family. Its nice to be with people who know us so well and who love us despite our flaws and imperfections.

Yet, we are drawn into the world, again and again, to try to make a positive impact and leave it a little better than how we found it. We know this is what God wants from us.

So, off I go now, into the rest of my day. I see a breeze ruffle the leaves of a small tree outside my window. The thermometer is warning me of the heat and humidity building up out there, so I must dress accordingly.

I am grateful for my quiet time in the cool interior of my home this morning by myself. My soul has been refreshed and I feel content and at peace.

Girlfriends

A week of reminiscing, reflecting, laughing and crying is over and I am already lonesome, pensive, and feeling a bit adrift. Two long time girlfriends flew in a week ago to spend some quality bonding time and it has been wonderful!

There were the three special girlfriends this past week spending time together along with one very special man who has always been there for us. We officially have dubbed him the 4th “Musketeer”, or the 4th “Amigo” because he is so willing to help it all come together. He was our cook, our chauffeur, our bartender and our very, very good friend (and my love). In my case I get to be his wife and that is like being given the crowned jewel to wear for life.

One of the two women is a friend who came into my life long before I met my husband and who was a bridesmaid in our wedding 46 years ago. My other friend I met when we moved to a new town because of a career change for my husband. We were married by then and had three young children. My husband and her husband became fast friends and we were two perfectly matched pairs who enjoyed spending a lot of time together.

These friendships have endured the test of time. We have witnessed each others lives unfolding as we each walked along our unchartered life paths. We have shared our secrets, our insecurities, our triumphs, our tears, and most especially our failings. Sharing our losses and our painful events became the glue that bonded our friendship together. Acquaintances are often formed at happy events, but bonding friendships occur when we help one another traverse life’s rough patches, and rough patches we have ALL had along the way.

Most of us enjoy sharing our fun times, our achievements, and the highlights of our lives. This is perfectly normal because happiness is such a gift. We want that joy shared and spread around! But there are only a very few with whom we will share the darker, more humbling and more emotionally painful happenings of our lives. I guess our need to appear “perfectly put together” is a defense mechanism to protect us from any kind of perceived criticism.

So, while we all love laughing and celebrating the good things in life, the sharing of our darker moments, our very humbling moments, is relegated to a very, very small trusted few. The operative word, of course, is trust. To find someone with whom to trust our fragile hearts and egos is a rare find indeed. Once found, it is to be cherished because this is no small gift.

I have never been one to mix in larger groups of women. While I am quite talkative, I am not necessarily extroverted, so my nature is much more suited to waiting for that one special friend with whom I can feel safe and happy. God has granted me a few of these women friends and two of them came for a visit this week!

As we spent this week together we attended fun activities, and we laughed until our faces hurt. We also sat up late in the evenings in our pajamas while sharing a few tear producing stories from our lives. There is something cleansing about sharing our imperfections with our friends, who in turn, share theirs too. We become a sisterhood as we reflect back upon our mistakes and realize that while we all look so different on the outside from each other, we are all the same inside. We are delicate and fragile and loving human beings who all just want the same things in life. We want peace and joy and love and harmony and we all have faith these will come to us intermittently along life’s path.

We our similar ages, my friends and I, and we are all weary of trying to be perfect or trying to “fit in” to what society decides we need to be in our looks and behaviors. Old age brings to us many imperfections we cannot hide anymore. We don’t see as well, hear as well, or walk as well as we once did. But, we laugh every bit as heartily as we ever did because we know that where it counts, we haven’t aged a bit. Our inner child is alive and well and ready to go outside and play despite the many adjustments that need to be met.

They have gone home now, these friends of mine, (of ours) who came to visit. The house is very quiet, and now I have time to reflect on the past week. I realize more than ever how valuable time is, especially now when I look ahead and see how much less there is of it for us than the time we have already spent.

My life is not full of an endless roster of friends, but the friends I do have make my life full, and this suits me just fine!

Jjb/4/2/2019

No suitcase needed

When we die, we leave exactly how we arrived…empty handed. I remember hearing once that a shroud has no pockets, referring to the fact that “you can’t take it with you, whatever “it” happens to be.”

We have been purging for quite some time now so we are getting down to the things that make us pause before we donate. Our criteria for whether we donate or keep is whether we think our children will want whatever is under consideration. One object under discussion is a small handmade barn full of different sized hand-cut blocks of squares and rectangles. The blocks are building blocks that become whatever the chikds imagination wanted them to be. These belonged to my husband so they are probably around 70 years old.

We have only two grandchildren, both girls, now in their teens. They are well past the age to play with these and even when they were young children they were far more sophisticated and technologically advanced than the original child who played with them. So the question becomes…now what? Someone made them with love and effort for a small child long ago. It feels almost wrong to give them away to strangers, but the truth really is, will a modern child even want it?

Then there is my wedding dress, saved and carefully preserved. It meant so much to me, but when on display for our 40th anniversary, there was no real interest or curiosity about it from our Granddaughters. So I asked my husband, “What should I do with it?” He looked at me and said “Well, for my part, I rented a tux and someone returned it the following day!” I just looked at him while letting that sink in. Hmmmm! So why have I been carefully moving this bridal gown and veil around for 46 years through a multitude of moves? After some thought, I think I will look for a place that takes bridal gowns to be used by women who can’t afford one. My gown was already a vintage look when I purchased it all those years ago, and I imagine someone may like the vintage look today.

Then there are two little puppy blocked quilts that were made for our sons when they were little boys and purchased by their paternal Grandmother. Because they are blue and show little puppies, our Granddaughters never received them because they were boyish.. Besides, our Granddaughters other Grandmother made them a plethora of quilts while she was still alive and I doubt very much these were ever needed or wanted anyway. So, we will look for someone who will enjoy these here and now.

Keepsakes are items that have been kept in memory of the person who first gave it. At most, the memory only lasts a couple of generations and after that it may become a family heirloom but only if the descendants find it desirable. In this day and age of plentitude and excess, it is unlikely that things of the past will capture anyones attention.

I used to really love touring old homes and mansions until one day it came to me that the original owners of the house and property were out lasted by their stuff. No matter how much you have in this life, you cannot take it with you, and even when you leave it behind to specific family, you need to understand that it may not matter to them as much as it has to you.

I am not sure why we are so intent on leaving things behind for our offspring. Maybe it is our way of making peace with the fact of death, as in “Well, I won’t be here anymore, but my stuff will be here as a reminder that I lived and walked this earth. We think a particular item will give them some idea of who we were and what interested us.

But, even if what we leave behind interests the immediate descendants, it isn’t too long before it is just an object from long ago and we are a picture in an old album.

So, with this in mind, we will load up the car and bring these things to places that may find good use for them. In doing so, I feel just fine with saying goodbye to parts of my past. The past is gone anyway, so these mementos may as well be gone too!

It is good enough for me to know that I have been privileged to draw my first and last breath on this earth because God willed that it be so. I have been blessed and loved and have gathered knowledge my entire lifetime. I am NOT my stuff! I am the hugs and kisses I gave to my children so they would learn to pass on the love. I am their first teacher of the difference between right and wromg. Their father and I demonstrated true love between spouses and a faithful marriage so our children would go into their marriages expecting faithfulness too. We taught them about the existence of God and how to communicate with Him through reading the Bible and prayer. We introduced them to Gods son Jesus whose birthday we celebrate every Christmas. We taught them about salvation through faith and grace. We provided for them an education where they would learn to think and contribute positive things to the world. We loved them unconditionally so they would have strength of character in the knowing of their worth..

What we leave behind does not require a suitcase. What we leave behind lives through our children and hopefully also our grandchildren. By not leaving too much “stuff”, the message is that material goods are not that important in the scheme of things. We are leaving bits and pieces of our heart and soul and our intellectual teaching guided by what our own parents and Grandparents taught us. That is what we leave behind. Verses of a hymn their Grandmothers once sang, instructions about how to fish by their grandfather, love of farm life from their other grandfather, how to play cards as a family and bond in the process.

Not gonna need that suitcase for the final trip. The kids won’t need it either. Gosh! It really IS good to travel light isn’t it?

Jjb/2/4/2019

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

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

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

Enough, just enough! 


A long time ago I read a story about two little girls turning pages in a catalog shortly before Christmas.  Thinking back, I realize it was a good example of life, showing how perspective can change how we see the everyday blessings we enjoy.  These two  little girls were inside their warm home during a blustery cold snowy day outside. They sat on the floor near the hearth of a crackling warm fire and entertained themselves by looking at pictures in some catalogs that had just arrived in the mail. The older one, around 7 years old, was turning pages and pointing at various things she liked.  She was saying “I want Santa to bring me this…and this…and this.”  The younger girl, around age 3 was also turning pages but as she pointed at different pictures, she said, “I have this…and this..and this!”  I have always remembered this because it details how we arrive in the world grateful for all things given to us, but then as time passes we grow so accustomed to receiving things, without realizing it,  we begin to want more and more and more! 

Today is a good day and my heart is full.  I am content and happy and grateful. We went to church this morning and sang wonderful old time hymns.  Everyone must have enjoyed the familiarity of these hymns today because we practically raised the rafters of our church with the volume of our voices.  Afterwards we stopped at a delicious little taco shop (Torchys Tacos) and ordered breakfast tacos.  Yum! I got to sit next to my handsome husband at the taco bar and just enjoyed being in his presence. As time marches on I find that  I want to savor every single moment the two of us have been given to be together, because one just never knows. 

 Like most people in this life I have had disappointments and unfulfilled dreams.  I did not get a life like my Grandmothers had where they lived in a small, rural community surrounded by their children and grandchildren. Because I was a part of their life’s picture, I grew up assuming that when I got old, I too, would live like they did with many of my Grandchildren visiting our home and sitting around our Christmas tree every year, but life didn’t dish that up for me!  In modern times, we are a very mobile society and my family is as mobile as they come. As it has turned out,  I didn’t get to live near all my children, nor near our only two Grandchildren.  But, thankfully, we do enjoy having one of our children here in town.  He is the blessing God granted us so we can know how it feels to hop in the car on a moments notice and meet him and his fiancee’ for dinner, or for them to stop by for a quick visit.   He and she are here every holiday so Al and I always have some semblance of family around our table.  Thank you God for small (big) blessings. 

Frequently, I see pictures upon pictures of grandchildren and Grandparents on fb who are routinely enjoying life together….three generations, always communing as happy well connected family’s.  Interestingly, I am happy for my friends who get frequent contact with their offspring. I understand the joy that must come with that. 

A long time ago, I learned how to let go of the 7 year old girl within me who yearned for this and this and this.  I decided that it was destructive to my inner peace to want what was not ever going to happen.  So, I tuned into my three year old self and focused on the facts of the blessings I do have in this life.  I was soon saying, “I have this, and this and this….”  As a child, I had wonderful Grandmothers who I dearly loved who dearly loved me back. I was blessed with the most amazing Mother who embodied the most fabulous mixture of perfect motherly imperfection.  I learned a lot through her journey in life because she shared the good AND the bad with me.  We always had an open door of communication. I also hit the all time lottery pay off when I met and married my husband of nearly 45 years because he loves me exactly as I am, worts and all!  Isn’t that all any of us want in this life?……to be loved and cherished exactly as we are?

We have a comfortable home, food on the table, and there is always love in the air.  How could I dare mourn the things I wanted but did not get in this life?  The lacks in our life are every bit as important to our growth of character as the blessings are because it is through our lacks and lesssons where we learn to appreciate what we DO have, and all that God has blessed us with..  

Frankly said, we must experience thirst to appreciate the gift of water don’t we?  We have to be hungry to appreciate the blessing of food. We need to be exhausted to appreciate a nice soft bed. We need to have been ignored and have had our feelings hurt in order to feel and embrace the love and joy of being recognized and appreciated. 

Our life was meant to have contrast so we do not take things for granted. No, I most certainly did not get “it all”  in this life, but what I got was enough. I have enough shelter, food, water and comfort.  I have enough relationships, enough friendship, enough family and enough love.  I have just enough of everything.  My cup is not overflowing from all the things I ever wanted, but it does overflow with all the things I “need” to make me a more compassionate, loving, caring, empathetic and better human being.  How could I ever know to give comfort if I had never been hurt in my life? People who get an over abundance of blessings don’t necessarily see the suffering around them because they haven’t experienced it themselves.  You can’t understand  what you don’t experience for yourself. I am sitting  in my chair next to my husband who is sitting in his chair and we are listening to old time music. Most Sundays my heart is full. We have a wonderful Pastor and Minister  of Music who in glorifying God create an emotionally uplifting experience. If God asked me today to name the things I don’t have in this life, I would say to Him, “I didn’t get everything I wanted in this life Lord, but what I got was just perfect for making me the way you wanted me to be.  I have been given enough and I thank you for this most perfect blend of gifts bestowed onto me.  I also thank you for the “lacks” in my life, for these were where I learned to become a better person.   It turns out the lacks really are blessings after all!” 

Oh, and thank you for the gift of OLDER me to me! I enjoy me more now as an old lady than I did when I was a young woman.  I am more forgiving and accepting of my flaws now that I am older, because I know that these, too, are part of your grand design! 



Jjb 10/15/2017

Friends or Acquaintances

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My New Years resolution is to use wisdom in how I interact with people.

There are some people in our life who are rays of sunshine who reflect back to us what we give out, much like a mirror. I have heard it said that our friends are the mirror to our soul.

Then there are those who give little in return to a relationship, where the burden of staying in touch falls on you. If you find yourself in the position of always being the initiator, even if they always say yes, then it is best if you understand they are not all that interested or invested in you. It is to these people My New Years resolution gives a nod.

Life is short. Spend it with those who make you glad you took the time to spend it with them, even if you are commiserating about something sad. It isn’t difficult to tell the difference between your acquaintances and your friends. With one group you KNOW you are loved. With the other you wonder about the depth of their feeling for you.

Thank you God for allowing me to meet my fair share of true friends. Acquaintances are good too Lord, I just need to remember who resides in each category and then invest in the ones who reflect back to me a happiness about my existence. This applies to everyone in my life!
I am so glad I made it to 2017!     Hallelujah to that!

Amen  (jjb) january 1, 2017

Creature Comfort! 

Al went for a walk by the water and I chose to stay in the hotel to relax. ¬†We are meeting friends for lunch, so I wanted to take a shower and press my clothes. Traveling is fun and exciting, but every once in a while, I need to center myself. ¬†I need to just “be” so I decided to let my spirit lead the way after he shut the door behind him.

Is there anything in the world that feels better than a hot shower and a scrub down with scented shampoo and a rich bar of soap? ¬†As I stood there this morning, ¬†I thought, “No! There is nothing better than this. ¬†THIS is the ultimate of creature comforts.”

Then I thought about my first cup of hot coffee this morning and how much I enjoyed the aroma wafting through the air as it was processing.  That first sip?  Ahhhhh!  Nothing better.

UNLESS,  you are eating a nice hot scone with melted butter on top followed by that swallow of hot coffee.   Mmmmm!

Then there was a chill in the room so I put on my old, thick, comfy robe!  Nice!  Snuggle bunny nice!

Creature comforts is what life always comes down to in making a person happy.

How nice it is to know a bed is ready and waiting for you when you are exhausred and need some sleep. Getting into your  big soft bed with feather down blankets, where you can burrow down deep beneath is like returning to your mothers womb. Ahhh!  Now that is nice!

Coffee and conversation in the morning with your loved one has its own special reward because you know that you are number one in another persons life.

It doesn’t really matter where it is you find yourself on any given day as long as you are surrounded by those who love you. ¬†For me? ¬†This means Al. ¬†Whether we are home or away….this creature finds comfort with him at my side.

No matter where a person travels,

no matter the beautiful sights one sees,

none of it would be at all special,

if you were not right here with me!

Snail Mail

Never underestimate the power of snail mail!  In December, we received word that a friend of ours had died.  We knew it was inevitable, based on the information we had received several weeks previous, but we still felt a little breathless when we received the news that he was no longer among the living. This man had been very instrumental in my husbands career and was a dynamic force to reckon with.  He was big and tall and loud and everyone loved him.  The idea that he was now forever silent was impossible to imagine. He had so many wonderful attributes and he was admired by many who had the good fortune to make his acquaintance and we loved him as much as everyone else.

I didn’t get a card off to his wife immediately because I wanted to take time to write down our memories and very fond feelings for him in a way that had meaning for her.  I knew that she would be inundated with a flood of cards in the aftermath of his death and was certain she would not miss one from us with all that was going on.

Finally in late January, I had the time to sit down and compose a letter that included some fun memories we had about both she and her husband from many years ago and about our feelings of gratitude for their impact on our life.  I sent it to their home in Arizona and for whatever reason, it came back to us.  So it sat on the buffet for another week or two until I got in touch with someone who knew where I could send it where she would receive it.  Once I got that address, I sent it off in late February.  I did not expect any kind of a response.  I was only hoping that she would receive it so that she could feel happy that two more people  were offering her their love and well wishes and great sympathy.

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It is now May and just the other day, my phone registered a missed call but no message from an unfamiliar number.  I didn’t think too much of it….just that it was probably some unwelcome marketing call.  Then, later in the day,  I got another call from the same number, only this time with a voicemail attached. Surprisingly, it turned out that it was from our widow friend.  When we finally connected, and after a time of playing catch up on our lives, she told me this day was her 59th wedding anniversary to her husband and that she had spent the day reading through her memorial cards from her husbands funeral.  My memorial letter was one of the ones she read.  On my letterhead, I had put my phone number and my husbands phone number along with our address, encouraging her to give us a call anytime, never dreaming she would actually do so, because it had been 20 years since we had seen each other.

But, there she was on other end of the phone and the 20 years melted away as we talked and caught up. phone_photoIt was such a lovely conversation and she shared withi me how much she enjoyed receiving this old fashioned snail mail because she could save it and bring it out to read any time she so desired.  She was so happy to read the words more than once, words that brought her husband back to life for her in the small amount of time she spent reading the letter.

Interestingly, during this same time, I also received a letter in the  mail from a good friend in the north country.  I couldn’t imagine what it was until I opened it and lo and behold it was a very belated Christmas letter along with pictures of her three children and multiple grandchildren.  It was SO unexpected and because it hadn’t arrived in the crush of Christmas mail, we were able to leisurely read the letter and look at the picture and enjoy seeing how much their family had expanded and to read of what each was doing.

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Snail mail!  There is still so much value in the art of a hand written letter.  Whenever I get a thank you note from our daughter, my heart does a flutter because I delight in seeing her penmanship on the front of the card.  I am so pleased to see her notes because I know that when she was a little girl, I taught her how to sit down and write a personal note as a way of showing appreciation for all types of gift offerings.  She would make Emily Post so proud in this day and age of a texted thank you’s or no thank you at all!  She most certainly makes her Mother very proud.

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Well chosen cards for birthdays, anniversaries, friendship, get well, etc.,  still give a thrill to those who receive them.  Someones handwriting on the front of a piece of mail is always such a sweet thing to see, bringing about anticipation for what is inside.  The gift of words…the gift of love….the gift of expression.  It is so lovely for the recipient.  I am so glad I am still able to experience this little material piece of communication in the midst of a cyber world of words everywhere.  It is a taste of times gone by. 

 So, my dear friends….the next time you put pen to paper and write down your thoughts, when you address an envelope and attach a stamp, when you put it in your mail box and lift the little red flag, know this…….the person that you took the time to write will be opening his or her mailbox a couple of days later and will carefully carry it indoors, place it by their favorite chair, get a little cup of tea or coffee, will settle in and then begin the process of opening up this treasured piece of mail from you.  The best part?  They get to read it as many times as they want to, all the time imagining you as they look at your handwriting that is bringing to them news in your own words. Snail mail is under rated and it is one of the nicest gifts you can give to somebody!

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jjb/2016

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Immortality

I have noticed that along with social media has come an avalanche of postings from the world at large.  This new portal has come to us through a plethora of media sites and has become everyone’s stage.  To quote Shakespeare, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”  I would say he was unto something here.

I opened my WordPress account due to encouragement from many sources.  So many of my friends who read my stories and poems would say to me “You need to write a book”.  Naturally, I enjoyed hearing this, but I took it “tongue in cheek”, so to speak.  I knew I had been blessed with the ability to write rhyme and it is a lot of fun to do as a hobby.  I also enjoyed observational writing, where I would write what I experienced day to day in journal form.  I am not presumptuous enough to think I could publish a book, but the idea of writing in a blog form appealed to me, so I took the plunge.

What is it about we humans that makes us think we are of a “few” who like to do a certain thing?  Some of us enjoy writing, painting, taking photos, singing, acting, dancing, playing an instrument…the list goes on and on, and this is just in the form of the arts. Talent abounds on our planet and it expresses itself in an endless amount of ways…science, medicine, history, art…..  I see it everywhere.  In our modern life, where the media has completely engulfed us, we would have to be blind to not see that everyone needs and wants an outlet in which to express themselves.  

I wonder if this is our way of quenching our thirst for immortality?  We want to leave our footprint behind in the world because we know our life experience is just temporary.  A basic undeniable fact is that we each have a beginning and an end to our life.  We know in our heart that in just a couple of generations, we could possibly end up being an old photograph in an old photo album and someday, someone will be looking at it asking “I wonder who this is?” In some future time and place our picture may end up in an antique shop where someone will buy it because they like the frame and when they get it home they will pull out our picture, toss it aside to be replaced with their loved ones photo! 

Is it some people’s desire to be famous so they won’t be forgotten? Abraham Lincoln said “God must have loved the common man because he made so many of them”.  I think we don’t want to be part of the forgotten masses.  We want to make our mark on the world in some way. 

Perhaps this is why modern families work so hard to be a part of their offsprings lives.  As Grandma and Grandpa are busily involved with their Grandchildren, they take comfort in knowing they are “making memories”.  We all like to think that when our time arrives to pass on to the next world, we will leave behind someone who will carry our essence around in their heart long after we have departed.  I don’t think this is all premeditated, rather, it is a deep yearning in our soul to feel that our existence has made a difference.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven, a time to be born and a time to die.” It is in dying, where we find ourselves most ambivalent, even for those of us who understand the meaning of Grace and life eternal.

So, until my demise, I shall write….I shall read good books…..I shall plant and create and love and thrive as I do.  As long as I can find a way to express myself in this world, maybe, just maybe, I will leave my world a little better place than I found it. 

Jjb/5/25/2016