Category Archives: MUSINGS!

The Boogeyman!

We used to spend a lot of time at my maternal grandmothers house. While my other Grandmother had 12 children and something like 43 grandchildren, this Grandma only had three children and my brother and sister and I were all she could claim at the time for grandchildren. It is my thought that because of her limited offspring, we defaulted into being very cherished by her and my grandfather as well. We felt so important to them.

We were never “entertained” by our Grandparents in those days like children are in this day and age. It was just how life was in that time and place for everyone we knew, so to us, it was normal. We were accepted and were simply folded into the fabric of their everyday life each time we went to visit. Grandpa would go to work each day while Grandma took care of the household chores and my Mother would take us to visit once a week while she did her laundry in their basement. Sometimes she would let us stay a couple of days for a sleepover. Oh how much we loved to do that! It was like slipping into someone else’s reality and it was an adventure!

My Mother had a brother who was 13 years younger than her which made him closer in age to all three of her children than he was to her! Hence, he was like our bonus brother, and he enjoyed spending time with us and sometimes had fun playing tricks on us. One tall tale he used to tell us was that the Boogey Man lived in the basement. When we pressed him for where the boogey man was, he pointed to a door at the far end of the potato bin. This bin was in a small alcove area that was probably 4 feet wide by 4 feet deep and 4 feet across the back again. It was partitioned off with a three foot high by 4 foot wide board that was placed in front of the bin to hold potatoes back in an area where it was cool and dark. We could clearly see the door in the back as we stood outside the potato gate. What we did not know was that the door led to nowhere. It was simply propped up against the back wall to keep the potatoes away from the damp basement wall.

One day, my sister and I were exploring the unfinished basement in the dim light of a single bulb hanging at the end of an electric cord in the middle of the room. This dim light created all sorts of creepy shadows, so we were always careful to go down there together, never alone. Grandma had a cellar room down there too where she would store all the canned foods she had harvested from her gardens and fruit trees and even meat was canned in jars for preservation. There they all sat, nestled together in straight rows of each item canned, her meat, her fruits, vegetables, and pickles, To two young sisters, in the dim light, these jars looked uninviting. We were not tempted to open even one!

Once we finished our investigation of the cellar room, we decided to go check out the potato bin again with the dreaded door at the back of it. Did the boogey man really live there? What did he look like anyway? Just being near that door felt menacing to two little girls. My sister kept squealing about the Boogeyman and that he needed to go away. So, with me being the older of the two, I got up the courage to say, “O.k. Alright! I will go see if he is there.” So, I hopped over the 3 foot barrier, walked across the potatoes and when I reached the back of the pile, I attempted to yank the door open. Instead of opening, it began to fall forward but no harm was done because by the time the door hit the potatoes, we were already at the top of the stairwell screaming the entire way up. Grandma hastily met us at the top door to see what on earth had happened to us. She was not too happy to hear the story of the boogey man, told to us by her young son!

So, now here I sit…well over a half a century later and I am afraid of the Boogeyman once again. When I think of him, my mouth feels like it is full of cotton, it is so dry. I can’t see the boogeyman this time either. He is as invisible now as he was back then when he hid behind an old door. These days he is hidden in plain sight. It is hard to summon courage to go after the boogeyman, because I know how badly he can hurt me and those I love. This boogeyman is very, very bad in so many ways. He is making people sick, and even killing some. He is wrecking our prosperous economy. He is everywhere and anywhere and we just cannot see him. He is all over the world creating destruction and sorrow everywhere he goes.

We need a superhero!! Where oh where is a superhero who can save us?

We actually do have a Super Hero and we can’t see Him either, but we have read about Him in a book that is centuries old. We have been taught and told about His power, His strength, His courage and His intention to never let us die. His book was written over the course of many hundreds of years, leaving us messages of love and hope and encouragement! At one point in our history, God even journeyed all the way here to earth from his great Kingdom! He took on human form and walked among us to better understand us in the first person, to feel first hand, the joys and sorrows of living this life. He knows how it is for us now as we face our demons in life, and he wants to help us through it. We only have to ask. We have to ask for help with a faith that believes that His will is far better for us than anything we could ever even imagine for ourselves. I believe Lord, please help me in my unbelief!

Wherever this virus (boogeyman) takes us, whatever it is able to destroy in its path, one absolute truth to hold onto is that we will never be defeated while having God as our protector and our redeemer. Through His Grace we will never die. Through Grace we have eternal life, and for that I will be eternally grateful!

Prayers are the bullets in this warfare that began in Wuhan China. Prayers will see us through. We may not always understand the answers that come to us from our prayers, but we can trust that the answers are perfect for us in His Will in His mighty Kingdom.

Dear God…I am so afraid of the Boogeyman…the virus. I am afraid of the harm it can do to me or my many loved ones. Help me to find courage, Lord. Help me find peace and please give me the strength and wisdom to help others find peace too. We have not faced anything like this before and we are overwhelmed with thoughts of what may lie ahead. Please calm our hearts, Lord, and please give us once again the blessed assurance that we are saved. Easter is only 6 days away, Lord, as you well know! Easter is a day for us to remember a time long ago, on a hill far away, you conquered death on the cross once and for all and the gift from that sacrifice was eternal life for all of us!

Thank you Lord, thank you for the gift of grace!

Amen

Jjb/4/6/2020

Hot Dogs

The longer we are home, the more I read! I have loved reading my whole life and along the way, I seemed to have less and less time for it, because our life was so filled with things to do and people to see. Now, with “shelter in place” (and actually even before that was a mandate), I have not left our house or our property with the exception of a couple of rides in the country. I have been in place since March 11th! (My age and underlying respiratory issues making me more vulnerable to this virus than others) Now, suddenly, I have all the time in the world to read…albeit slowly with my uncorrected vision due to an aborted elective eye surgery.

At first, I read everything I could get my hands on pertaining to the Corona Virus…where it was in the world, how it was being handled, contagion rate, death rate, and so on. At first, my purpose was accessing information that kept me informed, so I could be prepared..mentally, physically, psychologically, and spiritually!

It wasn’t kong before I was oversaturated with dire statistics and stories upon stories of individuals who were hit by this horrible disease. It was akin to watching a steam roller coming down the street as I lay there, paralyzed, helplessly and hopelessly waiting my fate. This was how I had come to feel as I took in the news of the world.

Over this time, I have dealt with a lot of anxiety and fear of the unknown, mostly on behalf of our adult children. Each day, I found more and more articles to read and in the midst of all the horrible statistics were stories of hope and faith and and ways to contribute to the better good! There were also those offering humor as medicine to allow us to laugh again!

My point is that we have a choice. We can choose to saturate ourselves with the news of the day from all over the world or we can choose to keep one eye on the news for safety’s sake while using the other eye to read spiritually uplifting devotions, meditations, and feel good stories of people who conquered fear with courage.

The following is a great story about perception of the world around you. Sometimes it is best to live in your own reality of what is, rather than in another persons perception of reality. Its an old story, but I have always loved it! I hope you enjoy it!

THE MAN WHO SOLD HOT DOGS

There was a man who lived by the side of the road and sold hot dogs.

He was hard of hearing so he had no radio.

He had trouble with his eyes so he read no newspapers.

But he sold good hot dogs.

He put up signs on the highway telling how good they were.

He stood on the side of the road and cried; “buy a hot dog, mister?

And people bought.

He increased his meat and bun orders.

He bought a bigger stove to take care of his trade.

He finally got his son home from college to help him out.

But then something happened.

His son said, “Father, haven’t you been listening to the radio?

Haven’t you been reading the newspapers?

There’s a big depression.

The European situation is terrible.

The domestic situation is worse.”

Where upon the father thought, “well, my son’s been to college, he reads the papers and he listens to the radio, and he ought to know.”

So the father cut down on his meat and bun orders, took down his advertising signs, and no longer bothered to stand out on the highway to sell his hot dogs.

And his hot dog sales fell almost overnight.

“You’re right, son” the father said to the boy.

“We certainly are in the middle of a great depression.”

Jjb/4/3/2020

What is important

It’s interesting, isn’t it, how everything can change in the time it takes to blink an eye? How, in just one blink, so much of what you thought was important, suddenly is not!

What is important is not a lifetime of accumulation, nor the trophy’s that sit on our mantles, nor the pieces of paper on which our names and our accomplishments are printed and displayed proudly through framed glass for all to see.

Life’s meaning is not found in the size of our home, the brand of our car, nor the destinations of our holidays.

What is valuable is our connection with those we love who love us back.

Our souls come to this world in a tiny, fleshy human form. We enter crying as we are blinded by the light of this new world, and we gasp when we take in our first breath of life.

Our Mother gets a glimpse of our eternal souls as she peers into the depths of our tear filled baby eyes. In our newly born helpless state, she cradles us, and talks to us in soft loving tones and we feel comforted. We cease to cry as we look back into her eyes and see nothing but love because it is then we know we are going to be o.k. We are two souls who became one by the reciprocal love of our first earthly union.

In the beginning, all we need is love and nourishment and a sense of belonging. Our souls grow and expand as we experience this love. We grow up in a family that is uniquely ours. Through this family we learn about the world in which we live. Before long we are leaving home and forging a new life which we can now modify to suit our emotional and intellectual needs. Our path is our own and our life begins to take on a new shape because we are in control of our destiny. (Rather, we think we are in control). Much of how our life is built is based on endless decisions and responses to those decisions we make along the way. As we watch our life take shape, we begin to believe in the power of our individual control. We begin to believe that if we continue ahead, forging our own chosen path along life’s journey, we will be fine.

But, life isn’t that simple. We are faced with many challenges that are beyond our immediate control. Some of us do not even make it to adulthood due to an accident or an unexpected illness. These are the times that serve as reminders to us that our control is very limited and we cannot fix everything by ourselves.

Right now, our world is facing a terrible Pandemic that few of us have ever experienced before. In the U.S., in recent times, it has probably never even been considered a possibility by an individual ordinary citizen. Few of us will escape this invader. Most of us will survive this invader and some of us will die.

We are asked to stay home and so we do. From our sofas and chairs we watch the news and listen as they tell us that our entire society must come to a halt. Major industries are closing down, churches are closing, people are losing their jobs, businesses are desperately trying to do anything they can to stay solvent and our savings are in peril.. Our enemy is foreign, invisible and highly contagious.

I find myself thinking of people throughout history who faced their own mortality. These people, who in the process of settling this country, faced insurmountable hardships in the form of inadequate housing, sickness, starvation…and death. Death was always present in those early days of very few medicines and even fewer Doctors.

Death takes many forms in many different circumstances.

I read about the Civil war where more soldiers were killed than in any other war in history. I think of the many wars that young men have fought in and died, never getting the chance to know what life could have brought them afterwards.

I think of the many people who sit across from their Doctor and receive bad news about the amount of time they may or may not have left.

I think about the famous ship, the Titanic, where countless people on that ship suddenly became aware of the fact that they were going down under the icy waters of the Atlantic and were forced to wait for death as the “unsinkable ship” slowly sank into the darkness bringing them along with it. One story goes that there were musicians who continued to play music knowing the ship was slowly sinking and that they were facing certain death.

There have been plagues before. The 1600’s brought smallpox, the 1700’s brought yellow fever, the 1800’s brought Cholera and Scarlet Fever, the 1900’s brought Typhoid, Spanish flu, Diphtheria, Polio, Measles and HIV. Our ancestors faced similarly frightening scenarios.

This new virus that is killing people all over the world is taking its toll on human lives. Sickness and death is just one big part of it, but the economic impact following will be another major consequence and we can only pray that it won’t drive us into another depression to equal the Great Depression.

Human lives have always been fragile and people in third world countries have faced the fragility of life from a very young and tender age. A lot of people in developed countries in modern times have not had to face fear head on because in the recent past, lets say the last 75-100 years, many of us have lived lives of comfort due to modern medical advances which have led us to believe that most everything can be “fixed”. Healthcare became so advanced, we didn’t worry about our children dying young like our ancestors children often did…instead, we assumed that we and our children would live to ripe old ages. Often we were correct in this assumption.

These are very uncertain times and deeply disturbing. We are facing an enemy when we have limited resources with which to fight something of this magnitude. What is also very difficult for most of us is that usually when we feel threatened or insecure, we find comfort in the arms of our loved ones. In these times, we are forced to isolate ourselves from everyone we know. Some of us are in our homes alone and we feel fear of the unknown.

This is history in the making…it will be printed in the history books and future generations will read about it and look at pictures of the event unfolding, just as I was reading yesterday about the 1918 flu pandemic. As I looked at black and white photos of sick people in rows upon rows of medical beds, I imagined each one of them as someones father, mother, daughter, son and the list goes on. In old pictures these individual identities are lost in the mass composite, but each person there mattered to someone.

Daily, it is a struggle to find courage. We pray, we read scripture, and we force ourselves to live in the moment, because we understand that our previous concerns about our future are no longer applicable. By comparison, those concerns now pale. New worries and concerns have stepped in to take their place.

I find myself thinking of my Mother again, imagining what she would have thought of all this. In the deepest recess of my psyche, I sometimes wish I was once again the baby she held so long ago, me watching her look deeply into my eyes as I listen to her soft voice reassuring me that I will be fine.

The reassuring voice has come back and this time it is my father reassuring me. My heavenly father who created me is whispering reassurance into my heart that it will all be fine. One way or another, this will all pass, and we will all be fine. Things may not work out exactly as we are hoping but HE reassures me it will still be fine. As I pray and listen with my heart, I know HE is right. I know that throughout history, people have faced fear and have chosen to ramp up their courage, their acceptance, and their faith that all things work out for the better good.

I reflect on my Mother and I thank her now for bringing me up to know that there is a God who is Lord over all. We are all part of a much bigger picture, each of us just one tiny thread among millions of other threads of many different colors, woven together to create a tapestry of Gods design. The most beautiful tapestries tend to have a lot of darkness woven in to bring out the beauty of the colored threads. Dark times are represented by dark threads. Some threads have been knotted to sit securely in place and some have been snipped. I don’t know if my future is going to be knotted in place or if I will be snipped free, but I am choosing to trust that this is all part of Gods design.

As I continue to read about other perilous times, I find my heart touched by their displays of courage. As history shows us their many act of courage, I know that I will face my own fears and choose to pick courage to live along side my fears as well. Its the only wise choice!

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’”

—Eleanor Roosevelt

Jjb/5/21/2010

Return to me!

It has been quite some time since I have sat down to write much of anything. I love to write down my thoughts and feelings, but have been so occupied, I haven’t found the time to do so. I decided a while back to step away from most forms of online media, especially social media. We also cut the cord to television and have abandoned most news stations. It was a very good decision. My angst about world affairs and politics quickly diminished when we eliminated the angry, hate filled rhetoric from our life. Facebook had to go too, because to me it had become a giant, out of control, opinion machine which presented itself to me every time I went on line. I finally snapped.

My personality has never been the type to be engaged with people 24-7, yet there I was, deep in the middle of all of it. I now look back and laughingly refer to my fb years as my own personal “Stockhom syndrome”, which is where a person develops a bond with his or her captor.

Be back in a while………

While I may appear to be a very gregarious human being, I am actually happiest in my own nest in my own company with an added person or two with whom to communicate with. Marriage is the perfect union for me. It is warm, loving, comfortable, rewarding, and non competitive. No real pressure here to be anyone other than my real self. We are aging together and as we age, we find comfort in seeing our loved one age as well. If anything, aging endears us to each other, because we are in this together.

I have been busy reevaluating how I spend my time. It is so easy to get caught up in the cyber world and before one realizes it, cyber reality overtakes “living in the moment” reality. The operative word being living. Too often we mistake our internet friends as real friends and we engage with them on line from the comfort of our chair and laptop keyboard. It requires less work on our part to continue a relationship that is only a click away.

Relationship in the first person requires time and effort, but the rewards of eye to eye contact along with body language during a conversation is infinitely more pleasurable. It is enjoyable nurturing a long time friendship where we witness the passage of time as we view the increasing wrinkles on their faces and see their hair slowly going to gray or even white. There is no way to hide behind a photo-shopped picture when you are sitting across the table from each other having a conversation at a meal. There we are in our total unvarnished reality as we sit a couple of feet away from each other in close visual range. Happily, we begin to relax as we see we are not alone in our aging.

There is nothing wrong with staying in touch with friends and relatives on fb if one can control the time spent. I was one of those who became addicted to the whole cyber social scene and looking back I still have some very good feelings about the times spent catching up with long ago acquired friends and childhood cousins. It was great for me while it lasted, however, I reached a point of needing to step back into “the moment” of my every day existence and I am so glad to be back!

On Sunday, Al and I decided to go to the park after church and we enjoyed watching other people picnic, play ball, fly kites, walk and run the paved paths. It was a picture perfect day. The sun was shining and the light blue skies were graced with white wispy clouds. Birds were riding the air currents, swooping and diving alongside of other birds with joyful reckless abandon. Dogs were running to retrieve balls from their owners. Children were laughing and calling out to each other as they enjoyed the day with their friends. It reminded me of my childhood long before the invention of the internet and cell phones, at a time where we had to use our own imaginations to create our own fun. Today, I was impressed to see parents actively involved with their children. All seemed so happy to be there.

Yesterday we went to golf a few holes in the late afternoon. I drove the cart while Al golfed, because I am a very poor golfer. He wanted me to ride along anyway. The golf course was a feast for the eyes because as the day progressed, the shadows got longer and longer as the sun made its way across the sky. The pictures the shadows created were worthy of being in a painting., Taking time to be in the midst of Gods creation frees the soul like nothing else does. To be one with nature is an exhilarating experience. Al and I enjoyed our time, one on one, seeing all the beauty around us together. It is still a such a rush to look at ones partner knowing that our love is as strong as ever embraced by joy and peace just by being in each others company.

NOTE TO SELF!!!!

Listen to Gods beckoning! Can you hear Him when He says “Return to me”?

He wants us to return to real life more often, escape to the great outdoors, which so many of us recognize as Gods creation. Returning to living and loving in real time frees our souls to swoop and glide as giddily as the birds do when they fly and ride the currents of the air. God is everywhere, all knowing, all seeing, and all around us in real life. Life is meant to be a verb where we should be actively participating in all of it. We really do “need” to spend more time in Gods majestic creation, plugging into His infinite power and feeling our souls being recharged. This can positively take our breath away as our eyes and inner being take it all in!

Carpe Diem! Seize the Day! We only have THIS moment in time that is guaranteed! All else is unknown!

 

Jjb/2/18/2020

 

 

Courage

I work very part time at the front desk of an Assisted living, although I use the word “work” very loosely because I enjoy it that much. Everyone needs a sense of purpose and value, and this happens to be mine. Working the front desk gives me a chance to interact with people who are old and for one reason or another, cannot live alone at home anymore. I love it! I love the conversations that take place and how their personalities emerge as I get to know each one a little better.

In America, being old is a mixed bag for most. We all want to live a good long life, but we think of it in terms of living independently, having enough money, and being in good health. Most of us will eventually have health issues and some of us will need assistance.

One day, an older ex-musician rolled up to the desk in a wheel chair. He asked me if I could help him figure out a financial equation. I said,

“Sure…if I can. What do you need help with?

He said, “Well, I just sold my house for $$$$$$$$$$. How long will that money allow me to live here?”

I was taken aback because he is in his mid 70’s…So, I asked him how much he paid for rent and divided that into the house sale amount.

I said “6 1/2 years.”

Because he looked so deflated, I then said, “Wait a minute you must have social security, right?”

He nodded, and told me the amount. So I added that to the equation and then I said “Looks like 9 years now and we have not taken into account the interest on your money”. (Also did not take into account the usual annual price hike in rent, but did not want to mention that).

He held eye contact with me for a long moment, nodded his head again, then rolled away down the hall to his Apartment. I felt his fear.

Working a few hours a week at this place has given me great insight into what a lot of people deal with in old age. There are many who are content here. The staff is very good and very good to the residents. They have good meals and planned activities for those who are interested. Some have devoted family members which makes all the difference for a residents sense of self worth. Its a very nice place to live. However, there are a number of them who are just doing their best to “make the best” of living so long.

Courage comes in all forms. We think of it when we watch people go off to war or dare devils performing dangerous stunts. We see it in people who have been given a terminal diagnosis. We see it when someone loses someone who was very dear to them and now they have to go forward in life without them. To live this life in this world takes a LOT of courage.

It also takes a lot of courage to live in old age. You find yourself dealing with the loss of friends and family who have died. You deal with the indignities of a failing body or a failing mind. You put on a happy face when you feel it is expected even though you may not be the least bit happy because you know that people avoid sour old people. If you had children, they are now grown and enjoying their own adult lives, which in this day and age often means living far away in a distant place with calendars full of comings and goings and you get a very small percentage of their time (if you are one of the lucky ones) and you smile broadly when they come to see you so they will come again.

Old age for some people is no different than their previous ages other than the understandable slowing down as they reach their 80’s, 90’s and even 100’s. These people are living independently and in reasonably good health and have enough money to see them through to the end. But, the majority of our elderly are living lives that demand courage and tenacity and fortitude.

I see courage in these people every single day as they live their lives knowing that they are on the other side of the hill. Most of them love to engage with other people in their surroundings by having a good laugh, by sharing a tidbit of news, and by encouraging someone who needs a bit of a psychic lift on any given day. A lot of them will be social during meal time but then will go back to their apartments where they feel in control of their surroundings, where they can nap, read, and reflect and do whatever suits them.

Inside these aging bodies resides the ageless spirit and personality of who they have always been. Our spirits never age because our inner spirits or souls are timeless and eternal. Our personalities of our childhood are the same personalities now…just in more restrictive environments.

If you want to do something today to make a difference in this world, take a minute to visit with an older person. Smile at them. Tell them to have a good day. Look them in the eyes and let them know they are not invisible to you as they so often are in this world to others. Let them feel seen and heard. Let them feel as if they matter, if only for that one moment. Shake their hand in greeting. Help them cross the street. Offer your arm as they step off a curb. It will make them feel good and it will make you feel even better!

God bless the elderly. They are the true courageous soldiers in this often times challenging life that complicates our journey! It is in them that I see living breathing older “profiles in courage” in a very different way from in the book that bears its name!

Jjb/11/05/2019

Travel thoughts

Oh it is SO good to be home again. The feelings of contentedness just keeps growing. I am a new appreciator of things I previously took for granted, not the least of these, our bed. The comfort of ones own bed cannot be over stated.

Our appreciation of our bed is followed with an appreciation of our own old leather chairs that over the years have contoured to our body shapes so when we sit in them it is like putting on an old kid glove. We are not just sitting, we are embraced!

Listening to the washer sloshing away as we sit in our chairs while we catch up on mail and messages is like listening to an old familiar rhythmic melody.

Brewing coffee in our old coffee pot, frying an egg in our old frying pan, popping toast, simmering a pot of chili, all with ease within the confines of our friendly and familiar kitchen…ah, it makes a persons heart flutter a bit.

Yes, while we had a wonderful vacation in Spain and Italy, it is just so good to be back to friends and family. One friend gave us a ride to the airport and our son picked us up to bring us home. This is where we are loved and this is where we belong. 20 plus years is a long time to live anywhere and we never get tired of it…Home Sweet Home!

Reflecting on our trip to Europe, the things I am most glad we purchased for the trip are the fanny packs, the back packs and the small roller bags. We have never gone anywhere with just carry on luggage, so leave it to us to experiment on a trip to Europe! Lol! As it turned out, reducing our luggage not only made it easier to not deal with baggage pick up hassles and fees, it made it easier in general. I had also purchased packing cubes which to me, at first glance, just seem like a marketing ploy to buy more things, but in reality, work really well in keeping your things organized, particularly if one keeps moving from place to place on a trip.

Because I read that hotels don’t supply washcloths, I purchased these very tiny wrapped cubes about the size of a large crouton marketed as travel washcloths. When you hold them under running water they expand and grow before your eyes. They are very sturdy and can be used more than once! These were probably my favorite new find! Everyone should have them in their cosmetic bag even when visiting family so one doesn’t ruin the hosts washcloths with makeup residue. I give them a 5 star rating!

I brought my small turbo hand held fan along and was so grateful for it since we experienced times of extreme heat or exercise in Spain and Italy where I desperately needed a breeze to cool off. It’s a fan that can be recharged with a cell phone cord. I love it. On one very hot ride in an over packed train, I noticed a young Chinese fellow standing a distance from me in the train car and using a fan very similar to mine. I caught his eye and wiggled my fan at him and he wiggled his back as we both began to smile. We both knew how lucky we were to have those fans at that moment. It is one of my most favorite possessions.

I brought only 2 pair of shoes. My sketcher sandals and my merino wool Allbirds shoes. Both far exceeded my expectation of comfort. The wool runners are the most comfortable pair of shoes I have ever owned.

We brought a small blue tooth speaker and were able to stream Minnesota Public Radio in our hotel rooms. Ahhhh! Such a treat.

I brought sample sized containers of everything I could find that I use in cosmetics and cleansing products. It reduced my haul by 80% and I still had product remaining at the end of 2 weeks.

I bought packets of sink suds to wash clothes as needed. In my opinion, this works well for underwear, socks and bras, but not as convenient for clothing. Still, I was glad I had it.

These are top take away thoughts on travel from us. I now know,that it is unlikely I will ever again check luggage. I know I can get by on much less. The only exception to the rule would be if we go north in the dead of winter, where we would need boots and heavy outer wear.

So here we are…..we are always glad to come home….to the nest we have created together and where we share our thoughts and dreams and mutual love. When it comes down to it though, our home really is wherever the two of us are together. We are most definitely simbiotic. We are never gone from “home” as long as we are in the company of one another. To have found another human being who so completely compliments who I am as a human being is nothing short of a miracle, and we both appreciate this blessing the most of any other blessing in our life!

Miracles do happen!

Jjb/ 9/22/2019

Travel Thoughts

So, here am I sitting here on Vueling airlines while passengers come on board one by one. Al felt so bad about our cramped quarters on the flight from the U.S. (due to flight delays which made us miss our plane from Dallas to Madrid) and our well chosen seats, that he upgraded our seats to Italy to the very front and we each have a seat with an empty one in the middle. It is about as good as it gets. ❤️

Our trip has far exceeded our expectations in many ways. Our decision to have only carry on luggage has now made me wonder why on earth I have always lived and traveled as if I am a pack mule? This has been so much better all the way around. Ironically, I haven’t even used all of the things I brought with, but the weather has been somewhat constant so that helps in not needing such a variety of things to wear.

Before our trip, we bought new luggage to make sure we could carry the correct size onto the Italian airline as they are the most restrictive airline I have read about. We also bought backpacks and fanny packs and all of these combined have made for an almost stress free trip. This is our first time to fly anywhere with only carry on luggage and this is the farthest we have flown besides. Going forward, this experience will change all future travel for us. We both love the back pack situation as it carries as much as my small suitcase, is less bulky and weighs less too. We are happy to ignore baggage claim as well.

I feel very badly that I don’t speak anything other than English. It makes me feel somehow ignorant and disadvantaged when I cannot communicate. I have used Google translate which has helped enormously, but it isn’t the same as actually communicating in the language of the country we are visiting. It causes me to wonder how my Scandinavian ancestors must have felt while traveling to their new country so very far away from their birthplace and most of their family. I can imagine it would have been very hard on their egos and self esteem to have such a large language barrier and no real identity to the new people they were meeting because of a lack of known history.

We have been treated very well by the majority of people we have come across. Most are kind and honest, but we did have a taxi driver that added cost to the beginning of our fare this morning and when Al questioned him, he suddenly spoke no English whatsoever. Ah well, consider it a contribution.

It is fun to see other parts of the world, their customs, food, and especially the architecture. I just love looking at architecture! I am so glad we went on this trip. I was hesitant because of the cost, but Al was eager because of his age.

“Not so many traveling years ahead of me, Mrs. Bussmann! Besides, I would rather spend our money seeing a bit of the world than to pay for the ground where I will eventually be put to rest”

He has a point there, I must admit.

We are on day 6 with a week left. I can’t imagine how my brain will retain it all. This is why pictures and videos are so valuable. Through these we can continue to revisit our trip any time we wish, and we actually already have.

I find myself thinking of my young cousin who was so good to us while serving up a beautiful bed and breakfast in a building attached to a palace in our 4 days there. She really went beyond normal hospitality to help us see the sites of Madrid. We have come to love her little family, her children, husband and her Mother. Well, we actually came to love them a long time ago while they were still living in the states, with us having spent so much time with them when they were in Austin Texas. Despite our age difference, she and I are much alike in our humor and how we see things because we each experienced a similar life growing up. She moved away from the U.P. years after I did, and we each got married. We both moved a lot with our husbands careers, but she moved much farther into the world by way of Europe. She is still young and there is still so much ahead of her! I can’t wait to see what unfolds ahead of her.

Well, I think I will close this little epistle. It is enjoyable to sit in an Italian destined airplane on our way to Venice as I type out my thoughts.

Venice!

I can hardly believe it!

Ooooohhhhhh, whennnnnn the mooooooooon hits your eyes like a big-a pizza pie, thats “Amore!”

Jjb/9/12/2019

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Without a doubt, the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” is still one of my favorite comedies as long as the humorous antics don’t actually happen to me!

We are 7 days to departure and I am carefully honing what I think we may need on our trip while trying to keep our luggage to carry on bags only. We can each take a carryon suitcase and a personal bag and it is in these two bags I hope to get all we may need. I have been watching a number of Rick Steeve’s videos and one would think by the passion and energy I am putting into this that we have never traveled before, when actually we have traveled a lot around the U.S. and Hawaii along with one trip to England and France. So what’s different about things this time you ask? Well, the difference is that we (especially Al) are getting very tired of lugging around the equivalent of two steamer trunks wherever we go. Of course this is an exaggeration, but truth be told, I am an over-packer caused by fear of not having what I need when away from home. We also actually WILL be traveling in planes, trains and automobiles, so I want to pack smart. I am planning on a suitcase, back pack AND a bottle carrying fanny pack, for those days we are touring around.

I am seeing progress. I have travel size bottles and jars for everything I need. I am wearing my bulkier shoes while packing the lightweight pair. I have a light wool travel shawl that can double as a light blanket on the plane and which I can throw over my shoulders on a any cool night. I have 2 pair of pants, one skirt, several tanks, a light weight wrinkle resistant dress/casual jacket and a small scarf to wear into churches. A few each of underwear and socks, 2 nightgowns, and small packets of sink suds to wash as needed. A travel clothesline. A small umbrella.

I iphone and i-pad external chargers along with cords along with earphones. I downloaded kindle on my iPad for reading, though I have a book I hope to finish and then donate.

Then there is Little Willie…goodness where will he go?

As I said, I am making progress but not there yet. Oh, I forgot…our pill holders that show days and times of the week take up a lot of space, so I bought tiny zip lock plastic pill bags where I can write dates and days on them, which I will carry in a couple of ziplock snack bags. Saving a lot of room there as I would have needed three trays and these will take minimal space.

As I write this, I am outside in our courtyard and from where I sit, I am enjoying the recent cooler temps, along with the sound of flowing water from our fountains. I can hear the cicada’s chattering away in a rhythmic pattern and wind chimes playing their music which means there is a breeze. So peaceful it is. Well, 90 IS cooler than what we have experienced this past couple of weeks, which was in the 100’s. It is all perspective. People have been warning us that it can get very hot in Spain and Italy this time of year, but when Al checked out the forecast it is predicting the 70’s with minimal rain. However, we know that can change in a minute. Casara-sara! What will be, will be!

Well, time to go in and do some housework. I love our retired life. We work a little, play a little, travel a little, drink a little, eat a little more than a little, sleep alot and pray daily. Like the old song we once sang…”Oh the Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord”.

Amen…7 days and counting….

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