Category Archives: Thoughts Expressed

Letting go

Long ago when we were young and newly married and having children, we were in the building stage of our life. We got married so one plus one equals two. We had children, add three more. We bought a house, another addition.

We both worked before we had children until I chose to quit my job and become a stay at home mother because it was necessary to have someone raise the children and manage their transportation to school and friends homes and Dr. appointments.

The early years were fun, fairly busy and exhausting. There was always something that needed attention, and I was the one that had to attend to it. As the children grew up they became more independent as they navigated around in their own orbits in their own world. When they left home they left an empty spot in my life which was very difficult to fill.

In this day and age, more often than not, both partners within a couple work out of necessity. This is true even if they have children which creates its own set of challenges, but at least when their children do grow up and leave home, there is something left for the Mother to focus on by way of her career. This was not the case for me. My children remained my focus and so my challenge was to find balance in those relationships.

As the years went by, and after they began the building of their own lives they became progressively more busy, while we found a lot of time to fill. We went out and got a hobby in the guise of a part time job we each enjoyed. It helped fill the hours. We did a lot of traveling which also helped fill the time. We volunteered at church which allowed us to get to know more people.

Growing old is a major change in ones life. In our younger years, the change transforms us from feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities that come with years of preparation for retirement, hoping we will have enough to get us by when the time comes, to a time when we are trying to figure out how to fill all the excess time.

On top of this, we begin our reductions. In the beginning of our life we are busy building and adding, but now it takes on the form of dismantling as we unconsciously get ready for the next stage of life. All the things we purchased in the building stages of life we begin to eliminate. Out they go as we remember how much we paid for them and we wince as we realize they are no longer needed. We should have known since we saw the process all before with our own parents. But, we never really relate to the generation before us because we are too engrossed in our own busy, youthful lives.

I now see that this is part of Gods perfect plan for those of us who continue to age and move towards old age. It is all part of His perfect design in preparing us to let go of this life. Bit by bit the things that made us feel important and needed are lost to us…our jobs, our children, our health. Granted, there is building and some additions continuing as our children take on partners and have children, but we are no longer central to any of it. We move on from being the sun around which the planets (our children) orbited, and now we exchange places with them. Now it is we who are the planets that orbit around them.

There are a lot of blessings that come with aging, but mostly, I have found it to be a grad course on letting go of all the things that we thought would make us happy in this earthly life. We have to release all of which we gathered and it is rather jolting in the beginning. It is especially shocking when you realize your children are not interested in things you have held dear. We want to hang on to the familiar. In the end, we, just like all those who have gone on before us, are forced to loosen our grip and let all things fall away.

Sometimes I wish there were a waiting room between this world and the next where when we die, we could see our parents and be able to say to them, “Oh my goodness, Mom and Dad, I had no idea what you were dealing with at the time, but NOW I understand! Forgive us please for not knowing how difficult it all was.”

Thankfully, we know that this life is not all there is. There is another, even more beautiful life waiting for us and while we accept that this is so, we still cling to all that is familiar. We do not relinquish the remnants of our life easily, so we find that we have to trust in what God has promised is in store for us. We have to hand over the reins to God and when we do, we feel the freedom that comes with letting go of that responsibility.

There is often a fear of letting go because so much of our identity has been caught up with our being in the drivers seat. Our life has been a repository of all the decisions and choices we have made and we have had to live by them. Letting go is one of the most difficult things we will ever have to do, but once done, a peace takes over in knowing that the responsibilities of this life no longer are on us. We start over in the next life with the innocence of a child living in Gods kingdom with all the wonder and excitement a child feels. Letting go does have its rewards.

Jjb/12/8/2019

Oh! Oh!

My apologies to readers of my Word Press site, known as “Thoughts Expressed from My Retirement Nest”. This morning I got into a bit of a snag when reformatting my story. Me and tech settings are hardly compatible to say the least! I think I somehow got this post sent prematurely and incorrectly and repeatedly!

I find myself in a learning curve and I politely ask for your patience! I love learning new things but sometimes there is a bump in the road just ahead of the learning curve. That said, I love this format for my writings! I hope you do too!

Jjb/11/06/2019

Peppermint Patty!

A while back, I was volunteering at the front desk of a local health care center. One morning, as I was greeting people who were arriving to visit a loved one, I had a fun experience with one of the visitors.

That morning, I saw a very well dressed older woman walk through the front door to visit her husband. She was short and plump with very thin hair. I had seen her before on other visits and had come to see, as the weeks passed, how much she seems to enjoy wearing makeup and perfume. It was also apparent that she put a lot of time and effort in getting herself ready for the day.  She was always immaculately dressed in a flashy, colorful ensemble of one style or another. The style always varied, but the bright colors were ever present.

She must have some form of arthritis because as she pushes through the front door, she walks in an awkward staccato fashion, her heels creating a loud clacking sound with each short, jerky step. Heads turn as she approaches the guest register where she signs in.

One day, she arrived wearing a large hot pink brimmed straw hat which boasted a prominent silk peony tucked into the wide pink polkadot band above the brim. She also wore a long flowing multicolored blouse with Capri pants, all in a matching shade of Peppermint Patty pink.  She was wearing large earrings, a matching necklace, and an infinite amount of thin bracelets stacked high up her arm starting at her wrist. On her feet were cute little pink shoes with a large pink flower sitting on top of each one.

I was blinded by the light….a bright pink light, I might add. She and I had a very sweet conversation where I eventually complimented her on her ensemble, to which she responded,

“Well, thank you Sweetie! You make me happy that I went to all this trouble this morning!” I chuckled and said “Me too!”

One of the most fun parts of life, for me, is seeing the variety of humans God has created.  No wonder we call Him “The Great Creator” because CREATIVE He was when it came to the human race.

Out of dust He created all kinds of people….tall ones, short ones, skinny ones, chubby ones, curly hair, straight hair, no hair, blue eyes, brown eyes, green eyes, hazel eyes, light skin, dark skin, smooth skin, wrinkled skin, big butts, little butts, long legs, short legs, (you get the picture!) 

As “Patty” (the name I nicknamed her in my mind that day in honor of her pink outfit) went down the hall, she left me with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. Why? Well, I just saw a person who was wholly and uniquely herself. She wasn’t following another persons idea of how she “could be”, nor another person’s opinion for how they think she “should” LOOK or be.

In a world where so many people seem to buy into the idea that we should all look the same, weigh the same, live the same and think the same….I was blessed to see someone who walked in as the “real deal”. She was proud to be the person that God created in the first place, albeit “gussied up”.  No plastic surgery for this woman. Of course she was trying to “improve on creation” a little bit with her clothing and makeup, but over all, she seemed content with the package she was born with.

When I told her how much I looked forward to seeing how she was dressed each time she visited, she beamed at the compliment (which, no doubt, reinforced her determination to bless the world with her personally chosen custom packaging), she leaned into me and said…

“Well, honey…The way I see things is this way….the effort I put into my appearance is MY little gift to the world”.

I let out an uproarious and appreciative laugh on that one and she laughed with me. Honestly, she made my day with that statement because she was being completely sincere when she said it. This was, indeed, exactly her motivation in how she saw herself….as a gift! In the south, isn’t this where one says “Bless her heart!” Maybe we would ALL do better to take on the philosophy of presenting our best version of ourselves out in the world.

      Anyway, it was more pleasure to rest my eyes on her than on someone who has bought what the industry has decided is the “perfect” package.  Moral of the story?

BE YOURSELF because NO ONE is better at being YOU than YOU!  

    Besides, I just love Peppermint Patty, don’t you?

Jjb/11/6/2019

From now on..

I have been in a funk lately and I think I know why. Even though we cut cable, news shows, and finally facebook, negativity still seemed to seep into our life. Our “Next Door Neighbor network” on email may need to be the next thing to go. What is it about public forums that are communicated from our homes on a keyboard that creates a platform for some people to spread the seeds of fear, discontent, and mean spiritedness.

Now, I realize these people are in the minority since a lot of the posts are simply helpful posts suggesting good Dr’s, service people, nice walking spots etc. However, though the negative people are in the minority, they can still swing a mighty sword cutting through our happiness. Just last night I was reading a forum that got downright nasty between several people discussing a local topic. I could feel myself tensing up as I read the exchange. I have put that site on mute for now.

So, this morning, after my coffee, I went for a walk in our neighborhood and the psychic transformation was a miracle in the making. Instead of having my thoughts directed at all the things that could go wrong in our future, here I was, strolling along while looking at all that is good right here, right now! My body was moving with ease though it has been pretty sedentary as of late. I almost felt like the tin man on the “Wizard of Oz” when I first started to walk a fast clip, thinking a little oil on this joint or that would be a good thing. As I walked along, I could feel my spirit take flight and my joints loosen up.

It is a perfect fall day. The air is cool and crisp, the leaves on the trees are turning color, the neighborhoods are quiet with kids back in school and people back at work. Mr. Rogers, it certainly IS a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

We have a lot of gentle rolling hills in our area, so when I arrived back home, my face was glazed with perspiration! GOOD! This is what my body needs right now and for the unforeseeable future. What does that commercial say? “A body in motion stays in motion”. I would say that is exactly right!

So, it is still morning and the sunshine with its warm rays is beckoning to me. Mr. is painting the front door and Mrs. needs to go out and tidy up our porch. There is nowhere I communicate with my maker better or more fully than right in His own creation.

Blessings to all!

Jjb/11/4/2019

God

I’m living my life like I used to do.

I woke up refreshed, said a prayer to YOU!

I smiled to myself as I got out of bed.

The whole day was waiting with promise ahead.

We live in an age where busy’s the word.

Our schedules are full, our priorities blurred.

We fill every moment of each hour, each day,

Watching and listening to what the world has to say.

Its been good to reacquaint with my quieter side.

Its uplifting to commune with my spiritual guide.

I focus on whats kind and honest and true.

I take time out each day to spend it with You!

Its a blessing how calm and serene I now feel.

I know its because God my Father is real!

So, now Heavenly Father, I would like to say,

How grateful we are to awaken each day.

My dear sweet husband and his devoted wife.

Feel blessed to have reached this stage of our life.

Our love has deepened, our commitment has too.

We love our morning communing with you.

Thanks to our parents who taught us to pray.

They encouraged us to love you and follow your ways…

We did and we do and we will all our days,

Say prayers of thanksgiving and sing to you praise!

Jjb/10/18/2019

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Great new book

When we were in Italy with a long day of travel ahead of us to get back to Spain, I came across a book store in the airport. I walked inside as I often do because books always beckon to me to read them. Quickly I was reminded that I was not in the U.S. because the titles were in a foreign language and so was the marketing material. A lady behind the desk smiled at me and said something in Italian. I immediately apologized that I only spoke english and asked if she did as well.

She said “Yes, how may I help you?”

I said, “ Oh bless you…I am so grateful when I can understand what someone is saying to me here in Italy!”.

She laughed.

I then gestured around the tiny bookstore and asked “Do you happen to have any books in English?”

She pointed to a tiny wall space about 2 feet wide and 6 feet tall with shelves of books in English. There was an extremely limited selection, so it took me a while to find something I might want to invest my time in. My eyes landed on this. “Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine”. I picked it up, never having heard of it before, and began to read the back cover. It seemed interesting and I thought I might like it.

I just finished it this morning and have to say, I have not been “glued” to a book for a very long time. But, glued I was to this one. It definitely caught my interest right away, even though I was not completely engrossed at the offset. That part grew and deepened as the story grew! This authors command of the english language is beyond anything I have ever read before. Just her wording and phrases and written thoughts were a pleasure to read and take into my mind and turn over and over again.

Can a book be delicious? THIS one is because I savored it all the way through.

I loved it from beginning to end because of the soft, steady intrigue than ran through it. The book made you wait all the way to the end to wrap up the story and I did not see what was coming. It is a story about loneliness, kindness, cruelty, love, despair, the whole human condition.

I am going to save it for someone I think may enjoy it and give it to them. I just don’t know who it will be yet.

What a fantastic way to wrap up a vacation! I am back to reading again and I am absolutely hooked! I am looking for my next favorite read! Try it! You may just like it!

It is SO good to be back in the U.S…..in our home, in my chair, in our own little corner of the world.

It is fun to travel, but

“No matter where I travel, No matter where I roam, be it Palaces or pleasures, There is NO place like HOME!” (My Mother loved this poem…it resonates with me too)

Jjb/9/21/2019

Packing light!

So, the last time we went to Europe, we way over packed!! We went to England and France for 8 days. We each had a gigantic suitcase in addition to our carry ons. The ratio of our suitcase to our body was not too far off from the one in the picture below of a little boy with his suitcase. it was ridiculously cumbersome!

THIS time, we are going for 2 weeks and after seeing our friends Laura and Mark go to Europe with each only a small back pack for THREE weeks, we felt motivated to pack each a small carry on suitcase. Now I am feeling a little bit of anxiety building about my ability to fit all I think I need into that one bag.

I bought some packing cubes where one rolls clothes inside them to keep things orderly. I also bought some “sink suds”, (little packets of laundry detergent and a tiny clothesline to wash things out and dry as we go). Just typing this sentence makes my anxiety ridden heart race a little bit!

I also bought some disposable washcloths because I read that most european hotels do not provide them. The ones that arrived yesterday were individually wrapped to look like wrapped candy. When I saw them in a see through bag, I grimaced, thinking these would be like trying to wash my face with a cosmetic puff! I opened one and ran some water over it and my goodness, it grew and grew to the point of looking like a regular sized washcloth. What a creative invention! I love it! So far so good!

Just last week I went north for a week and packed a very large suitcase along with a carryon. I did not use even half of what I brought along and so it became my dress rehearsal and lesson of what NOT to do for this upcoming trip.

We have been busy reading Rick Steves suggestions for easy travel and are doing our darnedest to follow his advice! Wouldn’t it be a nightmare to wash our clothes on our 3rd day and have them shrink up to half their original size! Haha! Those Italians would be traumatized to say the least.

Well, back to packing.Yikes! It reminds me of the days of the hippie movement, or worse,

Well, back to packing.

Dust to Dirt

I am trying to recover from yesterday’s gardening session. We did some heavy work yesterday in the corner of our yard where a few weeks back we had some extremely tall fungus infected hedge plants cut down and hauled away. The shrubs there had essentially turned into trees, which would have been fine had they grown tall and straight.

Unfortunately, they had grown at odd angles into our Yaupon Hollies on the other side of our rod iron fence and up into a couple of 2 story trees which cut off the sun supply to one side of them, so, when the hedge was cut down, we were left with warped dead looking backs of what remained. No leaves could grow where the shrub trees had invaded the space, so the backsides of remaining trees had bare branches. arggggh!

Yesterday, we attempted to fill in the area with some new plantings along with some dark rich mulch to cover the dead debris on the grounds. EVERYTHING was difficult to do, (no doubt due to my old age where I enter a new decade in a month’s time). Al’s job was to go to a local nursery ”Natural Gardener” and other nurseries to bring back plants and dark mulch material to enrich the look of that corner. While he was gone for the second time, I was trying to dig a hole in some root invaded soil and had to use loppers to cut roots, a pick ax to loosen the soil and a shovel to dig the hole.

With each motion of the shovel, I was getting progressively more tired, and at one point, I stumbled over a small sawed off stump and pitched forward into the garden. I tried to use my other leg to correct myself but stepped into the hole I just dug and then suddenly, there I was, face planted in a bed of very old, moist, and decaying garden matter. I had also landed on top of a 18” irrigation head with my wrist underneath me at an odd angle. (That irrigation spike could have done some serious damage to me, but I like to think that my angels were protecting me). I thought for sure I broke my wrist. I allowed myself to lay there in the undergrowth and proceeded to check all my parts to see if I was still o.k….Eyes? Check. Face? Check! Wrist? Maybe a check. I moved my wrist slowly and realized it wasn’t broken, but man oh man did it hurt. I think I sprained it. Today, I KNOW I sprained it. Oh my…it hurts!

Hauling those bags of mulch, Al says, is equal to dragging a dead body around the yard. (Obviously an assumption since neither of us has done this) I suspect he is right about that assumption. I did most of the dragging and dispersing while he did the purchasing of materials because he is even older than I am and he is SO DONE with all of this! He was appeasing me, and it helped me that he did all the driving and running.

We usually hire out most of what we want done, but there are some situations where I want to be “hands-on” because I am so particular. I think this will be our very last yard project. I have unwittingly proven to myself that I am NOT young and strong anymore, and besides, whoever cared that I was once young and strong in the first place? (ME…I cared!) I have always loved gardening and enjoyed feeling all of my muscles at work. I always sent up thoughts of gratitude for this most amazing human machine given to me. I have always loved cohabiting with nature, but THIS time Mother Nature gave me a STERN reprimand by letting me get slightly injured as a message to hang up those tools. It is one thing to plant a pansy in a pot and quite another to be digging holes in rock hard soil. I shall embrace my flower pots and be glad I can still do that!

Why is it so hard to admit that we cannot do some of the things we used to do? I don’t think I am trying to “prove” ANYTHING! Not really…..My mind simply doesn’t understand that my body isn’t keeping up with my mind which is as sharp and clear as it ever was. It is so true what my Step-Dad used to say….”The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”. He always made me laugh when he said that, but as it turns out, it is as true as it ever was!

So, I slept 12 hours last night…Yes! 12 hours! And when I got up, I really did not want to. My wrist is fussing at me today as I try to do the simplest things. Even lifting my coffee cup is a challenge. Yes, it is my right wrist which is my dominant hand.

Still, as I went outside this morning to look at what we accomplished, I feel proud. I like how it looks and I am so proud of myself that I was able to do it! I do wonder though, how Al would have felt when he got back from the nursery, if he found me unconscious on the threshold to eternity? Dust to dirt and all that?

Yes, I have promised him to behave in the future and tomorrow we are off to get flowers for my new garden which sits in a pot on my porch!

Jjb/5/14/2019

 

 

Good times!

I am feeling very tired, my head is hanging low.

The skies outside are dark today, a breeze has begun to blow.

Rain is in the forecast. Oh! Such a dreary thought!

I don’t feel like doing anything, though I know I really ought.

I turn on a lamp for it’s light. I have music playing low.

My brand new book beckons to me. On my chair is an old wool throw.

Candles are lit and flickering, soup is cooking in a pot.

I pour myself a glass of wine. I sit in my favorite spot.

Oh I think this book is gonna be good, I was hooked at the very first line.

I have finally reached the ripe old age, where a book Is a VERY good time!

Jjb/5/2/2019

For all the Saints

I love this picture! A picture similar to this hung in our childhood church and I was always transfixed by its artistic beauty and its quiet message. To me, as a child, it was the blessed assurance that when we folded our hands in prayer, our Heavenly Father listened and cared about our earthly concerns.

14 years ago, on Maunday, Thursday, Al’s Mother died. To her, he was always “Allen”, her only son, and one she loved very much. We were there with her on her final earthly evening, Al, his sister Joanne and myself. Joanne sat on one side of the bed and we sat on the other, holding her hand and talking softly to her. We read verses from the bible that we thought would give her comfort. It was a long night, so we also just sat there in quiet conversation going back and forth across her bed, speaking of our faith and our belief of life after this life. We had heard that before people die their hearing is always intact, so we were just a small gathering of family, holding hands and talking as families do. We like to think it gave her comfort.

That night, after sitting with her for many hours, visiting, reading and listening to deep ragged breaths, her breathing slowed and quieted. The evidence of physical stress left her face, replaced by a soft, peaceful look. Beneath her eyelids, her eyes were moving about as if she was seeing something and a beautiful smile crossed her face. Then she was gone. There is no doubt among us who witnessed this moment that she had gone “home”. We are certain, by the look on her face, that she was greeted by a welcoming, comforting, light filled love that arrived just for her, dear sweet Verona, to bring her to her eternal home.

The following Sunday was Easter and we worshipped with our son and family at the church they attend. As we sang Easter songs of glory, I imagined them written just for her.

“🎼🎶

For all the saints who from their labors rest,

who Thee by faith before the world confessed;

Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.

Alleluia, Alleluia!🎵🎶

We looked at the white cloth draped cross which indicates that through Christ we have victory over death. Those songs had special meaning that Sunday because as we sang those joyful songs, we could imagine our Mother in heaven among all the saints who had gone on before her. When the Pastor stated, “He is risen” the congregation responded with “He is risen indeed”, which I added in a whisper, “She is risen indeed”. Our Father in heaven came to live among us and to die for us and because of Him, our souls are eternal.

I imagine her soul now resting in our Holy Fathers beautiful hands, along with all the other saints who have gone on before her. Happy Easter Verona….happy Easter to ALL our Mothers and Fathers, gone but never forgotten.

Happy Easter dear friends! He IS risen!

No News is Good News

Quite a while ago We eliminated t.v. news from our life by cancelling our t.v. subscription and it was a relief.  I became a headline reader to reduce the stress. That practice helped because I was no longer being drenched in the constant negative news where people were hurling insults at each other rather than having a dignified debate. After a while, even the headlines seemed to seep into my psyche with negative messaging.  

The negative bias was not limited to politics.  I realized after a fashion that most advertising uses fear when trying to sell products.  Pharmacy ads are prolific and costly suggesting we should ask our Dr. for this med or that med…then listing about 100 possible side effects if we use it.

Retirement ads are everywhere asking “Do you have enough to retire?” Well if I don’t know the answer to this, there is someone who will help me figure this out (for a fee). Do I really want to know at this late age?  Where does faith come into these ads?

There are ads out there showing us the latest and the greatest in everything. If we buy into this line of thinking, then pretty soon our cars and houses seem old and small when previously they suited us just fine.  

Oh, and then there are the exercise ads that show buffed, lean, glistening younger (and older) people running down the road in an attempt to tell us we are unfit and unwell if we don’t look this way.

I stopped reading headlines and I have never been happier. I have also stepped back from negative people. I decided to stop reaching out to people who did not reach out to me. I politely declined lunch dates with someone who would always tend to make me feel less at peace upon leaving the lunch than when I first arrived.  

This isn’t to say that we are ostrich’s with our heads in the sand.  What we are saying is that we are taking control of our lives as much as we are able and seeking the goodness and blessings in it.  To those who might fault us for not staying informed, I say we can be informed without subjecting ourselves to a constant onslaught of toxic input.  We will do it from our viewing seats which are now the furthest possible seats from the arena of todays news.

We are both so much happier as we thank God each day FOR each day we are given and for a multitude of blessings.  We also choose to BE a blessing to those around us.

It is Good Friday today, the anniversary of a day when a perfect man’s life was taken from Him because of the negative news of the day spreading in nasty fear filled rumors.  Beware of popular opinion….it is not always correct nor is it always spread around for the good of mankind.

Its a solemn day in the retelling of the story of how badly humans can behave. But it is a good day in showing how God conquers evil.

Church tonight and we are going.  Easter is around the corner. Praise God!

The happy dance

I often wonder if you know

how SMALL you make me feel?

You pretend that I do not exist.

You wish I was not real.

You do not want to be my friend

This was clear from the very start.

No matter how I reached out to you,

I was shunned by your cold, cold heart.

All these years I have tried my best

To be a friend with you my dear.

But now I think I understand,

Its my love you have always feared.

Its really sad but I have given up.

You have what you’ve always craved.

A space that is far and away from me.

Someday you’ll dance upon my grave.

Jjb/4/15/2019

Love is a verb!

Because we felt so negatively impacted by the news, we canceled our television service and opted for a leaf antennae for our local stations. We rarely turn the t.v. on any more unless we are pulling in a movie or watching a DVD of scenic vistas. Radio and music and books have been enough for us. (Well, except, when we first cut the cord, Juanita thought she should at least read the headlines to stay a bit informed, thinking the headlines would not affect me, but I was wrong)

I have noticed that even in headline reading, anxiety will rear its ugly head, because most of it is horribly negative. What I have observed is that the anxiety doesn’t come from any one topic really….it comes from the ongoing onslaught of the ever present, broad based ugly trashing of each other over EVERY. LITTLE. THING! How we look, how we vote, what we wear, how much we weigh, what we drive, where we live, etc., etc,.

Meghan Markles jealous sister is being given a platform in social media because it causes a stir! Me thinks she will never go quietly away. She will harp and harp and harp until the media chooses to NOT print her hate. But of course that will never happen. We have news feeds to fill!

The press is trying to create a fabricated rift between the two royal brothers because loving brothers don’t sell.

We see the press demonizing our First Lady on everything she does, finding fault with her even while she rarely speaks. She is just trying to stay out of the line of fire, yet they constantly harangue about her too trying to provoke a response! When did we come to think it is o.k. trash the First Lady of our country? Why are we being so mean spirited about her when we could be lifting her position up and in the process lift our country up?

Politics? Hate and intolerance abound. Al and I won’t discuss politics anymore. It is just not worth the angst that comes up in any conversation.

I have noticed that even neighborhood news feeds seem to have someone who is always trying to instigate a heated exchange.

Why?

During the Second World War, musicals and sweet movies were being mass produced because people needed a place to go to escape the horrors and reality of war and death. I am noticing that the sweeter fantasy type movies are on the rise again in recent times and surmise that this is NOT a coincidence given our ever increasing negative talk taking place everywhere.

I am so happy about the fact that there are other softer choices in movies for those of us who want to circumvent the dark side of life. Personally, we recently reserved tickets to see the newly released movie, “Mary Poppins Returns” and plan to see it with our Grand Daughters while they are visiting. I am so excited about viewing this lovely movie.

Here we are, heading towards the annual celebration of Jesus birth because “God so loved the world”. Faith, hope and love are referenced a lot in the Bible, all while emphasizing that the greatest of the 3 is love. Why does it seem so difficult to love one another? Kindness goes a looooong way in this world.

In a response to my trying to smooth a heated conversation that was taking place between a couple of people within a group, I was told “Oh for Heavens sake Juanita, life isn’t a fairy tale!” In knee jerk fashion, I responded with the comment, “Well it could be if everyone just tried a little harder!”

I still feel this way. Why do we not just try a little harder to make this world a better place? There IS love out there, little beacons of light within the darkness of hate. These little pinpoints of light are proof that it can and does exist. We ALL want to be loved and valued. Rather than look for affirmation for ourselves, we should give affirmation to others. The response is usually the sweetest gift one could receive!

This commentary wrote itself on the heels of reading today’s headlines. I now plan to give myself the Christmas present of “NO MORE NEWS”. I have stacks of good books to read, beautiful music to be played and lovely dvds to be enjoyed. I do not plan on retreating from the world for I know kindness and love and and encouragement is needed out there more than ever. It is easy to find need out there. We do not plan to be self serving, because we know love is a verb!

As for me and my house we WILL serve the Lord!

My Dream

Image result for pictures of bows of boats on an oceanI had a crazy dream last night. 

In my dream we were a young family again and our three children were just adolescents.  I was feeling emotionally devastated because I had just recently been informed of my fatal diagnosis where the treatment required was brutal and painful and would make me very, very sick, with no guarantees of improvement.

I looked online for alternative medicine and found a site that advertised a fleet of boats that were titled “Watery Graves” where anyone who had a terminal illness could make a reservation to be brought out to sea and just dropped in.  It had been listed as a “Cheap Leap” and went on to read that it was the perfect solution to those people who did not want to suffer before they died.

As the dream continued, I told my husband and children about it and they were appalled, but understood my reasoning and were determined to allow me my one last wish. They were all sitting around the room trying to let this sink into their psych, when I told them I was going to go check out the boat.  They were really sad but resigned with what I wanted to  do.

I went to the pier where the boat was docked, and was told that my departure was leaving in a couple of minutes and I had to board the boat or forfeit my entire down payment which had been a large sum of money, so I got on the ship.

There were many passengers, and I managed to find my way to the front bow of the boat. I felt the cold wind whipping against my face, and I could feel my heart drumming against my chest as the boat gained speed and bounced across large waves that had begun to roll and churn in an angry fashion.  I knew this was the last leg of my journey on earth and now I wasn’t so sure I had made the right decision. 

Just then, several trios of porpoises leaped out of the water right in front of the bow of the boat and gracefully reentered the ocean in a perfectly synchronized fashion.  “How beautiful they are” I thought, and then realized they may well be the welcoming committee to heaven.  My heart slowed down a bit as I took in the beauty of the moment and realized that going to heaven was not something to be feared, but embraced.

I felt a hand on my elbow when a soft voice said “It is your time now, come with me”.  This statement filled me with terror and dread because I suddenly realized I wasn’t ready to die right now.   I knew I was going to die because the Dr. had said I was terminal, but I realized that if I took the situation into my own hands, and took my life early, I was really cheating myself and my family of time together.  Besides, what if somehow, miraculously, I would beat the odds?  I didn’t know what was in the future so why should I end my life prematurely?  Sure, there would be pain with treatment, but it was nothing compared to the pain I would inflict on me and my family by doing this.

I turned to the Captain and said, “I have decided I don’t want to do this anymore”.  He smiled and said “this change of heart happens more often than you think.  It is really o.k.  Just go inside until the others have fulfilled their wishes and we will bring you back to shore.”

Then the dream ended and I woke up.  I was quite unnerved by it because it had felt so real.  It felt real and was extremely stressful to think of myself in that situation, yet so many people find themselves being given a diagnosis with an expiration date on the end of it.  These kind of circumstances are very jarring and often require a quick answer from the patient about how to proceed while our brains are still spinning with the unexpected news.  

I think my dream was brought about by one too many reports of yet another friend dying.  As we age the sum totals on the list gets larger, of course, but also as we age, more and more reports come to us at an ever increasing speed, and it is unsettling to say the least.

We have known many people in our lifetime because we have moved so many times. We have met many people through work, school, neighborhoods, kids, promotions and then there are the many extended family members too. Because the number of people we know are many, so too are the amount of passing’s.  When we are young, we are always shocked by someone dying before their time but we do not really relate to it.  However when we are old, we almost feel like we are standing at the entrance to a large dark forest full of monsters.. 

The entrance to the forest represents our entrance to old age and the dark forest represents our fears of what is ahead.  The monsters represent what going to “get us” in the health department to cause us to die someday.  But, also in the forest there is an ever present gleam of sunshine that threads its way down to light our path and that light is God. So we look where the light leads us and follow the path and pray that all will be according to God’s will.

Yet, again, we received word about someone younger than us who has died this past week and we add him to our list while reminding ourselves to not be distracted by the monsters in the woods. We will keep our eye on the lighted path and pray God will stay with us until our time is up. In the meantime, we will let God be in charge of when that will be.

Jjb/2018