Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Give me tomorrow

Photo courtesy of
Bing images
December 24, 2013 Update:

I wrote this article in December 2010 because I was a bit disappointed with the lack of media attention given to the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor bombing here in the United States.  Christmas Day 2013 is approaching for us now, and I decided to re-post this same article because I many friends request it each year, and it is vitally important to me that we remember our men and women in the military who are far from home during so many holidays. What I will add is that I have found another website called The Veterans Site that many of you might want to visit. This site sells products and uses the proceeds to feed homeless and hungry veterans. Each product listed on their site indicates how many meals it will purchase. You can also sign up to receive a daily email reminder to visit their site and click their blue button at the top of the page; each time this button is clicked, sponsors of The Veterans Site donate money for meals for homeless and hungry veterans. 100% of sponsor money goes to charity, so I do this daily click. It takes perhaps 15 seconds to accomplish. 

I dedicate the article below to my family members who have served in the United States Armed Forces:  Ted Reagan, Wendell Reagan, Clayton Reagan, Charles Reagan, Ronald Reagan (these first 5 names are my uncles, all of which are my heroes and father figures), William "Bill" Albert Prince III (my uncle), Kenneth Reagan, Tim Reagan, Steve Richardson, Drew Reagan, Christopher Taylor, Quincy Trentham (my cousins), Bill Sievers (my dad), Dick Nelson, David Reagan, Reece Reagan Jr., Curt Pickens, John Day (my cousins), Ben Barbie (honorary uncle), Sam Bright (great uncle), Edward Nelson, Fred Nelson Jr., Don Nelson, James Bennett (my cousins) and Papa Michael Long (my honorary dad).

Original article date, December 8, 2010

Photo courtesy of
Bing images
I am paraphrasing this story from memory, from an article I read many years ago in Parade magazine. It was written by a war correspondent who started his career during the Korean conflict. He was cocky; sure he would go into the war zone and interview soldiers, then write brilliant articles and quickly make his mark in the literary world. He was dropped off at the front lines in winter and proceeded to make a nuisance of himself, badgering weary soldiers with what he admitted later in life were absurd questions. They were all exhausted, wet, poorly clothed for the winter weather, and not at all welcoming to his chatter and blustery manner.

One quiet soldier caught his attention. The reporter remembered that he had haunted eyes and kept himself aloof from the rest of his troop. When he asked some of the other men why that was, the answer was this young man of 23 had been there the longest and had lost over 35 close friends on his tour. A soldier of 23 years was considered an "old man" in that particular arena. Sure that this guy was the one to give him the story content he had been anticipating, the reporter walked over, sat down and began trying to interview him. No answers were forthcoming. The young soldier wasn't rude; he just sat there, tending to his weapon and ignored every inquiry the reporter threw at him. Finally, in frustration, the reporter threw out a banal suggestion.

"Tell me what you want for Christmas this year!"
Silence reigned for so long that the reporter had decided to give up and move on to another prospect when the young man with the haunted eyes finally looked up and pinned him with a weary stare.

"Give me tomorrow," he said simply, then stood up, weapon in hand and walked away.
The reporter said that he never forgot that simple lesson, and that simple statement. He said it taught him that vanity and hubris had no place on any battlefield and he learned that day that he had a long way to go before he could ever dream to reach a level of class that that young man with the haunted eyes projected with one simple statement. I do not recall the Parade article mentioning if this young soldier made it home from Korea. I like to believe that he did, that he made it home and lived a long, happy life, was able to marry and have children and that he enjoyed many, many tomorrows.

I apologize for not having the reporter's name to share; I believe he went on to win quite a strong level of acclaim throughout his career. I just always think of this story at Christmastime, and again at various significant military dates, when so many of our Armed Forces are far from home, and all of them are wanting one simple thing. Tomorrow.

Over the years, there have been a few similar instances where my heart and my imagination were captured. The bombing of the U.S. and French barracks in Beirut in 1983 is one such moment. Only days prior to the bombing, one of the national news stations had sent reporters in to interview some of the soldiers there. One beautiful young man was interviewed as he was in the weight room, working out. He was intelligent, well mannered, thoughtful in his responses and wanted one thing - for everyone in his troop to make it home safely. Two or three days later, the bombing occurred and I have wondered quite often over the years if that beautiful young man survived the bombing. 299 American and French troops perished that day. I'll never know the answer to that question, but I've always prayed he had many, many tomorrows to enjoy as well.

No one in this world, if they're in their right mind, wants or believes in war. I choose to be patriotic on many levels, as I wholeheartedly love my home country and I am proud of us as a Nation. I do not ever think that war is the best solution to any chaotic situation. That being said, when our troops are sent out to dangerous areas, I am going to be one of those Americans who strongly support their efforts. It is because of those troops, those men and women of the United States, and what they do every single day, that we remain free and protected, safe for the most part, to enjoy our own tomorrows.

During the Christmas 2010 season, I have a friend in Iraq who will be coming home soon. I met him through the Cup of Joe for a Joe coffee program on the http://www.greenbeanscoffee.com/ website. He is on the countdown stage right now, anticipating being home to spend the holidays with his loved ones. With just a bit more patience and luck, he will be home safely, embracing many tomorrows. *2011 Update: this friend did make it home safely; he is now preparing for his next active duty tour.*  But we all know that there are just as many who had their tomorrows cut short. We see it every single day on the evening news. The numbers increase daily, and families throughout the United States (and other countries who have a military presence in war zones) get those dreaded official visits, telling them the fateful news.

Tomorrow is not promised to any of us, this much is another simple truth. For soldiers, it is a daily tightrope and a tenuous journey they walk, rarely knowing if they'll have that next tomorrow. Regardless of your feelings about our presence in any wartorn country, I would hope that everyone can find it in their hearts to put those opinions aside and be supportive of our troops who are currently deployed. Send them loving prayer, send Care Packages if you are able to, do something like the coffee gift program, or The Veterans Site that I mentioned above. All soldiers deserve to know that their daily efforts are appreciated. I like to believe that the more support we all offer, the more loving thought and prayer we focus on our troops, perhaps the stronger the chances are for many of them that they will, indeed, see more tomorrows. For soldiers who make it home safely, the war doesn't always end there.  They require medical and psychological help that is difficult to obtain.  Many others reengage successfully with civilian life, and they are the lucky ones.  Regardless of their journey, they all deserve appreciation, recognition and support.

Photo courtesy of
Bing images
Godspeed and God Bless all the souls who protect and serve the United States Armed Forces. I wish for each and every one of them the United States soldier's wish from decades ago in Korea:

Give them tomorrow. Many, many tomorrows.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fabric of reality

Y'all know all the support groups out there?  Millions of them exist.  There's one or many for every issue, every phobia, every dream that can be imagined.  The one that doesn't seem to be covered is a support group for direction challenged people.  I'm not altogether certain that such a support group should exist, mind you, but I'll get to that part a bit later on.

Anyone who knows me really well is at least peripherally (ha...direction joke!) aware that I have a poor sense of direction.  No, really.  I know, I know.  You're thinking, "Nah, she's just exaggerating.  I know she's intelligent.  I know she has her life together.  No way in the world is something as simple as navigating going to cause problems for her."

Well, thank you for those lovely accolades, but this time, you really should believe me.

You know who you are.  

You're the ones who listen when I admit this failing and then brush it aside, thinking it's a throwaway statement meant to inspire comic relief.  Shame, shame on you. While I agree that it can get comical, just you wait...one day, you'll have to deal with the reality of my poor brain's inability to orient and follow directions.  Or a map.  THAT can be downright dangerous, putting a map in my hands and expecting me to get from Point A to Point B. In the future when this happens with unbelievable amounts of weirdness and you're part of the experience, don't say I didn't try to warn you.  

And you might want to get comfortable for the rest of this, because this is going to take a bit of explaining.  Or maybe a lot of explaining.  Suffice to say, it's going to take a while!

I've shared in the past that I have a low grade level of dyslexia when it comes to numbers, and in my opinion, that must exist close to the same genetic marker for the inability to navigate well.  I have a friend who has insisted on calling me Magellan since we were teenagers, and he did not apply that nickname out of flattery.  He has been in the mix of my myriad misadventures more than once over the years.  He believes me now, but it took multiple episodes to convince him.  Hence the Magellan nickname.

So, yesterday, I was visiting a girlfriend's home for the first time.  She doesn't live far from me; she's just in an area of town that I don't frequent.  And she lives off of a main highway that is notoriously busy and has a high number of fatalities each year.  Yes, that part is very reassuring and inspiring, isn't it?!

I write the directions down.  They're fairly simple.  They require me to go through downtown Knoxville because there's still construction going on on our main bridge across the river.  That construction, by the way, is shaping up to last an absolute eternity.  Those of us who live here are beginning to grow accustomed to the visual of an empty span in the air where the main bridge is supposed to be.

Anyway, I go through downtown and suffer through traffic on Gay Street where one couple decided to stroll in a very leisurely fashion across the street at the stop light when the danged light was GREEN.  I know that there was no way on earth that the Walk / Don't Walk sign was telling them to Walk across the street during a green light, but hey, I guess they were rebels.  I slammed on my brakes to avoid plowing them over and neither of them were even bothered enough to glance over at my vehicle that could have flattened them.  Nope, they were consumed with their moseying pace, not a care in the world.  Okay.  I am not prone to road rage at all, but at that moment, oh my word, it was tempting to do something drastic!  I resisted, because there was an agenda to get through downtown and find my girlfriend's house. I'm rather proud that no one got splattered all over Gay Street that afternoon.  It was iffy there for a few minutes as to whether that would happen to a few people.  Read on, please, for the second example of one who deserved, nay, was just ASKING to be splattered.

About twenty feet further down the street, a woman suddenly comes from the right side of the street between two large trucks on a bicycle, looking UP the street away from oncoming traffic.  As heedless and oblivious as you please, she walks her bicycle out into my lane and stops.  Dead still.  Looking up the street rather than towards oncoming traffic.  Meaning ME in my car.  My MOVING car that weighs a lot and could kill said cyclist if I hadn't hit my brakes for the second time in the span of perhaps 10 seconds.  Again, I resisted the urge to commit vehicular homicide and politely tapped my horn to bring her out of her daydreaming haze.  She turned her head and blinked owlishly as though to indicate I was the one at fault, then she took her time turning and sloooowly walking her bicycle back off the street.

Now I'm annoyed.  I admit it.  Who wouldn't be?!  You would be. And you might be less gracious than I was and hit the gas pedal, rather than your brakes.  Which is why it's a good thing it was me driving, unless you factor in the direction challenged part that is coming up in this riveting story.  I continue down Gay Street and as I'm almost to the bridge where the street opens up into two lanes, I can't shift to the right lane that leads onto the bridge because someone has parked their pretty, shiny black car right there on the street.  Where there isn't a parking zone.  No parking meters.  Just hey, this looks like a good spot to park and impede all sorts of traffic!  I finally made it into the right lane, just barely, and got across the bridge. Great!  If there is any true justice in the world, though, the owner of that pretty, shiny black car will come back and find that his/her vehicle was towed.  That's not vindictive; I'm being caring and mindful of traffic safety.  It's my solemn and sacred duty as a Knoxville citizen, and I take that very seriously.

Now turn onto Chapman Highway and navigate that insanity. Clutching my handwritten directions, I zip down the highway, checking for landmarks on the list. I say "zip" because you have to keep up with the flow of traffic on Chapman to avoid dying.  Back to those handwritten directions.  Kroger's on the right....check.  Start counting street signs on the left after I see a Ken-Jo Market.  There's Ken-Jo...check.

At this point, let me backtrack to the phone call where my girlfriend and I are writing down these directions, because it's all sorts of fun!

Kim (my girlfriend):  "After you see the Ken-Jo Market at the light, start counting street signs on the left.  You'll turn at a big church after the third street sign on the left - Grace Dei - on the left onto Anderson...."

Me: "Okay, hold up whilst I write all of this down.  Street signs, three of them on the left.....which side of the road is that on?"

Yes, I really did ask that.  It doesn't matter that Kim used the word "left" THREE times...for whatever reason, it didn't compute to my brain. And yes, there was a marked silence on the other end of the phone from Kim.  Then it hit me what I had asked and I proceeded to fall out laughing.  I had tears, it was so hilarious!  What can I say?  I'm not good with directions even when all we're doing is discussing them. And yes, I really do know what side "left" is on. Just not when I'm writing down directions and talking on the phone simultaneously, apparently.

Back to driving down the insanity of Chapman Highway and counting three street signs on the left side of the highway.  Well, here's the thing.  We both forgot that I can't see worth flip.  And of course I didn't have my glasses on.  They're currently in the sweaty, crafty little hands of my resident House Elf and haven't been returned yet.  That's a whole other story, House Elf issues, but I digress.  If you follow my blog, you've read about my House Elf issues before (Mystical Roommates, 2/24/2010, Healing Morning blog).  They are ongoing. But back to this very important re-telling.

Because I am not wearing my glasses, and because it's a four-lane highway, it's kind of challenging to read those street signs until I am almost on top of them.  And you can't slow down on Chapman Highway, just so you know.  That is when bad things happen on that particular highway, like car accidents.  I count the signs, but can't really read the names.  This is where the fabulous invention of cell phones comes into play.  I call Kim.  Tell her where I am and that the big church has either poofed out of existence or I overshot it.

Turns out that no, I haven't driven that far yet. Or so she says.  I'm doubtful and I really think the church poofed momentarily.  Alternately, what possibly happened is that I skipped a line in the handwritten directions and got everything off kilter.  I do that quite often when I'm going somewhere for the first time.  I have no idea why, but it is a common thing that happens.  It's like my brain, or my eyes, or both get blindness with directions and things get all scrambled and wonky on the paper.

Cell phone to the rescue!  I now see the church on the left where it has miraculously poofed back into existence, and I turn into the parking lot because there's not a road like Kim indicated I should see.  Perfect.  This means I'll have to fight my way back across Chapman Highway with a left turn.  Wait, Kim says, I'm in the right place!  That's not a parking lot.  It sort of morphs into her road.  Kind of.  But there's no road sign.  Or lane.  It might be a lane since it's cutting off the main highway; I can't ever remember the rules for what constitutes a street, road or lane.  We'll call it a road.  I follow it and start the dreaded counting again, this time of houses. At least there's not maniacally speeding cars behind me, riding up my booty and blowing their horns in the most obnoxious manner possible.  I count and nope, her road seems to have poofed just like the church did earlier.  As you can see, there's a conspiracy at work here.  I've suspected it all my life, but now that I'm re-telling it and you're here with me, you can be my witness.  SOMEone is moving stuff around anytime I am driving someplace new!  Right?!  You agree with me, I can tell.  And I really appreciate that about you.

I turn around in someone's driveway, doing all of this with one hand because I forgot to put my cell phone on Speaker mode.  I drive back up the road where Kim insists I must have just passed her road without really seeing it.  She's not as savvy as you and I are about the conspiracy that is clearly taking place.  I go up a slight hill and see a big tree with lovely, fluttery limbs and equally hangy-down leaves that are obscuring....her road.  And the sign.  I don't care what you think right now - that road and that sign WERE NOT THERE when I first drove down that hill!  And WHO decided to put a tree right there, anyway?  Where its hangy-down leaves cause all manner of navigation issues.  It needs a haircut, obviously, that tree.  All those long limbs and hangy-down leaves obscuring the suddenly poofed back into existence road sign...well, that's just all kinds of wrong.  And part of the conspiracy. Because that's what...three poofs in less than five minutes?  That, my friends, is PROOF...it's EVIDENCE of a conspiracy.  Of the navigational kind.  Probably kissing cousins to Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  And I daresay both of them are in cahoots with my House Elf.  Same local union hall, I bet.

I turn into that road and Kim is saying she's watching for my car.  Bless her, she has played this game with me before.  She says she's waving and I squint my eyes, sans glasses, and sure enough, there she is.  Thankfully, the conspiracy action hasn't poofed her and her house.  I'm thinking the devious minds behind said conspiracy probably got tuckered out by poofing that big church out of existence and then back into existence, along with the road sign a few minutes ago.  You probably agree with me.  I love how sympatico we are today, don't you?

I arrived, I met her husband, we visited, we played with the puppies.  I was loaded down with a care package of yummy cucumbers, tomatoes and some red potatoes from their garden before I headed home.  And that part?  Heading home. Yeah, that.  It wasn't pretty.

We're in East Tennessee and it's high summer.  That means that we get these unexpected summer storms and I drove right into one.  It was raining so danged hard that visibility was perhaps five feet in front of my car at best.  I was driving maybe 15 mph, but couldn't pull over anywhere because I was still on Chapman Highway where lunacy rules all drivers. I got cut off yet again and had to take James White Parkway.  I realize that those of you who live around the world are clueless about these road/street/highway/interstate names, and I apologize for that.  James White Parkway is a loop that was built to facilitate routing traffic around, rather than through the heart of downtown Knoxville.  And that's great, if that's what your goal is.  Normally, I would say it is, because I'm not a fan of driving through downtown Knoxville. I'm all for routing around downtown and avoiding it, usually. My experiences with moseying jaywalkers and brainless cyclists would be your first clue as to why I don't like driving through downtown Knoxville.

By the way, before any cyclists take umbrage at the brainless comment, I doubt any of YOU would have committed such an act of walking with your bicycle slap out into oncoming traffic without checking for oncoming vehicles.  She isn't one of you, clearly, so you're not allowed to be insulted that I called her brainless.  Back to why going through downtown was necessary when I'm not a fan of that drive.  In this instance, it was the quickest way home.  If I hadn't gotten cut off and forced onto James White.  But I did, so, I snailed my way along the parkway in some of the heaviest rain I've experienced driving through, and that navigation thing reared its ugly head again.  I took the wrong access lane to get back onto the interstate and wound up heading about 20 miles away from Knoxville and the direction of home.  In the pouring rain.  Driving 15 mph.

You're envious, aren't you.  I can feel it.  You just wish you had been with me on this trip!  And so do I, because it would have changed the whole dynamic.  There's this unwritten, immutable Rule of the Universe that states if you're in the car alone and you take the wrong way, YOU. ARE. LOST.  If, however, someone else is in the car with you, then it's an adventure.  See the difference?  Yes, me too.  Alas, I was alone that day, in my car tooling along in the pouring cats and dogs storm at an impressive 15 mph clip.  But it gets better!  One of my clients is out in the area where I was accidentally headed; I visit their business monthly and that meant something spiffy.  I wasn't LOST!!!  I was just going on an extra-circuitous route to get home, albeit a really annoying, lengthy, raining fit to beat the band route.

I did make it home.  You knew that because I'm sitting here writing this recounting of my trip.  NOW do you believe me that I am not good with directions?!  If you don't, then I don't know what else to tell you. Well, actually, I do, because I have hundreds of these stories that would make my point beautifully.  I just think your eyes would start to glaze over after maybe the 50th re-telling.  It will be a lot easier and we'll all be a lot happier if all of you who are reading this, collectively, just accept that I don't have a great sense of direction.  Besides, it could be even more alarming.  My Mom is WAY worse than I am with directions.  No, I'm not kidding.  I TOLD you, it's a genetic thing.

So, what do you think about a support group for this?  I'm thinking it's probably not the best idea and I'll tell you why.  Support groups usually have regular meetings.  At physical LOCATIONS.  Which would require finding these locations.  Yes, you guessed it....more navigation sagas.  Which, in turn, would cause yet another in the long list of misadventures of the nature of this one that I've just shared with you.  I don't think y'all are ready for that, nor is the world at large.  Just imagine how much more poofing out of existence would occur.  Scary, right?! It's not something to be entertained lightly, such imaginings.  Because all y'all matter to me and I love that you visit and read my thoughts, I am going to spare you such a support group and by so doing, keep the fabric of reality intact.  It's my gift to you.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

What is today....

What is today?  It's Saturday.  Misty, rainy morning has turned to pure blue skies without a cloud in sight.  That will change, most likely, because it's East Tennessee and change is the one thing that can be depended upon regarding our weather.

I'm icing and elevating a wrenched knee, activity curtailed to a large degree for the next several days to allow some healing.

I would rather be outside on my patio, puttering with my plants, breathing in the heavy, moist summer air, but getting out there requires navigating steps.  So, here I sit.  In my Saturday, with a mind wandering.

My ice pack isn't the best, and beads of condensation have soaked through the kitchen towel to dampen already chilled skin.  A fat honeybee drones by my open window, busily searching out lush blossoms.  Momentarily, he hovers at the window and I am sure that we lock eyes.  If I were outside, I would offer to pet him.  He most likely feels sorry for my temporary trapped state, but he cannot delay his flight and zooms off into the blue.

Time for the ice pack to come off the knee.  Grab my journal and my favorite pen to have on hand for jotting down some personal thoughts after I finish this post.  Antiquing on a Saturday afternoon would be so much more entertaining!  Instead, I address myself.  And this day.  And a sense of hush....of quiet....of space.

So much to do, endless lists and chores, none of which can be accomplished with an injured knee.  Turn inward, where there are equal amount of chores to tend.  Sweep that corner first.  It's been dusty and cluttered with forgotten smiles.  Lift them up and see how they fit today.  Some are crooked.  A few are completely inappropriate and have potential for belly laughs.  One is soft, gentle and reserved for a specific person.  That one stays, hovering in the heart, because it waits to be matched.  The others, I leave tumbled back into disorder, because smiles should never be contained and regimented.

Wander into the next room where words are stacked up.  They lie drunkenly across every surface, wildly rambling, stitching colors together there.  Weaving music over here.  That particular fabric is bright and will probably find a home soon.  The one on that rocking chair belongs with my family, soft and worn and comfortable because it is full of weathered lavender threads that speak of love.  Worn so soft and thin that they appear to be delicate, but the words belie that and create a strength that cannot be harmed.

Oh, look....there's a song right here, on top of a stack of words that zig zag, accordian-style.  The melody jitters and jumps erratically, spilling notes in a trill of sunshine yellow.  Daffodil yellow, and happy like the flower.

I glance at the floor and see my footprints in this place.  Casting a gaze behind me, the footprints show different shapes, different versions of me.  The day I wore those gorgeous red heels and made a mark in the world shows a set of crisp steps, confident and empowered like the color of those heels. The morning that I received shockingly sad news, flip flop footprints slew in a jagged, confused stumble...and are melded with the stance of another who offered strong arms and support.  The day I walked barefoot in the woods of home, these particular steps are of every age I have been....wee child, teenager, young woman....and now.  They meander, they swoop and dash, they dance, they mosey and stroll, those bare feet.  Layering all of the Me that has been this time around.

And now, I step through a doorway hung with a blanket and greet memories of my Granny Reagan.  Sitting in her rocking chair, arms open to receive a little girl with white-blonde hair and an endlessly curious mind.  That day, we walked to the mailbox together and discovered infinite worlds along the way.  I wore my pink patent leather shoes, the dressy ones that are supposed to be reserved for Sundays and church, but what little girl can resist sharing pink patent leather shoes with the world? I wore them every chance I got. I could linger here endlessly....

This bright Saturday with the endless blue skies is an inward journey.  Tidying here, stepping around chaos there, blithely ignoring any outward judgment that anything requires more than an acknowledging sweep of my eyes.  Looking into rooms that should not be touched for a while.  Recognizing others that could do with being emptied, but I repeat the blithely ignoring approach. Who knew that a wrenched knee would guide me here?  The strains of a song accompany me as I emerge back into the Now.  Howie Day's "Collide".

My honeybee friend is back at the window, hovering again, regarding my human self curiously.  This makes me question what message this little guy brings.  Research tells me that the honey bee symbolizes the soul that flies away from the body.  Perhaps that is where my inner journey focused, flitting away from my physical body to traverse the landscape of my Spirit.

I am back now, with bare feet dusted in insubstantial glittery cobwebs of my life.  I am sure that my current Self has left new footprints in there.  

Saturday, May 18, 2013

In the Deep Blue

photo:  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Water_drop,_single.jpg
I have been discussing meditation a lot lately.  With close friends, some whom I had no idea were devoted to the practice, as well as with new acquaintances.  I am a starter and stopper.  A drift away from it for a while, then come back to meditation with renewed enthusiasm kind of person.  For anyone who has meditated for even a short while, you know that it requires discipline.  The whole process is about discipline.  Focusing the body, staying still for a prescribed stretch of time, tuning the world out, focusing the mind, focusing the breath, and focusing the will to do all of the aforementioned.

The nature of meditation is to sit in silence and focus the mind.  This is when we are inevitably hit with "mind chatter".  Allowing each thought a moment of clarity and recognition, we then gently quiet that thought and come back to silence.  Each thought, in turn, is given its moment in the spotlight before we come back to mindfulness.  It's one of the most challenging devotions that can be embraced, in my opinion.  It's much easier to let the squirrel energy of all that mind chatter grab our attention and lead us far and wide from the original goal.

I have several friends who do active meditation where they listen to guided meditation recordings whilst doing some other activity such as exercising, house cleaning, etc.  I've tried that and I can see the beauty of combining activity with meditation, but I much prefer the sitting in silence method.  Occasionally I will listen to a guided meditation series, and I enjoy those because they allow a different type of relaxation and renewal.

What I tend to be drawn to the most is my own mental imagery.  From my earliest years of meditation, I've continually returned to the mental image of a deep blue pool where the occasional drop of water splashes down, creating a singular sound (in my head, I hear it as music - a clear single bell tone) and those lovely rippling eddies across the surface of the water.  If you can imagine being in a cave with a deep blue pool of water, and the cave being illuminated, that is the mental image that crops up the most when I meditate. The photo I shared above is a fair approximation of what I see in my mind's eye.

The single focus being the pool of water means there are no other distractions and my consciousness is narrowed to each droplet of water as it descends and bounces into the deep blue pool.  In my imagination, this cave is comfortably cool, clean and safe, and each droplet of water, and corresponding bell tone and beautiful ripple drops my consciousness deeper into the meditative state.

As I write this, it has been one of my lengthier stretches of time away from practicing daily meditation, and I find myself ready to embrace it again.  To step back into that mental imagery and focus on, and in the deep blue, and to greet that sense of Inner Peace that comes from opening up my full Self to the voice of the Divine.  It is the wee hours of the morning at the moment, but tomorrow will see me grabbing floor space to sit in meditation again.

Do these thoughts have a point?  They're my ruminations on something that has been a guiding force for much of my adult life.  Perhaps some of you reading this are fellow meditation devotees.  Some, myself included, see meditation as a different form of prayer and connecting to the God-Force.  I know that when I devote daily time to the practice of meditation, my daily existence is enriched.

And the most delightful part of this post?  It came about from a conversation with one of my dearest friends, who knows me better than most, and what I called a "good, old fashioned front porch talking to" where she helped me find some balance.  I have been wrestling with writer's block to a degree I rarely experience and couldn't find a way out of it to save my life.  It felt like I was trapped in a huge room with wet draperies hanging down that would twine about me every direction I turned, until I became immobilized.  The conversation with my dear friend cut the wet draperies and allowed my hands and mind a breathing space.  Directly on the heels of that huge inhale of fresh air came immediate inspiration for this post, and the urge to step back into focusing on the deep blue, allowing the rest of me to expand in awareness.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Gratitude Moments, Vol. III, April 2013

Photo: www.igniteyour.com
I find this exercise to be freeing, especially because I never know what the gratitude thoughts are going to be until they flow from my fingertips. Kind of like entertaining Angels unaware...because the moments of blessing lurk so quietly until we open the door and allow them to fly.

I never begin a Gratitude Moments post with a preconceived notion of what thoughts will be given voice.  So, here we go...walk with me and let's see what is discovered.

Gratitude Moments

  1. Having the perfect pillow for your bed.  This one is tricky.  I'm a pillow smoosher, and prefer a soft, fluffy pillow that I can punch and scrunch and mold.
  2. Having a conversation with someone who completely gets you.  Y'all know what I'm talking about.  It's that kind of exchange where words are almost unnecessary, but when words are exchanged, the flow is effortless.  I'm blessed with many relationships of this quality.
  3. Taking naps during the day, but even better, taking a nap during a rainy day.  I call them soft, gray days and we have them occasionally here in East Tennessee.  
  4. Snow.  Having enough snow for the making of Snow Cream, and walking out in Nature with my camera to capture magical moments.
  5. Having the dexterity and knowledge from learning to crochet as a child.  My great aunt Carrie taught me to crochet on her front porch, sitting in the glider.  Throughout my life, I have made countless Love Gifts for friends.  Some Love Blankets made for babies have now been passed down to the next generation, from what I'm told.  Knowing that I am creating a piece that will live for decades, given proper care, is something that I enjoy.  It's like leaving a piece of myself behind, infused with love.
  6. Online shopping!  Having worked many years in retail management, I am so appreciative that I can avoid malls during the holidays.  Online shopping is a huge gratitude moment.
  7. Recently joining in the marriage celebration of a very dear friend and seeing this ages old affirmation that love is enduring, crosses all boundaries and lifts us up.  *Congratulations, Spooks & Beth!*
  8. Call them what you will....handbags, purses, pocketbooks.  They make me happy!!!  I prefer the structured, classic lines that hark back to the mid-Century styles.  And yes, it may be true that a few of my bags are on the large and roomy side (Marticus, hush it!), but they're necessary.  Really, they are.
  9. One cannot express appreciation of handbags without giving an equal nod to shoes.  These two, handbags and shoes, are completely materialistic.  I admit it.  They're still something that makes me happy on a regular basis.  I'm equal opportunity in regard to heel height.  Flats, stilettos, and everything in between, with the exception of wedge heels (they look like animal hooves to me).
  10. Meeting someone who meshes with you regarding hugging style. This is huge, people!!  I'm not big on social "air hugs".  I want the full deal - both arms around me, hold me close and tight, eyes closed, for long, long, quiet moments so that we absorb one another.  Yes.  And you know who you are.
  11. Ruby red grapefruit.  It is one of my favorite fruits!  
  12. Eyes that see.  Limbs that function.  Ears that hear.  Lips that speak.  Lungs that breathe easily.  A body that is in a state of good health.  I am aware that each day I step from bed and walk throughout the world, there are many who have none of these blessings.  I am consciously aware of and embrace gratitude for having a healthy body, particularly so because I have experienced health challenges in the past.  
  13. Having a creative spirit - this is one of my strongest blessings.  It allows me to express myself in myriad ways.  Here, through writing.  In other areas, through my hands as I create tangible objects of art.  With my thoughts, as I engage in conversation with others.  In my waking and slumbering dreams, as those are the places that inspire me to do all of the aforementioned.
  14. I love the sound of trains at night.  I grew up in East Tennessee and the sound of trains is a constant backdrop.  Yes, I've written about this here at Healing Morning - Train Song, 3/12/2010.  As I am writing this post tonight, it is raining and I can hear the rhythm of an approaching train, its whistle muffled and distant.  Because this has been a background sound my whole life, it always makes me smile and brings me to a peaceful place when I hear the sound of trains.
  15. Both of my nephews bring me joy on a regular basis.  They're seven and ten years old, respectively, and at an age where normally hugging and kissing girls would ick them out.  I'm happy to report that this is not the case for me.  Either they don't see me as a girl, or they just love me enough to overlook that I'm a girl, because they hug and kiss me with much enthusiasm. It makes my heart melt. During Christmas holidays, as I was leaving my brother's house (their father), I heard, "Aunt Dawn, wait! I forgot to kiss you!  That means I get another hug."  These are currently wet puppy smelling hugs, because they're still little boys and they just always smell like wet puppies from playing hard.  They're accepted and returned with equal enthusiasm.  
  16. Spring planting.  As a kid, I would never have predicted that as an adult, I would grow to appreciate and enjoy gardening, but it has come to pass that I am repeating childhood cycles in the best way possible.  I am potting kitchen herbs, starting seedlings for tomatoes, waiting on flower bulbs to arrive from catalog orders, and anticipating a flourishing patio garden this year.  It reconnects me to happy memories of similar planning of gardens with my maternal grandfather, and my dear Mom.  And this year, with luck, my miniature Meyer lemon tree just might produce fruit!  
I ask you, who can live in such a world as described above, and not dwell in gratitude?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

If...and if....

photo:  www.paleospirit.com
If I reveal the fractures
                       deep and ragged
will I still breathe?

                                    If I remember
              sweet spring fragrance
will the memories remain?

If I touch
                           the deep well of loss
             will I drift endlessly?

         Ticking echoes
of an empty clock

                If I linger
tasting acid tears
                              will I heal?

If I laugh
                       finding small pleasures
           will I betray?

                                                 Grains of sand spilled
                               marking where
the time chord snapped

                                   If I recall
                                              hands reaching down
will I be lifted up?

                              If I see
that smile shining
              am I letting go?

        tether broken
                             spirit set free

                     If I hear
wisps of laughter
                       will I lose that precious note?

                     If I gaze
                                            at incredible talent
will it become flat and empty?

If I hold
                     arms open
will there be a return?

         If I rest
                                                     will surcease
                        prove ever elusive?

If...and if...
                     and if....

a torment
                                   and a comfort

                 Twining and swirling

All suspended

.....the ifs...

                                  Hammering against
      transparent boundaries

              and quickly gone

reflecting what?

                                  If...and if...
and if....

               ...and if...again....

The poem above is the first thing I've written and published here since December 28, 2012.  That stretch of time is the longest I have gone without writing here at Healing Morning since I created the blog in 2009.  The reason for this silence?  There are many.  Holiday insanity, seasonal commitments to parties and events.  Work encroaching; personal relationships demanding time and attention.  Most importantly, I needed time to absorb and address the loss of a family member who left us through suicide in the summer of 2012.

If you follow my blog, you may have read some of the articles I wrote about that loss when it happened. (Sad Weathering, 7/5/2012, Healing Morning).  For those of you who may have gone through a similar loss, then perhaps you know that processing the emotions and finding a way through to acceptance is a lengthy process.  I'm still working on that.  I am not sharing this poem and these thoughts to indicate that I am still dwelling in that immediate state of shock and sharp loss.  I have healed a great deal.  The thoughts shared today encompass all those doubts and questions that we inevitably confront when we lose a loved one to suicide.  In my healing process, I have allowed the thoughts to come to consciousness so that I could absorb, understand and release them.  During meditation, during prayer, during random moments, they will resurface and demand further contemplation.  And healing continues.