Tag: inspiration

Dear Younger Self,

Dear Younger Self,

A life-long journey of self-discovery and self-awareness awaits.  Trust your instincts.  Follow your heart.  The joy is in the journey.

The first sign of inner strength to carve your own path is skipping Mass in eighth grade.  It will feel risky, rebellious, and exhilarating.  After decades of trying to embrace your religious upbringing, forty will be a breakthrough year.  Confident in your spirituality, you will understand how you live your life is more important than any organization you belong to or label people try to put on you.

In your twenties, health issues teach you to take care of yourself and not compromise your personal values for an employer.  This conflict will show up several times.  You will change jobs frequently and move almost as often.

You will make many life choices that give your mother and father heartburn.  Through it all, your parents will provide a safety net for as long as they are in this world.  Their love and support will give you the self-confidence to face any challenge placed in your path.

The easiest and best decision you will make, at age fifty-one, will be to end twenty-four years of living in the Florida sun to return to your hometown in Michigan and care for your parents.   At age fifty-nine, you make the most difficult decision of your life, leaving the Peace Corps early.  Commitment to self will win over commitment to the Corps.

Follow your parents’ examples:  be generous with yourself and possessions, give to the community you live in, and leave the world a better place for having been in it.

As for the future, embrace the wanderlust that drives you.  Live the life you are meant to live.  The joy is in the journey.

Safe Travels!

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Shedding

Shedding

 

 

According to the calendar, Spring has arrived.
According to the thermostat, Spring is evolving.
Slowly, daily low and high temperatures increase.
Slowly, shed heavy coats, scarves, hats, gloves.

According to the scale, thirty plus pounds down.
According to my goal, twenty more pounds to go, plus or minus.
Slowly, pounds shed.
Slowly, size markers on clothes drop.

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According to the dozens of empty hangers, wardrobe options shrink.
According to the number of wardrobe options, loads of laundry increase.
Slowly, shed unwearable clothes.
Slowly, donate bags of clothes to a local charity.

Slowly shedding old habits,
Slowly shedding protective layers,
Slowly unbecoming,
Slowly evolving.

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Haircut

Haircut

My stylist calls me over.  Feeling the cool basin against my neck as I lean back signals my mind to surrender.  Warm water pours down over my head.  All the stress and issues cluttering my mind are washed down the drain as I feel firm but gentle fingers massage my scalp.

Sitting upright, the sound of scissors snipping away, white wisps float down onto the black cape and slide to floor, reminders of time passing:  only four weeks since my last trim, but years since the puddle of hair swept into the dust pan was dark.

Hair blown dry and styled, I put on my glasses, look in the mirror, and ninety-nine percent of the time I say, “there’s my mother.”

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I spent most of my early years trying to be NOT my mother.  But over the years, I learned to appreciate my mother’s best qualities.  I want to be like that woman.

She was kind and generous with her time and worldly possessions.  She never met a stranger, and once in her circle of friends, you were a member for life.

Mom left this world eleven years ago to join my dad on their next adventure.  I doubt a day goes by that I don’t think of them.  Yes, I get hints of my mother every time I look in the mirror.  But the resemblance is most striking on hair-cut day, when my hair is given the care and attention she gave her beautiful, curly, white hair every day.

Seeing her reflection, I am reminded that the best way to keep her alive is through my actions.  Be kind to everyone.  Give of myself.  Share what I have.  Look for the good in everyone I meet.

Mom was so good about dealing with an issue at the time it came up.  I need work on this.

Mom found it difficult to sit still.  If she had nothing planned, she would make up an errand, someplace to go.  My wanderlust is more global, but the desire to keep moving is in my genes.

I do not want to be a clone of my mother.  The best version of me will reflect the best version of her while maintaining those characteristics that are uniquely me.

It is with great joy and anticipation that I go to my hair appointments.  Most of all, I look forward to seeing my mother in the mirror.

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Bless and Release

Bless and Release

 

Bless and release is a phrase I learned while soliciting donations for a non-profit.  When it is clear a donor is not interested – bless and release them.  Spend time with people and organizations that believe in your cause.

2017 – a year of bless and release lessons in my personal life.  The same lesson confronted me multiple times in a variety of formats and venues.  Sometimes it was decisions I made that did not work out.  Sometimes it was thrust upon me.  I think I finally got it.

2018 will be a year of Joy.  I choose to associate with people and organizations who accept me for who I am and what I have to offer, warts and all.  I choose to be with people who see the world in a positive light.  All others, I choose to bless and release.

A collage of images that express my feelings so much better than I can:

 

Sunshine and Lemon Balm

“Six twenty-three,” Lorna guessed rolling over to bring the clock on the bedside table into focus.  No matter the season, her internal clock never failed; six twenty-three on the nose.  Mid-summer sun, filtered by plantation blinds on the east-facing window, reflected the warm subtle glow Lorna felt in her heart as she visualized the day blossoming before her: a day of sunshine and lemon balm.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, twisting left then right; a deep breath in, arching her back; exhale, rounding her spine, chin to her chest; sitting tall, shoulders down, tummy tucked in, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.

Feet glide into her slippers, or house shoes as her mother called them.  Lorna walked into the kitchen, put a kettle of water on the stove and opened the door to her condo balcony.  Scissors in hand, snip, snip, a couple of leaves for tea. lemon balm 8

 

Lorna’s daughter gave her the original lemon balm sprig.

“Plant it in the garden.  The leaves are great for brewing tea, flavoring fruit salad or green salad, and for seasoning fish. Add stems to bouquets of summer flowers from the farmer’s market.  Your whole house will smell lemony fresh.  You’ll love it.”

Lorna spent the next five summers trying to control lemon balm from taking over her garden.

“You said it’s not supposed to spread,” she said to her daughter.

“If you keep it cut back, the flowers won’t produce seeds that sprout new plants.  Trim the plant way back a few times each summer.  That’s what I do.”

“Now you tell me.  Who’s going to help me dig up some of the volunteer plants?  I like the scent of lemon, but enough is enough.”

 

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Before Lorna sold her house and moved into the condo, she transplanted fifteen lemon balm plants and delivered them to the Alzheimer’s unit of the assisted living facility where her father spent the last two years of his life.

“For the resident’s,” the card said.  “Lemon balm is good for digestion, headaches, Alzheimer’s restlessness, and insomnia.  If you plant them outside, cut them back often to keep them under control.  If you leave them in pots, place them around the facility and they will add a fresh scent to the rooms.”

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Sitting in her favorite rocker, Lorna inhaled the scent of lemon from the potted plant she kept for herself.  As the sun peeked over the balcony wall warming her toes, Lorna remembered her last volunteer assignment at the Alzheimer’s unit.  She was assigned to keep an eye on the residents in the fenced-in yard.

Edna, a new resident, wandered through the garden stopping at every lemon balm plant.  She picked a stem, held it to her nose, took a deep breath in and moved on to the next plant.

Edna made her way around to Lorna and held out a bouquet of lemon balm.

“Take this.  I think it smells like sunshine.  I guarantee it will brighten our day.”

Edna repeated her trip around the garden gathering sunshine as if it was her first trip.  She presented each new bouquet to the next person she saw.  By the end of the day, every visitor to the garden caught a glimpse of Edna’s world:  a place of unending sunshine and lemon balm.

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Lessons from the Couch Test

Lessons from the Couch Test

Slap him or ignore the comment and walk away?  Is this the time to take a stand?

I laughed it off but wondered, “Is this what everyone thinks?”

It was the second time in my short career a white male made the comment, “I guess you passed the couch test,” when I was hired or chosen for a job.

In both cases the men who hired me were complete gentlemen and never made an inappropriate suggestion or move.  As my career progressed, it was the enlightened men and women who were supportive and influential.  The insecure stood in my way, or tried to.

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Over thirty years ago I was a whistle blower.  While reading new-hire files, including the interviewers’ notes, this comment in the file of a young woman is burned in my memory,

“Heavy thighs, otherwise attractive.”

It was a pivotal moment for me.

The Senior V.P. of Human Resources, my boss, was encouraging this type of comment or it would have been eliminated from the file.

Not only was it inappropriate, it was illegal and could have gotten the organization in big trouble.  I went to the highest ranking person I knew at the corporate level to report it.  I figured it might be the end of my employment with that organization, but I was not willing to work for this person.

The corporate attorney got involved; files were scrubbed of such comments; some disciplinary action was taken.

As for me, the organization structure changed and my Training Department moved out of Human Resources and began reporting to the Director of Stores.  Supportive, enlightened people who believed in me protected me.

From the outside, my decisions to take or leave a job probably make no sense.  Often my jobs were out-placed, downsized, right-sized or eliminated.  When the leaving was my choice, it very well might have been prompted by witnessing the abuse of power or a violation of human rights and the inability to look the other way.

inner-light-3Earlier this year I was reminded to stand in my light and own it.

When you allow others to see the light in you, it reflects on everyone around you and everyone benefits.

I hope that my light reflects my desire for  equal rights and the compassionate treatment of all human beings.

 

What’s the Story?

What’s the Story?

I’m baaaack!  Hard to believe it has been a year since my last entry on this site.  I think of myself as a woman of few words, but a year without a post seems a bit extreme, even for me.  Guess I didn’t have much to say.

If you don’t know, I moved from Lexington, Kentucky to Homosassa, Florida last April.  Where is Homosassa?  It’s on the gulf side of the state, about an hour north of Tampa.  Known as the Nature Coast, the big attraction is the ability to swim with manatee.  Personally I think we should leave the manatee alone.  But that is another story.

manatee

Why Homosassa, you ask?  I lived here from 1999 to 2004 and it feels like home to me.  So I really am back.  I love the warm weather and southern life style.  I bought a condo, making life maintenance free.

So what have I been doing with all of my free time?  I have been reconnecting with friends from the twenty-four years I lived in Florida, 1980 – 2004.

I have also been working on my creative writing skills.  I believe I have found my niche or genre–flash fiction.  Flash fiction is a complete story in 1,000 words or less.  I told you I was a woman of few words.

One of my stories has been accepted for publication on a website that pairs flash fiction with photographs.  February 23rd is the big day.  I will put a link here on that day, so you can read it.

I am always looking for inspiration.  So if you have an idea or would like me to write you a story, put it in the comments.  It can be anything.  I have written about a rocker, a music box, fences, a dog, a great line someone said, a basket of yarn and fabric remnants, and canning jars.  Currently I am working on a trilogy of stories based on an observation – three women who walk their kids to the bus stop every morning and meet them in the afternoon to walk home.

Everybody and everything has a story.  Send me an idea or photo and I will do my best to write a story for you.

Here is to a few more words in 2016.  Cheers!

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