Our True Heritage

By Thich Nhat Hanh

The cosmos is filled with precious gems.

I want to offer a handful of them to you this morning.

Each moment you are alive is a gem, shining and containing earth and sky, water and clouds.

It needs you to breathe gently for the miracles to be displayed.

Suddenly you hear the birds singing, the pines chanting, see the flowers blooming, the blue sky, the white clouds, the smile and marvelous look of your beloved.

You, the richest person on Earth, who have been going around begging for a living, stop being the destitute child.

Come back and claim your heritage.

We should enjoy our happiness and offer it to everyone.

Cherish this very moment.

Let go of the stream of distress and embrace life fully in your arms.

 

What’s Right About Being Wrong

I am wrong, often.  And when I am, I feel terrible about it.  But what if something good could come from my errors?  What if the world could become a better place?  What if I could become a much better person?

When I make a mistake, my first instinct is to feel shame and I want to hide myself.  But maybe it’s an opportunity to feel humility and begin to forgive myself.  I’m not alone in my wrongful ways.  I could forgive someone else.  Why not me?

Apologies are next forthcoming.  I apologize – usually many times.  This is a good lesson in acceptance of our own behavior.  We have to be able to put into words what we have done wrong and how we have harmed another person.

Then the next thing I feel is the need to be forgiven by the other person.  To ask for and accept forgiveness is a true blessing.  It may not be easy but it is certainly necessary.

Making amends is the part that is most often forgotten.  Making things right again is hard. It takes time.  It takes effort.  It takes thought.  We think we’re done when we have been forgiven, but we’re not.  We need to make restitution.  That makes us stronger and more mindful of other people.

Then there is the final lesson to be learned from the entire event.  What is the positive thing you learned from your mistake?  Don’t let all the time and effort be a waste.  Make your life and yourself better for it.  Gain something from the experience.

That way you are less likely to allow the same error to occur.  You will improve and definitely become wiser.

I’m thinking that with all the mistakes I’ve made in my life, I should be perfect by now! Seriously!

But truthfully, mistakes are going to happen.  Make them growth opportunities.  Lean into them.  Admit to them.  Solve them.  Be better for them.  Learn the lesson.

What I’m Really Afraid Of

In these trying times, the TV is constantly telling us what we should fear – closeness, touching, disease, crowds, people, coughs, germs, viruses.  These things may be of concern to me, but I’m not really afraid.  There are other things that truly frighten me.

Allowing people, especially children, to live in hunger frightens me.  People are so damaged physically and psychologically by the effects of poor nutrition or no nutrition. That, in turn, damages our whole world.  We all become less by the loss of potential in others.   Leaders, teachers, thinkers and artists are lost because of poverty and hunger.

Allowing hate and bigotry to exist frightens me.  Judging people unfairly by their religion or skin color is so divisive.  Teaching children to hate others is so wicked as to be absolutely sinful.  Our world can’t abide any more division and war.

Allowing and participating in greed frightens me.  Greed leads to the oppression and subjugation of people.  There’s enough for everyone but not enough for everyone’s greed. To meet the needs of someone’s greed, someone else will always have to do without. Hence more poverty and hunger.

Abiding violence frightens me.  Our violent selves are our lesser selves and should not be tolerated.  What comes of violence is more violence, not peace.  And that really scares me.

These are the true dangers of our world, I believe.  These are the things we need be aware of and mindful of.

Even while we are quarantined, we can be aware of the needs of others.  We can be fair and kind to all people.  We can share the wealth with everyone.  We can be calm and gentle in all our interactions.

The treatment of the whole world starts with our treatment of every person in our small world.  How we act in every little situation will affect the entire universe.  We can do healing or harm with every spoken word.

Make every action count.  It will become your habit and your character.

A Letter To My Teenage Self

Dear Sweetie –

I know you’re busy being an active teenage girl, but I have some words of wisdom for you.  I have gained this wisdom through many years of experience and lots of trial and error.  I hope to relieve some of your anxiety and give you hope for the future.

Most importantly, know that the difficult times in life are survivable.  It may not seem that way now, but only because you have had such a short life and maybe so few hard times. Each success in hurtling a storm will make you more equipped to face the next one.  By the time you reach my age, you will be a master and a teacher, and others will look to you for counsel in the stressful times.

Don’t take yourself or anything else for that matter, too seriously.  Learn to see the humor in everyday life and you will always have a smile on your face. You will find that humor will get you through a lot of difficult situations.

Always tell the truth.  No matter what, tell the truth.  It shapes your character for the rest of your life.  Make your word and your signature your most solemn promise.

Meet all sorts of people and value diverse relationships.  Learn to make and maintain friendships.  Some of the people in your life now will remain close to you for the rest of your life.  Make good memories.

Try all sorts of interests.  Join after-school activities. Take up a musical instrument.  Try out for a team.  All these things help you discover your strengths and weaknesses – all good knowledge.  And they make you a more well-rounded person.

Don’t abuse drugs and alcohol – just don’t!!!  They bring you nothing but heartache and will steal your life.  They will take everything from you and I do mean everything – your money, your job, your family, your home, your friends, your name, your trust, your health and finally your very life.

Finally, have fun!   These are some of the best years of your life – enjoy them. Go to school with a positive attitude.  Attend school functions.  Spend time with friends and family. Explore hobbies and sports.  Keep a journal.  Look for ways to share with others.  Be goofy.

Have faith in yourself.  You will do well and will be successful.

Remember, I will always be here to help you.

Your grown-up self

400!

Today’s blog is my 400th!   I can’t believe it but yes, it’s true. Four hundred blogs!!!!

I’ve been writing pretty much all my life.  Mostly newsletters for different organizations and lots of letters.  I’ve always loved expressing myself per the written word.  Even after I almost failed Freshman English in College.  (The Professor didn’t think I was much good at writing in those days.)

I started this blog because I had a few things to say about being a Granny.  I thought it would be a temporary outlet and that I would run out of topics.  What a silly thought that was!

I have more to say now than I did then.  As the years have gone by, I have found that more and more ideas have occurred to me and my subject areas have broadened immensely.  It seems odd, but the older I get, the more observations and opinions I have.  I realize now it will never stop.

This blog has given me a wonderful creative outlet.   It has allowed me many opportunities to express myself in hundreds of ways. Through gratitude, humor, self-reflection, pride for another, happiness, courage and faith, I have been able to tell stories about Granny, Gramps, the grandchildren and the village.

The blog keeps me disciplined.  I must not go too long between blogs.  I must choose a topic.  I must write a certain number of words with a beginning and an end.  I must edit it and it must make sense when done.  Then it gets published.  At that point it’s all up to the readers.

They are in charge of reviewing the blog and making comments on it.  No one can know the importance of the viewing public to me.  Without you, your views and your comments, I really have no reason to write a blog.  It would be like talking to the wind.

The blog provides me much encouraging feedback to keep writing.  It’s you, the readers, who keep me going and wanting to keep posting.  One sweet compliment lasts a good long while and a positive reply is as good as intravenous vitamins.

All you viewers out there have no idea how important you are to me.  How much you mean to me and how much I depend on you.  You are always brutally truthful as to what is a good blog and what is less than my best.  For that I thank you.

This blog has taught me to be able to choose which parts of a story can be told in truth and which parts need to be kept secret or told in code.  People must be protected and social media is not very good at that, so a person must decide what is included and what is not, to protect the people.  Editing becomes a big part of writing a blog well.

This blog has taught me another thing – how kind most of you readers are.  You are basically a good group of nice people with specific opinions I need to hear.  All this exchange back and forth makes me a better writer and you a better reader.  That combined effect of getting better makes the whole blog that much better.

So how do I say thank you to all of you – my faithful followers, my diligent readers, my responsible ones, who read each blog.  How do I express my gratitude?

This is my BIG THANK YOU!  I couldn’t do this without you!  Besides the fact that I have to do this, I have to do this for you!  Thank you for that – for being there and making it worth it!

Here’s to the next 400!

Am I Still My Brother’s Keeper?

Well, the Coronavirus certainly has made itself known and recognized in our world.  Events cancelled and/or postponed.  Travel stopped.  Schools and businesses closed.  Vacations extended.  People quarantined.  A country under a State of National Emergency.

And, of course, the panic buying of emergency goods and stockpiling of all manner of products.  It’s all scary stuff!  What is a person to do?

First, I refuse to live in fear.  I am a person who always sees the glass not only half-full but full to overflowing.  No matter what, my world is abundant and full and positive – always. No virus can take that from me.

I’m also going to be cautious, so as not to harm myself or anyone else.  I have an obligation to everyone to be sensible and reasonable with my health and theirs.  There is no reason to take unnecessary risks that would potentially harm anyone.

Therefore, I will follow standard guidelines and common sense in dealing with this contagious disease, as I have with every other contagious disease I have confronted.

My convenience and whim should not scare or endanger anyone I care about.  So I will be thoughtful and caring in my actions.  But I will not be afraid.

If someone needs my assistance or help in any way, I am obligated to give aid.  Not just if it’s convenient and not just to the point of discomfort.  But all the way.  I’m supposed to give whatever is needed, for as long as needed, to whoever needs it.  Even if it kills me. Hard words to live by.

So I can’t in good conscience do anything that is only for me and leaves my fellow sister or brother out on their own.  Such as buying all the water in the store and leaving none for anyone else.  It seems selfish to me.

If you have all the water and your neighbor has none, and that neighbor gets sick, are you willing to take water to your neighbor and stay with him until he gets well?  Just asking.

These are hard times.  We have responsibilities to ourselves, our loved ones and everyone around us.  The environment seems to be one of extremes and getting more so. Confusion is all around.  Decisions are being made for us, which makes the world feel out of control.

But we can always decide how we react to anything.  No one can tell us how to do that. That is entirely up to each of us.

We can always choose to be calm, wise and intentional.

That’s my plan.

A Good Book

Reese Witherspoon has written a wonderful book “Whiskey In A Teacup” about life and recipes from the South – Nashville to be exact.

But it’s not just a cookbook. Although the recipes are truly fantastic. I mean, who can pass up great tips to making Southern favorites like sweet tea, lemonade, pecan pie and fried chicken.

And all the other wonderful tried and true recipes from her family and friends. You can’t beat those special meals handed down from generations ago. They are each a small treasure to be guarded, enjoyed and passed on to the next generation.

Added to the recipes are the touching stories of her childhood years  in Nashville and the impact of her mother and grandmother They are priceless!

After such good training from such strong women, Reese can and does give us all appropriate advice on how to be beautiful and proper on the outside, and fierce and warrior-like on the inside. Hence the name of the book, “Whiskey In A Teacup”.

She shows how Southern friendship and community breeds women with good manners, hospitality and a sense of decor who will fight for the rights of others, see that everyone is fed and will never lose an argument.

Included is a list of Southern Expressions and a Southern Pronunciation Key so we can all understand each other. Although since I’m from Texas, I didn’t have any problem “talking’ Southern”. My favorite, of course, is “Well Bless Your Heart!” which, as Reese points out, has many meanings. The tone of the voice will tell you which version is meant.

A good portion of the book is devoted to how Southern women deal with entertaining especially during all the holidays. Of course, a Southern woman will tend to overdo everything, so Reese’s best advice is to try to simply as best you can. Good luck with that!

I really loved reading this book .It is charming. It is sweet. It is comforting. It is like a big hug from a friend. In fact, some people I know will be getting this book as a birthday or Christmas gift.

Shh – don’t tell them!