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!

 

Goodbye Libby

Libby was a swell dog. She was happy to see anyone who came through the front door. She would run around the room and wag her tail as if to say, “Oh boy, someone to play with me!”

After awhile she would calm down and lay at your feet quietly. And she would do almost anything for a treat.

She was Mac’s dog, for his whole life. Until two days ago when we all had to say goodbye to a swell dog.

Mac loved her very much. They played together and slept together as most boys and doge do. He fed her and watered her – his daily chore. They were very close as most boys and dogs are.

When it was time to say goodbye to Libby, Mac was right there by her side. He held her close until the end.

Even though he was grieving, he didn’t back away. Even though he was sad, he held her. Even though he was afraid, he remained brave.

Mac talked to Libby in a soft voice. He told her what a good dog she had been, how much fun he had with her and how important she was to him.

It was so important for Mac to do all this but it was just as important for Libby to receive such a send off. She needed to feel safe, loved, warm, in familiar arms and surrounded by a voice she knew

She got the proper medication, so she was calm, comfortable and relaxed the whole time. That was important as it took a few hours for Mom, Dad and Mac all to get to the Vet’s from different points.

The final minutes together were very meaningful for the whole family and provided a thoughtful closure for all of them

The hardest part now is dealing with the quietness at home without Libby there. She has left a definite hole in the lives of Mac and his family.

She will be missed for quite some time especially by Mac. He has not known life without Libby. He will have a lot of adjusting to accomplish in the future.

But he will do fine because he not only lived well with Libby, he let go of her well also.

When it was necessary, he gave her the best goodbye ever.

Lessons From “Emma”

Gramps and I went to see the movie “Emma” today.  Despite the fact that it is pretty much a chick-flick and he had a tough time keeping up with all the characters, he was very concerned that everyone would end up with the right partners. Good man, Gramps!

The movie is an adaptation of a Jane Austen novel.  That alone would be reason enough for me to see it.  But the costumes and the sets were astounding!  Even the hairdos were captivating!  Needless to say, I loved the movie.

Besides reveling in the look of the move, I enjoyed what Jane Austen had to say.  She always has plenty to say about love and “Emma” was no exception.

Here is what I learned in two hours of period drama:

Lesson #1-Never interfere in others’ love choices.  People fall in love for a lot of reasons, most of which we are unaware. Maybe even they are unaware of them.

Interfering in, or worse, judging, someone else’s choice of love can lead to unbelievable heartache.  It hurts both parties and you.  It can damage a relationship forever and can break a trust for a lifetime.

It can be so hurtful that the friendship can never be repaired.

Best to be a good friend and supporter.  Be happy for their choices and rejoice in their joy.

Lesson #2-Never judge people by their wealth alone. The amount of income a person has can be the least important thing about them.  Of much more importance is their character, their morals, their ethics, their spirit, and their humor.

The income or wealth of a person may be temporary.  It may be the result of something beyond the person’s control, such as a health crisis.  It is beyond our knowledge to know and so should be beyond our ability to judge.

Lesson #3-Love words should be spoken often.  Too often we think our loved one understands what we are thinking and feeling.  Even if they do, they need to hear the spoken words of love.

More often there is miscommunication through looks and gestures that are unclear.  False conclusions are assumed and actions are taken based on false premises.  The ending couldn’t be farther from the intention.

We all must speak what is in our hearts every day.  Feelings of love, gratitude, pleasure and need should be expressed often to that special loved one.

Very often, they too are simply waiting for the opening to speak those very words back to you.  They are bursting to tell you exactly what you have been dying to hear from them – love words.

Don’t miss any occasion or opportunity.  Don’t let a precious moment go by when those caring words can be shared.  You’ll never regret saying them.  But you will regret locking them in your heart and keeping your silence.

That will haunt you to your dying day.  Jane Austen gave good advice through the language of her novels.

Listen and learn

 

The Gift Of Water

I can’t imagine turning on my faucet and nothing flowing out. I can’t imagine being unable to bathe any time I wanted. I can’t imagine not being able to water my garden and lawn whenever needed.

I can’t imagine these things because they have never happened. I’ve always had water available to me . And because of that, I’m sure I take it for granted.

If I had to walk miles for my water, I would be more grateful. If I had to carry my water for every use, I would be more grateful. If I had to boil my water to be sure it was clean, I would be more grateful.

But as it is, I use water daily without thinking about it. I trust it will always be available, be plentiful and be clean

Thinking about it now, I am ashamed that I am not more mindful of all the people involved in providing this luxury for me. ( And in most of the world it is a luxury.) How many people does it take to provide me with a glass water, anyway? I don’t even know.

I’m so used to water being in my life, I don’t even question it or worry about it. I’m embarrassed  to admit this all in public. but I know nothing can change unless ii is faced. So i admit to you, my sweet readers, I take clean water for granted.

I want to know better. I wants to do better. I want to be better. I want to be a mindful consumer. I want to be a grateful user.

That will only happen if I remember. Remember to be thankful each time I see water come from my faucet. Remember to not waste any of my precious water. Remember to use my water helpfully. Remember to think of those who provided my water. Remember those in the world who aren’t blessed with water as I am.

Yes, I will remember.

 

.

A Marvelous Kindness

She was wearing the sweetest little pin. A sort of wonky heart shape in multiple colors that was obviously handmade. It was so charming.

I told her how lovely I thought it was. No big deal, really. A common exchange between friends.

I expected a “thank you” or a “this old thing?” in response. Maybe we would just smile and both admire the cute little pin. Or she would tell me the history of it, where it was made and who gave it to her.

Instead, the most amazing thing happened. Without saying one word, she reached up and unhooked the pin. Smiling sweetly, she put it in my hand.

“For me?” I said.

“Yes” she said, “I’d like you to have it.”

No, no, I thought! These things don’t really happen in life. People don’t just give away their jewelry.

I tried not to accept it, but she insisted. What else could I do?!

I was stunned. No one had ever given me something so spontaneously, so easily, so freely. It wasn’t the size of the gift. It was the enormity of the gesture that overwhelmed me.

I had no words. “Thank you” seemed lacking and yet I was enormously grateful. Finally all I could say was, “I am so humbled by your kindness.”

And I still am. Humbled, that is. Every time I see that little heart pin, I am overwhelmed by the gratitude I feel.

She says I owe her nothing but to enjoy the gift. And I certainly do. That little piece of handmade jewelry gives me great joy.

I think now the best way to pay back my gratitude is to pay it forward. How fun would it be to hand this little pin to the next admirer, freely, easily, spontaneously and with no strings attached.

Just the way she taught me.

Best Advice

My mother always had good advice for me – for everyone actually.  She gave every girl in the neighborhood a good talk before each got married.  She taught every boy how to treat a girl well.

My mother knew a lot and was not afraid to share it with others.  She learned much from her life and was eager to teach it to those she thought needed it.  No one was safe from her advice.  Especially me.

As the only daughter, she saw me as the one who really needed teaching.  I got a lesson nearly every day.  It was important that I grew up benefitting from all her knowledge.

And it was all good.  Some of her advice was standard stuff, like “A stitch in time saves nine.”  No sense reinventing the wheel, she thought, when most things are tried and true.

But some of her advice was life-changing and learned through hard experience.  She always told me to keep a quarter in my shoe (to make a phone call home) and to never depend on anyone else to get myself home.

This good counsel would come to my aid one night during my senior year in high school.  I was on a date with a boy I knew well, and we were out with another couple.  We had gone to a movie (drive-in theatre, in those days) and were on our way home.  I needed to use the restroom, so we stopped at a gas station in a very remote area.

While I was in the restroom, the two boys thought it would be funny to drive away.  When I came out, no one was there.  I was scared to death.

Then I remembered my mother’s words.  I got the quarter out of my shoe and called my dad, who came immediately to pick me up.  Just as he arrived, my date came back.

Needless to say, I went home with my dad and I never dated that boy again.

From then on, I always had money for a phone call and was never in a situation where I could not get myself home.  Meaning I was never too drunk, too high, too isolated, too intimidated or too penniless to take care of myself.  Never!!

Today my mother’s advice still rings in my ear when I leave home for any reason.  Good counsel is good counsel at any age.

Thanks Mom!!