Five Minute Friday: Reach

Reach.  When my family and I were in Cleveland, Ohio, we passed the Tremont neighborhood where three young women were held captive against their wills for years.  The atrocities these human beings had to endure is beyond comprehension.  I wish someone, anyone, could have reached in and stopped this madness from occurring to them.

Years ago, my husband and I, newly wed, rented a small cabin at a state park for the fourth of July weekend.  We were inside our cabin when we could hear loud arguing outside mixed with a child’s crying.  We looked out the window and saw a couple yelling at one another while the female was holding the small child bathed in her own tears.  I remember urging my husband to go outside;  my heart ached for that child.  Understandably, my hub had no desire to walk outside in an attempt to put an end to the fighting.  I have thought about that scene often over the years and wondered about that child.  My hope is she never had to witness that again.  I still to this day regret the fact I did not walk outside.  Perhaps my presence in the nearby area would have stopped the angry words being passed from one another.  A failure to reach beyond my comfort zone . . .

Today, I try and reach others with less qualms.  Perhaps it is due to my age, forty-three, middle-aged, and I can remember all of the missed opportunities to reach.  Maybe it is due to witnessing the death of my father and then facing my own life-threatening disease five years later.  Life passes quickly.  How can I use my own life to reach others?  How can I use my words, at the very least, to encourage others, praise others, and let them know they matter and are loved?

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Woman blessing Sarah K. introduced me to The World Needs More Love Letters last year, and I fell in love.  If you haven’t visited this site, do.  The backstory to its existence is honest and inspiring and exemplifies the ability to reach others.

Moved by this site, on a smaller scale, a group of women blessings I know respond to Card Shower Requests through cards, notes, drawings, etc.  If you know of someone needing ANONYMOUS encouragement, praise, congratulations, etc., please e-mail CardShowerRequest@gmail.com.  If you would like to be added to a list of people who sends cards, please e-mail CardShowerRequest@gmail.comReach.

Writing Workshop Wednesdays (6)

Yesterday I met some amazing students, and we discussed second-order writing where instead of simply telling, a writer explains, elaborates, and exemplifies in his/her writing.  So, for today’s Writing Workshop Wednesdays writing prompt, we have a visual, Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World, 1948.  At first glance, what is happening in this image?  Who is the woman, and why is she lying on the grass?  What is she thinking?  What is the building at the top of the hill?

Writing Prompt:  Describe what is happening in the painting below.

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Sunday (again, a little late) Thanks

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In reviewing this past week, I am thankful for . . .

an amazing Book Club Babes discussion combined with a FREE exploration of the St. Louis Art Museum.

donations from woman blessing Tonya to benefit the Fall Festival at my youngest squirt’s school.

songs sung by the choir at Troy UMC which caused many a goosebump on my skin.

a good talk with woman blessing Pat.

my oldest daughter’s love of playing the cello.

woman blessing Christin thinking of me.

a long nap in the afternoon.

For what are you thankful?  Share in the comments section or add a link to your blog.

Listening to Tim Price’s sermon at my church a few months back, he encouraged us all to pray without asking for anything, but instead pray a prayer of complete thanksgiving leaving your wants and needs for another time.

This gave me pause to think how I should devote this day of rest and all days to thanking our Creator. So, every Sunday consider participation with me in Sunday Thanks.

Please reflect on today, the past week, or one incident in particular. Share what you are thankful for in the comments section or link your post of Sunday Thanks using the blue button below.

Perhaps, your sharing will encourage someone else to realize just how much he/she has in which to be thankful.

DO add a link to your blog.
DO comment on the link before yours and after yours. Make some connections.
DO visit every Sunday.

Thank you . . .

Book Club Babes: Flat Stanley

Book Club Babes met today at the St. Louis Art Museum in order to discuss Miss Ava’s selection of Flat Stanley’s Worldwide Adventures 2: The Great Egyptian Grave Robbery.  The St. Louis Art Museum has a vast collection entitled the Art of Ancient Egypt which directly relates to our reading, and the admission is FREE.

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The evening before our visit to the museum, I tried to convince my Book Club Babe daughter to sleep underneath our bulletin board much like Flat Stanley, but she refused for fear of being flattened.  My youngest daughter did give it a try, though, with no flattening success.

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Arriving at the museum, the girls had a mission to find the mummies minus any assistance from an accompanying adult since Flat Stanley had a similar mission to discover the location of hidden treasures deep within a pyramid.  The girls were up for the challenge.  Maps were gathered from the information booth, and memories of previous visits were accessed.  Thus, the girls led the way.  Eventually, they sought out the assistance of a docent (on their own) when collection 130 could not be found.  They were so close.

After investigation of the mummies, Miss Grace, a fellow Book Club Babe, explained the purposes of the canopic jars as well as the meaning behind the hieroglyphics. Woowee!  She had read about Egypt on her own in preparation for discussion.

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Looking at the various statues, the girls mimicked their poses and then flattened against the wall much like Flat Stanley did in the book in order to deceive the robbers.  From there, a lively discussion ensued with reader-generated questions from the girls.

Much was yet to be explored at the St. Louis Art Museum.  Pictures were taken, alarms were triggered (only twice), and an artist was found replicating a painting.  She was kind enough to explain the brushstrokes to us and entertain our guesses as to how long she had been painting said piece.  The Book Club Babes guessed two years;  she had been working a mere twelve hours.

So looking forward to our next discussion of Miss Corinna’s selection of Junie B. Jones and that Meanie Jim’s Birthday.

What a S*%t World!?!?

Hormones.  I was up until nearly two in the morning because I was hot and crampy.  So, I spent this time reading about current events, the life of James Foley*, and his inspiring body of work as a journalist.  A handsome, intelligent, forty-years young man loved dearly by his family, friends, and coworkers. . .

His death is an abomination; senseless; unconscionable.  Really, there are no words to properly describe this.  I have to think the man responsible for Foley’s exit from this earth, on some level, is ashamed of his actions, or else why would he be hiding behind clothing if he truly thought his actions were just?  If one were truly proud of his actions, would he disguise himself?  I kept thinking to myself as I was reading, “Who are the parents of a man who thinks taking another life is justifiable?”  At one point in life, as we all are, this veiled man was a child, a gift from God, full of potential.  As an adult, this man is responsible for his own actions, but who molded this man into what he is today?

The slaughter of Foley along with the events in Ferguson, MO, along with the suicide of Robin Williams along with . . . is a lot to comprehend and sort out when there seems no rational way to do so.  These happenings in our world cause me to question the safety of my own children.  Will they be able to follow their own dreams someday without the threat of others or the overwhelming heartbreak of this existence?  How can people make a change in the here and now for the better?

Walking at Watershed Nature Center this morning, I was thinking of all of the above while encountering the beauty of nature.  Sweating profusely in the heat minus a bra (perk of breast cancer) and adjusting my fitness belt which is meant to make my life easier when hauling keys and a phone for musical purposes, I spotted a field of beautiful white flowers.  I believe these are a type of hibiscus, but a horticulturist I am not.  Fiddling with my phone, I accidentally caught a bee taking nectar from a flower.  Truly amazing . . .  I thought to myself, “Such beauty in our surroundings if we take the time to look . . ..”  Then, I rounded the corner.

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What I saw in front me on the ground was graffiti on the walking trail of this nature preserve, letters which probably have meaning and a symmetrical skull.  What a perfect juxtaposition of the perfection of nature intermingled with the intrusion of man (or woman).  Walking further on, I found more graffiti which at first reminded me of my honeymoon in Hawaii because, at first glance, I thought it was a recreation of a pineapple.  Of course, on closer inspection, I saw it was marijuana.  Hey, I’m forty-three.

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Again, I thought to myself, “Where are the parents of the person who is defacing a nature preserve?”  I am not saying the crime was committed by a teen.  For all I know, it was a forty-three-year-old woman unleashing on the sidewalk. I just wonder why a person would think this is okay to do.  Did he/she not learn from his/her caregivers to respect other people’s property?

At my age I do not graffiti, nor have I ever, but I did try and think back to what I have done to other people’s property.  I tee-peed a friend’s house and a teacher’s house while in high school.  I, along with other female eighth-grade friends used to wet paper towels in the girls’ bathroom, wad them into balls, and then throw them up at the ceiling so that they would stick.  I have no idea why, but this still brings a smile to my face.  I stood watch while a loved one had diarrhea behind a dumpster at Little Caesar’s and again, on another occasion, had diarrhea over a vent opening of a house which was in the process of being built.  This was in no way malicious, though.  She truly had some bad reactions to some less than desirable food choices.

Returning to my car a sweaty hot mess and feeling icky about the world in general, I thought there must be a way to be an agent of change at even this miniscule level, but how?  On a global scale, how can anyone change the thought processes of angry irrational human beings?  I don’t know, but I wish I did.  I felt like what I am, a tiny tadpole in a 6XL pond.

Sorting through the mail when I returned home, I opened a letter with a personal note of “Thank you” written on the back of the envelope.  Intrigued, I tore through the envelope.  Inside was a handwritten note saying woman blessing Christin had nominated me for a Pay It Forward contest, and I won a one-hour massage.

Tears flowed down my face.  I had no idea I had affected anyone in a positive manner.  As a teacher, I hear a lot of groaning about the amount of work instead of what I long to hear, gratitude at the amount of learning.  As a volunteer, people often complain rather than realize, “I am utilizing my own time and resources in an attempt to improve the world by helping guide your child.”

Anywho, I have never had a professional massage in my lifetime, and I am more than overjoyed to knock this off of my bucket list.  In the meantime, I am going to e-mail and see what I can do to aid in the removal of the graffiti.  More than anything, I wish I knew who was responsible so that I could ask him/her to lead our Girl Scouts in a positive way through an art lesson after he/she assists in the clean-up of the trails.

*For the family of James Foley, I am praying for your healing, and I am honored to have read through his writings.

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Change

Change.  An aspiring politician and educator knocked on our door the other evening while we were eating dinner.  My hub answered the door and talked with him briefly before being handed a flyer highlighting his views on issues.  What was interesting to note was how there was no mention of his being Republican, Democrat, Independent, or other, and I thought that rocked.

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The point, at least as I inferred it to be, is the need for change regardless of which belief system you align yourself.

Isn’t this true for all problems in this world?  Does it matter whom does what?  Shouldn’t it simply matter that something . . . anything is being done at all to bring about change for the better of all?

While reading a post written by Lisa-Jo Baker the other day, she mentioned a friend in financial trouble who needed a vehicle to stay afloat for her family’s livelihood.  The small group at this woman’s church agreed to pray for her, but, as Lisa-Jo Baker pointed out, what she really needed was a car, which, it turns out, is exactly what Baker did for this woman . . . loaned her a car.  Goosebumps ran up and down my arms after reading this.  This is change in action and has inspired me to think more along those lines. .  .instead of simply praying, do. . . for change.

 

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed . . .

1st Corinthians 15:51

 

What does change mean to you?  Join in Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, #FMFParty

 

 

Tracy McMillan’s I Love You and I’m Leaving You Anyway

A fan of the memoir, I discovered this latest read, I Love You and I’m Leaving You Anyway, while perusing the shelves at Horizontal Books in Cleveland, Ohio.  Tracy McMillan writes with honesty as she details her childhood dysfunction and its lasting effects which reach into her adulthood especially in her relations with men.

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What drew me in as a reader were her thought processes from the perspective of her childhood self as well as her adult self intermingled with one another within a single chapter.  The weight of what McMillan had to endure as a little girl resulted in my taking numerous breathers from the reading.  Born to a father who was a pimp/drug dealer and a mother who worked as a prostitute, McMillan finally found some normalcy at the hands of Gene and June Ericson, her foster parents, for four and a half years.  Then, she was uprooted from this home only to live with her father and his girlfriend until his return to prison.  Her parenting then fell into the hands of her father’s girlfriend turned wife, Yvonne.

As an adult and reflecting on her current relationship with her stepmother which is pretty much nonexistent, McMillan writes:

I feel a twinge of sadness, not because I wish that we were going to be a part of each other’s lives- I don’t see a life of merry Christmases and summer vacations with Yvonne- but there’s a part of me that loves a happy ending, and as endings go, this one isn’t happy.  It’s just okay. . . . on second thought, an okay ending will do just fine.  (312)

This is just one of many sympathetic introspections the author engages in throughout the memoir resulting in a resolution of profound thought.

Furthermore, in dealing with her son who questions McMillan as to why she divorced her third husband, McMillan takes full ownership of her role as parent, “I know my choices have affected you, honey.  I’m so, so sorry. . . .We can make it count for something”  (333), and responsibility to stop the cycles of dysfunction.

If reading I Love You and I’m Leaving You Anyway for book club, perhaps a trip to Paris (where McMillan and her son commenced a fresh start) for discussion will fit into everyone’s schedule.  If not in the budget, then perhaps coffee to mirror how McMillan not only starts her day, but how this beverage makes an appearance during many of McMillan’s life-changing events.

 

Sunday (a little late) Thanks

Busy yesterday simply savoring the time with my family, I failed to post my Sunday Thanks, but did not fail to be thankful.  My girls have recently gone back to school, and I missed them those two days they were gone last week.  In the summer, we are together morning, noon, and night, and that’s how I like it.

I am thankful for . . .

Kryptonite Boob Sweat (breast cancer survivor here with new and improved kryptonite boobs), the naming courtesy of my friend in Virginia, woman blessing Christie.  Having destroyed a third cell phone (by accident, of course) in a matter of four years, take or leave a year, I had to break down and ask my friends to text me so that I could add them to my contact list.  Admitting that storage of my previous phone (may it R.I.P.) in a sports bra while climbing Monks Mound is not conducive to technological longevity was humbling, to say the least.  Adding my friend’s humor to the situation made it all worthwhile.

witnessing a man in his seventies climbing the stairs repeatedly at Monks Mound (I need to step it up a notch).

two surprise “packages” (cards) in the mail.

amazing mission trips completed by the middle and high school students at Troy United Methodist Church.

a loved one’s body finally at peace.

 

For what are YOU thankful?

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Tell

Tell.  My uncle, sixty-three years young, died yesterday morning at the gruesome hands of cancer.  He was the funniest man I ever knew without a doubt.  His laughter and sense of humor was contagious.  I spent a lot of time at his home in my later single-digit years and early double-digit years.  He liked Winston Churchill and W.C. Fields as there was, to me at the time, a scary profile picture of the latter wearing a hat hanging on his wall.

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He first introduced me to biscuits and gravy much to my horror.  I remember looking at my plate with all of this speckled goo covering perfectly fine biscuits not sure what to do about it as I knew it wasn’t polite to tell someone you didn’t like what he was serving.  I moved the food around on my plate to make it look as if I had eaten, but ended up going home hungry.  Today I would be on my seconds by now hoping there were thirds and fourths.

One time when I stayed at his house for the weekend, I ended up flooding his bathroom as I didn’t know shower curtains went on the inside of the tub (my dad had glass shower doors).  When I stepped out of the tub onto the rug, there was this odd squishing sound.  I then tried to soak up as much of the water as I could with what towels I could find in the bathroom, but this hardly made a dent in my destruction.  I thought the best course of action was to say nothing, so I left when my mother picked me up hoping no one would use the bathroom while I was still present.  Now, I would have loved to have seen his reaction when his feet became soaked upon entering his bathroom, and he discovered a pile of wet towels in the bathtub.

As an adult, I didn’t see my uncle much.  At Christmas, though, I remember him doing a theatrical reading of Walter the Farting Dog which did not leave a single dry eye in the house.

I would like to think my uncle knew I loved him because I did.  I’d always squeeze on him before he left and say, “I love you, Grub!” (a term of endearment created by his nieces and nephews), and he would usually say, “Okay,” or something along those lines in return, but I know he loved me, too.

I imagine he’s now Upstairs with the Big Guy, his mom and dad, and my dad, whom he sought out in order to tell him some jokes.

I love you, Grub.

Writing Workshop Wednesdays (5)

Tomorrow my squirts start school.  I have one who is excited, and one who is devastated.  We do our best to make this last day memorable to us.  Today, we are going to swim to our hearts’ content at a new (to us) aquatic center.

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So, how would you spend your last day of summer?  Consider this last day using all five of your senses (if possible).

Share your last day in the comments section, or link up your post by clicking the blue button below.