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The Making of Me – How I Came to Be

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No, I am not going to talk about the details of my conception although the G rated portions of that story would make a good post someday. I was thinking about how in the world I managed to develop the ideas and foundation than I choose to live by considering how I was raised.

As many of you know, I loved my upbringing in my little mountain community. Those years formed a large percentage of the foundation I still live by today. But, often with small towns are some closed minds and narrow views on the world. I have been forever grateful for the wider exposure and experience I had once my family moved into more urbanized environments. My appreciation for these mountains has never changed and this is where I will always feel at home.

Our history, much like the history of the world has a timeline and on that timeline we mark the big events. Maybe those events are what alter our direction or our ideas about people. I have always believed that the one way people begin to understand other races, ethnicities, sexual identities, etc., is to have someone close to you, someone you love, fall into a different category than what we have always experienced. This is where we learn that we are much more the same than we are different.

When I was teaching art, I took a summer workshop at Duke University focused on using photography to document the lives of students. On the first day of class, we were asked to draw a rudimentary map of the place where we grew up. We were to first draw the dwelling, containing individual rooms, then expand on that to include the larger community. The third step was to write in special landmarks on our map that coincided with particular memories we had.

It was such a revealing exercise. I recalled things I had not thought of for a long time. Trees, and creeks, and grape vineyards. Cemeteries, swimming holes, and country stores. There were strong memories tied to this foundation. There seemed to be a particular room in the house where I felt safest and places that held little or no relevance to me. Enlightening.

Moving away was a culture shock. I was teased unmercifully for my southern accent. Our food was different as was our manner of dress. The most shocking was how diverse this new world was to me. Both in people as well as landscape. But even as I left home at 18 to join the Air Force, I realized I was still sheltered and although my scope was wider, it was not at all worldly. My first trip outside the U.S. was not until 1999 (not counting a short jaunt to Aruba).

As I sit and look back on my upbringing, I have grown so much. When I see people that never left the area I can understand why our ideals and outlook on the world are so different. As much as I loved where I grew up and as much as I loved the foundation I was given there, I realize how fortunate I was to have the opportunities of broader horizons.

That house in the photo above, will always be the place I identify as home although I have not lived there for 53 years. I have written about it before.

When you have some time on your hands, try the map exercise. It can be very revealing and an early indicator of the places, people, and ideas that shaped your early perspective on life. It is also interesting to see what events led you to the place where the roads may have diverged.

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Friday Reflections — WDIIA

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This has been an odd week. I had a couple of days I did not feel well with a scratchy throat. In these times, it is hard not to imagine the worst when any little thing happens. But a few home remedy gargles and some much needed rest and I am recovered.

I spent some time thinking and talking with family and friends about my sister. Grief anniversaries can be tough. I tried to focus on my daughter’s birthday while keeping good memories of my sister running on a loop. I made a fun little iMovie for my daughter’s birthday trying to make it special for her since we could not be together. She put up a fund raiser for Kidney Cancer research in honor of her aunt (my sister) which was so touching and so like her to think outside herself.

As a result I haven’t spent much time blogging or reading blogs this week. I have managed to keep up with my 39 day film challenge, however. It is a fun post to consider and does not require an immense amount of thought.

Our numbers are continuing to go up. I am hopeful the mask mandate will show a reduced amount of cases, but it will require a two to three week cycle before we know.  Stores are having a difficult time getting customers to comply, even when they provide free masks. Neither the police nor the District Attorney will cite anyone, so there are no repercussions if people refuse to wear them. Other than that small thing like possibly infecting someone who could die as a result. 🙄

The garden is doing well. We continue to have loads of cucumbers and tomatoes. Last night we had fresh kale from the garden mixed in with some kale we purchased at the store. What a difference. Ours was purple kale and was so tender in comparison to the other. That will definitely go on my planting list for fall.

I continue to connect with people over the phone or through Zoom or FaceTime. It is becoming oddly normal now and seeing people is oddly unsettling.

Hubby went out Wednesday to glaze some bowls he made under the tutelage of our amazing potter friend. They were socially distanced and masked. Tonight he will go and help fire the wood kiln which consists of feeding wood into the fire to keep the kiln at a constant temperature. That is a lone activity. His shift will be 10:00 pm — 2:00 am.

The cabinets are still coming along. Hubby needed to buy a new router bit this week to round the edges of the desk surface. It won’t be long now.

My jigsaw puzzle was frustrating me. I thought I had missing edge pieces. I sat down for breakfast and looking at a different angle I saw there were sections that needed to be moved around Voila! All the edges are now complete.

Life is all about having the right perspective.

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Fandango’s Provocative Question #76

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Fandango asks a provocative, thought provoking question each week. This one today, in this current time, gave me pause so I thought I should answer it – stream of consciousness style.

Are you satisfied with your life at the moment. If so, what is it that brings you the greatest satisfaction? If not, what might you do to achieve satisfaction in your life?

At first glance this seems an easy question to answer, but after a little thought, it’s not a question that evokes a simple response. We are in the middle of a global pandemic, something I did not see coming when we entered into retirement a few years ago. The early news was that simply by the virtue of age, I was in the high risk of unfortunate outcomes should I contract the virus. Add to that a society that seems to be coming apart at the seams, times could be better. In my cocooned little world, however, I am very satisfied. We are fortunate to be financially secure, our house is paid for and we have access to all that we need. I am living with a man who loves me as much as I love him and we are comfortable and content with the life we have built together. I know several people who have chosen to split up during these times because their living arrangement just was not healthy and a pandemic does not make bad things better. One friend told me someone she knew split because the person they were with was not their doomsday partner. So, if this is my doomsday, I am thankful to be coupled with the right person. Our children and grandchildren are all happy and healthy. There are a few hurdles what with job losses and all, but in the overall big picture, I do not worry about them too much – not more than a mom worries in normal times.  Let’s be honest, we could all find things to complain about and to yearn for if we look hard enough, but I am surrounded by artifacts of a life well lived. Other than a few aches and pains, I am relatively healthy and I have family that loves me. Nothing could satisfy me more than that.

Blog, joy

Navigating Complex Waters

Day 330

Giving credit where credit is due, I saw this statement on Glennon Doyle’s Facebook page this morning. It was written on a sandwich chalkboard sitting on a sidewalk somewhere. It struck a chord in me because I often feel this way in our chaotic world.

Do We Choose How We Feel?

The media is a bombardment of bad news and terrible unrest. It can get under your skin especially if your personality leans toward being an empath. We can drive ourselves crazy. I cannot fathom how someone could even think about killing innocent people let alone carrying out such a threat.

I take a few minutes every day to scan the news. Then I put it away. I choose how to spend the remainder of my day. I could never be a politician. I could never make the choices or exhibit the behavior as some of our elected officials do every day. I do not know how to play this kind of chess where the pieces are real people.

How to Find Joy in the Worst of Days

When I think back about the most trying times of my life, I try to remember why they were so upsetting. There is a wisdom that comes with age — hopefully — that allows us to see our life through a different lens.

What I have surmised is those difficult times all seem to surround some sort of ending or loss. It’s human nature I suppose, to want things to stay the way they are. It is where we are the most comfortable. But stretching ourselves beyond the discomfort of change is where our growth begins.

When we realize how small we are in the big scheme of things, it enables us to think about ourselves differently. This is when I can see the beauty and magic that surrounds me so much clearer. I choose to see the beauty and strive for the harmony.

I cannot allow politics to weaponize my outlook. Taking up arms to eliminate what we fear only makes the fear more powerful.

Infusing Joy

I love this blogging community. The photos you share remind me of how beautiful this world really is. Your stories of every day life remind me how many good people are living a good life and trying to be the best person they can be. The support for one another reveals the true human heart. I read your work — some of the best fiction and poetry around. This is a cross section of our world — the example you will never see in the news media. This is where we need to put our energy.

This morning I had a quick video chat with my granddaughter. She starts a new school on Wednesday and she is nervous. Remember those days? I spoke with my children and sent a text to my daughter-in-law. I checked in on my step-daughter because today starts her the first day of the home-schooling year. Then I checked in with my dear friend who is facing some medical challenges. Everyone is balancing life.

Then I settled into writing my blog while watching the hummingbirds dart in and out of the flowers as a small chipmunk tried to scurry up the bird feeder pole. He was not too successful but that does not mean he is giving up.

I hope you are not giving up either. When you share your trials and your happiness, I am right there with you.

I hope you find a treasure trove of joy in your week. It is out there.

Blog, Death, Fear, intimacy, loss, trust

Intimate Trust

Day 106

“You are going to die.”

At some point, many of us will hear those words. We will come face-to-face with preparing for our life to end. It may be a long process or it may be a matter of days or weeks. It will be the day we acknowledge that everything we have known for all the years of our life will one day just stop.

I think there is an intimate trust one develops when facing death. It may be with a complete stranger, a family member, a dear friend, or a caretaker.

The person who cares for your mental and physical needs may see you in a way that, in life, we never wanted to be seen. When we reach the time we cannot physically care for ourselves, we must relinquish control of every need to someone else.

There are all sorts of more materialistic plans such as getting our affairs in order, but I am talking about the caring of body, mind, and spirit.

Sometimes we carry burdens we have buried deeply for years and years. There may be a need to finally speak those things and free ourselves from the weight of them.

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There is such responsibility of being the person held in such regard. To hear the anger, fears, regrets, and sometimes secrets of someone’s life is a statement of the most intimate trust.

Hospice nurses always talk about the life review occurring near the very end of death. If there is trust, the vulnerability of one’s life may be shared much earlier–if there is trust.

When someone holds your hand and looks into your eyes, you can feel their need to be freed from what weighs them down.

It can be hard, especially after the person passes. You may feel you have possession of something important and may not know what to do with it.

I have found it is easier to think of this as the reading of the most precious biography. A book crafted with the intimate and personal details of life. It is a story that holds you in its embrace. But at some point, the story comes to an end and the book is closed.

You may always remember the poignant parts of the book but it is not your story and the last chapter has been written. All you can do is be thankful you bore witness to it all.