When things get back to “normal” . . .

I have have heard this sentiment expressed so many times in the last couple of days. It always leaves me wondering “whose normal”; “what part of normal,” and “what do you mean by normal?” In my mind “normal” can be relative. After all, very few people have the same lifestyle or the same worldview as others. Right???

I’m not sure returning to “normal” is a great idea. When I ask myself whether I want everything to return to the way it was, my answer is no. There are life lessons I’ve learned during this time of sheltering-in that I don’t want to lose. There are also things I learned about myself that I don’t want to do or be anymore. I see this as a positive not a negative. Here’s some examples:

I want to keep having relationships with the seniors (elderly adults) in my life. I want to listen to their wisdom, their humorous comments, and their recipes for longevity. I want to remind them how important they are and what a blessing it is to be in their company. I want to interview them and record their experiences and their worldview for posterity. When this sheltering time is over, I want to spend time in their presence, not just letters, video chats, and texts or emails. I want to be truly present.

I want to spend quality time with my family. I don’t want it to be so unusual that we are all together in the same place actually communicating and participating in activities together. I don’t want to be so busy that it becomes an excuse for being unavailable. Life is too precious for that kind of regret. There’s a time and place for everything, and my family time is not the time to be preoccupied.

I want to continue journaling, my self care regiment, reaching out to friends and family, and taking the time to appreciate the beauty of every day. There are so many inspiring things in nature, so many uplifting experiences, so many valuable relationships, and so many wonderful words to read and to write; I don’t want to lose any of these things. Living through the pandemic has changed my perspective, I believe for the better.

Certainly, I want to continue working with children as an occupation. I love what I do. I also want to continue to produce poetry and stories and writing my blog; that’s part of who I am. I suppose it can be argued that these things are part of my normal, but I’m not sure I will look at these things in the same way. Working with children is an important investment, not just a job. Writing is a valuable means of expression, I can’t afford to frivolous with it. Bene-log (Good Word) is my intention in everything I write – to encourage, to inspire, to entertain.

When things go back to “normal,” I hope people will remember how to appreciate others. I hope people will continue to help others and consider the less fortunate. I hope we will keep the so-called least (the elderly, the children, the homeless, the impoverished) in our communities lifted. When things go back to normal perhaps we can be more thrifty and conservative in our spending and never be hoarders again. Perhaps we can continue sanitary habits in public and private. Perhaps we will never take our blessings for granted again, especially life and health.

When things go back to normal maybe it could be a “better normal.” What do you think? Is the old normal really what you want, or has your normal been changed forever and for the best? I’d love to hear from you.

Many people today feel overworked, overbooked, and burned out. They long for purposeful and meaningful lives. The remedy lies in rediscovering what it means to be truly present…
amazon.com

Separated but Not Divided

Social distancing has separated many of us from our loved ones, especially friends and family we are used to seeing several times each week. Our new normal includes language like, “who’s sheltering in with you?” While the number of people we are sheltering with may be few, we don’t have to isolated from those we love.

One of the Gen Z members of my husbands family helped me to see this. (iGen, Gen Z, Centennials, I hate all these designations so why didn’t I just say teenager.) She took it upon herself to plan a virtual family reunion. She started by contacting as many family members as she could through her grandfather’s siblings and cousins on Facebook. Using these family members and a number of other social media platforms, she was able to get the word out that we would all meet together on Zoom (a webinar, video conferencing platform) on Palm Sunday at a certain time eastern standard time.

Although we were all separated by time and space, we were united together as a family of many generations. One of the oldest members of the family shared a song with us. Another member shared a prayer. Several members shared updates on their households, and we all took turns greeting members of the family that we had not seen in a long time (even before the Corona-virus pandemic). There was laughter and tears, scriptures and jokes, singing and banter. We were from all over the country: California, Tennessee, Ohio, Georgia, New York, Texas; there was also some family members on the video chat from England. Separated but not divided.

Last week my grandson let me know he was going to Face-time me on Wednesday at a certain time. I knew he had wanted to talk to his father, my son, but had been missing him because of his work schedule among other things. I was able to surprise my grandson by having his father on the line when he called. (That was a living in joy moment! See last week’s blog for more about living in joy.) My grandson was so surprised and happy, as was my son. Again, separated but not divided.

One of my dearest friends in North Carolina contacted me with an Easter greeting by text. I didn’t know she had my number. It has been four or five years since we visited one another. Needless to say, it was a pleasant surprise to hear form her and her family, and to know they were all doing well in the midst of the pandemic.

My oldest son sent me some beauty lake side pictures by text this morning. I got a chance to see what he was seeing while he is traveling for his job. He knows how much I love being near the water so it made him think of me. (I love oceans, lakes, and rivers; I can’t wait to travel again!) I haven’t seen him for several weeks now which is very unusual, but we remain close through phone calls, texts, and pictures. The love we share on a spiritual plain will never let us be truly separated.

Try something new if you are not techno savvy. Call one of those young people in your family and have them walk you through it. They are probably bored anyway and will be glad to help. If you are old school like my mom who still has a land line, use call forwarding or call waiting to hook up with your people. (My granddaughter informs me that hook up means something different these days, but you can’t do that through the phone, so you know what I mean.)

Don’t allow sheltering in to cause division between you and the people you care about. Use whatever means necessary to maintain contact and connection. Use this time of social distancing to reconnect with someone who has been on your mind, especially if you know they are by themselves. Don’t let them be alone.

We may be separated, but we don’t have to be divided. Stay safe. Stay connected.

Living in Joy

Okay, I’ll admit the title is a play on words, but I didn’t want to say “enjoy living” because I want to talk about more than just enjoying living. I want to talk about finding joy in living. One of my favorite songs is: “Golden” sang by Jill Scott. The hook says, “I’m livin’ my life like it’s golden, golden, golden . . .” That’s what I’m talking about. Living life like it is a precious gift; creating memorable moments and treasuring valuable relationships -living in joy.

Perhaps you are thinking that’s a crazy idea considering our “new normal” during this pandemic, but that makes it more important than ever as far as I’m concerned. If the Corona-virus has taught me anything, it’s that life is way to fragile. Since that’s true, why live with regrets. Why miss opportunities to live in joy. I’m surprised at the little things that can bring joy into our lives and the lives of the people we love even in the midst of crisis.

The other day, my granddaughter had a really bad day at work. I could tell she had been crying even before she shared the events of her day with me. The next day she came into my room an hour before it was time for her to leave for work. She said, “I want to quit! I don’t want to go!” I encouraged her to go and to keep her own goals in mind in spite of how other people behave. As soon as she walked out of the door, I sent her a meme of Squidward (a Sponge Bob character, I spend a lot of time with kids) taking a shower in money followed by a Waynan Brothers meme that said, “Mo’ Money.” I could picture her laughing. She was probably surprised I knew how to send a meme in the first place. When she came home I asked her if she needed a few more memes. She laughed and said, “Nana, you’re so extra!” (I think that’s slang for being great lol.) Today, I sent her a Wonder Women meme and told her how proud of her I am. This was a little thing that brought us both joy.

While you are sheltering in, you can still live in joy. My husband brought me breakfast one morning. It was one slice of bacon and one teaspoon of scrambled eggs. He presented it to me like it was a gourmet meal. His giggles turned into us both laughing, so I returned the favor the next day with one mini sausage and one very small piece of omelet.

Today, I sent several friends songs from my YouTube playlist with a message of love and encouragement. I wrote a poem (the beginning of a new collection) even though it’s really hard for me to write at home. Yet, it was very satisfying. My mom and I prayed together and watched a video bible study together. Today she called all her church friends just to see how they were doing. She was on the phone for hours and I could hear her laughing which also made me smile. What are the things you can do to find and share joy?

Here’s a few old-fashioned things you can do even if you live alone. Give yourself a spa night – a warm bath, a glass of wine, a scented candle. Follow that with painting your nails or just doing a manicure/pedicure. Draw a hop scotch on the sidewalk or in the street for the neighborhood kids. Plant a flower or some vegetables. (You can order seeds, soil, and pots on-line at very low cost.) Cook your favorite meal and serve it on your best china. Call a family member and share a story that’s old and hilarious. Play basketball with your dirty clothes by throwing them in the washer from five or six feet away. (Social distancing my laundry, now that’s a plan.) Get the popcorn, turn the lights out and watch your favorite movie. Add whatever makes you smile to this list. Be creative!

I choose to live in joy rather than fear. I can’t do anything about the Corona-virus and all its mandates. I can choose my attitude, my disposition, and my outlook. I can be grateful that I’m still alive. I can use my gifts, my talents, and my time to bring joy to myself and others by any means necessary – and it is necessary because life is valuable. Try living your life like it’s golden for two weeks, then send me a comment about your experiences. Together, we may come up with more ways to live in joy.

Golden
amazon.com

I Choose Joy: The Daily Gratitude Practice That Will Transform Your Life
The Daily Gratitude Practice: Record your gratitude for ten things in your life. Write down three goals. Commit to personal and professional growth. amazon.com

Our Need to Connect

Why is it you never miss things or people until they are gone or unavailable? When I think of all the times I complained about my students, my co-workers, or even my family, it seems ridiculous now. No doubt, I took their presence for granted. No doubt, I discounted the value of their connection to my life. Funny how we lie to ourselves. In honesty, after small breaks I was always ready to go back to work. After several days of vacation or time at home, I was always ready to return to my routine, my kids, and my people. That’s the thing! We all have our people.

All of our daily routines are connected to people whether they are co-workers, children, clients, siblings, competitors, bosses, or spouses. People connect us to our purpose. People enhance our identity and inform our desires. Okay, maybe that’s a little too poetic, after all that’s my niche. The fact is we have a innate need to connect and that need is suffering from “social distancing” and “sheltering in.” That’s why we need to find creative ways to connect even during these Conronavirus days.

We need to make connections beyond texting and emails; we need to connect with human voices and faces. Don’t get me wrong, I love Facetime, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Duo, and all the other techno-means of contacting people. However, I’m talking about more than that. For example, neighbors can schedule times to meet in their front yards or over the back fence. Or you can stand 6 feet from grandma’s open window or six parking spaces from your best friend in the school parking lot. Perhaps you could have a four corners’ community meeting at the four-way stop in your neighborhood. Each family takes a corner so the children get to talk and see each other as well. Today, I met a dear friend in the parking lot of the grocery store, we both stayed in our cars and caught up on our families’ well-being.

Even though we are nervous about contact with others, most of us are still in contact with others in some form such as: doctor’s appointments, essential shopping, and contact with repair people. Asking and listening to the answer of the question, “how are you?” is important. While taking the time to talk to cashiers, or restaurant workers isn’t a deep heartfelt connection; it is still an important human connection. Sharing sincere appreciation for someone’s service is a much needed connection in times like these. All it takes is a little empathy and compassion.

Before COVID 19, we all had a network of friends, family, and even commercial partners in the marketplace (like my hairstylist, nail tech, and mechanic). These are essential connections. Some psychologists believe they are necessary for our mental health as well. Through these connections we become inspired and motivated to fulfill our purpose (dreams, goals, callings, niches). They reinforce our sense of self and increase our acceptance of others. We feel fulfilled emotionally and socially when we have these connections. We also feel safe and whole when we are connected to our people, our community of significant others. (Wow, that’s a little preachy.) Our need for connection is real is all I’m really trying to say.

Our need for connection with others is a real need, and we shouldn’t give up on it easily. We can use our creativity to communicate with others. If you have elders in your life, as I do, here’s one last way to connect. My mom is 89 and she loves letters and cards. She is from that generation where handwritten letters demonstrated the genuineness of the relationship. In fact, she has a little keepsake box of letters she has received over the years. So you can connect through handwritten letters, to protect the most vulnerable in our lives. Don’t forget to add some pictures.

One time there was someone very close to me in jail. They felt isolated and I felt helplessly locked out of their lives. I was shocked to see how much it meant to both us to talk through the glass and press our palms together on it. Just those few minutes each week gave us both hope and kept our relationship in tact. Our need for connection was somehow fulfilled just by laying eyes on one another and hearing each other’s voice. COVID 19 has us behind the glass, but it doesn’t mean we can’t find a way to connect.

Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World
The good news is that social connection is innate and a cure for loneliness. In Together, the former Surgeon General will address the importance of community and connection and offer viable and actionable solutions to this overlooked epidemic. amazon.com
The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods
We need our neighbors and community to stay healthy, produce jobs, raise our children, and care for those on the margin. Institutions and professional services have reached their limit of their ability to help us. amazon.com

Routines in a “New Normal”

As a teacher, routines are everything. Students, especially young students, perform better when routines are well established. They help the children establish good habits ( and in some case healthy habits like brushing their teeth) and feel comfortable with transitions. Children feel and work better when they know what comes next. Routines help them establish trust in their relationships with the teacher and their peers. They also help children trust the environment.

Routines also help with time management. After all there is a schedule of activities that must be adhered to at school and for that matter in most work places in their future. I have found that routines are important to me not only as a teacher, but as a person. Routines help me cope with change and control my stress levels. They become critical in maintaining my mental and emotional health.

I have struggled with depression for many years of my life. One of the ways, I control this is well-established routines. My daily routines reduce my anxieties while giving me things to look forward to. This is how I learned to use things to “fill my bucket” (see Jan. 9th conversation), and establish self-care (see Feb 8th conversation). Routines inform my daily schedule. So, I was thrown for a loop when the Corona-virus changed everything.

The first week of being home wasn’t bad. It was like a vacation break. The second week became more strained when businesses began to close and going out was curtailed. By week three, I was starting to feel the stress. Depression was waiting at the door of my sub-conscious as I began to process our “new normal.” My morning routines gave way to staying in bed. My walks gave way to watching too much daytime TV, my writing time gave way to trying to work from home with virtual learning, my reading time gave way to playing card games on my tablet. My morale was in a slow motion fall; not only mine, but most of my family.

During this time, my husband kept working. His job has not shut down. One day I noticed his mood and attitude seemed upbeat compared to the rest of us. (I won’t lie, that ticked me off.) I asked myself, ‘what does he have to be so happy about?’ I fumed over it for several days, especially when he would come in and ask me how my day was or what I had done all day. Then one day when I was forcing myself to work on rewriting a poem, it hit me. His routine hadn’t changed. His life hadn’t been interrupted in the same way that ours had. (Can you see the light bulb?)

The wheels in this creative head began to turn. The next day I got up, dressed like I was going to work, went to the kitchen table for my devotional time, ate my yogurt, and pulled out my laptop for a day’s work. I felt better. The next day I got up, made my bed, did my hair, put on my favorite earrings, and followed the routine from the day before. The third day, I added a drive to the schedule. My mom and I went for a drive just to see the spring flowers and trees. We didn’t get out of the vehicle; we just enjoyed the view and the conversation. Now we have a new routine. I felt grounded. I felt better.

Our new routines give us things to look forward to, as well as purpose. There are transitions in the schedule which helps the day to move along. There are activities in the day that keep my mind stimulated and my emotions in check. (I even have an answer to my husband’s inquiries when he gets home, instead of resentment.) Yesterday, I made spinach wraps for dinner. (Trying new recipes is one of my favorite pastimes, we call it “Chopped Wannabe)

Routines are important to the entire family. I’m helping my mom and my granddaughter establish “new normal” routines, and we’re all smiling more. Our life has a new schedule. Thank goodness, I don’t have to get up at five in the morning, but I do a have to get up, and I do have to “Cease the Day!” How about you? Is your spirit lagging? Do you feel the blues going on, or see it in your children? Perhaps it time to set some very important “new normal” routines in your family.

A guide to the early morning habits that boost your productivity and relax you—featuring interviews with leaders like Arianna Huffington, General Stanley McChrystal, Marie Kondo, and more. Amazon.com

Finding and Noticing Beauty

Tulips on the median divide

Yesterday, as I drove my granddaughter to work I saw a beautiful burst of flowers on the median divide. For a minute, I thought they were artificial. They were so beautiful I had to stop to take a picture on my way back home. (The picture doesn’t do it justice.) I began to wonder how long had those flowers been there. After all, we take the same route several times per week.

Have you ever been a passenger riding your usual route and seen something you never noticed before? That happens in my family all the time. My mom will point out a house, or a tree, or a construction project, and ask, “when did they put that there,” or “was that always there?” You seem to notice more when you are not driving. For some reason, your mind is not reoccupied with where you are going and what time you have to be there. Sometimes that can be pretty scary. I’ve had moments when I have no memory of how I got to my destination. I call that automatic pilot.

How may times do we pass beautiful, wondrous, things and never see them at all? How often does “automatic pilot” cause us to miss the world around us? Needless to say, I don’t have the answer to those questions, but I do have a few suggestions. My suggestions start with intentionality. I have a friend who is very big on intentionality. She says that your intentions direct your outcomes, even in how you feel at a given time. If you make joy your intention as you attack a project, you are more likely to experience joy. (I’m sure I didn’t do a good job of explaining that; forgive Carla.) So why not be intentional about noticing beauty?

Take a leisure walk around your neighborhood. Look at the houses. What color scheme do you like best? What’s your favorite architectural structure? Depending on the time of day, you may see birds, rabbits, or people walking their pets. Take a moment to observe these things. Perhaps, you can’t walk around; try sitting by a window. Observe the sky, the trees in your yard, and your neighbors. Look at the lawns, the bushes, their flowers, or the slope of the property. Try standing in your driveway. Look for bugs, ants, or flying insects. You may luck up and see a butterfly or a humming bird.

Here’s a favorite of mine. Watch children at play. I’m always amazed at the expressions on my young children’s faces. They laugh with their whole bodies. They are fully engaged with their toys, their pets, and each other. Concentration ripples across their foreheads, and their eyes twinkle with excitement. They find such joy in the simplest things – things I take for granted. You can see things so differently just by asking a child, “what’s that?” (One thing I love about working with children everyday is experiencing things anew when I see them through their eyes.)

Another way to notice beauty is to look directly at people when you’re talking to them. (That used to be a given, but I’ve noticed it’s not anymore.) I’m not talking about making eye contact, although that’s important. I’m talking about really looking at people. I’ve noticed nice haircuts, professional makeup, crooked smiles, distinguished lines and wrinkles, beautiful male eyelashes, elegant fingers (what my mom calls “piano fingers”), flashes of humor in smirks, and the changing color of hazel eyes. I also notice colors – colors of clothes, shoes, skin tones, jewelry, and teeth; not to mention body language that speaks volumes. There are some truly beautiful people in the world.

Beauty doesn’t have to be something extraordinary. The standard for beauty is personal. The things that make you smile, or feel awe, has nothing to do with what others think or feel. My favorite color is royal blue; every shade of blue is nice I suppose, but royal blue is my magic. (By the way, it’s not a color I look good in, but I still love it.) Unless you take the time to notice beauty you may never know what opens your personal pleasure.

Years ago when I was dating my husband we were traveling down the interstate on our way to God knows where. I distinctly remember him pointing out the trees on the hillside to me. He said something to the effect of wishing he could capture all the shades of green in his paintings. (My husband is a fine artist.) I looked at those same trees and saw green – no shades, no variations – just green. I told him this. He told me to look carefully, more closely. I remember staring out the window for what seemed liked forever trying to see what he saw. It didn’t happen for me that day. Many months later (maybe years), I saw it. Now I’m always looking for the colors of nature including the various colors of green.

Noticing natural beauty helps us to personalize the things that we enjoy, as well as the things we want to share with others. Noticing beauty adds to our lives; it nurtures our minds and hearts. Beauty dispels the ugliness and dirtiness of the world. (Just looking at those flowers on the median took me away from the virus for awhile.) We don’t have to buy into the manufactured ideas of what beauty is; we can intentionally establish our own standards.

Beauty is all around us. Remember to look around and observe the good things even in critical times like these. You may be surprised at what you see.

The challenge is to look for Beauty in the most ordinary places. Available from Amazon.com

Real Neighbors

This is a time when we all need real neighbors. I, for one, had begun to believe that real neighbors didn’t exist. I mean, not like the neighborly neighbors of times gone by. My neighbors and I wave at each other when passing by in our cars, or say the “how you doing?” when we happen to meet at the mailbox at the same time but that’s it. We all work various hours and the rat race sets the pace of our lives for socializing. At least that was true until the recent Corona-virus crisis.

My neighbor diagonal across the street walked over from her driveway to mine. I spoke to her by name and wondered what was up. She told me she was a pediatric nurse by profession, and if I ever needed anything related to my children, day or night, not to hesitate to come and get her. She told me her work hours and our conversation turned to how long she had been living on our street. It turned out that she had been living on the street for many years; she knew all the neighbors from before we moved on the street.

After our conversation at the mailbox, I went inside to share all that I had learned with my mother. Turns out, my mom is a pretty good neighbor herself. She knew many of the people currently on the street by name, as well as their family makeup and health conditions. In fact, she had been a rescuer for our neighbor directly across the street. He had been up on his roof cleaning gutters when his ladder fail leaving him stuck on the roof for hours. Thankfully for him, my mom came home from from errands; he was able to call to her. She went over, put the ladder back in place, and held it until he was able to climb down to the ground. Needless to say, they have been good neighbors ever since.

One of my grandchildren’s other grandma’s lives in our neighborhood. She called me one day completely beside herself; her little dog had disappeared from her yard. She lives alone and her dog is a big company keeper for her. I assured her that Harley would show up. The weather had been so crazy I figured he was chasing a squirrel or rabbit and would show up sooner or later. Harley did not show up that night. Members of her family had searched the neighborhood calling for the dog. Two days later one of her neighbors, that she did not know, brought Harley home. The neighbor had heard about her despair; she too searched for Harley and found him. Needless to say there was much joy as well as a new friendship established.

Why do we need crisis to become good neighbors? (I certainly am convicted.) I mean it’s great that we do it doing these times, but I want to be a good neighbor all the time. If I’m to busy to spend time getting to know people who live right around me, then I’m simply too busy! Nothing (here I mean no things) can be more important than people. My personal investments are off when all my time is spent chasing the rat. It’s time to make a change! To borrow a slogan from an insurance commercial, “Like a good neighbor,” I want to be there! What about you? How’s your neighborly thermometer? Cold or hot?

Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers
The definitive biography of Fred Rogers, children’s television pioneer and American cultural icon, an instant New York Times bestseller  Amazon.com

a picture book on sharing, kindness, and working as a team for ages 4-8 available on Amazon.com

Purposeful Remembering

Today I found out that some one I care about has died. I knew they were sick, but I didn’t know how bad it was. It saddens me that I missed his last days thinking that I had more time. Yet, I am content knowing that we had the time to know one another and care for one another – time well spent. That’s where purposeful remembering comes in. Now I am going to take the time over the next few days to remember his investment into my life – how we laughed, how we discussed scripture, how we enjoyed good food, how we walked together, sharing companionship without words. I will remember his fatherhood toward me when I needed it the most.

As I writer, it important to me to capture the precious moments of everyone that touches my life. I especially want to internalize their voices. ( This is one of the reasons behind my book: Our Voices . . .) The words that people leave with us are like little treasures. Their words add richness to our way of life, and our way of thinking, whether it’s wisdom, truth, or disagreement. Even lies have an impact on how we think and feel about a topic. People leave something of themselves with us through the things that they say to us, and those things take root in one way or another – emotionally, spiritually, or intellectually.

Remembering in this way is very purposeful. It makes the people you miss live on in your heart and mind. It’s like walking down the lane with a friend. (Now that’s a country reference for you city kids. The lane is the road that leads to a friend or relative’s house where there are no sidewalks and sometimes no paving.) This memory walk makes you smile, makes you cry, makes you laugh, and makes you enjoy the fellowship all over again. Then if you take the time to write them down (diary, journal, scrap book notes with pictures), they are never lost.

My life has been so enriched by people of so many generations. (I’m not just talking about those who have died. Everyday I enjoy the lives of four and five years-old’s, and it’s true they say “the darn-est things.” I also get to spend time with my elders, persons 20 to 30 years older than me. ) I don’t ever want to loose those encounters. I won’t allow myself to forget the valuable experiences I’ve shared. The impact of true relationships is too important to me. The time invested in real relationships is well worth it during the time spent and afterwards. (See “Personal Investments,” Jan. 16th.)

I will share these times with others along the way. That’s part of the purposeful remembering too. Sharing memories with others allows us to expand our knowledge of an individual, because relationship dynamics vary depending on the people involved. The thing that means the most to me may not be reminiscent with your knowledge of that person at all. Sharing will allow us to enjoy and experience that person anew. Like, “Wow, I never knew that!” I’m already smiling just thinking about that. I know this will happen when I go over to the family home of my friend and we begin sharing our memories.

No one should have to say the words, “Don’t forget me!” because we should be mark an effort to remember those we love by being purposeful in keeping them near and dear to our hearts.

My Pen Remembers

My pen speaks of cool summer
Days, baseball in the rain
And your warm wrinkled face
Those fertile rows of wisdom carved
Over time and tilled by the plows
Of segregation and degradation
Yet you smiled.

My pen speaks of wood burning stoves
Black-eyed kittens and the sweet smell
Of gardens planted by your creased cracked
Fingers; a day of hard labor
At a house not your own nor could you enter
Yet you sang.

My pen speaks of overalls of faded denim
And plaid red flannel shirts soft upon your
Frail frame; still working after seventy years
Of being called boy and never a man
Sowing seeds of hope in several generations
Through the long dark days
Yet you found laughter

My pen is silenced by the sound of your love
That still warms my heart and stirs my memories
And calls me to be better because you endured.
What can’t be captured on paper is captured in my heart
So I smile, I sing, I laugh,
And I lay my pen down.

available Amazon.com

Delayed Gratification Has its Advantages

We have come to expect so many things to come quickly, almost instantly, so delayed gratification doesn’t sound very appealing. Yet, some things are worth waiting for. Like when my mom makes a crushed pineapple bread pudding, it’s worth the wait. Sure I could go to the local grocery store and purchase something engrossed in plastic and start eating it as soon as I get in the house, but it couldn’t hold a candle to my mother’s homemade dessert.

There’s something to be said for those things that take time to earn, to win, to create, or experience – things like earning a college degree, planning your wedding, earning the respect of your colleagues for your accomplishments, completing your first novel, having a baby, buying your first house or renting your first apartment. There are so many more things in life that require time to accomplish and appreciate. Not to mention becoming the best you, you can be. It takes time to discover who you want to be.

The reasons for delayed gratification vary, but they become important milestones – milestones that define the seasons of our lives. Whether we want to admit it or not, there are some things we just wouldn’t be able to handle if they arrived instantly. If we are in our season of immaturity, we may not be able to sustain or maintain the goal, accomplishment, or achievement intellectually or financially. If things come too quickly or without any effort, we may not be in a season to appreciate its value. After all, if it’s really worth a lot, why did it come so easily we may think, and of course the answer to that question comes after we loose it.

Those of us who have reached a certain level of maturity need to explain to the younger crowd the advantages of delayed gratification. Some of them are under great stress because they are trying to accomplish in a year or two what took their parents 10, 15, 20 years to accomplish. In this age of technology it may not take that long, but milestones still take time. Stability takes time. Quality takes time. Longevity takes time. These are the advantages of delayed gratification. My grandmother used to say, “Anything worth having should be worth keeping!” That takes us right back to maintaining and sustaining, and don’t we want to maintain good relationships, great occupations, excellent reputations, lasting legacies. I certainly do!

Delayed gratification gives me something to look forward such as: date night, my next book, fellowship with friends and family. It gives me purpose, the drive to go for the goal. It’s how I set my priorities for my work schedule, my personal investments, and bucket filling (refer to previous blogs). It’s how I plan for both short term and long term goals like writing, traveling, and self-care. It’s an accepted way of life, because even those things that seem instant really aren’t. (Just asked all those designers who make Google work for us!)

Well, I have to leave this thought with you because I’m about to leave for a date that I’ve been waiting for all week. The delay for that is over! What’s on your delayed gratification list? What was or is the advantage of waiting? Come share, we’re waiting!

Achieve Breakthrough Using Delayed Gratification by [Master Resale Rights]
a Kindle book available at Amazon.com
In order to receive the most possible gratification from something we must first learn to hold off on instant rewards. This may seem like a hard task to accomplish for many people. With a little practice and the use of these helpful steps, waiting for the big prize will become a walk in the park.

The Face of Favors

Don’t you just hate when certain people say, “Hey, would you do me a favor?” Fight or flight syndrome kicks right in because you know when that person says favor all the give and take is on your end. It’s like when certain people say, “Can you loan me xyz dollars?” Why can’t they just say, “Can you give me xyz dollars?” because they know pay back is not a part of the deal.

I’m of the mindset that our friendship or our family relationship should be close enough for us to be helping each other all the time. For example, if I’m in the market and I see cherries on sell, I buy some for my best friend because I know she loves them as much as I do. If I go to a seminar and get some information that I think may be helpful to someone else I know, I take some screen shots and send that person the info. This is not a one way street. My closest friends and family buy books, fruit, and royal blue things (my favorite color) for me all the time. Why? Because when you have a true relationship with someone their best interest is in your heart. When you care for someone, little things will make you think about them; commonalities make their names pop into your conscious stream of thought from time to time throughout the day/week/month.

So when certain people ask for favors or money, I can’t help but think where are their special relationships? Where are those close family members and friends that they hang with when they need something? How did I get to be their go-to person in their hour of need?

Seriously, I don’t mind doing favors for people or even loaning money when I have it, but it strikes me strange when I only hear from certain people when I’m needed in some kind of way! Is it too much to ask that our relationship should have more depth than that? I guess I’m saying the favors should have the face of real friends and family. Of course, it depends on the need – the favor being asked.

Not very long ago, a friend who lives in Tennessee called me. She said she received a request from me for money via social media. The request said I had been injured while out of town and needed money to get back home. Apparently, the request was for a substantial amount. Being my friend, she wanted to help in any way that she could so she called me immediately. Needless to say, it was a scam! Yet, it must be a scam that works! Someone must be sending money based on this request without checking with the individual making the request. My friend in Tennessee said she couldn’t picture me sending this kind of request via social media. She couldn’t picture my face asking for this kind of favor so impersonally, and I was so glad she didn’t. I was also glad that we had spent enough time getting to know one another that she could not be duped by such a scam.

Perhaps we should all take more time in establishing real relationships. Perhaps social media has interfered with our ability to truly get to know people. I mean, we have a lot of acquaintances and associates, but do we have true friends/true family? Even blood family isn’t as close as they once were! Sometimes it seems like family only gets together for funerals and weddings, and even that depends on which family member it is. Yet, in the time of need, we call on the ones who are most likely to come through despite any real personal connection.

So here it is. Ask me for a favor. and I’ll ask you for time – time to know you better, time to really invest in your life, time for you to invest in mine, time to cultivate a real relationship. Who knows, after we spend some real time together maybe we will meet one another’s needs without ever having to ask for a favor? Perhaps, your face will be present in my heart and pop into my mind on a regular basis. One day, I just may call you up and ask you can I do something for you before you ever get a chance to ask for a favor. The face of that favor will be friendship!

Available on Amazon
Scams: Learn valuable skills to avoid being scammed by frauds. Real experiences of fraud detection, Fraud Examination, phishing emails, scam calls & more.
Available on Amazon in paperback.