In the Village

I don’t have any idea who coined the phrase, “It Takes a Village” in the raising of children, but I agree we need our village. It’s the village that helps me keep my sanity. It’s the village that comforts me in my sorrows. It’s the village that celebrates my victories and cheers me on even when I’m losing. So, yes, “it takes a village” in all of our lives to help us thrive and become the entity of purpose that we are suppose to be.

In the village there are all types of people with all types of professions. There are the professed friends – the ones who profess their love and camaraderie. My oldest son calls these the “Ride or Die” friends. They will stick with you come what may. These are the types of friendship that develop over time and become more like family in the long run, or maybe better than family in some cases. (Don’t get me wrong some people have the greatest friendships within their family. I’m not discounting family relationships by any means). Then there’s the friend that profess to be friends. Although they talk a good game, in a pinch they leave you hanging. (Is that too many colloquialisms?) While their relationship may be a negative in one sense, they can also be a positive. Their inability to be loyal and steadfast teaches you to examine your relationships, as well as to be mindful of what you share and who you share it with.

In the village there are motivators and critics. The motivators may be parents, teachers, preachers, counselors, coaches, or bosses to name a few. These people see the potential in you; they push you to do your best, to take a chance. They encourage you to pursue your dreams, and to look forward to the outcome rather than focus on the struggle. Many of us owe our successes to these motivators, but we also owe them to our critics as well. Critics also motivate albeit in a negative way. Critics give you determination. They make you persevere if for no other reason than to prove them wrong. Critics help you decide the worth or value of a thing. They cause internal arguments; win or lose, you are motivated to act. I owe so much of my victories to critics who told me my dreams were impossible. In proving myself to them, I proved myself to myself also.

In the village there are heroes and heroines, as well as villains. (Can I pause here just long enough to say, the First Responders, nurses, doctors, and teachers have always been heroes even before the virus.) The heroes/heroines are the people who keep things going when everyone else gives up. They are dedicated to the better good of the village. They strive to leave no one behind. They find ways to overcome the odds, to jump hurdles, and to bring along the disenfranchised. Heroes/heroines give us principles to esteem and personal attributes to attain to. They are selfless in their time, talent, and treasures; while villains are selfish. Villains steal time. They see it as their job to destroy the treasures of others. They only value the things that benefit them. Villains never consider the outcome; they prefer instant gratification over well thought out plans. They see members of the village as obstacles in their way. Villains make us protective and appreciative of what we have and who we are.

I could probably go on with other analogies (after all I am a writer), but suffice it to say we all have a village and there are both good and bad in it. Yet, if we try, we can see the positive contribution in our lives. We can be thankful for our village. All we have to do is take the emphasis off of the word “the” and place it on the word “my.” My village – my husband, my mother, my children, my best friends, my pastor and church, my mentor, my writer’s group, my co-workers, my counselor, my instructors, my relatives, and my neighbors – all keep me moving forward even when I want to quit. My village holds me together and helps me achieve hope in the midst of precarious times because we really are “in this together” (unlike the media who coined that phrase).

Who is in your village? Perhaps its time to take notice and reassert your position and their’s. Perhaps its time to re-evaluate the importance of the people in your life and how they contribute to your well-being, your goals, your dreams, and your accomplishments as a generally good human being. It really does “Take a Village.”

Be well, stay safe, and do your part in the village.

Learn more about who you are, how you see your loved ones, and how you can thrive together by creating 52 lists.
Amazon.com
In this heartwarming–and heartening–little book, colorful photos from the animal kingdom are paired with inspiring sayings that express how important friendship is.
Available at 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

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.

Personal Investments

These days everyone is either involved in investments or interested in investments because investments offer a certain amount of security for the future. Of course, that depends on the value of your assets, although value is subjective I suppose. That’s why I want to talk about one of greatest commodities today – people. Now if you’ve been following me at all you knew I wasn’t going to talk about micro and macro-economics. Trust me, when you reach the crossroads between life and death your first thoughts will be about the people you love not the portfolio you had. Yes, I said had, because when you die it all goes to your beneficiaries or the state. (Side note: Have your stuff in order so the state doesn’t inherit your fortunes even if you have to give everything to charities.)

Several days ago I walked into a branch of my bank in another neighborhood. As I walked up to the teller he greeted me by name. That threw me off because I had never been in this branch before, and his face wasn’t one that I recognized. He proceeded to ask me if my mom was still with us. I replied in the affirmative so he asked how she was. By then I guess my strained response or more than likely the look on my face told him I was completely puzzled. Finally, he says, “You don’t remember me do you?” “I’m afraid not,” I said, “it’s the plague of getting old,” I smiled. He told me his name and the name of his sister. They had been students in a summer camp I used to own when they were small children. They came back every summer for three or four years he informed me. He went on to say how he remembered me playing with them and taking them on so many field trips. These were some of his best memories in childhood according to him. “You showed us the world of possibilities.” By this time, I was completely floored, pleased, and completely happy to be the recipient of such praise.

This young man had gone on to college and graduated with a degree in business. He was commercial loan officer at the bank filling in for an absent teller. We looked at pictures of his family and talked a little about the school his children attended. As I left, he said he was going to call his sister right away to tell her about me. Now you tell me, wasn’t that a wonderful payoff for my investment. Time and money well spent. Dividends still paying off for another generation.

This past holiday, I received a handwritten card by snail mail from a women I’ve known for more than 20 years. She lives on the west coast and we only see her every four or five years. I was so surprised to get this card; everyone I know sends greetings by text or social media; they certainly aren’t that personal. I was so touch by what she had written I called her immediately. We talked for more than an hour. It was great to reconnect with a long time friend. One thing she shared with me was her commitment to send personal notes, birthday cards, and greetings for other occasions for her friends and family. She said not only does it make them feel special but it brings her joy to do it. (Sounds like she filling her bucket!) She emphasized how the elderly on her list really enjoyed these handwritten notes because some of them are not techno-savvy. Also many people save these and look at them again and again; each time they experience the love and joy that they received when they first opened them.

Are we to busy to invest in people? Are we so consumed by work or personal entertainment that we don’t have time to actually talk to people? Has technology caused us to forget the personal touch of actual conversation? If we don’t invest in the younger generation why should they invest in us? I know time is also a precious commodity, but what’s the point in having a high volume portfolio if I can’t make time to share my life with others?

How are you personal investments coming along? Parents? Grandchildren? Children Neighbors? Friends? Co-workers? Classmates? Are those relationships growing or depreciating?

I’m beginning to see a great return on my investments. I hope you will too!

All Occasion Greeting Cards
https://amzn.to/2G2Rxr7
https://amzn.to/30tmYEx