…the beautiful…

…America.

Image result for cascades mt range images

Wanting to share the best of the Pacific Northwest with a dear friend, I decided we’d tour Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helen’s. This was Laurie’s first visit, and airfares from the east coast being what they are, I was pretty sure she’d not be returning anytime soon.

I’ve no idea why I’d never thought to travel out that way before, except to say that neither my husband nor I are overly keen about venturing forth into the great outdoors. Simply put, we like to leave it to the critters that call it home.

One day, while out walking in Banff, Canada, I almost came face to face with a giant black bear. From then on, I decided to enjoy the outdoors…from the safety of the indoors.

Since I was born in Hawaii where volcanoes loom large around every bend in the road, it could also be that I had no inclination to see two more.

Was I ever wrong.

The drive towards Mount Rainier felt desolate. The two-way road was pretty isolated, except for the occasional car driving in the opposite direction. Acres and acres of evergreens lent an eeriness to the quiet hanging heavy all around us. If it weren’t for the intermittent chatter between Laurie and me, we might have been three souls traveling alone toward a destination as yet unrevealed to us.

A little spooky, I thought.

Thankfully the sun shone bright as we made our way along, what was for us, uncharted territory. More than once I proclaimed “How majestic!” as the Cascades Mountain Range unfolded before our eyes. If there ever was a place God designated as his, this was it.

While we didn’t see the summit of Mount Rainier because it was hidden by a heavy blanket of clouds, we hiked a winding trail up a nearby mountain in the hopes we’d catch even a glimpse. Breathing heavily because of the elevation, we climbed uphill gingerly so as not to lose our footing and tumble backwards over bumpy terrain.

Image result for Mount Rainier

Stretching out all around us were fields and fields of wildflowers. Seeing them made our questionable decision to continue the ascent worthwhile.

The following day we drove in the direction of Mount St. Helen’s.

In May 1980, it famously exploded in an eruption that sent a landslide of uprooted trees, bridges, houses and other debris 50 miles downstream. Sadly, lives were also lost. According to Wikipedia…

Fifty-seven people were killed during the eruption.[52] Had the eruption occurred one day later, when loggers would have been at work, rather than on a Sunday, the death toll would almost certainly have been much higher.[8]

83-year-old Harry R. Truman, who had lived near the mountain for 54 years, became famous when he decided not to evacuate before the impending eruption, despite repeated pleas by local authorities. His body was never found after the eruption.

Another victim of the eruption was 30-year-old volcanologist David A. Johnston, who was stationed on the nearby Coldwater Ridge. Moments before his position was hit by the pyroclastic flow, Johnston radioed his famous last words: “Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!”[53] Johnston’s body was never found.

A young geologist lectured small groups of visitors on the science behind volcanic eruptions, and more specifically the one that occurred at that site. Of particular interest to me was her explanation that Hawaiian volcanoes aren’t destructive to human life unless, of course, a person is in the path of its lava flow. The difference, she said, was that the nearby ocean salt causes Hawaiian volcanoes to be fluid, not explosive.

My relatives living on the islands should be able to rest easy. You think?

Another volcanic dome is growing within the crater of Mount St. Helen’s. Earthquakes continue to occur regularly. When I asked the geologist about the next eruption occurring while folks were in the area, she seemed to take the question in stride. She said the experts would call in time to alert everyone to leave.

Hmmm…

I think I’ll start reading the earthquake reports myself. I’m no Olympic runner.

…not by a long shot.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

Advertisements

remembering…

She was like a second mother, my sister Ruby. While it’s difficult to remember all the details of that time, I can distinctly recollect her being warm and understanding where my own mother was sometimes gruff and exacting.

Misc July 2010 00069The event that remains permanently etched in my memory was when Ruby allowed me to help run the wet clothes through the wringing rollers in her old-fashioned washing machine. I was probably 7 or 8 years old, and very conscientious it seems. Wanting to do it correctly, I hung onto the piece of clothing a tad longer than I should have as it made its way through the wringer. In seconds my hand was being dragged along, all the way up my forearm. Screaming bloody murder, I was rescued by my sister who came running to unplug the machine. I’m sure I steered clear of that fandangled contraption after that.

As a youngster I spent a good deal of time with Ruby and her cowboy husband, Steve Autry. I’ve no idea what brought him to Maui back in the ’50s. Perhaps he was lured by the image of roping horses and riding Brahma bulls in the annual rodeo held at the base of Haleakala, the island’s dormant volcano. Or maybe he thought he’d work at what he knew best…being a cowboy and whatever that entailed.

My sister and her husband made an unusual couple in those days…a lanky, 6 footer whose mischievous, blue eyes peered out from beneath strands of blonde hair streaked by the island sun. His tanned face, deeply lined and freckled. Standing alongside him, Ruby was inches shorter. Hair cut short in the natural ebony color of the island women. A jaunty smile compared to her husband’s. A crooked one that partially hid his tobacco-stained teeth.

Watching my brother-in-law roll cigarettes was always captivating. First came the crisp, creamy-hued slip of rectangular paper, followed by the tobacco pouch. With deft agility he’d tug at the strings of the pouch so that a slim rivulet of tobacco dribbled onto the paper. Taking the strings between his front teeth, Steve would draw the pouch’s opening to a close. Returning it to the shirt pocket over his heart, he’d take the nearly finished cigarette between his thumbs and index fingers. Using his pointy, long tongue he’d spread just enough saliva along the length of one side of the paper allowing him to fasten it to the other side. Slipping the newly-minted cigarette between his lips, my brother-in-law would light it with the strike of a match along the underside of his boot.

To a clueless kid like me, it was pretty cool stuff.

A few years younger than me, my niece and I would often accompany her dad, as he scoured landfills and roadsides for stuff to resell, especially scrap metal. Growing up poor meant not having many toys like friends who did. So climbing over piles of junk in search of hidden treasures was fun. It was kind of exciting to see what I’d find under the rubble. One discovery turned out to be more than I bargained for. Watch for that story in a future post.

They might have made it as a country singing duet. With Steve on the guitar and Ruby singing harmony, they sounded like the real thing. Not that I’d had much opportunity to hear country music, but I knew what I liked and I liked what I heard. My favorite was a haunting lullaby which included some yodeling. My sister yodeled beautifully. Imagine that! An island gal yodeling as naturally as though she’d been born on the range. I’m certain my love of singing blossomed during these impromptu song fests right there on the front steps of their house. 

 Sadly for Ruby and her daughter, the cowboy didn’t remain a permanent fixture. He and my sister divorced when I was a preteen. Since they’d moved to Honolulu, the islands’ designated “big city,” I would spend part of my summers with them. And much later when I returned to attend the University of Hawaii, my sister Ruby’s apartment was where I went the first couple of summers after I vacated the college dorms.

My sister didn’t have an easy life, raising a child on her own. In fact, my young niece lived with my mom and me for a couple of years on Maui while Ruby sought to earn a living. I’m not certain, but it may be that she continued to struggle until the end which came on July 27. She died of lung cancer, a result of decades of cigarette smoking.

I will remember Ruby as a soft-spoken mediator, a comforting presence, humble, self-sacrificing and perhaps easily overcome by stronger personalities, like my mom. I truly believe she would give the shirt off her back if someone needed it more than she. I’m sorry we’d not been in touch later in life, but she seemed content with where she’d finally landed…living with her daughter and her family. Secreted away from the turmoil she’d known, it felt right to let her be, to let her live in peace and quiet, no longer saddled by the burdens of others. At least I’m hoping that’s how it was.

…blessed are the peacemakers…

…for they shall be called children of God.

………hugmamma.Miscellaneous Pictures July 2010 124

 

 

 

 

 

 

nurturing thursdays: powerful words…

A few things in historical documentarian Ken Burns’ speech to Stanford University’s 2016 graduating class, continues to resonate with me. He said…to educate all of our parts…to make babies…and that the arts make our country worth defending. 

To educate all of our parts.

I always tell my daughter “Being fully informed makes your decision, whatever it is, an educated guess. Whatever the outcome, you know you did all you could to make the best choice you possibly could in the moment.” Because she was a blessing, my only child after 16 years of hoping I would one day become a mother, I live with the thought that she could be gone in the blink of an eye. With the hateful rhetoric inciting Trump supporters to take America back to a darker time when the world was white and black, I worry as I see other mothers lose their children to gun violence.

An adult and wife at 30, I can no longer stand between my daughter and the world. And yet I know I have armed her with a clear vision of the real world ever since she was a youngster. Unlike a friend who felt her son at age 5 was too young for the truth, I felt my daughter was not too young to learn the facts of life. In doing so, however, I always followed the truth with positive words reinforcing hope, not negative resignation.

To make babies.

Not until you have a child, can you understand what it is to lose a child. Not until you lose a child, can you understand a mother’s desire not to go on living afterwards. I hope, as parents the world over do, that my daughter outlives me by decades.

The arts make our country worth defending.

Supporting my daughter in her desire to dance professionally will always be something of which I am proudest. It was not an easy path; neither was it a lucrative one. My daughter said, when featured in Discount Dance Supply Magazine at age 16…

Dancing is a gift that I would like to share with the world.

The greatest satisfaction is knowing when my performance has touched or moved someone.

She may not have secured millions as a professional athlete, but my daughter garnered millions in spiritual wealth. If she were taken by an act of violence tomorrow, my daughter can return to Our Father having lived a Christ-like life. And if I were to die first, I would do so knowing that I have been…

…a mother in Mary’s footsteps.

………hugmamma.

(Note: Click on the following link for more inspirational posts…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2016/07/28/nurt-thurs-my-prayer/

 

…”I pass”…

Something said during card games, like poker and Black Jack. Usually offered when the player feels he is pretty certain of a win.

Anyone who has been following this presidential campaign can attest to the fact that Trump supporters have awarded him the ultimate “pass.” He is allowed to play the game for as long as he chooses no matter what cards he holds close to his vest. They are betting all their money on him winning, and they don’t care how he does it.

Trump’s latest “pass” is that he probably won’t be investigated for calling upon the Russians to find the supposed 30,000 emails deleted from Hillary Clinton’s server.

“Russia, if you are listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said to a room of TV cameras at Trump National Doral. “I think you will probably be mightily rewarded by our press.”

Senior policy aide for the Clinton campaign responded “This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent…That’s not hyperbole, those are just the facts. This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.”

Showing his autocratic bent in suppressing the media, “When a female reporter asked Trump whether he was encouraging Russia to hack into emails, Trump snapped back: ‘Be quiet! I know you want to save her,’ a reference to Clinton.”

Just as Trump went after the judge involved in the Trump University lawsuit because of his Mexican heritage, Trump will do anything to go after his Democratic opponent including espionage. Sacrificing America to the enemy is NOT beyond Trump’s high stakes’ game. He will win at any price! And, it seems, Trump supporters prefer to annihilate a democratic America in favor of a Trump regime. They are willing to sacrifice whatever strides our country has made toward independence, preferring instead to once again be part of a dynastic empire. Only this time it’s the Russian bloc under Putin.

Understandably blinded by their own individual grievances, Trump supporters desperately cling to the cult hope that Trump, as messiah, can deliver them from the purgatory they inhabit. What they don’t realize is that this game of Russian Roulette with one bullet left is aimed point-blank at the heart of America…and at their own hearts.

…America’s death…is our death.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

history repeats itself…

After leaving the White House, President Johnson said: “I don’t believe you would have had any Wilkinses, Thomases, or Eatons [the murderers of Viola Liuzzo] if you didn’t have leadership that gave them that idea that they could do what they did with immunity.”

Many white Alabamans had made their peace with integration and a new kind of South, but George Wallace was not one of them. In 1970 he had won election as governor for a second time applying an overtly racist strategy an aide described privately as “promise them the moon and holler nigger.”

As Wallace campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination for a third time in 1972, he continued to deny that he was a racist. The governor blamed the press that “got folks believing now that I’m against certain people just because of who they happen to be.” Out on the campaign trail, he was on his best behavior, but sometimes things would just creep out, as when he referred to United States senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass.) as a “nigger.”

Wallace had risen to power on racial issues, and wherever he spoke on his presidential campaigns, his audiences were full of people who feared or mistrusted black people. Now in the last years of his political career, he played the race card again, but in a different way.

Thanks largely to the 1965 Voting Rights Act that Wallace had fought against, black Alabamans had won the right to vote, and the day was coming when it would be impossible for a Democrat to win an election without their support. The governor had not even wanted black Alabamans to attend his first inauguration. Yet now, when he needed them, he went to Tuscaloosa and crowned a black woman the University of Alabama homecoming queen, and he appointed black officials throughout his administration.

In 1974, Wallace won reelection as governor for the third time with 25 percent of the black vote. In his fourth and final gubernatorial campaign in 1982, he received around 35 percent of the black vote in his victory.

Wallace sent out one of his new black appointees, Delores Pickett, to campaign for him among her people. “Forgiveness is in our Christian upbringing,” she told her black audiences. “It’s something that Martin Luther King taught us.”

Black Alabamans were for the most part churchgoing people who were taught that redemption comes from forgiveness. They wanted to believe the governor had changed, and if he of all people had changed, then the world had changed.

As he sat in his wheelchair filled with pain, Wallace said he had found Jesus. But that faith never led him to face up publically to his long-held beliefs. He claimed his actions were driven by a belief in states’ rights and that he had never felt prejudice toward black people. He might have taken the lynching of Michael Donald and the conviction of the two murderers as a moment to talk about the wrongfulness of so much he had said and how words led to deeds, but he remained silent.

Despite the limitations of his public apologies, in private Wallace was beginning to grasp that he shared moral responsibility for so many reprehensible acts. One evening during his final full year in office in 1986, one of his aides, Kenneth Mullinax, was over at the governor’s mansion. Cigar smoke wafted down from an upstairs bedroom, and Mullinax went up to chat with Wallace.

“I have a lot of regrets,” Wallace said, “and I really worry about my soul.”

“But you’re born again, Governor,” Mullinax said.

“I flew all them runs over Tokyo dropping bombs, but that don’t worry me none. It’s my words. They kilt a lot of people. That’s why I’m worried I’m going to hell.”

Wallace had spoken the most provocative rhetoric. Then he had stood back and taken no responsibility for what his words led people to do. Now after all these years, he had come to an understanding of what power he truly had possessed, how profound his impact had been, and how tragic the results.

This was taken from THE LYNCHING…THE EPIC COURTROOM BATTLE THAT BROUGHT DOWN THE KLAN by Laurence Leamer

…trump…wallace, all over again.

………hugmamma.

 

nurturing Thursdays: early wishes for…

…a very blessed Father’s Day!

You must be checking your calendar to see when it is. Don’t worry. I’m a month early. Because my daughter’s wedding will be front and center soon, I wanted to give my husband his due before all the hoopla surrounding her day overshadows everything else.

As devoted as I am to my daughter, I continue to be amazed at my husband’s unconditional love and loyal support. He is selfless when it comes to providing for us. There has never been a time since our daughter was born when he put his needs before ours. I don’t even remember him asking for a single material thing. I’ve always made gift choices which I thought would please him; whether or not there was an occasion to celebrate.

I didn’t know my dad. He died when I was one. Without realizing it, I’m sure I sought surrogates as a child growing up. There were 2 men who resonated as father figures…my best friend’s dad and our family doctor. Their small gestures made me feel that an adult other than my mom cared about my well-being. I understood that they belonged to other children, but when these men spoke to me I basked in the warmth of their attention, however fleeting. How I wished I was their daughter. I would have been proud, and pleased.

My husband has turned out to be just such a dad. He is everything I would have wished for as a child. Thank God I grew up subconsciously knowing the kind of man with whom I wanted to share my life. He also happened to be…

…the perfect father…

…for our precious daughter.

………hugmamma.278


More inspirational thoughts at…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2016/05/12/nurt-thurs-move-on/

 

…hug mamma!

Happy Mother’s Day to all who mother…children, grandchildren, students, others’ children…and, of course, pets. Make sure you get your requisite hugs and smooshies. Have a few extra for me since my daughter is thousands of miles away. Although she and her fiancé had a beautiful vase of fragrant stargazer lilies and roses delivered to me today.

Of all the days we celebrate, Mother’s Day is by far the one I cherish most. If it weren’t for God’s grace I might never have been a mom. Not until my husband and I were wed 16 years was I blest with our only child. That’s why I write, wearing my heart on my sleeve…about my daughter.

Moms are special human beings. We give and give and give…and yet we never think of it that way. That’s just how we’re built it seems. It’s in our DNA. We instinctively nurture our children, fulfilling all their needs…physically and spiritually. When called upon we can even become…Super Women! There’s nothing we can’t do for our children. Nothing!

When our children are ill, we inhabit their bodies with our minds…willing them to heal. We instinctively feel their sorrows and weep as one with them. When they are elated, we carry them heavenward.

Because children are flesh of our flesh, we would step in front of a careening car to save them. Or exchange our healthy bodies for their diseased ones. We would sacrifice our lives…to spare theirs.

The light goes out when a child is gone. All that remain are memories. Truthfully, that’s all any of us have when our lives end. And isn’t that what really counts? Memories. Precious memories. Nothing material compares.

So we should live fully in each moment. Savor our children…their smiles, their frowns…their gusto, their  withdrawal…their mastery of some things, their lack of skill for others.

If we stockpile memories of being with our children we will never be without them. And we will always have…

…a beautiful and happy mother’s day.

………hugmamma.IMG_4128

nurturing thursdays: did you talk to your child today?

My daughter and I spoke at some length this evening, after she got home from teaching dance classes and rehearsing students for an upcoming competition. We’re indeed blest to share such closeness all these years, talking on the phone for hours…like best girlfriends.

It wasn’t always that way.

Until she was 16 when I accompanied her to Georgia to train with Atlanta Ballet, I was mom. I set the rules and she followed them. It wasn’t like I had to punish her, it’s just that she knew the boundaries within which to operate to keep everything on an even keel. Because my husband’s job kept him on the road and at the office from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., I functioned like a single parent. Even more so when my daughter and I lived in Atlanta while he remained  in Washington, working to pay the bills.

The boundaries were stretched when she dated her first boyfriend. Their relationship lasted 3 years or so, during which time there were the usual highs and lows accompanying first love. Hers. He’d already been in and out of several relationships. On my own to figure things out, I did my best. There were conflicts for sure, but my daughter knew I always had her back. Early on I tried to send the guy packing because I thought he was pretty selfish. I relented when she ran after him. Eventually he drew me in with his charm. I was still under his spell when my daughter finally broke up with him. Thank goodness she did. He really was a selfish opportunist.

My daughter fared no better with the next few romances. She kept dating losers. Eventually these failed relationships coupled with a profession that requires so much emotional and physical stamina, caused her to spiral downwards into depression. She eventually reached out to us. Thankfully! Bursting into tears on the phone, she immediately agreed to come home so we could help her. 

I flew east to help her pack and see to last minute arrangements. The ballet company kindly offered to hold her job until she returned. For 2 months, our daughter was under psychiatric care. It was determined that a concussion she’d had as a child probably altered her brain chemistry. Unbeknownst to us at the time, the accident skewed her perception of reality. Dance probably helped divert her attention from negative thoughts. There’s just so much choreography to memorize.

Only when she encountered the usual mind games that come with a job and a boyfriend, did our daughter start to overthink everything. On the cusp of adulthood, she tried to tackle her problems on her own. Dance friends her age were little help, since they were burdened with their own problems. Years passed; things worsened. A psychologist she engaged only made our daughter’s task more daunting. She could not figure out how to put her life back together again after those raw, gut-wrenching, one-on-one sessions. Her safety net, my husband and I, lived 2,000 miles away.

With the help of a few close friends to whom she finally opened up, our daughter started to find her way out of the black hole that engulfed her. Thank God for them. Thank God she reached out for help. Thank God my husband didn’t think twice about bringing her home so we could help her heal. Six years later, she’s excited to be marrying a young man who cherishes her for who she is. Her happiness is priceless.

Today my daughter told me of a 12-year-old dancer in one of her classes who lost her brother this week…to suicide. He text his friends, thanking them for trying to help. He told them they did all they could, and asked that they help his parents. Rumor has it that he had been distraught over a failed relationship. Although it’s not certain.

My daughter cried on and off the day she heard of the young man’s death. And the following day, she thought “He was only 16. A baby. And he didn’t live to see today.” She still registered disbelief when telling me about it.

Talking to our children is a lifetime blessing. We wield so much influence over them, whether we know it or not. We can never take for granted that…

…our loving words…can save their lives.

…i know.

………hugmamma.img_5209.jpg

(View more inspirational thoughts at…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/nurt-thurs-would-you-glow/

dreams…nightmares

Do you dream? Or have nightmares? I often have both, and at the same time. How’s that possible? I have no idea. While I’m more or less in control of what I do during the day, I have absolutely none when it comes to sleepy time. I’m at the mercy of the fairies or gargoyles, depending upon who decides to mess with my head on any given night.

In the morning my husband chuckles when I explain how I spent the night wrestling imaginary characters…some familiar, some not. He takes no credit for often showing up, usually as a bystander or the root cause of my struggles with the unknown. The man has no clue what goes on inside my head, even though we’ve known each other almost half-a-century. Men.

My mom always attributed fitful sleeping to having eaten too close to bedtime. More so if I ate something spicy. That made sense when I was young. Most things she said made sense then, given the deck was stacked in her favor as THE authority in my life. Now that I’m the authoritarian in my own life, I figure my dreams and nightmares have more to do with psychology.

Issues that remain unresolved in my mind probably find their way into my consciousness as I sleep. There where I have little or no control, I react as best I can to the images I come across. Because I’m a strong person, I find I usually struggle to maintain that strength…even as I lay motionless. That’s probably when my dreams become nightmares. I’m fighting for self-preservation.

It’s been a very long time since I experienced something even more disturbing as I lay sleeping. It would even occur when I napped. Day or night, if I was being threatened in my dreams I would not be able to move or even make a sound. I could feel myself struggling to wake up, or to scream for help from my husband who lay fast asleep alongside me. I imagine that’s what it would be like if I awoke from a coma, and found myself locked in a coffin, buried 6 feet underground.

Scary, right? Thank goodness I’ve outgrown that particular idiosyncrasy. Unfortunately, my daughter may have inherited it. She told me she experienced the exact same feeling. So now she tries to hold her fiancé’s hand before she falls asleep, something she could not do no matter how hard she tried to reach for it while in the throes of a subliminal struggle. I know that feeling. No matter how close my husband lay to me, I could not move an inch to scream for help.

I’m certain my daughter and I aren’t the only ones beset with such goings on inside our heads, as our bodies surrender to deep slumber. We couldn’t be that unique.

…are you…one of us?

………hugmamma.

...zzzzzzzzz...

…zzzzzzzzz…

 

 

 

talk about old…

…and I know old.

Returning to Cold War rhetoric is like dragging the tyrannosaurus rex out of mothballs. Isn’t it preferable to leave dinosaurs where they belong…in the Smithsonian?

Arianna Huffington recently explained that Donald Trump is sleep deprived. He admitted as much himself, claiming to get by on just 3 hours sleep a night. Obviously he’s not well read on the consequences of long term sleep deprivation. Among them fatal diseases like heart attack, cancer, even Alzheimer’s. At 70, it’s worrisome that a President Trump would have his finger on the nuclear button. He could blast us all to smithereens in the midst of his own personal crisis.

Putting all of one’s faith and hope into a man who lives in the past, wanting to return America to an “us vs. them” mentality is akin to wearing a blindfold for the next 4 years. The world will move forward in spite of us. The U.S. will be the “it” in a global game of “Blind Man’s Bluff,” stumbling around unable to discern what it is the other players are doing.

For better or worse, the world is on a path forward. There’s no hitting the “reset” button and doing a makeover. America can remain an important player, having significant influence every step of the way. Or America can play Trump’s game and cry “wolf” every time he stubs his toe.

Bernie Sanders is 74, an old man with big dreams. I worry he won’t be around to see them all come true. Who will carry his torch? His loving, loyal wife? Good for them. Maybe not so good for America.

Passing the torch is an Olympian fete. It’s a team effort. It’s essential we have a captain who can lead the way, outlining a path toward greatness. It’s also essential to have someone who has “walked the walk” and not just “talked the talk.”

Yes, like everyone else I’m awed by charisma. However if my life depended upon it, I’d want someone who’s not afraid to show us that she’s also an intellectual geek to captain my team.

Slow and steady won the race for the turtle. And that’s who I’m rooting for in the presidential elections…

…mama turtle, herself!

………hugmamma.

…looking back…

Life is really like a jigsaw puzzle. Except that we don’t get all the pieces at the beginning. We start with a few and as we age we pick up another piece here and there. Unlike puzzles that come in a box of 500 or 1,000 pieces, we don’t know what number we’ll end up with…until our lives come to an end. The really cool thing is we can have as few or as many as we choose. Pieces, that is.

Free will. Remember what the Bible tells us about Adam and Eve. God allowed them to make their way in the world once they’d eaten of the forbidden fruit. Because of their sin, humankind must make our way back to God of our own choosing.

I’ve probably selected many, many more puzzle pieces to form my life than say, my husband. He’s held fewer jobs, making his way up the corporate ladder one rung at a time. As for me? I’ve kind of hopscotched up and down life’s ladder unable to decide what it was I could ace. Only when my daughter was born did I settle into my very own “jigsaw puzzle.”

IMG_4309When we’re young, most of us are totally without focus. We’re drawn in so many different directions, like dandelion flowers floating about on the wind. Certain milestones serve to anchor us to reality…school, loved ones, jobs and old age. It’s the final one that weighs in most heavily.

While options are more limited by the quality of our lives in older age, we’re not as saddled by too many puzzle pieces from which to choose. We can be more selective. We can linger over the appeal of some and not others. We can choose a second piece, if the first piece doesn’t quite fit.

Who cares if my jigsaw puzzle’s a little lopsided? Does it matter if I’ve chosen to fill the entire puzzle with a beautiful blue sky? In fact, I might decide to leave holes in the puzzle. There might be a few heavenly pieces I’d want to fill in when I’m done down here.

Unlike real puzzles over which I agonize as I hunt down the exact pieces that fit together, I look at my life now as unfolding day by day.

Since I began helping my daughter plan her wedding almost a year ago, my house has wallowed in dust and grime…and I’ve not given it much thought. Even as I undertake to get my butt going in that direction, I’ve stopped to write some…watch a little TV…nosh a little…and cuddle my cats. The house’ll get done. Meanwhile, I’m just enjoying figuring out…

…what puzzle piece comes next.

………hugmamma.

 

nurturing Thursdays: …a star is born…

Thirty years ago I gave birth to a rising star. Today she is just that.

My daughter was featured in the recent music video of singer and former American Idol contestant, Danny Gokey. In it he sings the hauntingly beautiful melody…”Tell your heart to beat again.”

In all the madness that is today’s world, a little touch of sanity in the form of music and choreography reminds us that life is really about loving one another.

We exist…

…to love…and be loved in return.

………hugmamma.

(More inspirational posts are waiting for you at…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2016/03/24/nurt-thurs-environment/

she was loved…

I just learned that one of my sisters has passed away. Praying that she would not succumb, it wasn’t a complete surprise that she did. She’d had cancer.

A few years older than me, I grew up idolizing Lucy. She was pretty, had a smile that lit up her entire face…with a personality to match. She was a songleader…a softer, more lyrical version of a cheerleader. And she was smart. Why guys weren’t knocking down our door to date her, I’ll never understand. Maybe it was our strict Catholic upbringing, or mean looks from our mom, or maybe it’s because my sister had really high standards. I’ll bet she’s looking down, nodding her head in agreement with the last reason.

My sister and I were quite a few years apart, separated by a brother. They were closer in age. As a result they were best buddies. I kind of tagged along, orders from my mom. I was probably a real drag to have around.

I remember once when I went with them in search of something we referred to as “rabbit grass,” to feed our rabbits. We climbed over a fence onto private property. As we poked through the overgrown vegetation, I heard my sister yell “A bull!!!” She and my brother lit out of there as if it had started chasing them. I ran to the fence only to find that they were already hightailing it down the road back to our house. When they realized I’d been left behind, I think Lucy said they’d better return to get me or “mama will kill us!” They returned, hiked me up over the fence, set me on my feet, and we all got the heck out of there. I think I was crying, but I don’t remember the bull making a move toward us. I’m not sure.

Lucy taught me to dance. I was always a willing partner when she was trying to learn new steps, like the cha-cha-cha or the be-bop. We would laugh as I stumbled, trying not to step on her feet. I can’t remember my brother joining in. Maybe he did, but thanks to my sister my passion for dance grew. When I was a teenager, I was known as the dancing queen around school. Classmates would ask me to teach them how to do…the twist, the jerk, and the “mashed potatoes.” I continued the tradition and passed my love of dance along to my daughter, who went on to make it a career. Thanks sis!

The thing I admired most about my sister is the wonderful brood of children she raised. She cherished them, 3 girls and 2 boys. And I have no doubt they were as devoted to her as she was to them. They, and their children, are a credit to my sister, and her husband Jim. Both role models, living their lives with compassion for others.

While my sister and I weren’t as close we probably would have liked…our lives taking us in different directions…in our hearts we had only the best wishes for one another’s well-being. So I’m at peace with her now being in Heaven, relieved of her suffering. Nonetheless, I am sad for those closest to her heart who are left behind. It will be awhile before their sorrow is lessened. I’ll continue to pray for them, that God keep watch over all…

…my sister by His side.

………hugmamma.012

 

 

 

stream of consciousness saturday: “store”

Store as in “put away.”  Something at which I’m an expert. I have so much stuff…mostly cherished vintage collectibles…it’s scary. While I continually vow to downsize, I find it difficult to actually do so.

Partner in crime with my talent to store things efficiently is my gift to do so beautifully. Decorating, in fact, is the culprit behind my inability to rid my life of stuff. I can stylize everything down to the minutest of details. My motto, whether I’m speaking of home décor or of life in general…”it’s all in the details”.

Storing what I own becomes synonymous then with…arranging everything into vignettes. Picturesque stories. If it weren’t for my dual capabilities of storing and displaying, I would definitely be considered……a hoarder. Big time!!! Instead, visitors to our home oohh and aahh over all they see. They comment…”Your home should be in a magazine!”…”You’re an artist!”…”You should do this professionally!”Imported Photos 00168

My head swells at such exclamations, but in my heart I know that I’m just storing things with which I’ve formed a strong bond. They represent 40+ years of my life as a wife and mother. If I rid my life of more than a few pieces at a time, I’d be excising chunks of who I am today. So I whittle away at the edges…a primitive, blue bookcase here…an old carnival game wheel there. The core remains intact…an oversized, red cupboard purchased in Pennsylvania which holds antique quilts. A large, blue immigrant’s chest found in upstate New York which holds a variety of board games. Games our family played long ago, when our daughter was a youngster.

Now 29, soon to be wed, our only child will one day inherit all that we own. Attempting to spare her the task of relinquishing all this stuff when we die, I am trying very hard to erase more and more of my physical presence while I’m still here. No easy task, but one which I must assume so that she, my precious daughter, won’t have to choose which memories of us she’ll want to…

…store in her heart.

………hugmamma.

Xmas 2010 00055
(Note: To read more SoCS creations, visit…
http://lindaghill.com/2015/12/18/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-1915/

 

 

nurturing thursdays: those who serve…

Two news pieces reported on MSNBC today, made me pause to reflect upon the sacrifices made by those who keep the rest of us safe.

The first was about firemen who helped in the aftermath of 9/11. As usual, they did not consider the risks to their own safety and well-being. Only years later did that horrific day return to haunt them, many suffering the effects of cancer. Mounting medical bills in addition to an emotional and physical roller coaster ride puts the victims and their loved ones at high risk for depression and serious loss to their quality of life.

Following that report was a piece about a military family whose husband/father has been deployed to the Middle East multiple times. Of the 19 years they’ve been married, the couple have been separated 9 years. Their two sons, now teenagers, have missed their dad tremendously. While the family understands their sacrifice as a career choice, it doesn’t lessen the impact of losing a member for years on end. Especially knowing that each deployment could mean the death of their loved one.

It’s easy to shed a tear or two for the plight of these folks whose lives are spent protecting us. Having compassion, however, also includes giving back…not “sitting back.”

Rather than pay for “pork belly” projects put forth by representatives in Congress, our tax dollars should be spent accommodating the financial needs of those who risk their lives to save ours.

I think that’s what’s so frustrating about many members of the Republican Party. They want “boots on the ground,” but they ignore the fact that these folks have needs. They’re not wind-up robots. They feel. They break. They bleed. They die…and leave behind loved ones of their own.

President Obama is walking a tightrope between keeping our country safe during these perilous times…and showing compassion for the men and women who must answer the call to lay down their lives for their country. Not an easy decision, although the president’s critics rant and rave that it’s a no-brainer. Scary to think what Obama’s successor would do if he or she is a Republican intent upon spilling blood.

…when did we become a dispassionate people?

………hugmamma.

(Note: For more inspirational writing, visit…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2015/12/17/nurt-thurs-you-are-2/