Cherishing One Another’s Hopes

Tonight’s story arrived in a round about way. I had intended to do a review of a tv series that I recently started watching. Just before beginning on that post, I went to Google to look up photos of the series. As it happened, the first news headline beneath the Google search bar announced the cancellation of that series!

Sitting on my bed, in my room, I opened up to other possibilities, and another story to write. My eyes fell on the vignette in the vintage suitcase atop my armoire, a visual reminder of my love of traveling and the desire to do more exploring. And that glance suddenly unlocked a flood of memories.

This is the true story of two friends who have never actually met. However, the actions of my long distance friend Erik nurtured a hope within me that later manifested into reality.

Cherishing One Another’s Hopes

I met Erik in 2004, in an online chat room for people who loved The Phantom of the Opera story. The film version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical had just released and I fell in love with Phantom. In a time prior to Facebook or Instagram, I connected with amazing people from around the world who shared an appreciation for this classic story. I’m still friends with several of those creative souls.

Erik lived in Germany at that time. He was as mysterious as the Phantom at first, in the chat rooms, and ironically, had much in common with that character. Over time, as trust grew between us, we became the technological equivalent of pen pals. We spent hours chatting about the movie and about the fan fiction that sprang up to feed the desire for more stories about the POTO characters.

I learned more about Erik, as he opened up about his life. His stories are just that, his, and not mine to share. I marveled though at his ability to rise from the metaphorical ashes of a difficult youth and create beauty. He shared deeply moving artistic expressions…musical pieces on the piano and violin, songs, poetry and written stories. Erik was able to use the fire of pain to forge incredible works of art.

I still have recordings of his songs, although the stories are long gone, casualties of a string of computer crashes. I have a dvd that I cherish, his performance in the musical Jekyll & Hyde, in which he played the title role.

And I have items displayed throughout my home, that came to represent hope to me. Erik had lived in or visited many different countries. I had visited none, yet, other than Mexico. Knowing my desire to explore new places, Erik began to send me gifts, items from around the world.

Cherishing One Another’s Hopes

Cherishing One Another’s Hopes

I received Japanese geisha girls and intricate fans, a cuckoo clock from Germany, a Scandinavian nesting doll, statues, a vase, plates, keepsakes…all from various countries. The canvas painting in my travel vignette, the piece that drew my attention tonight, and inspired this post, is from Erik and came from France.

The final gift that Erik sent me was a big surprise. We had discussed the Lord of the Rings stories by JRR Tolkien. I love that epic tale of transformation. In particular, I identified with the elven Arwen. Erik sent me a replica of Arwen’s sword, as a reminder of who I really am as I journey, and as a connection to another destination, albeit fictional…Middle Earth.

Cherishing One Another’s Hopes

I’ve had the privilege of traveling, since those days when seeing the world was just a dream. Tonight, as I thought about my friend, whom I have not heard from in years, I realized how important, how precious, how sustaining those gifts were. They ignited a hope within me that someday what I dreamed of would come true. Erik shared his travels with me. He helped me to develop a bigger view of the world.

And, I realized tonight how precious the friendship was. Erik and I never spoke on the phone. We never tried to meet. We didn’t need to. It was enough to connect via chat rooms and later by texts. We shared hopes and dreams and we discussed the sorrows and joys of life. And eventually we lost touch with each other. Until tonight.

With a bit of hesitancy, I sent a text to the last phone number I had for my friend. I identified myself and asked if this was still Erik’s cell number. I knew it was possible he had a different number. Or that he would not or could not respond. I had things I wanted to tell him, stories to share about countries I’ve visited. I wondered how he was and what he was doing.

I didn’t have to wonder for long. Almost immediately I received a reply. “Hey, love. It’s been a while. How are you?”

Oh my friend, hello again, I have so much to tell you…

“Friends…they cherish one another’s hopes. They are kind to one another’s dreams.” Henry David Thoreau

Cherishing One Another’s Hopes

Searching for Iced Tea

For years I was known as the woman who always had a Diet Pepsi in my hand. I was never without one. Fortunately, for my health, I quit drinking soda, diet or regular, a decade ago. However, instead of sipping on a Diet Pepsi all day, I switched to unsweetened iced tea. And for more years, I was known as the woman who always had an unsweetened iced tea in my hand, usually a 32 ounce one from Sonic or McDonald’s.

Searching for Iced Tea

Last year, though, a strange thing happened. I chose to undergo a 7 day juice fast. That was an amazing week, during which I only drank a variety of veggie and/or fruit juices, and water. My energy soared and at the end of the week of juicing, I felt incredibly healthy, light and fit.

I didn’t drink one iced tea that week and surprisingly, I didn’t crave one either. I think, for the first time, I was not dehydrated. A couple of days passed before I hit a drive through on my way home and picked up my usual 32 ounce tea. I only drank a quarter of it. The tea seemed bitter and I realized it did nothing to quench my thirst. The next morning, I woke up with stiff joints in my fingers and a general unwell feeling. I wondered.

I tried sipping on an unsweetened iced tea a few days later, and awoke with the same symptoms. It appeared my body was telling me to ditch the unsweetened tea. I listened. I quit drinking black tea that day.

Searching for Iced Tea

I enjoy a hot herbal tea every afternoon. It’s become a soothing pause in my day that benefits my health as well. Today I had a cup of lemon balm tea. But with the warmer weather, I suddenly wanted a cold iced tea as well. What to do?

I remembered a couple of cold tea ideas from Life Changing Foods by Anthony William. It was time to experiment with teas.

Searching for Iced Tea

The first cold tea is still steeping. I picked fresh dandelion blossoms, from the abundant crop in the yard, and dropped them into a small pitcher of cold water. The flowers will steep overnight. I’ll strain the tea in the morning and sip on it during the day. I’m excited to try it!

Searching for Iced Tea

The second drink is a rose hips orange tea. I poured two cups of boiling water over a couple of teaspoons of dried rose hips, and let it steep for 15 minutes. After removing the strainer basket from the cup, I poured the tea into a small mason jar and added the juice of two oranges…a Cara Cara orange and a blood orange.

The tea mixture went into the refrigerator and chilled for a couple of hours.

Oh my goodness…this is a wonderfully flavored cold tea. I didn’t even add ice. The sweetness of the fresh orange juice perfectly complements the tangy rose hips tea, creating a very smooth and refreshing drink.

This is it. This is my iced tea for the summer months. Rose hips orange tea is simple to make, and I keep the dried herb and oranges on hand at all times. I can sip on this delicious tea without being concerned that my joints will ache. I know both rose hips and oranges are excellent health boosters. The search for an iced tea is over.

Searching for Iced Tea

Busting Assumptions About Health

I’ve been focused today on learning some new things, about health, about business, about developing gifts of mine. In the midst of all of that, I enjoyed lunch with grandson Jonathan at his school, and I created a fun visual to help bust up an assumption about what I eat on a plant based diet.

I actually enjoy busting up assumptions, which just means I like to challenge traditional beliefs around certain topics, and help people to see in a bigger way. The assumption I playfully challenged today was that eating plant based must mean I eat a lot of lettuce based salads…I don’t…and that eliminating meat, dairy, eggs, gluten, soy, canola oil, GMO foods and sugar must mean that my meals are boring…they aren’t!

Busting Assumptions About Health

I got the idea for today’s visual from a meme I saw, one of those along the lines of “What people think…” vs “What I actually do…”. As I prepared last night’s meal, I grabbed my cell phone and used the camera to snap pics so I could create my own version.

People ask me all the time what I eat, since I only eat fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts and seeds. I don’t mind sharing with others at all. I know people are curious. And, more importantly, many of them are feeling into the possibility of making changes in their health as well. They are testing the waters, so to speak, to see how doable eating plant based is.

So here is what I created.

Busting Assumptions About Health

This wasn’t my actual meal. However, this is what many people assume I eat…a little lettuce, with a few carrot and celery sticks. Nothing wrong with that food, it’s just not enough!

Busting Assumptions About Health

I added words with the WordSwag app. I use this free app every single day. The app is easy to use and allows me to create memes and title memes for my blog posts, incorporating my own photos.

Then I put together my actual meal, a veggie bowl made up primarily of raw veggies, with steamed sweet potatoes and cooked black beans.

Busting Assumptions About Health

Look at that gorgeous bowl of life sustaining, health supporting food! Included with the sweet potatoes and black beans are raw carrots, celery, tomatoes, red cabbage, green peppers, cucumbers, broccoli and mixed greens. Everything in the bowl was organic. The homemade sauce, created from a recipe by Chef Robin Jeep, contains oranges, organic peanut butter, ginger, garlic, basil and cilantro. It’s amazing. I topped my bowl with freshly cut herbs from my garden…thyme, chives and more basil.

Busting Assumptions About Health

I added words to this photo as well. This bowl of food…and it’s a large bowl…is a typical meal for me. This is what I prepare for myself and what I eat. That veggie bowl was very filling and so satisfying. And best of all, it’s clean eating. The food nourishes my body, at a cellular level. And boring? Bland or tasteless? Never. I crave this kind of food. My body craves it and I’m happy to feed this craving!

Last of all, I brought the photos together, using another app called Pic Collage. It’s free as well and with it I can do a variety of layouts.

The finished piece is pictured below. It’s a lighthearted attempt at teaching people that the plant based lifestyle isn’t about deprivation. It’s a choice. It’s about taking back responsibility for health and well being and being proactive. I love this lifestyle, and the beautiful food that I eat. And I love teaching others that they too can heal and transform their lives.

And if I get to bust an assumption or two, I’ll happily do so!

Busting Assumptions About Health

Deeper Journey into Compassion

This last week I received multiple signs, pointing me down a particular path. The word that kept popping up, in books, on social media, in conversations and on memes was Compassion.

When repetitive signs appear, creating a synchronicity string, I pay attention. It was apparent that I was being guided to take a deeper look at what practicing compassion meant.

Deeper Journey into Compassion

The word compassion originates from the Latin word compat, which literally means “suffer with”. Compassion, then, is the ability to share in another’s suffering. I looked up the origins of the word suffer as well. It too comes from Latin. The words sub ferre translates to “from below” “to bear”. Those words create an image in my mind, of coming alongside someone, wrapping an arm around them, and giving them a shoulder “from below” to offer support. This gives a deeper meaning to compassion. It becomes the act of supporting or carrying one who is suffering.

I was thinking about the word, feeling my way more deeply into compassion, when I received another gentle nudge. I suddenly remembered that Anthony William, the man who has guided so many, including myself, into health and wellness, recently spoke about the very subject I was reflecting on. I had intended to listen to the recording before now. I was being reminded to do so. This…this is where the synchronicities were leading me to.

Deeper Journey into Compassion

I made time late this afternoon, to listen to “Healing Power of Compassion”. I’m so grateful that I did. I had no preconceived ideas about what Anthony would say. I trust him completely so I simply opened my heart, popped in earbuds and settled back to receive. I laughed because near the beginning of his talk, Anthony asked “Do you have a cup of herbal tea?” He might have been talking directly to me, from a chair in my living room. Yes! Yes I had my cup of hot lemon balm tea.

For the next hour, I listened to Anthony’s conversational style of speaking as he shared from his heart and from Spirit. I scribbled four pages of notes as he spoke, smiling, laughing aloud a couple of times, tearing up more than once.

Deeper Journey into Compassion

Here are some of the highlights from Healing Power of Compassion, by Anthony William:

• We all can access compassion, which is an understanding of suffering. It’s the soul of peace and joy. And it is vital for healing.

• Have compassion for yourself. God is Love…unconditional Love. Humans put conditions on love, even on self-love. When we feel compassion + love, we come the closest to creating unconditional love.

• Compassion is different from empathy, which can wax and wane, and from sympathy, which often has strings attached to it. Compassion is different from confidence. When we experience failure, we lose confidence. It can be destroyed in an instant.

And this is where the journey deepened for me…

• We cannot experience peace, or offer peace, without compassion. And we start with self-compassion.

• We lose peace and confidence when we become chronically ill. Self-love is an appreciation for and an acceptance of who we are. We can lose self-love if we cease to appreciate who we are or what’s going on in life. Self-compassion is practicing unconditional love for ourselves, no matter what is going on in our lives.

• Without compassion for ourselves, self-love can quickly change to self-loathing or self-hate, especially when our bodies appear to be betraying us by getting sick or failing in some way. Being told the body is attacking itself can create hatred for the body. This is soul damaging.

• Deeply root ourselves in self-compassion. Visualize compassion as a warm blanket, a cup of hot tea, or a bright light, reach out and take it, and pull it back to the heart and soul. Hold on to it. Practice it.

Deeper Journey into Compassion

I understand what Anthony is talking about. In the same way that we can’t really love others, until we learn to love ourselves, we can’t offer compassion, and therefore hope, until we can live in compassion toward ourselves.

And, I understand the feeling that my body is betraying me by becoming ill and functioning poorly. That can indeed lead to self-loathing. I struggled with this as my left leg deteriorated. While in Scotland in 2014, I first began to express compassion to my body, and especially to my left leg. I expressed gratitude and recognized that my body was doing the best it could. I unknowingly set the stage for the healing that would take place two years later, by shifting into self-compassion. My journey into compassion continues.

I could share much more. Instead, it’s my earnest desire to encourage everyone to listen to this important, heart-felt message. Download the SoundCloud app. Subscribe to Medical Medium on it. Search for Healing Power of Compassion. It’s all free.

It’s that important! I know. I was guided to it for a reason…for my benefit…and for yours.

Deeper Journey into Compassion

Garden Magic

Last year, I came up with an idea. I enjoy repurposing metal containers, such as buckets and colanders and wash tubs, in the garden. I use them as receptacles for a variety of plants and flowers. It gives my backyard paradise a bit of an industrial look.

My idea was to hang a metal grid beneath a workshop window, using it as a shelf for potted plants. I could see what that idea looked like, carried out. I could imagine how cute the shelf would be and how it would tie in with the rest of my garden. However, after searching all summer, in hardware stores, flea markets and junk stores, I could not locate a metal shelf or grate that would work. Summer drew to a close.

Garden Magic

My daughter Elissa let me know a couple of weeks ago that she had some stuff she was clearing out of her house, items she had purchased at junk shows or flea markets and no longer wanted. She asked if I was interested in the metal baskets that she had. I agreed to take them. I can always use a metal basket, in the garden or inside the house.

Last week she dropped of those treasures. I was delighted with the metal baskets. One caught my attention immediately. It was a large rectangular shape, with the back slightly higher than the front. I realized it was the perfect size and shape to become the metal shelf in my garden.

Garden Magic

Greg helped me hang the repurposed shelf late this afternoon. It fit perfectly beneath the window on the south side of the workshop, the side that faces into the garden. In moments the shelf was up and I had plopped three terra cotta pots onto it. There’s room still on the shelf to fill in with some additional plants. It is as cute as I imagined it to be.

Garden Magic

As a bonus, Elissa also brought me a rustic, and rusty, wire box with a high back on it. This piece definitely belongs in my backyard garden! Greg hung it for me too. It’s empty at the moment but it won’t be for long. I’m envisioning more pots in this hanging basket, with vining, flowering plants that climb up the metal back.

Garden Magic

I love these additions to the garden and I appreciate that my daughter gifted them to me. The magic is this…a year ago an idea came to me. In spite of a clear visual about what the metal shelf looked like and how it would be used, I couldn’t locate it. However, the desire went forth.

Inspiration comes to me and my experience is, if I receive an idea, I have the ability to carry it out. Sometimes the idea becomes reality immediately. And sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve learned to stay open and let go of how it’s going to come about and when. I love the way this idea manifested in my life, without any further effort on my part.

The shelf came to me, by way of my daughter. And I received a second fun metal piece to create with in the garden, and two more metal baskets to play with, using them either indoors or outdoors. That’s abundance, beyond what I had imagined.

These creative experiences are bigger than gardening magic. They are life lessons in trusting and allowing, staying open to possibilities and detaching from the hows, the way the outcome is achieved. They teach me that every element of my life is important to the Divine. I am so very grateful!

Garden Magic

Movie Review: A Quiet Place

My sister Linda and I took advantage of our Movie Pass cards, and in my case a free movie ticket because of racked up points, to catch an afternoon matinee. I’ve been interested in the film A Quiet Place since seeing the previews. The movie released in early April, and it’s doing very well, considering its genre. We were ready to see why this monster movie has experienced such a long and successful run.

Movie Review A Quiet Place

A Quiet Place stars Emily Blunt, John Krasinki, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe and Cade Woodward. This sci-fi horror was directed by John Krasinki, who also co-wrote the screenplay. The movie carries a PG-13 rating, for intense scenes of terror, and has a run time of 1 hour and 30 minutes.

The film opens on Day 89, somewhere in rural America. Lee (Krasinki) and Evelyn (Blunt) Abbott are out on a salvaging mission with their three children, Regan (Simmonds), Marcus (Jupe) and Beau (Woodward). The town they enter appears to be deserted, and the grocery store the family is loading up supplies from is dark and ransacked.

Evelyn carefully sorts through prescription bottles for a drug to give Marcus, who has been ill. The other children quietly look at items left on the shelves, searching for anything useful. When Lee appears with his backpack loaded, it’s time for the family to head home before darkness falls.

Movie Review A Quiet Place

Although this appears to be a typical trip to town for the Abbotts, it’s anything but normal. The family members wear jackets, scarves and caps, and yet each of them is barefoot. And no one says a word. They communicate by sign language. The path home, through eerily silent woods, is carefully marked with a thick layer of sand to soften their footsteps.

It appears that the US, and indeed the world, has come under attack. Most of the population is gone. Those who have survived continue to do so only by remaining silent. A tragic mistake, on the way home, provides a horrifying reminder about the importance of being as quiet as possible. If you make noise, you die.

Movie Review A Quiet Place

The story jumps ahead to Day 389. The Abbotts have settled into a soundless daily routine. Evelyn is very obviously nearing the end of a pregnancy. The children help with chores, receive school lessons from their mom, and play Monopoly at night using cloth pieces on the board. Regan, it seems, is deaf. She wears a cochlear device that her father keeps tinkering with, and yet her world remains deeply silent.

Lee divides his time between providing fish and vegetables for his family, monitoring their property for intruders and sending out SOS radio signals to countries around the world. No one has replied. There are people still living in their area though. They light fires at night, atop towers, to signal that they survive still. Lee rigs up a lighting system around his house and outbuildings. Clear lights mean all is well. Red means danger.

It’s in Lee’s basement room, set up with radios and the monitoring equipment, that signs of what happened a year ago are displayed. He has newspaper clippings, handwritten notes and drawings that tell the story. The world was invaded, in early 2020. One paper headline reads, “Meteor hits Mexico with the force of a nuke”. However, it wasn’t a meteor apparently. Tall, lanky creatures with sharp teeth roam the world, hunting down and killing anything that makes sound. Lee’s notes indicate the creatures are blind, covered with an armored hide that can’t be pierced, and have extremely sensitive hearing that leads them to their prey.

Movie Review A Quiet Place

As the time approaches for the baby’s birth, preparations are made. Lee and Evelyn do as much soundproofing as possible in the basement room. They fashion a box for the newborn, complete with an oxygen source and a tight fitting lid, to minimize sound, because babies are not quiet!

Lee and Marcus leave to check fish traps, after a silent but intense argument between father and daughter. And Evelyn is following her routine when her water breaks, signaling the baby is coming earlier than expected. Afraid and in pain, she inadvertently does the one thing she cannot do, and keep herself and her family safe from the predators. She makes a sound.

Movie Review A Quiet Place

This movie was intense…and very unique. The silence on the big screen, which was complete except for occasional background music and very brief conversations, penetrated into the movie theater itself, deepening the tension. People behind us stopped eating their popcorn, because it was too noisy! I needed to cough once…and choked it back instead. We all became so invested in the safety of the characters on the screen that we hesitated to make any sounds as well.

I loved how unique the story concept was. Sign language was used throughout the film with subtitles provided so the viewers could follow along. The level of intensity heightened the terror of the situation. I jumped several times. Close up camera shots and tight angles allowed the facial features of the actors to convey emotions such as terror or relief. Eyes opened wide, a tear running down a cheek or the mouth open in a silent cry made words unnecessary.

Movie Review A Quiet Place

Other things I appreciated about A Quiet Place include:

Emily Blunt and John Krasinki, who play husband and wife in the film, are married in real life. Their chemistry was amazing. I trust that means they have a wonderful relationship.

John co-wrote, directed and starred in the film, with his wife’s support and encouragement. He is known for several comedic roles, including a part in The Office. He did a phenomenal job carrying out multiple roles in the film.

Millicent Simmonds, who plays the Abbotts hearing impaired daughter, is actually deaf. Krasinki credits her with not only helping the rest of the cast learn American Sign Language, she also made valuable suggestions for scenes in the film, from her life perspective.

And, I liked that very little was explained in the film. The audience was forced to rely on visual clues, that weren’t overly obvious, and some speculation about what had happened in the past and how things might be resolved in the future. Linda and I agreed we would be thinking about this movie for a long time.

At the core of this monster movie is a story about a family learning to adapt and survive, together. The parents vow to protect their children while providing as much normalcy as possible. The children behave like children, most of the time, until more is demanded of them.

The overarching theme of A Quiet Place is love. And it shows. Literally. One of the most poignant scenes comes when Lee signs to his children, “I love you. I have always loved you.” He didn’t have to say the words aloud. They knew. I knew. And a silent tear rolled down my cheek.

Movie Review A Quiet Place

Broken Arrow Fun

I traveled to Oklahoma today, with my mom and daughter Elissa, to meet up with my sister Debbie and niece Ashley. They live in the charming town of Broken Arrow, Tulsa’s little sister community.

Here’s a pictorial post of our girls’ afternoon out.

Broken Arrow Fun

It was a gorgeous day to be outside. We walked in downtown Broken Arrow, where a Rose Show and Cinco de Mayo celebrations were underway on Main Street. I love how this community has revitalized their downtown. The energy was lively on Main Street as people shopped and listened to music and dined at cafes and bistros or an assortment of food trucks.

Broken Arrow Fun

We chose to have lunch at Toast, a cafe featuring breakfast and brunch. I enjoyed an avocado caprese salad, with basil pesto, hold the mozzarella please! It was delicious.

Broken Arrow Fun

The group visited Southern Magnolia next, a flea market with booths full of vintage items. We browsed but did not make any purchases today.

Broken Arrow Fun

My sister and niece suggested a special treat, afternoon tea. I approved that idea! We tried out a new tea and coffee shop, All About Cha, away from the busy downtown area yet still in Broken Arrow. Debbie and Ashley had not visited this bistro before either, so it was a first experience for all of us.

Broken Arrow Fun

All About Cha serves an assortment of breakfast, lunch and dinner meals, including sushi, and coffees, teas and sweet treats. Ashley’s Caramel Macchiato, presented beautifully, is pictured above.

I sipped on hot Jasmine tea. Served in a glass teapot, the jasmine flower bud blooms as it steeps. That was fun to watch. Mom and I savored gluten free, low sugar, dark chocolate treats with our teas.

Broken Arrow Fun

We lingered over our afternoon tea, chatting as we sipped our drinks and sampled our treats. I appreciate this traditional pause in the day, especially when it includes family.

Back at Ashley’s house, we played with puppies! How many puppies, you ask? Eleven of them! Ashley, her husband Jon, and Debbie are involved in fostering rescue dogs. Sometimes that means the dog who desperately needs help is a mama, with a litter.

These nine little guys and two little ladies are three weeks old. They are just beginning to explore their surroundings and express themselves with squeaks and mock growls and tiny yaps. We took turns snuggling pups and passing them around. And we laughed often, at their baby antics.

Broken Arrow Fun Nine of eleven.

What a fun afternoon! It was good to get out of town, connect with family, and try out a couple of new cafes. And who can resist a pile of adorable puppies? Not us.

Broken Arrow Fun

Different Versions of Me

I had intended to share thoughts about this inspiring meme last weekend, in keeping with my Sunday Shorts theme. However, I spent a very pleasant afternoon at George Washington Carver Park, and wrote about that experience instead. Friday is a double blog post day, just as Sunday is. I chose to adapt and share today.

Different Versions of Me

Inspiration can come to me in a variety of ways…a song or a conversation, a painting or a dream, a flower or a quote that has been made into a meme. Those memes pop up everywhere on social media. When one resonates with me, I save it.

This one snagged me last week:

Different Versions of Me

I’ve thought about the truth of those words for days.

When I was a child, my mom had to purchase new clothes or sew new outfits for me every few months as I continued to grow. My old clothes wouldn’t have served me for long. The legs and sleeves would have become too short and the waist would have pinched. Remaining in my too-small clothes, no matter how cute they were, would have become uncomfortable after a while.

Different Versions of Me

Even when I attained my height and stop growing, my clothing changed frequently. I gained or lost weight, went through pregnancies, changed my style as I changed my mind about what I thought I liked.

This experience is common to everyone.

As I grew physically, I also shifted and changed emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Those changes were not as evident as trading short shorts for bell bottoms or mini skirts for maxi dresses. It’s those changes though, that have most defined my life.

As an awkward teen, pictured above in my title meme, I could never have imagined how many versions of myself I would grow into…and then outgrow. As I learned, as my perspectives shifted, as challenges beset me, I became different versions of me. It seems the older I got, the more frequently I “updated” to a newer version, and the less painful it became.

Because, there is often pain with growth, especially when it happens quickly. I used to get legs cramps when I had physical growth spurts. Emotional, mental and spiritual growth spurts can create pain that is just as real. The painful times have grounded me though, and kept me from attempting to stay small when a bigger life was calling to me, inviting me to grow.

Different Versions of Me

I am grateful that my 6 year old self and my 16 year old self did not know what changes were ahead. The 26 year old version of me could not have fathomed what my 40 year self would be like. That’s as it should be. When those next levels of life appeared, I grew to meet them.

My latest level up has involved a radical change in the way I eat and take care of myself. Earlier versions of me would have scoffed in disbelief that a future version would forego meat, dairy, sugar and bread! But that change was exactly what was required for me to live in optimal health and well being. I am open and unafraid about what the next level up will require from me.

When people tell me, “Wow, you’ve changed!” they don’t always mean it as a compliment. Growth happens at different times, for different people, and it can be a scary process. I welcome such comments though. It shows me that my growth is evident.

So…this is me. This is version 60.2 me!

Different Versions of Me

Pittsburg Spring Band Concert

It just wouldn’t officially be spring without a band concert to signal that the end of the school year is near. This evening I had the pleasure of attending just such a concert. Grandson Jonathan and the 6th grade band performed the opening musical numbers.

Pittsburg Spring Band Concert

I last listened to the 6th grade band during the fall concert last year. Months of practice and consistent hard work have paid off for this group of young performers. I could hear their remarkable progress and see their confidence.

Jonathan played the clarinet, front and center. Performing before an audience is something this charismatic young man does well, whether he is singing and dancing in a musical or acting in a play or playing an instrument or explaining the latest version of a trendy video game on his YouTube channel. I’m so proud of him and I appreciate his gifts.

Pittsburg Spring Band Concert

Listen to the 6th grade band play Fanfare Heroica by Brian Balmages HERE.

I enjoy these concerts so much. What a beautiful portrayal of life as each child plays his or her part, contributing to the whole. I left the performance inspired to do my best in playing the music that has been set before me, while allowing others to do the same. Together we all create something beautiful, and bigger than we could create on our own.

Pittsburg Spring Band Concert

Flowers from Grandma Ruby

When I began this year of stories, one of my intentions was to occasionally feature one of the vintage items that I own. I wanted to share the stories behind those special pieces. I began recently with the story of my mom’s wooden shoes from Holland. Tonight’s vintage story features beautiful floral needlepoint pieces, from Greg’s grandmother, Ruby Moore.

Flowers from Grandma Ruby

Even though she was not my biological grandmother, this matriarch of the Moore family was always Grandma Ruby to me. She insisted. Our families actually had connections that went back generations. The first time I met Grandma Ruby, Greg and I had barely begun dating, and had not considered marriage at all. Grandma greeted me enthusiastically and told me immediately that she hosted a baby shower for my grandmother, when she was pregnant with my mother, back in the “hollow”. “And now look,” she announced, “you are part of the family!”

I was both amused…and embarrassed!

Flowers from Grandma Ruby

When I did eventually become a part of the Moore Clan, I was a bit intimidated by Grandma Ruby. She was a strong woman, with strong values and equally strong opinions, about everything. I was afraid to speak up to her, and certainly never wanted to cross her or cause her disappointment. In her strength, she could appear severe, or even harsh. And yet, I sometimes caught glimpses of her tender heart.

The first family Christmas gathering I attended, prior to my marriage, was at Grandma and Grandpa Moore’s house. They were not expecting me, and I was not expecting a gift. Grandma Ruby slipped away to her bedroom and returned moments later with a gift she had hastily wrapped. She gave me one of her own bottles of perfume.

My relationship with Grandma Ruby shifted while I was expecting my first child. At least one afternoon a week, she would drive to my house, while Greg was at work, pick me up and take me home with her. There was always a plate of food waiting for me. I’d watch as Grandma Ruby worked on the old cradle that held her sons when they were infants. We sat together for hours as she stripped layers of paint, applied fresh stain and waxed the wood to a soft finish. The cradle would hold my baby when she was born, and as I sat watching her restoration progress, I felt the love that Grandma Ruby poured into that project.

Flowers from Grandma Ruby Ruby Moore, about 1915.

The best part of those afternoons with the Moores was listening to their stories. Grandma Ruby would haul out an old battered suitcase, full of photos, and tell me story after story from their youth. I heard about their early lives, their fun escapades, and their hardships. Their faces softened into smiles and Grandpa Bill would shake his head and chuckle as he remembered the young man he once was. I loved these glimpses into their pasts, and into their hearts.

Some of their stories were quite shocking. Perhaps because I had not grown up with them as my grandparents, or perhaps because freedom is won in advanced age, they felt comfortable telling me things that their own grandchildren had not heard. Whatever their reasons, I treasured those stories. I came to love and appreciate Grandma Ruby very much.

Flowers from Grandma Ruby Ruby & Bill Moore, March 2, 1916, ages 17 and 18, respectively.

Later, when Grandma Ruby and Grandpa Bill were gone, and their house with all its contents had sold, I was allowed to run in and grab one item. I am grateful that Grandma Ruby showed me the suitcase full of photos. That’s what I grabbed. I rescued those old photos, with those young smiling faces and sparkling eyes. As a bonus, we discovered bundles of letters and postcards within the suitcase, correspondence between Ruby and Bill before their marriage. He is polite and friendly as he writes. She is playful and flirtatious and sometimes downright naughty! I love that about her.

I have more than those photos and letters and that vintage suitcase that I create vignettes in. Through Greg’s parents several pieces of exquisite needlepoint came to me, crafted by Grandma Ruby in the 1960s and early 70s. Those pieces have places of honor in my home. The footrest shares my studio with me, parked near my thinking chair. I often tuck it beneath my writing table and prop my feet on it, if I’m going to be working for a long period of time.

Flowers from Grandma Ruby

The other two pieces hang on a wall in my bedroom. They are both florals as well. The bell pull has a working bell that does indeed ring merrily when the pull is tugged on. My granddaughter has a fondness for that pull, and uses it to announce her trips to the bathroom. Ironically, the cat that shares Aubrey’s middle name also rings the bell, if she wants to go outside and I’m ignoring her.

I think of Grandma Ruby every time I look at the footrest, the bell pull and the framed flower needlepoint. I remember her great heart and how generously she shared it. I look at photos of her near the end of her life and now I can see beyond the serious expression on her face and the somber demeanor. In her face I can see the young woman there, eyes crinkled up with a mischievous glint, a hint of a smile at the corners of her mouth.

Thank you, Grandma Ruby, for the flowers that will not fade. Thank you for the gifts of your time, your presence and your stories. And thank you for loving me as one of your own.

Flowers from Grandma Ruby