The Girl on the Right

“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”

Regardless of the past, it is possible to embrace our free spirits, to have faith and trust our playfulness, to have more and more moments of joy!

Loving Me, Too

Be the girl on the right

For most of my life, I’ve felt like the girl in the middle – watching, worrying, and wondering if I can do that, and if I can do it the right way. If I had ever taken ballet, I would definitely have been her, because learning choreographed dance moves has always been hard for me. It took me years and extra practice to even learn the simple Electric Slide. Once I learn it, I have it down pretty good, though.

Let me go practice that slide, to make sure……. Well, I might need a refresher.

Occasionally, I’ve been like the girl in between the middle girl (the old me) and the girl on the right, the one who is doing it correctly. I love the approval I get when I’m a “good girl.”

But I’ve rarely been the girl on the right. Oh, I’ve thought about it, imagined doing things…

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What I’m Learning about #BlackLivesMatter

It started on my way to the Potluck for Peace hosted by the local YWCA.

Just around the corner from my house, I passed by a black man in a red car who had been pulled over by a police officer and a deputy sheriff. The officers were approaching his car from behind. They appeared to be calm, and I didn’t see any guns. Part of me wanted to turn around and watch from a distance. But I kept going and said a prayer for the man in the car and for the officers. I asked God to keep them all safe.

What struck me in the few seconds as I drove by was the body language of the man sitting in the car. His hands were up on the ceiling, like he was pushing them up as high as he could within the confines of his car. It looked like he was smiling a wide and nervous smile, shaking his head from side to side, and saying something. I imagined that he could be saying: I’m not doing anything wrong. My hands are up, see? I’m not armed. I’m not resisting. God please let them know that.

I remembered the time I was pulled over by the police, many years ago, for going a little too fast. I remembered the sick feeling in my stomach of being in trouble. Then I thought about that feeling being magnified 1000 times. The thought made me shudder.

At the Potluck for Peace, about fifty of us shared a meal. We were a good mix of African American and Caucasian, with one Latina and several police officers.

Our speaker defined racism as prejudice + power.

We’ve all felt prejudice. When you add power, that’s when you get racism that can impede a person’s access to jobs, housing, safety, and justice.

We were invited to write feelings and thoughts about racism on giant sticky notes placed on the walls.

I wish I knew how to tak talk to a racist

Empathy

Then we were asked to discuss the notes nearest our table in small groups. My group focused on this one:

what are the roots

We talked about how fears and prejudices are passed on through generations, and how we need to start teaching children as early as possible to look beyond those fears and prejudices.

One black man shared about the internalized inferiority he felt as a child when he saw how sales people disregarded his mother in stores. As a child, he received the message that people like him and his family didn’t matter.

Black Lives Matter does not mean white lives don’t matter. All lives matter. But black lives have mattered less (sometimes far less) in our system for a long time.

Black lives matter because all lives matter.

We don’t have to pick a side. Black Lives Matter is part of the larger whole that all lives matter. Shouldn’t we give more caring attention to the parts of the whole that are being harmed more, including, not only black lives, but blue lives, and LGBT lives?  Which reminds me of this video of the BLM/police cookout:

https://www.facebook.com/NowThisNews/videos/1111255742297882/?pnref=story

Lately, I’ve heard white people I respect referring to black and brown brothers and sisters. I’m relieved we are finally realizing that talking only in terms of black and white is polarizing.

What if we started to recognize all the colors in between black and white?

Flesh colored crayons

It makes me want to know what people want to be called: black, brown, black and brown, African American….  Maybe I’ll do an informal survey. Feel free to comment!

My friend’s grand daughter recently referred to another little girl as having peach colored skin. Maybe she has the right idea.

 

 

 

 

Allergic to Fun? There’s A Cure for That.

SOC badge with butterfly

The second I saw his message on Facebook, my heart beat like a drum. A happy, excited drum. I had to remind myself constantly to keep my feet on the ground. But we knew something important was going on from our second first date in July of 2011.

Now, he is my second husband, my first love and my last love.

I hope you’re not tired of hearing about this.

But here’s something I’ve never revealed: He (my second husband) sort of reminds me of my first crush. When I was about 11 years old I had a crush on a TV character. It was a time of chaos and inconsistency with my father in Vietnam and my mother’s nervous break downs. Consistency and order was offered by the second in command of the USS Enterprise, the logical science officer, Mr. Spock. Yes, he was my first crush.

My second husband is not a Vulcan, but he can be pretty serious when he’s absorbed in something. He has a certain arch in his eyebrow that can be endearingly familiar. My first husband told me I needed to “lighten up.” But my second husband told me, when we first started dating for the second time, that he was “allergic to fun.” I didn’t believe him. He hadn’t been allergic to fun when we dated in the early 1970s. Back then, he was a gentleman. Back then he only got as far as second base. (We were 15 and 16.) But he had a sense of humor. He still has a sense of humor and a nice smile. He has a tendency to work too hard, but he’s learning to relax. The ocean helps. He likes to go put his feet in the water. I don’t think he’s allergic to fun. I think he’s just not used to it, having worked hard for so many years. But we’re nearing retirement age, not that we’ll ever retire completely, and he’s going to have to get used to fun.

Even Mr. Spock mellowed with age, and with the help of those spores from those funny flowers, he had fun. I wonder where I can find something like that.

I don’t know how the captain wasn’t affected at all by the spores. They should have let him have just a little fun before coming back to his responsible self.

We all need a little fun. Or a lot.

Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt was the word, “second.” If you have a second, visit Linda’s blog at the link below:

https://lindaghill.com/2016/07/22/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-2316/

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!

Seeds of Growth

It was only after my tears had softened the hard soil of grief that I noticed seeds of growth reaching for the light.

Merging Traffic

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Take notice of the seeds of growth.
Often they lie, waiting patiently,
in the soil of grief.

© 2016 Dennis Ference

My new book of original inspirational verses, From the Water’s Edge, is now available from https://www.createspace.com/6040109, http://www.amazon.com/dp/1530558018 and Kindle eBooks at Amazon.

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Patience and the Kindness of Strangers

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Moses is a feral cat who’s been hanging around our church for at least three years. I don’t know who started feeding him first. It could have been me, or it could have been Mary, or it might have even been our music director, Chris, who still says he doesn’t like Moses, but who feeds him the most, and who worries about him the most.

For the first year we fed Moses, he wouldn’t let us get within a few feet of him. If we came too close, he’d take off. During a ridiculously cold spell, Mary and her husband, BW, put a styrofoam cooler lined with a blanket out for him, and Chris found Moses sleeping there the next morning. The following winter, they built Moses a wooden house lined with styrofoam.

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Over the past couple years, a few of us at church worked to gain his trust by gradually moving closer. In time, he got to the point of letting us be as close as we wanted as long as we didn’t try to touch him. If we reached toward him, he’d bolt. But in recent weeks, Moses has accepted pieces food from our hands, and Mary has been able to pet him ever so gently while he eats.

Moses has always looked scraggly and has been losing weight in spite of a good appetite. This past Sunday, he seemed lethargic and let Mary pet him more than usual, even without food as an incentive. Mary made a decision to try to wrap him in a towel to take him to the vet. He wasn’t too happy at first, but Mary held him firmly and was able to bring him into the parish hall. She sat down in a chair, holding Moses firmly in the towel which did little to block the moisture that seeped through as Moses peed on her.  It’s a good thing Mary is patient and loves cats.

We found out the animal clinic connected to a large pet store was open on Sunday and decided to take our chances that they’d see us as a walk in. I drove Mary’s car while Mary held Moses. Even though the vet was dealing with an emergency patient, they agreed to work us in. We waited for quite a while and chatted with others in the waiting room who asked about our snugly wrapped feral cat.

When we got into an exam room, we were told it would still be a while, as the vet was still busy with the emergency. Mary let Moses go and he found a cool hiding place on the floor and drank some water from a bowl. We noticed he had a bad place on his mouth we hadn’t seen before. It looked like some tissue was missing from his upper lip.

After about 30 minutes, the vet came in. She listened to what history we had about Moses, and we warned her that he would not be cooperative. The young, confident woman got down on the floor and introduced herself to Moses, then she calmly caught him by the scuff of his neck, like a mama cat would, (not recommended for amateurs) and put him on the exam table.

Then, Moses let her pet him. He settled down and didn’t struggle. He even purred and “made biscuits” kneading a blanket on the exam table. We were amazed and dubbed her a cat whisperer.

IMG_4260 (2)Holding the back of his neck, the vet used a tongue depressor to open his mouth. (Also, not recommended for amateurs.) She said it looked like ulcers, but it could be cancer, and his teeth were not in good shape.

IMG_4257

Thank you, Dr. Wallis!

The vet recommended blood work, IV antibiotics, and sub-cutaneous fluids. (In spite of his water bowl at church, he was dehydrated.) The blood work ruled out diabetes and some other problems but did not test for feline leukemia. There was only so much to be done in one unscheduled visit on a Sunday afternoon. But it was a start.

When we went to check out, we were informed that a woman we had talked to earlier in the waiting room had anonymously paid $40 toward our bill! How awesome is that?!

Mary and I each having multiple pets, and wanting to honor Moses, took him back to our church courtyard which he knows as home. When we let him go, he took off for the bushes. I checked on him the next day, and he let me pet him ever so gently while he ate his cat food.

 

 

…truth and love have always won.

I will re-blog this quote every time I see it.

Purplerays

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“When I despair, I remember that all through history
the ways of truth and love have always won.
There have been tyrants, and murderers,
and for a time they can seem invincible,
but in the end they always fall.
Think of it–always.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

~ Image by Maria Ismanah Schulze-Vorberg
Photo & text credit: The Garden Of Pensiveness https://www.facebook.com/The-Garden-Of-Pensiveness-367268523352486/

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Answered Prayers

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“If you could send me a soulmate who’s a good fit before Dad and Jesse die, I’d really appreciate it.”

That was a prayer I said to God somewhere around 2010. It went something like that, anyway.

The second part of the prayer was, “If you want me to stay single, then take away this desire for a partner.

It was five years ago, on July 15, 2011, that I had my second first date with the love of my life, my high school sweetheart who found me after 39 years of no contact.

Jesse, my golden retriever, passed away a couple years ago, and the soulmate who is definitely a good fit, helped me get through that.

Jesse swimming

This is one of the things I imagine Jesse doing in heaven.

Dad is still alive and strong in spirit. His legs are giving him a lot of trouble, and at 85, his body is wearing out as bodies are known to do.

I’m so thankful to God for bringing my partner to me when the time was perfect. I was ready to accept staying single if that was what God wanted. I knew I could accomplish a lot of good things being single, once I finally learned to not fall for anyone who asked me out, once I learned to love and honor myself enough to know I did not need a man to complete me. But God knew my loneliness and did not take away the desire. God brought my husband to me when we were both ready.

JoAnne and David to edit

If I’d known then, what I know now, I would have worried less, but then I would not have grown as much faith – faith that still has some growing to do.

Today’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday was: “if/then.” We were to begin our post with the word “If,” and for bonus points, end with a phrase containing the word “then.”

If you want to read more Stream of Consciousness writing, then visit Linda’s blog:

https://lindaghill.com/2016/07/15/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-1616/

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!

Coming Together

After last week’s post about good news deserving equal time, I’ve been searching for good news stories. I found plenty of videos about people saving other people from subway tracks in the nick of time. I guess that’s because they always have those cameras at the subway stops.

I also discovered a brief article about this photo of people surrounding a baby in a stroller in Dallas:

surrounding baby stroller

I looked for the CNN article, but it didn’t turn up in my search.

 

The best story I’ve found, so far, is about two groups with different agendas managing to come together. As reported in The Dallas Morning News, after hours of marching, the  Black Lives Matter protestors had become smaller in number and “stationed themselves across the street from counter-protesters waving American, Texas flags and a black-and-blue version in honor of police.”

I wouldn’t exactly call them “counter-protesters,” but the potential for tension and conflict was there.

You can read how this situation unfolded here: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/headlines/20160710-lives-matter-we-are-all-americans-dallas-protesters-counterprotesters-come-together-with-police.ece

This moving video from the story holds the keys to hope. Be sure to watch it all the way through:

The two groups came together at the perfect time in their journeys. The Black Lives Matter protesters had been walking for hours by the time they came to a small group of people standing up for police lives. The people who remained in this time and space were dedicated. They were ready. They realized that they did not have to be on opposite sides of the street.

It’s not a story that is likely to be given a lot of attention, but it’s a story that matters.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.    __ Margaret Mead

1195. Of the good in you I can speak, but not of the evil. For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst? ~Kahlil Gibran

“…on any and all of those days, somewhere in the world man’s ability to be a mirror of God’s goodness is visible.” Maybe some day, we will come to value these mirrors of God’s goodness more.

Sacred Touches

The whole course of human history
may depend on a change of heart
in one solitary and even humble individual –
for it is in the solitary mind and soul of
the individual that the battle between
good and evil is waged and
ultimately won or lost.
~M. Scott Peck

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At the end of each day in the Creation story in Genesis it says: “God saw that it was good.” And then after the 6th day it says: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” We are made in the image of God and so “at the heart of who we are is the love and wisdom of God.” “The divine likeness within us may be hidden or forgotten. It may be in terrible bondage by wrongdoing but the image of God remains at the heart of who we are, even though we may live…

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