As I Sit and Paint

 

I sit in comfort at a local ceramics shop, enjoying the joy and peace of painting a birdhouse.  I use all colors of the rainbow as I create my special piece that has only my handprint upon it.  I am joined by my boyfriend and ladies around me, all enjoying their relaxing time the same as I.  There is Christmas music playing in the background.  We share warmth and lightness as we chat with each other.  All are intent on their work.

The subject matter we talk about has an extensive range. We share how far we’ve come with holiday shopping and errands that we must complete later in the day.  We discuss different health issues and past experiences that bring us to the opinions we have formed.  Each listening and understanding and painting as we go.

A subject comes up about a local news story where two young men were driving at a high speed and they lost control of their vehicle as it flew through the air and landed in the second story of a building.  We all quietly continue to paint as we remark of what a terrible tragedy it was.  We speak of the feeling of sadness for the parents of the deceased and we continue to paint.  I observe in my mind,  the contrast of the story and, the activity that we are partaking in.  I know for myself that as I create in this relaxed situation, my heart aches for a dear loved one who is struggling with pure existence, unable to even speak without sobbing, striving for a new way of being.  My heart hurts as I watch my boyfriend tackle his art creation through the pain of a severe work injury and being unsure of the outcome of said injury.

Each person at our table has trials and tribulations, heartaches and sadness that are alive and well in their lives at this very moment.  Yet, we sit and paint. I am torn between the activity and the underlying pain we are all suffering.  I somehow, cannot reconcile the two. As I sit and ponder the situation, I feel guilty for enjoying this moment of relaxation.  I cry inside for what my family member is going through.  I can only pray that he could have this moment of clarity in his life at this same moment.  My tears continue to flow for people and situations that are unseen, unheard and unknown.

As I paint, I chat and I contemplate.  I am an observer, aware of all the underlying pain and suffering each person is encountering in their lives.  Realizing how unimportant and trivial some of our daily complaints are, I can feel a larger picture emerge right in front of me.  There is a higher purpose here.  There is a greater calling for all of us.  We are all suffering in one form or another.  Our families, children, grandchildren all have struggles.  Our neighbors, our friends, people we come in contact with every day either as passersby or acquaintances we wave to as we drive by, they all have trials and sadness that we know nothing about.  We all have a story.  We all have heartache.

Our purpose is to love and be loved.  Isn’t that what each of us really want?  It’s a simple concept but hurt people, hurt people. We all begin life with a clean slate of joy and love.  Newborns come into this life with pureness.  Experiences passed on from generation to generation teach us a way to be.  Sometimes it is not such a pretty outcome.  But as I stated before, we are all in this together and we can help each other along the way.  As stated by John Denver, “It’s about time we find out, it’s all of us or none.”

In comprehending this, we have an opportunity to share an even greater love for our fellow humans. We are all in this together whether we want to admit it or not.  We are very much the same.  Life is hard sometimes.  It can be unbearable for some.  As I sit and paint, I feel the underlying stories of each person I come in contact with.  My heart is open and outstretched to share as much love as I have.

Orange you glad I didn’t say Banana

I love fruit.  I like to have different fruit each day so that I can reap the benefits of the different vitamins each one has.  Right now I have apples, bananas, and oranges in the fruit bowl.

My boyfriend especially enjoys oranges.  Being the good “wife”, I cut up his oranges and present them to him all nice and pretty.  The other day, I placed a beautiful bright orange delight in front of him as part of a perfectly balanced breakfast.  I learned from my mother that it’s all in the presentation.  Enjoying a meal to its fullest begins with the eyes.  Did I mention that I am also trying to teach him how to create a balanced plate for the purpose of eating healthier and losing weight?  When you prepare a feast for the eyes in a bunch of different plates and bowls, it looks like such an exciting event with so many different things.  It all starts in the mind.  If it looks like a lot of food, we feel more satisfied.

The breakfast that I prepared wasn’t anything special but I made it look special.  I placed a whole-wheat English muffin with light butter on the plate.  Half of the English muffin had a scrambled egg and a slice of cheese on it.  The other half was placed next to it just to take up space.  Alongside that was a sausage link cut in half lengthwise and browned to perfection.  On a separate plate I sliced up a navel orange.  To present the orange, I cut it in half and then took each half and placed them face down and sliced them like I would slice a tomato.  This made one navel orange look like a massive amount of food on its own plate that was the same size as the plate the rest of the breakfast was on.  I spread it out in all its brilliant luminescence.

We sat down and ate our breakfast and I was feeling quite noble in my attempt to satisfy the hungry beast.  After finishing our breakfast my boyfriend gave me a strange look.  I wasn’t quite sure what he was trying to say.  Eventually, he said, with a smile on his face and a little bit of trepidation in the way he spoke, that the next time I cut up an orange for him I should try to do it the right way.  And, as my words were being spewed back into my own face, “You’re never too old to learn something new.”  I looked at him with the curiosity of a cat. You know the old saying of “Curiosity killed the cat.” My curiosity was about to kill this cat.  But I sat with inquisitiveness on my face to hear about the “right way” to cut a navel orange.  Here are the instructions according to him:  Place the orange on the surface with the navel facing up.  Cut in half, then turn it and cut it in half again.  Now you have four quarters.  Now, the slices are too big because it’s a navel orange so you take the slice and slice it in half again.  Now you should have eight slices.  Now you are able to take your thumb and peel between the orange and the peel and pull the orange out in one piece.  As I sat torn between disbelief and entertainment, I smiled and told him that I have the perfect solution.  “The next time I’ll let you cut it for yourself.”

The orange cutting debacle of 2019 didn’t end there.  As I replayed this event to friends of ours, my boyfriend defended his take on this situation and the purpose of him educating me.  He stated that maybe one day he might have “imaginary” arthritis and I might need to cut an orange for him and I should at least be able to do it right.

Such is life in my household.  I didn’t take it personally.  I was willing to learn something new because that is what I preach.  I am completely amused at this occurrence of such a production over cutting an orange.  This is an intersection of choices.  I could have chosen to be offended and allow a fight to ensue.  Instead, I looked at it from the place of love and humor that it came from.  The laughter and silliness that came from this whole situation would have been completely lost if I chose being offended.  I am happy to be able to share the great navel orange debacle of 2019 in the hopes of bringing lightness and laughter to others.

Have fun and enjoy silliness in your life.  It’s the spice of life.

 

Technology Zooms and We are Getting Old

When I was a kid, we had a telephone attached to the wall in the kitchen.  It had a flexible cord on it so you could only walk so far away from the wall.  The phone also had a dial with numbers.  We would use one finger and place it in the hole that corresponded with the number we were dialing.  We then turned the dial for each number.  Somehow, we were able to communicate with the world through that phone.  Back then, we didn’t have to dial an area code.  I guess our world was a little smaller.  Just to reference what I am talking about, think of the song that says; “8675309”.  We were privileged to even have a phone.  Not everybody could afford to have this contraption on their wall.

The world has changed and so has our communication technologies.  We moved forward in the evolution of the phone by getting rid of the dial and making it a push button.  It was so exciting that we could punch those buttons so much faster than dialing.  Still, the phone was attached to a cord to limit our movement while talking.  But, the wheel was set in motion.  The telephone was taking on new qualities that blew our mind away each time something changed.  The phone was still a permanent structure in the home, either anchored to the wall or sitting on a side table.  If you weren’t home and someone called, they would have to call you back later.  There was one other way to communicate via telephone when you weren’t home and that was the telephone booth. There was a slot for dimes, pennies, nickels and quarters.  We would place a dime in the slot and dial a home telephone number.  If the dime didn’t cover the time frame that we were using the phone, an operator would interrupt and tell us to place more money in the slot.  Otherwise, we would be cut off.

Then a new revolutionary idea was introduced.  We called it the bag phone.  This phone was mobile and plugged into the lighter compartment in our car.  It was amazing.  This was considered a new safety measure.  We no longer had to find a telephone booth and get out of the car to call someone if we had an emergency.  We could make our calls from the safety of our own car.  The connections weren’t always the greatest but if you were alone and traveling within a reasonable distance, you could get help if you needed it.

From the time of the bag phone until present the telephone has morphed into an unimaginable contraption.  Our lives will never be the same.  The problem with this upsurge of fast-moving changes is that humans don’t always evolve as quickly as technology does.  The telephone is no longer a telephone.  It is a computer with a camera.  It has maps and talks to you.  You can talk to it and it answers back.  It thanks you for stopping into a McDonald’s Restaurant. How did it know I was in Mcdonald’s?

The smart-phone world is getting more crazy by the minute.  The changes move at lightning speed.  But, as we age, our minds no longer move at lightning speed.  Aging people struggle with all the new technology and get frustrated.  But, I have to say, it can be quite an entertaining experience watching us old folks traverse into the unknown.  For example, my boyfriend is 64 years old.  He has had a flip-phone up until two years ago.  Now he has graduated to a smart-phone.  He doesn’t know what to do with it.  But, he likes that he can say “ok google” and command it to text something or give him the score of the baseball game.  The smart-phone is smarter than he is.  I also have to admit that it is way smarter than myself too.  Last week, he tried to use the camera on the phone.  When he turned on the camera he could only see himself.  But he didn’t want to take a picture of himself, he wanted to snap a photo of something else.  He stared at the phone wondering how to make it flip the lens to take a picture of the outer world.  In his logical aging mind, he decided to turn the phone around and try to look through the lens from the back of the phone just like you would look through the lens using an old camera.  The fact that he even was brave enough to tell me this story had me rolling on the floor laughing.  He just couldn’t figure it out so I had to show him the little icon that switches the lens from selfie to outward camera.  I couldn’t keep this information to myself.  I had to share this hilarious story with everyone I came in contact with.  While sharing the story with my brother, who is also in his 60’s, he told me a story of his own.  My brother was at work and a customer called from overseas, needing help with a machine maintenance problem.  My brother informed him that he would take a picture of a particular machine part and send it to him and they could figure out the problem over the phone. After my brother took the picture, he sent it immediately to the customer.  He followed up and called the man to see what his thoughts were about the picture.  The customer stated that he indeed had received the picture.  He told my brother that although it was a very good photo of him, he really wanted to see the machine part.  My brother didn’t even realize that he took a selfie and sent it instead of the machine part.

My mother is 87 years old.  She has a flip phone for emergencies.  When my sister offered to get her a smartphone, she got scared and said, “No, I don’t want to learn how to use those things.”  The other thing about aging is the fact that after a certain age it is very hard to read from those tiny screens on smartphones.  That is one reason that my boyfriend liked the idea of moving from the flip phone to a smartphone.  He likes that he can talk to the phone to text or call people, simply because he can’t see the tiny numbers and letters on the phone.

My final thoughts on the subject are this:  Just because we are older, we are not stupid.  But, our minds do move at a slower pace than when we were young.  New technology is a scary thing for older people.  Most people are afraid of change but the speed at which these technological changes happen is even more frightening to those of us who are moving along where age is concerned.  If you take anything from this post, please be patient with those of us who can’t text at lightning speed like me.  One letter at a time is all I can do.  Slow and steady is the name of the game.  At least we are trying to move along with the pace of the ever-changing world.

What’s Under the Cover?

Recently, I’ve been hanging around with some awesome ladies.  Some that I have known a while and some new friends.   There are the elderly ones, those of my own age and some younger.  Once again, I become an observer of people who are not what you see visually.  You can look at a person and see an old woman and leave it at that.  But, after taking the time to listen, you find that you can never judge a book by its cover.

For example, I’ve met this wonderful woman, who I have seen before and known her only as a friend’s mother.  I assumed she’s mother material just like all mothers.  Now she’s older and that’s that.  After spending an evening with her, I found her to be spunky, strong, independent and hilarious to be around.  She has lived a hard life of sorts, raising three daughters as a single mother.  She’s worked her whole life in a time when women were considered lesser than men in the workplace.  Now wait a minute, I should say in a time when it was even worse for women in the workplace than it is now.  It still isn’t equal in my opinion. She recounted stories of her working days of how men tried to undermine her because they didn’t want a woman in her particular position.  She’s a soft-spoken woman so you would never think that she would stand up for herself.  But in her soft-spoken way, she handled these men with the might of a warrior.  She put them in their place and would not accept being looked down upon because she was female.  She’s had to be the strong one her whole life and she knows that there are times when men will take advantage of the unassuming old woman who just walked in the door of a car dealership.  They are eventually sorry for their mistaken assumptions when she tells them exactly the way it’s going to be.  They never saw that coming.  The treasures that she has lived need to be shared.  Younger people need to hear her stories because they don’t have a clue about how good they have it now.  It’s so refreshing to see the elderly and realize that were young once, they have lived a life and yes, they know about all the stuff that we think we should shelter them from.

I have a friend who just became a grandmother for the first time.  Her daughter is a hard-working young woman and is just returning to work after being out on maternity leave.  My friend shares the ‘goings on’ of the new young family.  Her son-in-law is not as prepared as he thought he was to be a parent.   The baby was born premature so it has been even more difficult these first few months than with having a full term pregnancy.  With that being said, the mamma has to go back to work and schedules have to be rearranged.  The daddy will need to take a more active role with the baby.  But, as my friend relays to me:  “I think he’s got a screw loose.  He doesn’t have a clue.”  My friend is the easiest going person with a great sense of humor.  The young family is preparing to go on a ‘vacation’ to visit daddy’s family.  As they prepare and begin packing the car, the son-in-law seems not quite up to the task and states, “I am on vacation.”  I had to laugh when my friend told me this story because her eyes got so big as she was telling me this.  Both of us were shaking our heads and almost simultaneously said, “Doesn’t he know there is no vacationing from being a parent?”  Oh My, mister, mister has a rude awakening coming.

A new friend of mine who is around my age, in her fifties, has a remarkable sense of humor and a glorious soul filled with love.  She is the true example of, “When life gives you lemons…”.  When situations get difficult and stress is riding high, her mind just grabs out of thin air the funniest responses.  She told me a story of when her mother was in the hospital after an accident.  She and her sister were in the waiting area of the hospital for several hours.  They both would go in and out of her mother’s room and check on her.  As they were sitting there, someone came out to let them know how their mother was doing and out of the blue, she said, “What are you talking about, our mother is in the room down the hall.  She’s been sleeping this whole time.  We have been checking on this woman because we heard of her troubles and thought we would just wait here and keep an eye on her.”  Of course, she was joking but the attendant didn’t understand and noted how wonderful these two women were for waiting and attending to a complete stranger. This woman makes everything fun and she makes everyone that comes in contact with her feel like family.  She is the most hilarious person to be around.  When I am around her we laugh and giggle and share off-color silliness throughout the day.  This is how she is every day.  I just love being around her.  It’s funny to watch younger women around her respond to her humor.  There’s a younger woman in her 20’s that works with her.  A young person at first doesn’t know how to react to a woman in her 50’s with such a sense of humor.  The younger ones think the 50’s crowd is old and stuffy and that we don’t know what’s what in the world because they are young and they have created everything new.  Hahaha, the joke’s on them because we are the ones who really know how to have fun.  The 20-year-old is now getting used to the silliness and is enjoying every bit of it.  Hopefully, she will realize that us old folks do know a thing or two or three.

I have friends of all different ages and each age group and individual friend has so much to offer this world.  Sometimes I think we should put blinders on when we meet people so that we can’t make a judgment by what we see.  Too many people are missing out on real, meaningful relationships because their vision is so short-sighted.  There are treasures out there but I think we have to close our eyes, open our ears and our hearts so that we can feel the abundance of love that everyone has to offer.  Love comes in all different forms.  The story of a person’s life is a gift of love, knowledge and a new way of envisioning this life.  Grab the jewels and keep them with you forever.  They will enrich your life to the fullest.

 

Hide and Seek

Tired body. Tired mind.

What makes these changes happen?

New season, new beginnings

Where did inspiration run and hide?

Drowning in exhaustive, soul-sucking flutterings of the mind.

No specific logic brings me to this berth.

My distaste for these spells cannot be construed in plausible terms.

I must ride the waves and calmly await the arrival of the moment I seek.

The moment where hidden mysteries of my body and brain become receptive to the musings of creativity and joy.

I sit here underneath the brightly blooming tree and listen for her wisdom and guidance to appear.  She has the answers that I seek and the vitality that I crave.

I know the enthusiasm will return. It will revive my soul as soon as I play hide and seek.

If one seeks, one will find.

 

Timing is Everything

 

 

Timing is a funny thing.  There’s bad timing which creates chaos and good timing which creates opportunities.  Then there is the perfect timing which can easily change the outcome of a situation from disastrous to excellent.

I’ve always taught my kids that if they are with the wrong crowd they can be guilty by association.  When friends make bad choices and you find yourself at the wrong place at the wrong time, you may end up dealing with consequences that weren’t yours to own.  I remember a young teenager who got into a schoolyard fight.  The fight began between two other kids and this teenager didn’t need to get involved.  But, he chose to take the fight to another level and turned the whole thing into a drastic mess.  He chose to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and then he chose to become a part of something that was way bigger than he was.  The fight between the first two kids was over but he created and escalated a new fight.  The victim was seriously hurt and the teenager found himself in jail.

I gave a gift certificate to a young woman for Christmas.  It was for a ceramics studio.  I thought it would be fun to do something together.  After Christmas, we finally went to the studio to enjoy the day and make our ceramics.  We had so much fun that day.  I was trying to decide what piece I wanted to paint, I have a hard time making up my mind, so the young woman was very patient and helped me.  She is very knowledgeable with ceramics and she patiently guided me through the process of picking paint colors and explained to me how the colors must be laid down in a certain order to achieve the correct result.  As we sat and painted, we were conversing with the owner of the establishment.  She took notice of the knowledge and patience that the young woman had given me.  After many hours of painting, the owner came over and handed the young woman an application for employment.  At that time, the young woman was having some struggles at her place of employment.  This opportunity showed itself to her at the right time.  The young woman was open to a new adventure and so she was hired to do a job in a field that she loves.  Surely, this is an example of very good timing.

A woman I know recently had to have surgery.  Everything was in place.  The date was set on the calendar, the pre-testing was finished and the surgery was set to occur.  The night before the surgery, her doctor called her and stated that he was reviewing her pre-testing results and he was not comfortable doing the surgery because there was a greater risk than they had first thought.  He didn’t want to jump into the surgery without further investigation.  The woman went through some additional testing and she and the doctor came up with a new game plan.  Although very serious, the surgery was done in a more non-invasive way, which led to quicker healing time.  Other unplanned things occurred in this process and led to a life-saving intervention. My friend was definitely at the right place at the right time for this situation to happen.  If she had been anywhere else when the complication occurred, she would have died.   If the doctor had not initially reviewed her case, the risk to my friend would have been catastrophic.  All of these steps placed this woman at the right place at the right time.  She had faith and everything turned out better than if she had planned it herself.  Sometimes we don’t know what’s in our best interest and things change suddenly and unexpectedly.  For my friend, this gave her a new lease on life.

When plans change suddenly, it’s best to go with the flow and see where the path takes us.  Timing is everything.

It’s Time to Play

I decided to sit down at the computer and write at this moment.  I have a craving to write something.  I just don’t know what it is yet.  I have to let it simmer for a bit.  “It”, being my writing subject.  Sometimes, I don’t need a subject at all.  Maybe some of you remember the show “Seinfeld”.  It was called the show about nothing.  The show about nothing became a cultural icon.  It seemed that everyone related to the normal daily thoughts and feelings of everyday people.  We were able to laugh out loud because the subjects covered were so familiar to us.  It’s a great feeling to know that so many others are thinking and feeling the same way we are.  It’s comforting  that we are not alone in our madness.

It’s snowing this morning here in New Jersey, United States.  It looks pretty,  but honestly, I don’t know too many people that are happy to see the snow.  It causes disruption for commuters.  Everyone gets in a frenzy when it snows.  They rush to the grocery store to buy milk, bread and eggs.  Lest we starve!  It’s 2 inches of snow, not the end of the world.  Snow silently and peacefully enters our reality, all the while, glittering and sparkling it’s freshness upon the earth’s surface.  The beauty it bestows is celestial.  Adult humans seem to have a tendency to skew reality.  Our perceptions change the actuality of everything.   A small child, on the other hand, can look out the window and see wondrous potential in the falling snow.  Bountiful creations whirl around in their mind of how they can pick up this fluffy white stuff and make anything out of it.

I will call my mother this afternoon, as I do every day.  We will talk about our day and complain about the snow.  Neither one of us has to go outside and trudge through it to get to a designated place of employment but, nonetheless, we will complain that we don’t like the snow.  Doesn’t that sound like madness to you?  I’m shaking my head at my own self.  Where has that child in me gone?  Why can’t I see the beauty that has laid itself before me?

I realize that I have allowed grown up life to skew my perceptions of pure joy.  I can’t see the purity of the falling snow anymore.  It’s time for me to shake it off and get in touch with this beautiful endowment from the heavens.  There is so much beauty here and I have allowed myself to be blinded by past conditioning, pain and suffering.  I have consensually given away my sight so that I might live in fear and anguish.

Today, this moment, I must realign myself with the universe and forget about the past.  I must get myself up and show up with full spirit.  Today, I will play in the snow and enjoy all that it has to offer and I will come out triumphant, if only for a few moments, and feel alive again with the sight of a child.

I find it amazing that I sat down to write with no thought of any subject to write about.  So, I decided to talk about the weather and look where it took me.  I think that’s pretty cool.  I love how things unfold out of our minds if we are able to sit still for a little bit and let it flow.  I’m totally loving this process.