Triple A to The Rescue ~Who Do you Call When You need Help?

Triple A to The Rescue

I walked out the door on time today. That is always a challenge for me.

I was still late to my meeting.

The car wouldn’t start!

A dead battery was suspected, so my husband drove me to my destination.

Then, when I got home I made a call to old and trusted friend,

Triple A.

They saved the day again.

Thank goodness I could call you when I needed you.

I owe you a lot, Triple A.

How Triple A First Came into My Life

Back in late ’80s, I was a single mom living in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  One day, I had one of those mornings that began with a very bad start.  I had an early morning appointment at the hospital for an outpatient surgical procedure. When I got outside to leave, I discovered that my car had a flat tire.  A friend was scheduled to bring me home from the hospital, but that friend was at work and would not be able to help me with the flat tire.  I had no idea what to do.  I couldn’t change the tire. Everyone I knew was working. 

So, knowing full well there was absolutely nothing he could do about the situation, I called my dad.  He lived over three hundred miles away.  But, he was the one I called and cried into the phone, “Daddy, my tire is flat and I have to be at the hospital in half an hour.  I don’t know what to do.” 

Daddy knew just what to do.  He called Triple A, signed me up for a membership, and sent them out to the house to fix my tire.  He then paid my membership for the next year because he didn’t want me stranded with no one to help me.  It was good to have someone to call when I had trouble with that old car of mine. 

Triple A to The Rescue Again

In 1991, I was shocked one day when I received a telephone call at work from my old high school sweetheart.  He said he had recently gone through a divorce and wondered if I’d like to go to lunch.  It had been thirty years since we had dated, but he had always held a special place in my heart because he was such a dear, kind, and giving friend and sweetheart. In the thirty years since we had dated, we both had married others, but through friends, we always knew something of each other’s lives.  

Back in 1991, I had been single for ten years and had finally become quite independent, but I also still drove a very old Ford Fairmont, so I always kept up my trusty Triple A membership. 

Jim, newly divorced, driving the old car that he was left with after his divorce, drove forty miles from Pueblo, Colorado, to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to take me, his old love from back in the early 60’s, to lunch.  I guess he was pretty nervous about the trip, and about taking me out again after all those years, so he drove up the highway with his lights on even though it was was broad daylight.  

At noon, Jim picked me up at my house and off we went for lunch at the Olive Garden.  We had a delightful time at lunch catching up on the past thirty years.  He hadn’t changed a bit.  He was still that kind, loving, giving, successful, funny, and charming person I had adored as a teenager.

After a long lunch, we headed out to his car so he could take me back home.  That is when he discovered the battery to his car was dead.  He’d neglected to turn off his car lights and they had remained on during our long lunch.  The poor guy looked like he was going to die when he realized his car battery was totally dead on his first date with a woman he hadn’t seen for thirty years. 

“No problem,” I said.  “I have Triple A.”  We’ll just go over to the mall and find a phone and call them to come and help.”  (Those were the days before cell phones!)  So, that’s what we did.  Soon, Triple A came to the rescue. 

Later, Jim, with that twinkle in his eye, would always tell everyone that on that day he decided for sure he was going to marry me.  “She had Triple A.  I thought that would be a good thing to have.”  

Thanks Triple A for always coming to the rescue, and for landing me a man! 

The photo: Jim and Sally, 1992

To Whom Do You Call When You Need A Friend?

As I reminisced about how the courtship between my husband and myself began with Triple A, I also started thinking of my dear daddy and how he was always there for me for so many years when I needed him. 

My father and I in 1945

I then thought about the time seventeen years ago, when I got the call that he needed me.  In 2001 and 2002 for about six months, from June or July until the next March, my father had really gone down hill physically once shingles attacked his aging body the summer before his death.  I had gone over earlier that summer and that was when I had to have

that

talk with him. 

You know the talk that takes place between adult children and their parents when suddenly one feels like the parent instead of the child.  Daddy was in so much pain from the shingles.  He had diabetes, and he wouldn’t eat.  He was miserable. My poor mother was getting nowhere with him.  He was stubborn, and he was not being cooperative.  Finally, I told him I was taking him to the hospital if he didn’t eat.   He must have believed me because he started drinking his Ensure.  He knew I was as stubborn as he was.  I’d learned that trait from the best of them.  He knew I’d take him to the hospital if I felt it was necessary, and he didn’t want to go.  

When my husband and I went over for Christmas later that year, I was shocked at how frail he had become since my last visit that had occurred just before school had started that fall. When we left for home at Christmas, I told my dear daddy “I’ll try to be back over during Spring Break.”

In March of 2002, my mother called on a Thursday and asked, “Are you on Spring Break?”  “No, Mother, not until next week.”  “She said, “The doctor just put your father in the hospital and he’s asking for you.  He wants you to come.  You’re the one he’s asking for.”

Needless to say, as soon as I could wrap up the finals I was grading, I made my way to his bedside which was six hours away.  He passed away on the next Monday, which happened to be the first day of Spring Break.  I’ve always believed that my father hung on as his life was slipping away so that I wouldn’t have to take off from work to be at his bedside. 

He was like that. He had a heart that looked out for others. He was one of the most giving persons I ever knew.  I always knew I could count on my father.  He could be generous to a fault when he saw a need.  I remember as he was dying in the hospital that he heard one of the nurses telling how she had cancer and was working because she needed the insurance.  We thought my father was asleep while the nurse talked to us about hospice.  When she left the room, my father spoke to my mother, “Mother, make sure you find out that nurse’s name and write her a check.” 

I think the self confidence that others have always said I have comes from my father’s influence in my life.  He taught me so much about life.  I think it was his love and knowing he would be there for me and that he was very proud of me that caused me to have the confidence to accomplish whatever goals I have reached in my life.  He was always my best champion.

The above photo of my father, my mother, and I was taken in 1987 when I was awarded my first college degree, a BS in Business Administration. Later I would earn a BA in English and a MA in Teaching English as a Second Language. My father was always my best champion and the one who always inspired me to reach the goals I had for myself.

***************

Whenever I call Triple A for any reason, I think of my father and his gift of calling Triple A to help me when I needed a tire changed on a day that was already stressed filled, and on a day when I couldn’t find anyone to help me change a tire. Beyond making that call, my father then paid a membership for a continued source of help for one year when I never would have had the money to pay the membership myself.

**************

I think one the most important gifts my father ever gave me was a belief in myself when it came to solving life’s problems and dealing with hard things along the way. It was from him that I learned to “keep my head together” while I went into “problem solving mode.” He always told me, “you have a good head on your shoulders.”

He was that one that I knew would be there for me no matter what. In that helping, thankfully, he wasn’t one to rescue me.  He didn’t open up his checkbook and help me out of tight spots.  He was a generous man, but also was a wise man that knew I would figure out how to make it on my own and would be stronger and better for it.  His belief in me was the impetus that gave me confidence throughout the entire time he was on this earth.  His belief in me is still carried in that special place in my heart that is reserved for a daughter's love for her daddy.  I knew he was proud of me, and that he knew he meant the world to me. 

I think he would be one of my best blog readers.  He loved to write.  He loved a good story.  He was a great storyteller.  I learned to love reading and writing from him.  I wish I had told him more often how much he meant to me.

After my father’s death, my mother gave me all the cards and letters I’d sent him over the years.  He’d kept them all.  He even had saved my elementary school report cards. He showed me just by saving all those things how much he loved me.

One other thing about my dad, he taught me to be tough when I needed to be.  He taught me to stand up for myself.

He knew life would not be fair. He’d seen me through a great betrayal, and I think he knew I would have more great betrayals in my life. I think of him when I think of these words from a song called: You’ve Got A Friend,

People can be so cold,

They’ll hurt and desert you.  Well they’ll take your soul if you let them,

Yeah, but don’t you let them.

He always encouraged me to be my own person and to think for myself.  He challenged me to be thinker and not a follower.  He taught me not to let others treat me with disrespect.

He also taught me about grace because I saw him live it out in the declining years of his life.

My dad has been gone for many years now, but just by pulling out my Triple A card today when the car wouldn’t start, I am reminded again of the many of the gifts he gave me.

************

And, now, thanks to me making that call to Triple A on that first date the second time around with my husband, I have another of the dearest men to call. 

Jim, my dear high school sweetheart from long ago, has always shown me a special kind of love.  This poor man gets so many calls from me.  Whenever, I need him, I call.  He is always there.  Always.  My once strong self-confidence was rocked to the core after the death of my daughter nearly a decade ago.  Suffering from PTSD that is common to survivors of suicide, I have sometimes been racked by anxiety.  Only my husband knows how much I suffer, and only my husband can calm me down when I need calming down the most. 

He is the one I call out to in the middle of the night, or when I am driving down the road, or sitting next to in the living room.  He is the one I call when I need him to talk me through my times of anxiety and stress.  He is the calm, kind, voice of reason. No one knows how many times he has sat with me in the middle of the night when I have had an anxiety attack or when my heart has gone into wild arrhythmia and is racing at 150 beats a minutes and won’t slow down. 

Thankfully, in the years since my daughter’s death, anxiety has nearly completely disappeared in my life, only to be replaced by new concerns that we both have to address. Still, Jim is always there when I call day or night. 

I don’t know what I would do without his kindness, his wisdom, his support, his love.  I don’t know what I’d do if he weren’t there for me.  He is the friend that knows me better than anyone knows me.  He is the one that is straight with me in a firm and loving way.  He is the one to whom I call, and he has never let me down.  Thank you Jim for being there.  I love you. 

And, thank you Daddy, for being there for me too, and for getting me that first Triple A card.

To whom do you call when you need a friend?  

A Mother’s Heart on World Suicide Prevention Day

DSCN1146.jpg

My daughter, Julie Ann Christiansen, died by suicide in the thirty-fourth year of her life on May 29, 2010. Just eight weeks before her death, I took this photo, the last I ever took of her, as she posed with her dog Phoenix

Yesterday, was World Suicide Prevention Day, but quite honestly, the significance of that day was far from my mind. While I always commemorate the day with other survivors of suicide by lighting a candle at 8:00 p.m. in memory of my daughter, I completely forgot to do so this year because I was in the midst of celebrating life with two of my living children, their partners, and two of my grandchildren.

So much has changed since Julie’s death nearly ten years ago. The family has seen divorce, remarriage, and the birth of a new family member. Jim and I have moved to a new city. In so many ways, our lives don’t outwardly look anything like they did a decade ago. Yesterday seemed to provide a microcosm of those changes.

Daughter Amy and I had gone shopping for a wedding dress earlier in the day. Julie would be so happy to know Amy’s new love. She’d be so happy to have her brother and sister-in-law back home from the far flung places where they have lived from Bangladesh to Boston. She’d be thrilled to know her new nephew Leon was born eight years after her death during the month she too had been born.

This photo of last night’s family gathering, is in many ways an encapsulation of all the changes in our family and would have caused Julie if she had been seen the photo to ask, “Who are these new people in the picture?” The reply would be, “That’s Jewett, Amy’s new love, and that’s Leon, Jon and Sam’s new son. That dog is Luna, Amy and Jewett’s wonderful Labrador retriever who does not have the vicious tail wagging capabilities that your dog Phoenix had.”

IMG_2891.jpeg

Last night’s gathering was an evening filled with much laughter, and sharing of stories that the kids say I never remember how they really happened. I marveled at the wonder of it all. I marveled over the happiness that I see in Amy and I am grateful that Jewett is in her life and in our lives too. I love having Jon and Sam “home.” I love hearing of Atticus’ high school life where as a junior he is taking mostly AP classes and has joined debate. I marvel at having a toddler in our midst. Leon is speaking in full sentence now and exerting control over his world as he attempts to tell us where our assigned seats will be, and shows us that his personality will indeed be strong, and interesting.

The practical side of such a gathering wore me down and made me aware that I am aging. There was the shopping for food, the preparing of it, of which I did little as I opted for burgers on the grill, store bought potato salad, chips, and Amy made dessert. Even the coordinating of getting food, dishes, and drinks on the table takes more than I seem to have these days when it comes to a crowd in my kitchen that includes dogs, kids, and confusion in cramped quarters. But all of it was so wonderful. My children were with me and I am always most happy when they are with me.

After it all, I went to bed, and I dreamt of Julie. She came to visit me in my dreams. Maybe subconsciously she had been deeply missed as the others gathered and I hadn’t been in touch with missing her, but I awoke this morning with a lingering sadness and a deep sorrow despite my joyful heart of having family with me.

In my dream, Julie came to visit me in a place I didn’t think she would know about, but she found me. Suddenly, she was there in our midst as if she belonged there, and indeed, she did belong, but she surprised me by appearing and in my dream I told her I didn’t think it was possible that she could, would, or should be there. But she was in our midst, and she assured me that it was her desire to see me that brought her there. We even danced together, and then I awoke and she was gone, but the memory of being with her remained.

And so today, I have been sad and the cavity in my heart that the loss of her has created has made itself known and felt. When my heart is full, so very full, and happy and grateful, there is still always a place that remains vacant.

I think this vacancy awareness comes from a chamber in my heart where Julie once lived. This chamber is the place that opened up and welcomed her on the day of her birth on April 8, 1976. It opened up and she moved in when I first held her in my arms and her eyes locked eyes with mine and she gave me her very first Julie look.

A mother’s heart keeps those chambers where each child lives soft and tender, loving, open, accepting. Those chambers are full of grace and unconditional love for each child living in the mother’s heart.

Can such a soft tender, well tended after part of a heart break? One wouldn’t think so. One doesn’t think of a fleshy part of a body being a place that can be shattered like glass. And so, as far as metaphors go, I don’t think we can picture a heart breaking like glass, but I know from experience that heart break feels like a shattering. I also know that a ripping took place when the life that lived in that chamber of my heart was snatched from that sacred place where I had carried my child, my beautiful daughter, for thirty-four years.

A mother never imagines that her heart can relinquish the treasure she has held so closely, so protectively, so lovingly, so deeply, for so long, In truth, the mind and the heart of a mother never do relinquish the child held in the mother’s most sacred place, her heart.

Perhaps, I continue to hold that place in my heart open. Only Julie was meant to live there and only she could ever fill it. When Julie left me on her own accord in a way I will never understand, I am only able to accept her leaving by trying to understand that she must have been so consumed by pain that her felt need to flee outweighed her ability to have hope for her future.

I know she never meant to break my heart. That was not her intention. She would have hated how she hurt her family. She would have hated how she shattered me. My own heart, while shattered and broken and confused and unable to comprehend her death, was somehow, by the grace of God, able to forgive her and to grieve for her pain and hopelessness. My heart has been able to accept her death and know that she is now at peace.

And so, while the cavity in my heart still aches, and while it is filled with a longing to be with my child so I could again gaze into her beautiful blue eyes while running one hand through her gloriously thick curly hair while the other hand intertwines my short fingers with her lovely long fingers, the cavity in my heart has been healed even as it aches.

The heart of a mother, my mother’s heart, has had an amazing capacity to accept the unacceptable. Accepting the unacceptable has taken many tears and many days and nights and much sorrow, but the capacity of the heart to keep on loving also allows it to keep on living.

My heart was not quashed by the loss of Julie even when I was sure it would be. I think if such a quashing would have happened, it would have annulled the sacred memory of her life. The hopeful parts of my mother’s heart remained. I had four other chambers in my heart where my other children lived and these chambers were still vibrant, alive, and very much in need of care.

It is a miracle that in this past decade that while my heart is still broken, it has been healed. In the Christian life we learn of how the opposite result from what one would expect to happen happens when one seeks to walk and live by faith. The Prayer of St. Francis teaches us these truths when it speaks of learning that is by giving that we receive, and by pardoning that we are pardoned. The broken parts of the heart, while still feeling bereavement over of the loss of the one who once filled the heart with the joy of her presence, are now filled with a deep and abiding peace that transcends my ability to understand or explain. Today, I read words by Frederick Buechner which came close to describing that which now resides in the chamber where the memory of Julie now lives. That chamber now also is filled with shalom which Buechner says means wholeness, or a fullness of having everything you need to be wholly and happily yourself. He goes on to say that “for Jesus, peace seems not to have meant the absence of struggle, but the presence of love.”

When this cavity was created in my heart, when an emptiness that seemed it would never be filled occurred when Julie left this life, a new peace moved in supernaturally when I first learned of her death. This peace has grown over time. Her physical absence left the love that created the space for her behind. Shalom also began to inhabit that space where the love of her remained, and both love and shalom began and continue to heal the broken parts of my heart.

Love, memories, and shalom will remain in this place of my heart until I am taken home, until I see her again.

Love created this space for Julie in my heart.

Love remains.

Love never dies.

Savoring Those Final Summer Days ~ Practicing Self Care

I AM REPOSTING THIS BLOG POST BECAUSE IT HAS MESSAGES FOR ME THAT I NEEDED TO REMEMBER.

Why do we rush the seasons?

Am I wrong when I remember that seasons during  my childhood were more clearly defined?

These days, children go back to school in August while we didn't go back to school until

after Labor Day.

While the summer flowers are blooming, the grocery stores start selling mums.

Starbucks starts selling lattes flavored with pumpkin before I'm ready to think of fall.

The Halloween displays come out in August.

The retail stores must hurry with these displays because soon we will see Christmas displays.

The autumnal equinox arrives at 3:50 EDT on September 23, 2019.

Until then, it is technically still summer.

That means:

for me

the sandals can still be worn, weather permitting,

as can the sun dresses,

the shorts,

the cropped pants.

I've put away the white pants and the white shoes.

This is reflection of those rules of proper seasonal attire  that are deeply ingrained in my head:

no white shoes or pants should be worn

 before Memorial Day 

or after Labor Day.

Until September 23, it is still summer in my world.

I'm not ready to move into fall yet.

My mind and my body just aren't ready to make that transition.

Yes, just as I wrote in my last blog post, I am still on the cusp of autumn.

Cusp

[kuhsp] 

noun

a

point

that

marks

the

beginning

of

a

change

a point of transition: turning point, edge, verge

Don't rush me.

I'm not ready to make the transition.

I do admit that  transitions are difficult for me.

Recently, a dear friend asked me an important question,

"What are you doing to prepare for the fall and winter days that are coming?"

Has she been reading my mind?

Actually, I've been giving this topic a lot of thought.

I know myself well enough to know that I must prepare for the coming days when I can't enjoy the green grass, the leafy trees, and the beautiful flowers of summer.

I must plan for those days when I feel housebound.

Those days when the snow flies, the wind blows, and the roads are covered with ice are not days that I particularly enjoy.

What am I doing to make the transition into the seasons that are coming?

This is what I am doing:

I am hanging on to summer as long as I can!

Intentional self-care does not come naturally to me.

Summer is a time when I find it easier to adopt healthier habits.

Do you find that is true?

Here are some things I'm doing to help me transition from summer into fall in a healthy way.

Mental/Emotional Self-Care

Photographs of a favorite summertime vignette are captured to remind the heart during the dark days that no doubt will come in the following months that summer will again make its appearance.

Journaling is important part of maintaining my emotional and mental health.

I love to journal on the back deck in the summer.

I love to see shadows of leaves across the page as I write.

I always miss my outdoor writing times when summer is over.

Physical Self-Care

This season, the one we are still in, is a great time to try and get in shape.

I'm exercising outside as much as I can.

We live in the most wonderful area for walking.

See what I'm talking about.

Here is a wonderful example of the

hoodoo

rocks or

mushroom

 rocks that crop up all over my neighborhood.

I never tire of looking at these beautiful rocks.

Look at the interesting shapes and textures.

Don't you just love my

hoodoos?

Here is an example of another

hoodoo

 in my area.

Notice how the colors in the formation are different from the  colors in the example above.

I love this rock.

I call her my "Cat Rock."

I like to think she keeps a protective eye on our neighborhood.

Besides walking, as a preparation for when I can no longer exercise outside,

I am trying to get in the habit of making it to the club more often.

The old hip is acting up, so I have traded Zumba Gold for water exercise.

Last week I tried Aqua Zumba.

What fun!

After class, dripping wet, I decided to dry off by lounging outside in the sun.

As a nod to those days when I was a sun worshiper,

I actually spent ten or fifteen minutes just soaking up the bright sunshine before I had to make a hasty retreat to the shade.

This is another way I am preparing for the cooler days ahead.

I am soaking up as much sun as I can while I can.

I'm also looking after my past medical issues.

I just had the five month check on my pacemaker.

My life is greatly improved since that little device was implanted in my body.

According to the last check, I have ten years left on the battery, and

I'm using it 75% of the time.

I had no events of AFib in the last two months.

Technology is wonderful.

That little device helped to make my summer a great one.

Lifestyle

I truly am trying to establish a schedule.

I do better when I have to live by the bell.

Teaching schedules gave me that discipline.

I struggle to adopt my own schedule when one is not established for me.

It has been an even larger challenge to learn to adopt a schedule

now that my husband is working retail.

Some of you may remember that my husband, after working in education for forty-two years,

decided to begin a new career by working for Apple.

He loves his job, and his job is good for him, so I am trying to adjust to a schedule that changes

day by day.

Some days he works days.

Others he works nights.

I find it nearly impossible to establish regular times for the daily tasks of living.

Since I need a time schedule that is fairly routine,

I'm still working on finding balance in this area of my life.

In the meantime,

Boston and I mark time while he is gone by walking together in the evening,

or I read or write with Boston at my feet.

Make no assumptions that I have become the number one person in Boston's life;

he still won't eat while his master is gone,

and when his master comes home there is a love fest that takes place between these two.

I'm learning lessons from my husband during this season.

Fulfilling work remains important even during the retirement years.

As I leave summer, I am pondering this life lesson.

Spiritual Self-Care

One of the greatest blessing of the past year has been the time I have spent with a very special group of ladies from my church.

We call ourselves Monica Moms.

St. Augustine's mother was named Monica.

That is where the name for our group comes from.

We pray for our children as she prayed for her son.

Every other Wednesday, we meet for two or three hours to lift up our adult children in prayer.

The time I spend with these women in prayer are times I will forever treasure.

I'm blessed to have a mother who prays for me.

Just recently, I called her and when she answered the phone, she said,

"I was just praying for you."

She is nearly 100 years old, but she continues to pray for me.

I hope to have many more summers to pray for my children.

I rest in the assurance that those prayers will forever be found at the Throne of Grace.

People Support

Summer is a perfect time for lunch with friends.

I've enjoyed many long lunches with great friends this summer.

I'm ending off the summer by going on a three day trip with my high school girl friends.

It is our big 70th birthday bash!

We have talked about and planned this trip for years.

We wanted to enter the seventh decade of our lives in a big way.

We are going on our "senior trip."

Watch out.

The Girls of '63 are heading to Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

So, during these last days summer,

I'll be off traveling.

First,

I'm getting on a train with a bunch of the girls.

That alone will be a great adventure.

Once we all arrive at our destination,

we have three days of a very full agenda planned.

I think I'm capping off the summer of 2015 in grand style.

I AM THINKING ABOUT THE LESSONS FROM 2015 THAT I WROTE TO MYSELF. MANY, IF NOT ALL OF THE LESSONS STILL APPLY.

HOW ARE YOU CURRENTLY PRACTICING SELF-CARE AS WE MOVE FROM ONE SEASON TO THE NEXT?

Enjoy the final days of summer.

Stepping into Unknown Territory ~ My Journey in Launching a New Website

Dear Blog Readers,

Just over a month ago, I launched this new website. I have been so pleased with the great support regarding this switch that I have had from so many of you. Thank you! It is always scary to step out into new territory when it comes to technology and creating an online presence.

I have compared my latest venture in blogging and launching a new website to the feelings I had as a child when I received my very first library card and realized that there were so many books and so little time in which to read them all.

I was quite young when I first walked through the doors of our local library and discovered that this was the place where books lived. It seemed incredible to me that such a place existed where there were rows and rows of shelves going from the floor to the ceiling holding book after wonderful book! I felt as if I had found my happy place. Where else could I go where there was a place dedicated to what I loved most? Reading! Yes, reading was my favorite pastime as child. And, I also discovered I could take home a book to read for free. All I had to do was return the book once I had finished reading it. The big wide world was opened up to me at the library when I was a child growing up in the 1950’s in a small city in the west.

As a child, not only did it seem impossible to ever read all those books in the library, but the library building itself also seemed so vast and unknowable. I did believe that if I showed up every few weeks and left with a stack of new books to read and explore that I just might scratch the surface of all that library had to offer.

So how do these thoughts about library cards and libraries compare to launching a new website?

To me at this stage in life, the worldwide-web seems just like that great big library seemed to me as a child: it is full of places to go to read all kinds of things on all kinds of topics. It seems huge, and scary, and unknowable, and a bit unnavigable.

When I was growing up, when I was in college, when I was raising my children, who could ever have imagined that one day I, a retired English teacher, a woman in her seventies, would sit at a personal computer, write out whatever is on my mind, hit publish, and thereby send my thoughts out into the big wide world out there?

My office while I was working on my new website design with Taryn from Typewriter Designs.

My office while I was working on my new website design with Taryn from Typewriter Designs.

Just like the library, the worldwide-web seems like it is full of all kinds of things to read and explore. All kinds of things seems like an understatement! In thinking of all that is sent out into that worldwide-web, I wonder how my few words and what I have say on this website would even be noticed. I mean, do you even realize how vast theworldwide-web is? I’m not even able to grasp the idea of its vastness.

Some may think that the web is already filled up with blogs and writers and websites and information. They may think that no one is even interested in reading one more blog or signing up to be on one more website’s mailing list. I guess if the web were a physical site, it would be moaning and groaning from all the weight that is is carrying. That is part of the mystery of the web, it is not a physical site. Is it metaphysical? I don’t know what it is. I cannot understand the web enough to explain it. I suspect I am not alone. Many have tried to explain it to me, but I don’t really understand the worldwide-web at all, but that does not prevent me from using it.

All I know for sure is that I now have a web address that says I can be found on this worldwide-web at a particular website address which I created. It is at this address that I have a place where I am able to write blog posts about whatever I want to write about and send those posts out to readers who can read what I write if they feel so inclined. That to me sounds like a wondrous thing.

My husband jokes whenever I take a lot of pictures with my cellphone by saying, “Make sure you don’t run out of film.” I wonder if those under the age of 20 even know what he is talking about. Do they know what it is like to be on vacation in a place where you most likely will never go again, hoping to take some photos of all the awesome sights you are seeing, only to realize that you are out of film and there are no stores around where you can buy more film? Do they even begin identify with the anticipation that comes from waiting for those photos you took on vacation or at some family celebration to be developed at your local drugstore? Do they know the heartbreak when you realize you really did not get even one good shot of anything you photographed?

I recount this little story just illustrate again how the world where I grew up and the one where I spent most of my adult life are worlds apart from the world in which I now live. Today’s world is a world where there are few cameras needing film, few phones used for phoning, and where writers send writing out into what seems like space where they find they can connect with readers whom wish to read what the writer has to say.

I come from a different generation than the generation that grew up with technology. My husband says those in our generation are immigrants to this strange new land of technology while our grandchildren are native-born residents to it. I think that is exactly how it is. Many in my generation feel a lot of culture shock when it comes to living in the new landscape which is now dominated by an on-line presence where doctor appointments and medical test results are now more easily accessed on-line than by calling the doctor’s office directly. Many avoid the worldwide web completely; others venture into unknown territory with adventuresome spirits. I belong to the latter group.

I blogged for over nine year on the free platform provided by Blogger. I loved that platform because it gave me a place to write, to connect with others, and it did not require me to learn too much about technology. Then, one day, I woke up to a blogging world I no longer understood, and at the same time, I also decided I wanted to take my writing life and blogging life to a new level.

I put my money where my heart wishes were and hired a wonderful consultant, Taryn over at Typewriter Designs, to do that which I knew I’d never be able to do on my own. She created my website for me, and transferred all of my old blog posts over to this new website, and then she had the task of teaching me what to do with it all!

She has been so supportive, and has been such a great teacher, so I want you to know about her and to check her out if you too need help with technology that is beyond your capabilities. I never could have designed or put this website together without her. I enjoyed the collaboration with her and the ability to think about what I wanted to accomplish with a new website. My husband also fully supported me in the venture with encouragement, and study, and learning right along with me. It has been a team effort.

A Working Lunch: My husband and I often worked side by side in all that went into developing this new website.

A Working Lunch: My husband and I often worked side by side in all that went into developing this new website.

I think I’ve finally conquered some of the technological challenges of writing blog posts on the new platform I am using, Squarespace, straightened out. I must say that I really am pleased with my decision to switch over to Squarespace for my blog and for my website. It is really quite easy to use now that I had an expert set it up for me. I love the flexibility that it gives me when I am writing and creating posts. I’m still learning the platform, but I think I will only grow to enjoy using it more and more as time progress. (I am not getting any money for endorsing Squarespace, but I just want my readers to know that I am loving using it.)

I also am using ConvertKit as a means of staying in touch with those of you whom sign-up to receive emails from me. That means that I had yet another program to learn, and that has proven to also be a challenge for me despite all the great training I received from Taryn. (Thank you, Taryn!) I’m still working on learning and using this platform.

In fact, right after I launched my website, there was a glitch with the program itself, and I didn’t realize it until after I had set up emails to go out to those of you whom signed up. I am working on getting that fixed, so I hope you all get an email from me soon.

If you have not signed up to hear from me, please do so. I want to keep in touch with all of you loyal readers whom have read my blog for years, and those of you whom are new readers.

Blogging has stretched me to learn new things, but now I am really being stretched as I navigate the new waters of having a website. It is a process, and and an opportunity to grow as I jump into this new pool of information that requires a lot of learning. I hope you will stay with me as I learn to swim with confidence in these new waters.

Until, next time, please sign up for my website. You are not signing up for Squarespace by signing up, you are just giving me a place where I will be able to connect with you, dear reader.

Talk to you soon!

What is the Real Picture Here?

After heavy rainstorms had kept us inside all afternoon, my husband and I decided to take an early evening walk once the storm had passed.  Light  streaming behind clouds created a silvery glow against the now blue skies.  There was just enough light left in the day to cause the glistening green grass to appear as it were made of plush velvet.   A welcoming path drew us towards the foot of the mountains up ahead.  My photographer’s eye began creating the scene I hoped to capture as I asked my husband for his iPhone so I could use the phone’s camera since mine had been left at home.

When he later sent me photos I had taken, I saw I had not captured the scene I hoped to capture. The dog had run into the photo and  needed to be cropped out.

And, I had not held the camera in the right position and the photo was taken at an angle.  “It’s leaning slightly to the left.  Oh well, no problem,” I thought.  “I’ll just edit out those imperfections.”

Strands+of+Silver+on+a+Sunday+Afternoon


I tried editing out what I didn’t want to see. The photo seemingly marred by the dog in the lower left corner and the photo’s leanings to the left just did not make the grade no matter how many times I tried to edit it.   Editing was not the answer to making this photo better.  I decided to trash it.  I wished the dog had not ruined the shot by running in to it.  I wished I had held the camera straight when I snapped the photo.

I kept scrutinizing the photo. I just couldn’t trash it, so one more time I tried cutting the dog out of the picture in which I did not think he belonged.

My mind went back to the moment when snapped the photo . While I was enraptured with the scene up ahead of me, I realized the dog too was enraptured with what he saw ahead of him: a place to roll in that lush, velvety wet grass.

How could I cut out dog out of the picture?  He belongs in the photo as much as the light, the sky, the grass, the mountains in the distance.  I mean really, how can I cut our dog out of the picture?  He belongs there.

 Quite honestly, would we have even gone for this walk if the dog were not in our lives?

Cutting the dog from the picture just would not be right. After all, Boston figures very prominently in all of life around here.  

Cutting him out of the photo would distort the story of what really happened on that Sunday afternoon.  It had been a dark, cool, rainy afternoon.  Then the sun came out. The dog needed a walk, so we took the dog for a walk.  That was precisely why I saw this scene. I was walking the dog, and I saw this beautiful sight.

Scrutinizing the photo one more time, I decide it did need to be straightened. Straightening the photo would not not create an inauthentic picture. Or would it?  After all, I was not holding the camera straight.  I did not shoot the photo correctly.  I knew how to fix my mistake, but that did not take the mistake away.

There’s lesson here, I thought.

The lesson:  There is more to a picture than meets the eye.  Sometimes, we want to paint a prettier picture than the real picture so others will see something we created rather than what was really happening.  In life, and in photography this happens.

The Question Derived from the Lesson: 

  • Do I see what is really important in every picture of life?

  • Do I want to edit out the parts of my life I don’t want others to see, or that I don’t want to see? 

  • In my editing, am I cutting out some really important parts of life that need to remain in the picture because they add meaning , depth, and purpose even if they were not in the original design I thought I would create for the picture of my life?  

On Reflection:
Every picture in my life, and every picture of my life does not have to be perfect, nor does it need to represent the “look” I was going for, or the scene I was trying to create.

The unexpected happens: A dog runs in the picture and distorts what I thought would be the perfect photo. That is on a good day. On a bad day, something happens that changes everything. Suddenly the picture has gone awry. The camera lens of life is suddenly tilted, out of balance, skewed, off-balance.

Does that mean that there is no longer beauty?

Does that mean that God is no longer there?

What is the bigger picture at such times?

The Takeaway:

Look at the big picture, the complete picture. Look at the pieces and the parts. Each one has meaning.

I reflected on what I really hoped to capture in the moment of snapping this photo: those strands of silver coming from the clouds hovering over the mountain. Why did I want to capture those silver strands? I hoped to capture a visual for my life verses from Psalm 121.

I lift my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

The keeper of my soul, the maker of heaven and earth, does not require that I live a picture perfect life, nor does He require that I project a picture perfect life. He instead shows me to Whom I can turn when the picture does not turn out the way I expected.


Welcome to Strands of Silver

Welcome to my new visitors:

Welcome to my new blog! If this is the first time you have ever visited me, I especially want to welcome you as I begin a new chapter in my writing life. I’d like to share a bit of background knowledge with those of you whom may visiting me for the first time.

Strands of Silver is not my first blog.  Nearly ten years ago, during the summer when I officially retired, I began a new venture: blogging.  I named the blog Retired English Teacher because that was the only name I could stumble upon.  I was a retired English teacher, and I guess I was having identity issues at the time.

I had no clear direction for the blog, I just began writing blog posts and sending my writing off into the blogosphere not even knowing exactly what the blogosphere was.  In time, I began to gather a few readers, and I also began to read other blogs.  Through reading and writing in the world of the blogosphere, connections were made.  Those connections led to friendships.  Those friendships supported me and my writing through some of the darkest days of my life, and these blogging friends rejoiced with me during the days which brought joy and healing.  In time, my blogging experience changed, and I nearly let it all fall away, but I knew wasn’t done with writing.  I finally decided that what I needed and wanted was a change in my approach to blogging. That led to the creation of a new website, and new platform from which to write.

*Note: Blog posts from my old blog have been transferred over to this site. If you go back and read any of them, please realize that many may need formatting due to the transfer from one platform to another.

Welcome to my loyal readers:

For those of you whom are moving over to my new website from my old website hosted by Blogger, I want to welcome you also! It means so much to me to have you visit me in my new “home” in the blogosphere. Along with a new “home address,” I have also changed the name of my blog to Strands of Silver.

About my new blog:

I am a writer. Every writer needs a place where readers can find his or her writing. Strands of Silver will be where I publish my writing.

I am a storyteller. I like to tell stories that invite my readers to join me as I seek meaning in all of the vicissitudes of life.  Heraclitus, an ancient Greek philosopher, said “change is the only constant in life.” We all know this is true, but I think can also all agree that there is change, and then there is change. In other words, for me some changes are harder to process than others. When change is hard, I write about it. Sharing that writing helps me feel less alone.

Writing also helps me pay closer attention to the subtle and not so subtle changes in the seasons of life and in the phases in each season. My life is not that different from others in that we all have our ups and downs. My ups and my downs probably are different from your ups and downs, or they may be the same. You, dear reader, may identify with the stories I write, or possibly, you might read stories here where you will be thankful not to find yourself at all.  Even if you are mostly grateful that you can’t relate to some of my stories, some of my experiences, I do hope that you will find stories here that will help you on your own journey through life.  One never knows when one’s life’s fortunes will have a major reversal, nor does one ever really foresee when one day an event happens that changes everything. If that day comes, I hope that readers will remember that they are not alone.

Strands of Silver was birthed out of loss.  The stories that became strands of silver may initially have been considered as detrital, that which should have been tossed aside into the ash heap of life’s experiences which are better forgotten, left behind, cast aside, yet as those experiences were lived out, the dross was burned away and Strands of Silver in the form of stories remained after the writer had gone through the refiner’s fire. 

This is the place where stories from the past, stories of what is being lived in the here and now,  and stories of hopes for the future are woven together to create silver strands of truth, of wisdom, of love, of restoration, of loss, of joy, of longing, of new understandings, and of old memories. 

When life seems as if it is all in shatters, when all seems broken, destroyed, beyond repair, when it seems like life is fragmented into pieces of a puzzle that will never fit together to create a whole picture, there is the place where stories are told that construct new meanings, new understandings, new beginnings. 

Strands of Silver, were once fragments, threads, remnants, all that remained after a cutting back, a shredding, a shearing.  They were also that which remained after a time of rejoicing, of celebration, or a time of growth.  These fragments, which are really stories, when collected and placed side by side take on new meaning and become beautiful strands of silver which in turn can be plaited or twisted together to create a beautiful design which gives a picture of completeness and wholeness. 

Strands of Silver seeks an integration of all things that life throws at us:  the good, the bad, the brokenness, the mending, the losses, the restorations, the lack of faith, and finding of new faith that is stronger than it was before one had to struggle to believe. 

If nothing else, I do hope that you, the reader, will find a place you will find connection, rest, peace, and a sense of calm and joy that gives you the strength and the courage to sort through your broken parts of life and decide if there is any wisdom to be gleaned from the experience.  I have learned that wisdom does not come from experience alone.  I believe that it is only as we look at the experiences of life through the lens of God’s word that we can begin to gain the wisdom that each experience has to teach us. 

Even as I have reached my seventies, and even as it could be said that I should have silver strands of hair that speak of my wisdom, I would be telling you an untruth if I said that was true. Truth is of paramount importance to me . I always try to live my life and write about my life with authenticity. I certainly don’t have all the answers to the problems of life, but I keep on asking questions and seeking answers.  I am no sage on the stage. I am a writer. I write about the vicissitudes of life. That means that this blog will be where readers can find stories that faithfully recount the struggles that are a normal part of my life.  Hopefully, there might even be a few victories along the way. 

Please feel free to leave a comment. Also, please subscribe to my blog. Thank you so much for stopping by.s