Movie Night ~ “Agenda: Grinding America Down” (Full Video)

agendaPop some popcorn, pour a soft drink and click.

It’s the time of year for movie nights. Below is a 1-1/2 hour true story that’s entertaining and educational. If you’re interested in God & family and America, you will be interested in this movie. Bookmark and add it to your “Movie Night” list … and be sure to invite your young people.

“Agenda” is a remarkably moving film for those who remember the 1960s and it will be as enlightening for everyone between then and now. You’ll have more than one “A-Ha!” moment, with the filmmaker incorporating concise graphics and captivating history into this true storyline. The narrator makes it entertaining for adults and easy-watching for teenagers-on-up.

Don’t be misled by the black & white introduction. It’s colorful and packed with food for the imagination. This film is especially relevant today, referencing minute 20’s quote, “The goal of Socialism is Communism.” 

Pop some popcorn, pour a soft drink and click. There is no better time than before this November 6th.

(I didn’t find a clean YouTube full-version [without subtitles], which is how videos are embedded here on WordPress. A clean movie CD can be purchased, of course, and I encourage that.)


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911 Seventeen Years Later (Music Video)

aaepluribusEvery office window, every vehicle, every home, had an American flag on display. Skyscrapers draped flags from rooftops and cars and trucks tethered them flapping in the winds of roads and interstates. People were nicer to one another. Everyone was an American.

Coming from the rural Midwest in the prime of a career, I moved to Upstate New York and for almost ten-years commuted to work in New York City. Myself a “fish out of 1pabuswater” I’m often tempted to refer to that as a “mistake” of judgment, but in truth it wasn’t. It was the experience of a rural young lady’s lifetime and I’m grateful for it.

1pabusOnce you are a New Yorker that sense of being never leaves you. You feel like you have this special inside track into the rest of the world. You were inundated with people-in-the-know and had a firsthand seat to renown events shaping our world. You forever view yourself as an integral part of all that has and does take place there.

Working at CBS I took a late day lunch and our side street was irregularly bare. Andy Rooney (60 Minutes), with flushed-face and an overcoat slung over his shoulder, passed like two old friends too tired from work to do more than exchange passing hellos. My job sent me to an event at The Mayor’s Mansion where I ”let the corn come out of my ears’ (as Dad would say). Let me put it this way, I bet Mayor Koch still remembers me.1arooney

Being so close then to all that was and is ‘Donald Trump’ and his name so frequently in what was then ‘local’ news, he feels more like a casual acquaintance than a president I’ve never met. Sometimes I had to remind myself of that. The World Trade Center bombing was a memory of “I’m glad I didn’t go there today” rather than a piece of American history. For as impersonal as New York is, what happens in New York always feels personal to those who’ve lived there. Their slogan should be: “What happens in New York goes with you.”

Nine-eleven is the kind of day and time when everyone remembers where they were. I’d ‘escaped New York’ back to the Midwest and was sitting at my desk at work. There were no iPhones and workplace internets weren’t as accessible as today, so radio and word of mouth was the only source of information. I hadn’t seen any of the images, my imagination wrangled to envision what I’d heard. I called my Father nearby, but he knew little more than I.

Instinctively the frantic rush of fearing war on American soil came over me. Just as instinctively, I reassured myself that couldn’t possibly be so. Living in Ohio at the time, the most pertinent 19112news for us became of the plane that was being steered back toward Washington D.C. The flight that passengers thwarted in a Pennsylvania field.

There are two things I remember most about that week. The first was the overwhelming number of missing person 1911posterpamphlets posted two or three thick across massive New York fronts lining its streets. There was scene after scene of them, many handwritten spur-of-the-moment. It was hard to fathom possible so many loved ones could be missing and even harder to fathom those who’d jumped from the Towers to escape its intense heat. It made one’s heart bleed with all of these souls’ pain.

What I recall most vividly in the days that followed is immense American patriotism. In every state, city and small town, in every office window, every vehicle, every home, there was an American flag on display. Skyscrapers draped flapping flags like blankets from rooftops and cars and trucks tethered them to windows, flapping in the breeze down every road and interstate. People were nicer to one another. Everyone was an American.

[] ~ E Pluribus Unum describes an action: Many uniting into one. “From Many, One” or “Out of Many, One” – a phrase that captures the symbolism on the [American] shield. The meaning of this motto is better understood when seen with the image that originally accompanied it:


I didn’t know anyone who died in 911 … I knew them all.

God rest their souls and comfort their families. God bless America.


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What’s with the Trees?

Atrees1I laid down with him to put him to sleep and he, hearing so much adult talk about current events, asked, “Maka, what happens when you die?”

He was about three when he started forming thoughts into well-rounded sentences. Some of the concepts his innocent, little mind conjured would entertain us for hours. It wasn’t unusual for my first-born grandson to sit among the young adults adding his two-cents, which intrigued them into encouraging more.

He routinely stayed with me every weekend and often in between. From the first words my grandson tried to speak, one was an endearing name for me that combined “Grandma” and my given first name, resulting in “Maka.” Our 45-minute drive to my house was always the same, down the New Jersey thruway and its off-ramp lined with well-established trees.

Atrees3On one occasion the seasons were changing from summer to fall and trees surrounding my exit had turned from lush green to a bare, stark gray. Seated in his passenger-side car seat as we slowed to exit, my grandson was in his typical gaze out the window.

All of the sudden, with a toddler’s ‘this just isn’t right’ alarm, he stated emphatically:

Hey! What’s with the trees?

The commitment in his young voice, in noticing such a profound revelation of nature that was not the least bit natural in his opinion, was hysterical.

Living in New York then and heavily reported in the news, shortly after singer Eric Clapton’s toddler son fell to his death from their New York apartment window another child died the same way. Those spawned belaboring discussions and debate involving child safety. Not long after, my elderly next door neighbor, with whom my grandson had developed a caring rapport, also died. Apparently overhearing all of this talk about dying caused him to ponder the concept of death.

Atrees2Visiting one night I laid down with him to put him to sleep and he wanted to toddler-talk. After typical chit-chat about his day and having heard so much adult talk about death, he asked me,

Maka, what happens when you die?

I fumbled trying to explain in toddler terms and a way that wouldn’t scare him. He hesitated, then, with a keen awareness that death meant permanent absence from others in your life and not wanting those he loved to overhear, he lowered his voice and secretly whispered toward my ear,

“Maka, when you die can I go with you?”

I don’t remember my reply, only the melting of my heart..

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Dad & the Walkman (Music Vid)

cdion2I bought the tape, a Walkman and set it to play …

This song hit the charts and Father’s Day was around the corner. The lyrics reminded me so much of Dad I couldn’t imagine a better gift. You may not remember walkmans or are too young to know (an early predecessor of portable CD players then iPhones with earbuds). It was a lifetime ago.

I bought Celine Dion’s tape, a Walkman, set it to play on this song and mailed it to Dad. All he had to do was open it, put on the headphones and push the button.

They said he went in the other room to listen and began crying. God bless you, Dad. It’s the one thing that’s brought me to tears since those of losing you.

Dad hosted our family reunions every Labor Day weekend. Happy Labor Day to you and yours!

Even without you here,
this keeps you near.
I love you.

~ Karen Suzanne ~


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Letters … ~ Ch 6: Finding a Way Back

6bIf we look we can find blessings in what feels like overwhelming dire straits. They’re little oasis’ in a desert, four leaf clovers in a briar patch. If you’re reared in a life of faith they will show themselves. It’s up to us to look, find and appreciate them.

PreviousLetters… ~ Ch 5: The Pile On

Dear Grandchild,

The events of this “Letters” series began roughly five years ago when health insurance costs were rising and mine was no exception. “You cost more than you’re worth to me,” he stated flatly, determinedly, matter-of-factly, like every resource we had was 6ehis and my being alive needlessly drained them.

As bizarre as I find anyone saying such a thing (I trust you do, too), that is how he really thought (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). Every article on the subject defines narcissists as keenly adept actors who pretend emotions that they witness in others because they are incapable of their own. Most bystanders find them very endearing on the face. A narcissist is never so vicious as when you leave them (stop giving “narcissistic supply“). That’s when you see what their character really is. (Refer to video in Chapter 3.)

I’d identified his narcissism, but I hadn’t studied it at length and being married for so long I didn’t know what to do with that knowledge anyway. Unknowingly, I had stopped feeding his ‘narcissistic supply’ by standing up for myself more, which I now know triggered this revelation. When I suggested we amicably part he immediately turned as vile in demanding I ‘get out.’ There was no reasoning and there wasn’t going to be any sharing. He wanted it all and in his mind it was all his. The pompousness of that attitude makes you want to barf before you slap them silly.

It was such a blatant revelation of truly despicable character that I found it pathetically mind-numbing. What do you say to something like that? Argue it? “Oh yes I am worth something,” like that? And that would get you …. where?

There were many things he needed to hear and there actually were things I could’ve said, though those would not have been the least bit decent. That was a critical time to stand up for me whether he listened or not, but I blew the opportunity and I live with that serious regret.

Thinking there was nothing more to drain from me, he justified stealing it all and putting me aside with less remorse than those who put-down an old dog. By nature of being a narcissist it took far, far less than words like his to “hurt” his feelings. Just forget to praise his cooking or yard work and see what that got you. (Unadulterated rage.)

6fThe good thing was, at his age he didn’t have another 20-years to bleed other women dry. Out of all of his prior relationships I was the longest running so I must’ve had a heck of a lot more ‘usefulness’ than he could ever find in any of them.

As he drug out the divorce tying to hang onto all of the money, making it considerably more tedious and ugly than need be, months of life trudged on as described in these chapters. By the time I was free of his narcissist hook everyone in my family but you and Dad were gone. The day of divorce Dad was ecstatic, the most gleefully excited I’d seen him in a very, very long time. It felt good to share that with Dad. God bless Dad.

A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones. [Proverbs 17:22]

From my packing to leave the marital home through all of the stages of suffering divorce one-and-a-half years later, I’d disciplined myself to make only “good and right” decisions. I left much more on the table than I took. I fought bitterness and anger, simply wanting to live without his angst. I didn’t want to give him my soul, too. I believed that’s how God would have me do it and that God would take care of me if I kept myself walking the honest, straight and narrow.

When divorce wrapped up I was pretty raked over the coals and didn’t benefit much from it other than freedom from him. By then I was willing to pay him to go away. Relying on the good principles I’d set for myself, I refused to counter his personal affronts in court as he lambasted me with grossly maligning lies. Apparently his approach worked better than mine.

With such a horrid divorce and all of the family losses on top of it, I kept asking myself where God was and why He wasn’t helping me. It felt like God wasn’t there at all. To keep bitterness from setting-in I concentrated on counting blessings, like how freeing it was not to be battered by someone every day. That mattered.

As time went on I couldn’t believe God would let me flounder in the intense pain of losing so many people; why He’d let me be so maligned by and among them; and why He wasn’t rewarding me with some reprieve of goodness from all of the goodness I’d tried to lay as a foundation. I had worked so hard to make only “good and right” decisions. Didn’t that count for anything?

As bouts of ill health came and went and I shoved handfuls of pills in my mouth every morning and night to stay alive, I began to tell myself that I do cost more than I’m worth. Why would God let me contemplate such a thing? Didn’t I matter to Him? Wasn’t He supposed to turn good works into some goodness of life? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?

6hI fought doubt, asking those questions over and over and clinging to my faith by bare threads. I came to believe God had abandoned me or, worse, maybe it was true that God wasn’t real at all. (I am ashamed to admit that.) Then I reminded myself of all that He had saved me from over so many years and how many prayers He’d answered so perfectly they could only come from Him. I knew He was still there. I just had to find my way back.

There is a verse in the Bible to the effect,

“As the twig is bent so goes the tree.”

That entrenched pilot light of faith was my tether to God. Being reared in His word was the undying belief that flickered inside of me waiting to be ignited again, waiting to be useful again. If I hadn’t had the believing upbringing Dad provided I would not have been able to cling to that when all of life felt so hopelessly against me that nothing felt right, nothing relieved the pain.

I try to never take God’s good graces and mercies for granted no matter how hard life gets. You cannot imagine how much I prayed and yearned and sought peace of mind in traversing the experiences described in these chapters. Some things only God can handle, even when it feels like we haven’t time to wait; even when it seems no one is up there listening; even when we think we’ve given up and don’t know how to get it back.

You’re aware how I’ve encountered health issues of late. I call their medication “chemo light” because it leaves me feeling so very badly. I spend my days doing nothing but giving comfort to myself, remembering chemo and reminding myself it could always be worse. This isn’t as degenerating as chemo and that’s something to be very grateful for.

In weird ways I’m relieved to have a reason to do nothing but pamper myself. It’s like I’ve needed that for years so I deserve to do it without guilt. Just having the time and resources in retirement to do that is a blessing. I can’t imagine being a younger person trying to balance work and family while feeling this way. I am very blessed.

I recall one of my chapters mentioning how we expect to have “caring people” around us at this juncture of old age. Having settled here only a few years ago and hibernating from society since, I didn’t try to get out to meet people and, as anyone reading this series is aware, now I have very little family.

6iIt’s scary to be so alone in this time of life, but when I strip away the self pity I realize that I’m actually living a self-fulfilling prophecy least expected. Just because it’s not expected doesn’t make it bad — just different.

Now, when I think about people coming and going as used to be, that feels uncomfortable. Just as I was left alone when younger to figure things out for myself, that’s the same way I am today and aptly so. Just let me admire life from a distance. That’s about all the energy I have for it anymore anyway. And that’s okay.

Then I thought about the new people who do come and go in my life now. They are good and caring and so thoughtful. As are those tending to the home. I don’t have many needs that aren’t being met. Wants, maybe, but not needs (smiling). Given how I tend to be such a private homebody, I’m not sure I’d even want more people than this in my daily life.

I was surprised to realize just how “full” my life is given the limited desire I have to be active in it. God blessed me with newbie ‘loved ones’ and I’m so comfortable with them I almost forgot how much I do appreciate them. They are all considerably better to me than my own family (save Dad and you all of course).

God is good to me. He’s carried me and He’s let me walk alone. He’s led me to understandings and He’s walked silently to keep me company as I figured them out. He’s woven caring people into the moments of my living when I feared there could never be more.

The cleaning lady and I laugh a lot, she’s more like a daughter or lifelong friend than a paid helper. I buy household gadgets to give us new toys for play when she does her work. When she arrives at the door CeeCee scampers with the enthusiasm of a child seeing grandma bearing goodies. In many ways, I do have family. They’re just a very different one than what I’d envisioned.

6bLike that undying flicker of faith, I never lose hope, either, that God will make it possible for our broken family to mend itself. I don’t expect that, but I know He can if He wants and I keep praying He’s working on it. Maybe by then we’ll all have our hearts in a better place, be better aware of our own failings and less critical of one another, thus better prepared to receive each other in a brand new light. With God, all things are possible.

If we look we can find blessings in what feels like overwhelming dire straits. They’re little oasis’ in a desert, four leaf clovers in a briar patch. If you’re reared in a life of faith they will show themselves. It’s up to us to look, find and appreciate them.

Ever since a small child Dad would stop to peruse a clover patch for four leaf clovers. We’d do it together, even as I was older, and he always found at least one. Recently I opened a book he’d given me just before he died. Tucked inside its pages is the “I love you” of a four leaf clover he’d secreted there. Its plucked but still-green color feels like a bridge between where the two of us are now, he on the other side of life and me, still here, trying to find my own.

I cannot imagine living the struggles of life without faith that Dad instilled in me to do just that. It may be a long while before your young life experiences serious troubles, but some sort comes to all of us at one time or another. When you do, I hope you’ll reflect on these words.

Lesson Six:  No matter how bad life may feel in tribulation, take a moment to look for a good inside each bad you’re suffering. You’ll be surprised. God is so good. ♥


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Letters to a Grandchild ~ PREFACE: My Wisdom Quest

retrospect1This series unveils epiphanies that shake a soul as much as ease a shattered heart. It proves it’s never too late to learn even when we think we’ve learned it all. This is a personal story of perplexing circumstances and the lessons learned in digesting its incomprehensible tragedy.

Dear Grandchild,

Retrospection weighs heavily with age. If not so for everyone, then either I need to know their secret or they need to know mine.

Purely by happenstance it’s a year to the day since I’d last posted. Given bouts of ill health, I’ve been making practical decisions like securing a grave and marker. I’ll rest back in the hometown between Dad and baby sister, both frequent subjects of earlier writings.

Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children is their fathers. [Proverbs 17:6]

Working through burial paperwork, it was odd to realize that Dad bought the plots when I was five and my sister was on the cusp of being born. Dad would’ve been your age now, myself the age of your little one. That brings generations closer in a more relatable way, imagining him young and not so unlike yourself. That was also when Dad & Mom changed my given name. I remember those days so vividly, with many visions of Dad in his signature khaki casual wear.

Dad kept a picture on the wall of his older brothers and himself circa 1930. It was professional for the day and then you were about five or six (again, Dad’s age in the photograph). You looked so much like him it was striking, everyone commented. You both were amazingly adorable looking with your coy smiles, big eyes hiding a twinge of orneriness and heads of curly dark hair.

I became a genealogy buff, so regardless where my PicDanBoonebody ends-up I wanted a grave marker. Dad’s line descends from England, from Daniel Boone’s aunt. Daniel is the renown 1700s American frontiersman. He was well known back in my day when schools taught proud American history. Your generation knew little of him. Sigh.

As most writers, I’ve spent a lot of this last year contemplating impressions of life, trying to determine whether I have any “words of wisdom” to leave for you. I guess we all want some insight that would be helpful to those we love … hoping we can help their lives by virtue of learning from ours. Living so long and the mere desire to do that seems like it ought to reap some fruit. If not, oh well. I tried. We can only try. So this is my “Wisdom Quest.”

This “Letters to a Grandchild” series describes profound lessons that only revealed themselves in the last few years. They are epiphanies that shook my soul as much as they eased a shattered heart. Despite my experienced years, it proves it’s never too late to learn from life and some of the most poignant lessons come late in it, just when we think we’ve learned all there is to know. The telling of this story unveils a perplexing set of real-time circumstances that I still struggle to accept.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.  [Proverbs 4:23]

Until recently I’ve not been able to reasonably articulate the wounds of battle suffered in reaching these lessons’ understandings. As anyone with heartbreak knows, there are not adequate words to describe that kind of pain. But I know if I cannot get words written on a page then all hope for the truth of myrespect sister’s and my legacy, all hope for putting the aches to rest, is lost.

I may use the “protected” menu option if some of the stories get too personal. I’ve done my best to tell them objectively but they are so emotionally taxing it’s taken this long to get to a reasonable first draft.

These comprise what could easily be a tragic Lifetime movie. The horror plays in my head not unlike it did in real time. The ending is one I instinctively saw coming, regardless that I was determined to defy that logic until everything shattered into unintelligible pieces of gross disguise.

I had to fit the puzzle back together the only way it made sense and the picture that evolved was very different from any I could’ve imagined, nothing like the one that fell apart. Nothing would ever be the same. But the tragedy was necessary to get where I needed to be, to finally live with what really was, to once and for all put to rest life’s unrelenting pain.

The chapters will roll-out as editing and energy permits. My writing-goal used to be working through pain so I understood it. Believing now that I finally do heartunderstand it, I hope sharing will open eyes of those who are as naïve as I, before they end up in the same barren, “too late” old-age pit of regret and despair I did. If I can do that for anyone else then sufferings are made worthwhile. I suppose we all want to believe there is a way to make our sufferings worthwhile, to have them benefit someone. Now that is my writing-goal.

Every good and decent person deserves better. If this retrospection benefits someone else, praise God for that. Life is most often not what it seems.


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Next: Letters… ~ Ch 1: When I’m Gone (Video)


“Miracle – An extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs, such as the healing miracles described in the Gospels.” [Merriam-Webster Dictionary]

There are some people we could never convince of miracles and that’s okay. You either believe in miracles or you don’t. I do. I don’t profess many, given my age, though merely being here is probably the biggest one of my life. miracle1That’s considerably more complicated than could possibly be covered in one blog.

To put my claim to miracles in better perspective, it’s been 10-years or more since I recall the last one. I do believe miracles happen more regularly, every day in subtle forms that we fail to recognize. But this is one of those that really stands out.

One way I define miracles is how perfect they are in answering casual pleas I’ve made of God, as I go about the business of living life’s struggles. By “casual plea,” I’m not at all diminishing what I ask of Him as being something unimportant. It is important. To me. But when a problem seems insurmountable and the answer comes in more perfect form than I could ever imagine to even ask of Him … that is God Himself stepping right up to the plate.

God & I seem to have this arrangement that works: I do my best to deal with what I can and when I need Him to intervene, He’s there with undeniable clarity. Praise God I’ve been unusually healthy the last few years. Not even a head cold, which is highly irregular for me (and I do praise Him for that). Years prior were seriously troublesome ones, both in physical and emotional health.

Though seemingly nothing of consequence, my vision had turned weird and I learned I needed cataract surgery. All of my friends commented how miracle3easy it was and how well they could see afterwards, so that was something to look forward to. But given what I had been through, medical experiences taught me to be cautious and I have to admit, I was probably more anxious about this than considerably more serious health events in all of my years prior.

As anyone who’s ever had surgery procedures knows, there’s always a bunch of doctor appointments and blood labs and preliminary tests. Mine were compounded by past health issue requiring clearances to have the surgery, but those all went well. Then I learned the hospital wouldn’t let me have surgery unless personal family or a friend drove me there and back. Then I learned that included transportation again the next morning for a post-op exam. THEN I learned they don’t do both eyes at once … silly me.

I did think they’d do both eyes at once, even after they described having an eye patch. It made perfect sense, slap my forehead, since you can’t walk around with both eyes patched at the same time. Oh sigh.

My problem is, I’ve not lived here very long and because of health issues I rarely leave the house so I’ve not made any friends. I’ve no family I can call. And they won’t let you use public transportation, it has to be someone you know. I’d never been in this position before so I didn’t know what the heck to do.

I got on the phone trying to find a resource to drive me to and from the surgery and I was willing to risk driving myself with an eye patch the next day. Some of my more serious health issues were with eye conditions, so I was accustomed to functioning with patches, I was sure I could do that much.

Because of society’s litigious mentality today and liabilities associated with it, there is no one who accepts the risk of transporting people in situations like this. Whatever chance I might have to find a program that could help was months away boggled in government red tape.

I’d joined a church but stopped going shortly after, in good part because of health issues. I’d met a lady there whom I knew to be a wonderful person and a friend to the extent we could share a friendship. She was always on the go and I was a home recluse, so we saw one another maybe once a year, if that much. I could not bring myself to ask this of her. I fought it until I could fight it no more, finally setting my pride aside. It was all I could do.

What a God-Send this woman is. Not only did she unbegrudgingly pick me up to get me there before 6am, she stayed and waited then listened to doctor instructions afterwards. She took me out to breakfast and later that day brought back a hot dinner meal. She insisted she would take me to the next day’s post-op appointment, a drive I was going to do myself and what a blessing miracle2she did. I was not in any shape to have driven myself.

I thought I still had plenty of time to get the second eye done, but learned at the post-op, for a couple of reasons, it needed to be in the next two weeks. I had totally planned to manage that without imposing on her again. By the time we left the post-op exam, my eyes were welling in tears. Between all of the pre-worry and how kind this woman was already, I had no idea if I was going to have the second eye done. I was overcome with emotion. I was drained. I did not know what else to do. I had no more answers.

This lady stepped up big time, insisting she would do all of this all over again next week. She didn’t flinch. She didn’t hesitate. She didn’t utter a sigh. When I called to affirm that appointment, the receptionist said another lady had overheard my dilemma and left her phone number for me, too. I was double-blessed. I was overwhelmed by a complete stranger’s compassion. I couldn’t hold the tears back longer. I broke down and bawled and bawled like a baby. Like a baby, I bawled.

I think part of the emotion was the harsh reality that I am so helpless. I’d never felt that way before. I’d never felt this alone or in this much need. It was certainly a humbling experience. But more than that, God gave me another miracle, bringing more than I needed in such perfect timing and wonderful abundance of kind-hearted people, from the infrequent friend to the stranger in the waiting room to the receptionist who took it upon herself to get involved.

So the next time you’re overwhelmed, when circumstances seem bleakest, when you don’t think you can possibly find your way around an obstacle, say some prayers. They’ve always worked for me. Thank You, God, for being there. And thank You for other good people you brought into my life. Please bless them abundantly.

Be a miracle to someone your life touches.


Boredom is Underrated

Life can be so ridden with boredom I find myself wishing for one of those spontaneous surprises that come out of nowhere and plops me in a whole new realm of possibilities. Something I’d only hoped or never even thought to hope. Something least expected. Something that elevates me into excited whimsy. Life needs that. Every life needs that.

Learning how to be bored is a talent if not a discipline. Uneasy with it at first, I consoled myself that boring was much better than drama-filled alternatives I’d too intimately come to know. I encouraged myself to be satisfied with boredom. Now I’m so content with it I’ve come to expect little else and find ways to give myself more time to be bored. I think that’s a good thing.

And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. [Mark 4:39]

mail1The mailbox is a bit of a distance where I live and in my well-rounded state of predictable boredom I came to check mail only a couple of times a week. Each time I pulled out a slew of junk mail with one or two envelopes of any significance, if that many, sometimes none. I wish I knew how to get rid of that stuff. It’s darned tedious, which, oddly enough, means boring. If I’m going to be bored I want it to be of my own making, not someone else making my boredom time boring work.

If I could stop junk mail I could get away with checking it only once a week and wouldn’t I be in my boring-glory then? In fact, my life is so boring I actually ponder perusing junk mail magazines as an entertainment option. There are a lot of new things I could buy to perk up my boring existence if only I would let go of a few bucks to do it, but I figure if I have to pay for a feeling of specialness then it doesn’t count.

Nope. I want a natural event of real life exuberance. I kept reassuring myself, when the time is right that special moment that shatters boredom with a new lift of excitement would come, because that’s how the natural tides of life flow when they’re at their best. It was all in the odds of how long I had to spend in boredom waiting, and, oh boy, how good it was going to be when that special uplift did come. The longer it took the better it would be and the more life I’d have under my belt to parlay well adapted boredom into a sense of genuine elatedness.

For a while now I’d felt the time for an uplifting life surprise was right, that in all of my boredom I’d finally categorized my priorities as they should be. I had boredom down to a science and was primed for that special something new. After all, my boredom gave little else to do.

It came yesterday.

Yesterday I pulled more than usual hauls of junk mail out of the mailbox, struggling tomail3 grasp oversized advertisements to ensure not to drop anything that might be important like a utility or car insurance bill. If I didn’t pay one of those and with how infrequently I do (don’t) check mail, God knows how long it’d be before I realized an essential was past due and then boredom would succumb to disgruntled agggravation and I couldn’t have that. Not disrupting the peaceful flow of these menial things plays a huge role in keeping life safely and soundly boring.

Because the trash dumpster is also a bit of distance, I’m exceedingly disciplined in how I accumulate trash and, as you might imagine, junk mail plays an important role. I time my trash runs to coincide with mail checks, because that streamlines things, leaving more time for more uneventful boredom. Ahhh, there is no greater peace than the peacefulness of boredom.

So as I’m juggling yesterday’s overload of junk mail, I pilfered the pile while in the car so I could dispense of the bulky junk to the back floorboard, where I’ll also cart my next load of mail2trash to the dumpster. This routine is critical to not disrupting boredom time and actually enjoy being bored rather than boredom being just enough of a passing fancy that I actually feel bored, if you know what I mean. Any experienced boredom-basker knows there is a fine line.

In all of yesterday’s hoard of mail there was a mere one envelope worth opening. (Well, just between you and me, that doesn’t include the other piece that came looking like a check. For a brief moment of reality abandonment I thought I might be able to buy my way into a nice surprise after all. Nothing good ever comes easy.)

The meaningful envelope was hand-addressed, an unusual trait in today’s times and it wasn’t one of those perfectly scripted-by-computer “handwritings.” This was sloppy, human handwriting. This was a real letter! I had received a r-e-a-l letter from a real human being!

As if that weren’t excitement enough and I suppose to subconsciously prolong this rare moment of suspense, I struggled to make out the name on the return address. I knew I knew it, I just couldn’t recall how I knew it. Then it dawned on me:  This was from the oncologist I had twelve-years ago during cancer.

I’d always sent a Christmas card to him at his office, each year appreciative for and counting the culmination of years of life I couldn’t have had without his compassionate care. I thought the letter must be from his wife (what man these days handwrites a letter?). Then I feared whatever it said, for it must surely be bad news about his passing or something, because when you live in my boredom bad news is about the only news you get via letter. That was really going to blow my boredom safety bubble to smithereens.

Inside was a handwritten letter from the doctor himself. After twelve years of sending cards, he was corresponding with me as a friend, not a patient. He spoke humbly of retiring, a small farm he’s working for himself, the things he’s doing with nature, and how he misses his practice and the people in it. He has found his own little piece of boredom. Then he mentioned coming into his own first year of cancer survival. Setting his health trauma aside, the life he was making sounded so blissfully and boringly peaceful I could almost put myself there. He’d shared his piece of boredom with me and his little plot of it had truly blessed mine.

In my boring, little world, it doesn’t get any better than that kind of special surprise.

When is the last time you handwrote a letter that could turn someone else’s everyday boredom into a real sense of purpose? Some of us have learned the value of loving human surprises in their purest forms and we find them so wonderfully enjoyable we’re willing to wait years for another.


In response to WordPress Daily Prompt, Parlay.


An Ominous Fall Day

I wanted to write lightheartedly and was determined to do that. After days of pondering and stewing, no topic reached out to me.

Fall is my favorite season but it seems an inescapably sad time of year. Those I’ve loved who’ve died all passed in fall and now there’s the foreboding loss of a dear friend. Maybe seasons1that’s reason enough. No matter how I’ve tried I can’t seem to shake the melancholy.

Nature itself is dying. It teaches us to know that there will be new life and fresh vigor. For fall-season-lovers like me, we also know there will come new beauty in a new winter.

Dogwood trees are turning leaves and a small woods out back is thinning again, its gray jagged branches reaching up from what green remains. Colorful leaves dot the ground and many that aren’t float in breezes soon to turn bitter cold. Snowflakes will fall, hopefully the heavy gentle, silent ones that I love so much, bringing to peace reminders of the sadness.

Surely our lives cycle in the same ways as nature. I cannot imagine a better example of what life is than the reliable cycles of seasons. Surely God gave those to us for that very reason. Could it be any more obvious?

Is it wrong to look forward to dying? Is it strange to think of it as much as I do right now? Sometimes I look forward to it and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes dying feels like a grand reprieve to all of the struggle it takes to live; other times it feels like a scary journey that I’m not sure I’m prepared to take. In the meantime I still wake up every day and as long as I do that I have to suppose there’s a reason for it. As natural as death should feel it never does.

seasons2I’m in the fall season of a lifetime … my leaves have blown around for a while now and my branches reach up in a starker gray. When my time comes I hope it’s as peaceful and pure as that first walk in a freshly fallen, heavy & silent white snow.

Marie’s home is just a door down from me. For the first time I can recall, at my pup’s mid-morning outing all of Marie’s blinds are drawn tightly closed .No one is seen or heard moving about or coming & going. Sitting out with my pup, even she keeps poking her head around the corner, seemingly curious herself why there is no activity or, perhaps, instinctively knowing.

That makes this fall day feel all the more ominous.


Woman’s ‘Best’ Best Friend

This is one of those fall days where dry leaves scamper and sun warmed breezes swirl between trees in a voice that all but speaks. I find myself straining to hear what’s inside them, knowing if I could just understand their wandering wisdoms I’d have the secrets to life. Of course it’s never that easy.

Apparently my affinity for writing here takes six-month intervals so it seemed appropriate to start with an update of sorts. Maybe it takes that long to transform from one phase of life into another that’s fresh enough to want to write. If you’re anything like me you get weary of the sound of your own written voice so you wait for it to have something new to say.

It wasn’t long ago (uhh, about six months) I’d reached that plateau again. I was still struggling with drastically changing circumstances, seriously wondering if the newness in life could ever feel like anything normal. I was so hurt and angry and I’d struggled with it for so long that ‘normal’ seemed impossible to reach.

So I sat back and not-so-patiently waited in hope that passing time would make a healing difference, reminding myself to be content if not grateful for what I had. I’d long been mystified with how the seemingly smallest decisions in fleeting moments of a lifetime end up being what we live. So I did what little things I could, what made sense, to try to move myself in some direction.

One of the decisions I made was to get a pet. It was no small contemplation, really, knowing that in my meager life this would be one of those small but life-altering choices and it could go either way. The last thing I needed was something that felt like another ‘failure.’ That was critical. Every day I visited shelters and researched breeds, each moment taking me closer to actually doing something. I’d talk myself into it then out of it then into it again, until I landed on what felt right.goldendoodle

I decided on a GoldenDoodle. If you don’t know the breed, they’re a specifically bred mixture of Golden Retriever and Poodle, two of the best-natured dog breeds. Many are large, often looking like a giant poodle and they are exceptional for their unique appearance and playful personalities. I went to a breeder who specialized in smaller sizes, which was necessary for me to handle as well as to stay under the weight limit where I live.

I knew I didn’t have the stamina for training and cleaning up after the rambunctiousness of a new puppy and it wasn’t common to find an older one through a local breeder. Finally I lucked into a pup just under one-year. She was considered undesirable because of her age, so at first they weren’t going to even show her to me. (One of those mystifying little life-blurps that changes everything.) What an absolutely precious animal. She is smart, was easy to house train and is the most sincerely affectionate and well behaved pet I’ve ever owned.

Soon I let her sleep with me and she loved to snuggle close. I woke up in the morning with her smooth warm puppy paw across my neck and it was the most tender, sweetest sense of affection that I’d felt in years of an abusive marriage. As I lie there basking in its tenderness my mind jumped to how, in all of my years, I thought a man was the only place to find that affection when all I really needed was a dog. Go figure the complex simplicity of that epiphany. If you know how burdensome abusive spouses can be you totally get the humor in it.

I talk to her and she listens with attentive ears. She gives me reason to get up in the mornings and to enjoy outside when I used to hide indoors, even meeting people now that I wouldn’t otherwise take great pleasure in knowing. I only have to feed her once a day, she never complains about her meals and when we go out she’s reasonably obedient on a leash. When I want to go somewhere she’s content to lounge quietly in her crate and never complains about the money I spend. She loves to peacefully snuggle on my lap and she has her own room with toys when I’m not up for the intimacy. She never hogs the bed and lies patiently every morning, staring at me for some sign of movement before tail-wagging kisses of excitement for a brand new day. So far I haven’t taken to dressing her in clothing … but winter isn’t here yet.

pupbutterflyTrust me, ladies. The right pet is a woman’s best BFF. That nonsense about a man filling these needs works fine for some, but I’m not one of them and we all end up alone sometime.

When I got my pup last spring I thought there could be nothing cuter than a young pup’s curiosity in jumping after flitting new butterflies. This fall that’s matched by the tender heartedness of a pup sopupleaf intrigued with blowing leaves it chases them with the fervor of hunting big prey. I suppose the flavor must be disappointing but they seem determined to believe it is a catch worth tasting. And isn’t that innocence what makes them, life, so irreplaceably precious?

God bless the innocence in life. It keeps my heart alive. And all of those anguished feelings of six-months ago? They’re gone. Without realizing the gradual changes of everyday living I’m in a better normal than ever envisioned could be. It’s the seemingly innocuous decisions we make in the moments of each day that lead us there – or not.

Coming back to the simple things in life is the secret to it. This morning’s fall breezes told me so.