The “Invisible” People in Our Lives

Dear Reader:

Before we get to the “invisible” people in our daily lives…let me share the mystery around the invisible “letter” that disappeared. I went out on the deck yesterday morning and the “P” in HOPE was simply gone.

For the first time in over a week it hadn’t rained so it wasn’t due to a storm or anything…the tacks were still “intact” that had been holding it yet no cloth letter was anywhere to be seen…under the table…on the grass outside the railing…I even looked under the deck in that section…nothing. So now I am left with “HOE.”

It can be defined as a gardening tool used to break up dirt or as the urban dictionary defines it…  a “promiscuous” person who believes having sex with only one person…means one at a time.   *So obviously I must get a new “P” back in HOPE… quickly! 🙂

Psychology Today says there is an epidemic of “invisible” people growing in our society with dire consequences.

To be quite honest…it is only now in this stage of my life that I am becoming more acutely aware of the growing number of “invisible” people I encounter on a daily basis. Why? Because I have been given the most precious gift of “time” with my retirement years. This allows me the opportunity to really study people more completely while going about my daily errands.

Sadly the news media today is filled with stories of people (of all ages and backgrounds) who always felt invisible to society and ended up either taking their own lives…truly believing no one would even notice they were gone or taking out their anger against a society who never included them in it…with killing sprees and senseless other acts of violence.

If we take time to really observe the faces of people who work in ‘behind-the-scenes’ kinds of jobs (meat cutters, night time janitorial services, third shift maintenance jobs, late night delivery employment)…or even people we see in broad daylight in a variety of service positions, we can see the lost look (of lack of societal inclusion) in their eyes.

Feeling excluded is one of the worst feelings in the world. Haven’t we all experienced this terrible feeling at some point in our lives or at least feared it would be so? Perhaps we were at a new school where we knew no one, or on a team where we felt left out or unaccepted? It might have been at a social event like a dance where no one asked us to dance…we felt completely humiliated and alienated at the same time.

This is why it is so important that we all take time to speak ( make an upbeat comment or compliment) to a cashier, food server, cleaning staff personnel, a sad-looking teenage grocery bagger, delivery men/women, repair men, receptionists, etc. Long after these people have finished their daily, thankless job…your comment to them or compliment, particularly a word of thanks for their work ethic, will go a long way in helping them feel appreciated on a personal and positional basis.

So until tomorrow… “Smile at strangers and you just might change a life.” – Steve Maraboli

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

My neighbor Jane’s Texas Star hibiscus  is blooming proudly!

But the recent showers have my Confederate Rose growing in amazing leaps and bounds…can hardly wait till Fall to see the beautiful white, pink, and red blooms. A new flag welcomes all visitors to the garden…the other flag had faded with all the summer sunshine.

I got the most beautiful comment to the blog post “Mirroring our Behavior…” Lynn told about her breast cancer experience and I believe Ann…y’all share similar feelings…I know she shares mine. Thanks for taking the time to leave this thought-provoking personal message Lynn!

What a very beautiful story. It will be my inspiration for the rest of this week…possibly even for the rest of my life! And yes, I’ve been there on the long journey of breast cancer with many watching as I walked through my many months of surgery; chemotherapy and radiation….and beyond all this to further check-ups and doctor’s visits.

I wonder what they saw, felt or sensed? Hopefully those standing by sensed the peace beyond understanding which my Father gave me; the strength beyond compare that was poured out upon me; the joy that I found on that journey despite the doubt and despair that sometimes tried to knock on my heart’s door….and did they see and realize I was walking and not faltering and falling only because it was my compassionate and loving Father who carried me!

 

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Stop the Helicopter Parenting and Relax!

Dear Reader:

As much as we parents and grandparents want to lead…and guide our children and grandchildren around all the daily obstacles that come with the ‘art’ of growing up…the best results at the end of the journey come when we take a back seat and let the child lead by showing us what his or her passion is…their unique God-given gift.

Not easy, is it? Parents and grandparents are notoriously bad back-seat drivers.

Esther Wojcicki — “Woj” to her many friends and admirers — is famous for three things:

 

 

*Teaching a high school class that has changed the lives of thousands of students

*Raising three daughters who have each become famously successful as, the CEO of YouTube, the Founder and CEO of 23andMe, and a top medical researcher

*Inspiring Silicon Valley legends like Steve Jobs

What do these three accomplishments have in common? They’re the result of TRICK, Woj’s secret to raising successful people: Trust, Respect, Independence, Collaboration, and Kindness. Simple lessons, but the results are radical.

Woj’s methods are the opposite of helicopter parenting. As we face an epidemic of parental anxiety, Woj is here to say: relax.

  1. Talk to infants as if they are adults.
  2. Allow teenagers to pick projects that relate to the real world and their own passions, let them figure out how to complete them. 
  3. ***Above all, let your child lead.

One of the most powerful lessons I heard one time was a reminder to all parents that our children are only on loan to us…we don’t own them. So we have only a limited amount of time to help them discover their true selves and the gifts they will leave behind.

Woj would give each daughter a small laundry basket that they could fill with their own self-interest books each Saturday when they went to the library. Upon reflection each daughter drifted to the section of the library that most appealed to them…with one daughter it was math, another technology, and another medicine. From early ages on…left to their own personal choices and devices,  the daughters have stayed true to their individualized initial choices.

When asked why she wrote this book on raising children WOJ replied:

“This is my legacy—I’m trying to make sure that people understand the power of giving children control of their learning.”

It might sound crazy, but when someone believes in you, you’re willing to take more risks and willing to be more creative. As parents, we need to recognize that the little person in front of us is a time-bomb waiting to explode and disperse all the unique gifts lying dormant within. All a child needs is unconditional love, support and independence…they will do the rest.

So until tomorrow….Let’s make sure that every child born in this world knows:  BE(YOU)TIFUL! 

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*I caught a little bit of a discussion on Facebook yesterday about teaching,  salaries, and blatant discrepancies throughout counties in South Carolina…not just states.

One of the responders put this cartoon in the mix and I had to laugh… since some of my own children (and their spouses) are still caught in this cobweb of student “spider” loans...ad nauseam.

  • Eva Cate just completed Adventure Camp with rock climbing and ziplining...it was just a couple of days this week and she got lucky…both days the sun was out…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Little Eyes are Looking…Mirroring Our Behavior

Dear Reader:

Yesterday Ann and I had a conversation (during her last chemo infusion) about how important it is to remember that children and youth’s eyes are watching us to see how we handle different diversities of problems. In Ann’s case this person is a fourteen-year-old neighbor…a sweet girl…who likes to ‘hang’ with Ann and is very involved and curious about her cancer treatments.

Ann has begun to realize just how important it is to demonstrate a positive attitude throughout her treatments and answer her young neighbor’s questions frankly and honestly…treating her like a young adult.

“Watching and modeling human behavior starts in infants as young as one day old behavioral scientists have discovered. Immediately upon birth, babies begin to reflect the emotional states of people around them thanks to “mirror neurons.”

This begins a cycle whereby positive emotions and interactions beget more positive energy. Children who feel safe, secure and loved, early in life, grow to be more sensitive and empathetic to others’ emotional needs. Let’s model kindness and empathy from day one.”  (Resource: Editor’s Note/KindSpring)

As a teacher it was always easy to pick out the young students in my classes who felt compassion and kindness to their peers (coming from loving happy homes) while observing other students, perhaps as a result of not feeling loved enough or accepted in a family, acting out and intimidating others at school simply because they could. Bullying is a search for power as a substitute for love …not received when little.

Planting those first seeds of love within a newborn is critical in their overall perception of themselves and their place in the world.

When we do see young children demonstrating compassion for other children…adults need to nourish these observations with praise and encouragement.

Kindness Observed: Kindspring.org

“I spotted a small child, maybe 6, who noticed another child, who looked maybe 3, on the playground when that little fellow dropped his cupcake.

The older one walked across the entire playground and tried to help the little guy pick up the cupcake. The cutest and kindest thing  he did was offer the sad little fella his own sleeve to wipe his tears.

A mom came over pretty quickly and thanked the older boy, and together they cleaned up the dropped cupcake. When the mom and little one walked away hand in hand, the little boy turned around and waved to the older child, who waved back.

The spontaneous act of kindness on that older child’s part, and the simple gratitude shown by the little one was pure and beautiful. It was a gift to me…for having caught that magic moment. I’m grateful for seeing it.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

At a time when we hear such terrifying examples of young bullies intimidating children and youth at schools and on the internet…parents live in fear of this happening to their child.

So any times we have an opportunity to teach, watch, or witness something pure and kind happening between children and youth. When this happens we need to, not only recognize it, but applaud it and thank the children and parents for the great job they have done with their families.

So until tomorrow….

  • Happiness is more contagious than sadness, so try to surround yourself with happy people. However, don’t avoid people who are sad, we all need support sometimes and giving them love might help them recover faster.
  • Imitate happy and positive people, do what they do. Practice sports and smile more (even if you don’t feel like it, you will later feel better). Keep a healthy self-esteem and stop thinking negatively.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 

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The Etymology Behind Libby’s Original Catch-Phrases

Dear Reader:

When it comes to storytelling…Libby is the champion. Her true stories of just plain daily life in her world will keep you in stitches. Only she can experience the most bizarre circumstances imaginable (that a sitcom writer couldn’t even think up)…and they happen to her all the time.

By now most of you readers know the basic scenario of what happened last Sunday upon returning home from the beach for a family July 4th gathering. Libby tripped going up the back steps and ended up with a broken right wrist, cuts and bruises all over her, but ironically no serious damage to her neck or back from the latest surgery. God is good.

This is not a funny story so far but a thankful one…But wait.. it just hasn’t started yet. Here we go…(excerpts from Libby’s text).

“Oh my Loves…I have nowcome to myself” and can regal the story of Sunday evening. (* Let’s pause here in the story and let me explain Libby’s original expression. Libby doesn’t do mornings…period. She must have several cups of coffee before she can articulate and/or communicate at the most basic level of conversation.

If any of us Ya’s forget (at any one of the beach retreats) and make a cheery good morning salutation or ask if she would like one of us to reheat the breakfast casserole…you just get a hand with palm open and upward letting you know to “leave her be.”  

If any words are muttered… it is only later after a lengthy immersion of caffeine. She quietly announces…”It’s okay to talk now…I havecome to myself.” Yesterday when I asked her (via telephone) to define the expression…she said it is a state of semi-consciousness…somewhere between sleep and waking. She can only exist or “be” while in this state…but can not “do” or participate.

This expression now defines her…to the point that when the grandchildren spend the night they know the morning ritual consists of Nana driving them for a breakfast of biscuits or donuts BUT they also know the morning rules… when to approach her. Libby says they select one brave soul to come ask her if she “has come to herself” yet and if so can they go get Krispy Kreme donuts?

(Back to the story)

Libby was put in an ambulance …bumpy but so far normal. And then it happened…While wheeling into ER…the hospital went on LOCKDOWN! A schizophrenic had taken down five hospital security guards. As luck would have it…the mentally ill perpetrator, along with four police, were in the room next to her. It was very loud, disruptive and unsettling. (It took 5 hours to get all the tests done)

Meantime Libby realized she was in Room 13….she thought to herself…’Of course I am…where else would they put me?’…and then lost it hysterically when she saw the sign on the back her hospital door “Please Call…Don’t Fall”!  (A little late for that warning she giggled out loud!)

Libby finished up with a warning and suggestion for all the Ya’s…“The Ya Ya’s are gonna wrap ourselves in bubble-wrap, throw Life Alerts around our necks and find a way to get together to “lay our eyes on each other” and celebrate life…no matter what state or condition we are in.”

*(I told Jackson that since we are the two Ya’s who haven’t reached the big benchmark year yet…that after observing the other two’s awful predicaments…I would be more than willing to skip the “zero” year and move on into the “one”…there is something strangely unsettling about a 7 and a 0 next to one’s name.)

So until tomorrow…Libby…Like I tell my grandchildren…the “boo-boo’s” on your legs and knees from the fall are correctly called “boo boo owies”…never to be confused with their beloved grandmother…who would never want any negative connotation associated with her name.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*Yesterday I carried Ann Graves, a friend from church, who is undergoing chemo treatments for breast cancer, to the Charleston Oncology Center for her fourth and last infusion.

It is a tradition that following this treatment the patient gets to ring a special bell of hope at the exit door. It was very touching…and several members of the medical staff joined Ann for the ceremony.

 

 

*Libby…I think there should be a DO NOT DISTURB sign on your tombstone…with an added message: ...”Until Libby Bennett Clarkson has “come to herself” (usually mid-morning!)

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The High Price of a Day…Each Day

Dear Reader:

Some days I think remind us of a past day so we can better understand how priceless the wonder and mystery of any ordinary day can be.

This is the beginning of a new day.

I have been given this day to use as I will.

I can waste it or use it for good.

 

What I do today is important.

Because I’m exchanging a 

day of my life for it.

 

When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone

forever leaving in its place whatever I have traded

for it. 

 

I pledge to myself that it shall be;

Gain not loss; Good not evil;

Success, not failure; Love not fear

in order that I shall not regret the price I paid for this day.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

On patriotic days we hear much discussion about the high price of freedom in human lives and immediately images of names on tombstones and memorial walls flood our memories.

However…as observed in the prose above…don’t we have the choice to make every single day of our life the best day we can possibly make it…so if it is our last day…”we shall not regret the price we paid for it?”

While going through some old blog photos a couple of days ago…a picture of a Thomas Jefferson puppet doll stared back at me, with a pair of earrings on it…I started giggling and then completely burst out laughing because yesterday had just repeated itself again.

The Jefferson doll picture accompanied one of my old blog posts about the antics of little Eva Cate when she was about five…(four years ago.) She was a “tinkerer, a putterer“…nothing brought her more joy than finding loose coins, jewelry, scraps of paper, markers, pebbles, etc. She would  take them from the spot of discovery and move them elsewhere. She could spend hours doing this over and over.

After Eva Cate spent one weekend with me (during this time) I was running late for an appointment the following Monday morning and couldn’t find my favorite clip-on earrings.

I had left them on the computer table…where were they? Just when I was about to give up and put on the “pinchy” ones I noticed that the Jefferson doll looked differently…he was wearing my favorite earrings. Case Solved…Culprit Caught….Eva Cate.

Saturday morning…I was folding laundry on my bed and putting things back in their rightful drawers or closets. A Fed-Ex knock on the door sent me scurrying to the front to discover that some earrings I had ordered on-line (wooden ones) had arrived.

I tried them on, really liked them, and decided when and with what I would wear them first. Since Rutledge and Lachlan weren’t here at Easter two of the stuffed rabbit/eared dogs were lying at the foot of the bed. I placed them on one of the pillows to try to remember to put them up to have for next Easter.

Yesterday when I went to get my new earrings the box was there but no earrings…what in the world could I have done with them….I was beyond frustrated with myself…I had just had them the day before in the bedroom.

 

Suddenly as I gazed around  at the bed covering…there on one of the pillows was the stuffed dog/rabbit ears with two wooden earrings on top. Too funny! I have become Eva Cate I thought to myself…the putterer “acorn” doesn’t fall far from the tree!

 

 

So until tomorrow…In defense of all of us “putterers”…our “condition” does bring us closer to God in prayer.

Oh God please help me find my car keys so I won’t be late for this or that“Oh God…please tell me that I didn’t leave the car windows rolled down halfway this afternoon now that it is midnight with torrential rains and gusty winds blowing. “Oh God…I know I am a lamebrain…but You do know that I love you, don’t You?…and this child scatterbrain of Yours appreciates everything You do for me every single day…I couldn’t get through a day without You.” 

Yep, we putterers and tinkerers are lost little lambs when it comes to remembering where things are…but we never forget Who keeps bringing us back in the fold.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

P.S. I hate to admit it but Eva Cate has gone from putterer to organizer these days…thank goodness she is turning into “her mother’s child.”

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When Freedom Finally Came to America

Dear Reader:

I have started reading David McCullough’s The Pioneers and as usual, am riveted to all the history of our country told in good old storytelling fashion.

I love learning new things about the one subject I have adored since a child…history! The story of the settlement from the Northwest Ordinance has kept me shaking my head…saying “I didn’t know that…or I didn’t realize that?” 

And “That” person who teaches me every time I pick up one of his novels is “that great” historian author David McCullough! My “A-ha” moment while starting this book was contained in the three major segments of the Northwest Ordinance that changed our country’s ideals. They  were three remarkable conditions: freedom of religion, free universal education, and most importantly, the *prohibition of slavery.

*The prohibition of slavery: “There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory,” (this being agreed to in Congress when slavery existed in every one of the thirteen states!) It was almost unimaginable that throughout a new territory as large as all of the thirteen states, there would be no slavery. God’s miracle for this new land!

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 would prove to be one of the most far-reaching acts of Congress in the history of our country. Historians today place it alongside the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence as a bold assertion of the rights of the individual.

Based on John Adams’ Massachusetts constitution…the ordinance was quite clear…“Religion , morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of educations shall forever be encouraged.”

At a time when there were no state-supported schools of any kind in most of the United States and the few areas that had these schools were poorly supported and supervised…plans were now being made for a section in each township to be reserved for common schools and ultimately a university for all.

Manasseh Cutler, a minister and top planner for this new massive settlement consisting today of five states…Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio…believed strongly that “Wisdom is the principal thing…therefore get wisdom and with all thy getting…get understanding.” (Proverbs)

Isn’t that true about everything in life? Wisdom alone is not enough, unless accompanied by understanding and compassion!

Of the first pioneers in the Northwest Territory, forty-eight men in all…a few were as young as teenagers…the oldest at 67. Obviously there were mixed feelings among the families left behind with many prayers uttered as the husbands, sons, and relatives departed.

*I remember reading one time in sample diaries written by early pioneer women that one woman begged her husband not to leave her behind at a fort with the children (in relative safety) while he, alone, explored new lands…she was afraid for him and all the unknown dangers in a new frontier. He looked at her quietly and said: “Stopping me from living isn’t going to stop me from dying.”

Wow! That’s pretty powerful isn’t it? I think about it a lot these days…even though my energy might not be quite as ‘up to speed’ as I would like with this darn “elevator” white cell count…lying around and doing nothing is absolutely no way to live.

So until tomorrow…As Theodore Roosevelt said: …“Let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out.”

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

When I walked outside Saturday I noticed this plant blooming in the garden and couldn’t figure out where it came from? I texted Doodle and she replied:
“Butterfly weed. It’s a host plant for the Monarch butterfly. It lays eggs on it and when they hatch, the caterpillars eat the plant.” 

(New meaning for “Eating yourself out of house and home” 🙂

*Up close the bloom are so intricate and delicate…lovely!

*Had a text from Betsy, Libby’s daughter….Libby fell going back in her house after the holidays at the beach with family. Betsy and Robby took their mom to the hospital emergency room where they checked her thoroughly…thank goodness her neck and back were okay (area from the surgery) but she broke her right wrist.

*Today she was returning to the surgeon to get the official “OK” to start driving again…so (as you can imagine) this set-back is definitely a little hard to swallow…even though we all realize it could have been a lot worse. If any of you have had to go without driving for quite awhile you know how much you crave that independence again…so please keep Libby in your prayers! Thank you!

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Happiness and Strength… Go Hand in Hand

Dear Reader:

Have you ever considered that happiness and strength are one and the same? Think about it…when someone enters a room whose personality is upbeat and happy…doesn’t a sense of strength and confidence  exude from this person? People are drawn to them like moths to light.

Yet when another enters the room with a somber overtone and averted eyes don’t we (more times than not) discover that this type of personality usually is not confident, always comparing themselves to others and coming up short in their own eyes, pouty, and disdainful of others who do have positive upbeat outlooks on life.

…And it really has nothing to do with social or financial status…it is an inner sense of contentment and joy that prevails with certain people… no matter the circumstances in their life at the time.

When people go through life always dissatisfied, always looking for greener pastures, always believing they are getting short-changed… …they never break out of these outlook on life patterns. They never see themselves the way God sees each and every one of us.

When we judge ourselves lacking…we not only aren’t helping ourselves but we end up serving no one. God gave each of us an unique strength…we each have what it takes to inhabit it fully.

Kate Wolfe Jensen perhaps says it best ” You can begin to catch a glimpse of your brilliance by noticing what brings you joy. What’s easy for you? What makes your heart sing?

When you are happy, you are strong and you can share your delight with others. That will bring them strength.”

It is only through sharing our strengths and weakness that we can allow others to strengthen our weaknesses while using our strengths to do the same for them. We each have personal gifts to share.

We each are enough…we are unique…in fact we are downright magnificent! 🙂

So until tomorrow…If you want a memorable life, the research is very clear: You have to live a life worth remembering.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Loved getting my postcard yesterday from Rutledge while he was visiting  grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in New Hampshire and the White Mountains! Love you back Rutledge! Boo Boo!

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