Beach Day

Saturday, February 16, 2019, turned out to be an incredibly wonderful, happy day.  I spent the snowy winter afternoon on a warm and sunny beach in Kansas City.  I hadn’t planned to go.  I thought I would just stay in my room and work on my novel.  But my plans were soon interrupted.

Around 4 pm, there was a knock on my door.  I looked up to see my sister-in-law, Mary, standing in the doorway.  Mary was babysitting her 4-year-old granddaughter, Samantha, for the afternoon.  “Jamie, I’m sorry to bother you,” she said, “but I need to go to the grocery store.  Samantha doesn’t want to go with me.  She wants to stay here with you.  Would you mind watching her while I’m gone?”

“Oh, that’s fine,” I answered as I quickly saved my work on the computer. 

“I’ll be fast,” Mary said.  “I’ll only be gone for about 15 minutes, I promise.”

“It’s okay, Mary,” I answered as I followed her down the hallway.  “I’ll watch Samantha.”

And at that moment, Samantha ran over to me and grabbed my hand.  As Mary walked out to the garage, Samantha dragged me into the family room.  “We’re going to the beach, Jamie,” Samantha informed me.

I stood in the middle of the family room and looked around at the fireplace, the leather couch, and the red-and-black patterned carpet.  “Okay,” I agreed, “we’re on the beach.”  And suddenly, we were running around the house.  “Okay, Samantha, we need beach towels, and a ball, and a pail, and…”

“And a surfboard!”  Samantha squealed happily.

A surfboard?!  And then I had an idea as I ran to the hall closet.  I yanked open the door and pulled out a long piece of cardboard that I had seen in the closet a few days before.  I held it up proudly.  “We have a surf board!”

Samantha squealed excitedly as we gathered our beach items and ran back into the family room.  We spread the towels over the carpet as we mapped out where the sand was located.  We threw the “surfboard” onto another area of the carpet that we designated as the ocean.  The kitchen served as our dressing room as we pretended to put on our swimsuits even though it was too cold to even think about taking off our sweaters.  Once we were “dressed” in our swimsuits, we ran back out to the beach. 

Samantha and I spent the next half hour surfing in our imagined ocean.  We stood together on the piece of cardboard, held our arms straight out, and rocked back and forth as we pretended to surf the red-and-black carpet.  We were actually pretty good until a large wave suddenly swept us off the board and into the ocean, where we had to rescue each other from imagined sharks.  After out-swimming  the sharks, we lay down on our beach towels and soaked up the warm sun. 

Then after a quick beach snack of white powdered doughnuts, it was time to play volleyball.  Samantha and I stood at opposite ends of the family room and batted a small, red-and-white ball back and forth.  I was surprised that tiny Samantha was so coordinated.  I think she hit the ball more times than I did.  The whole beach experience was wonderful except when the dogs kept running onto the beach and interrupting our game.  Samantha and I had to stop several times to chase the dogs off our beach and back into the living room.       

Finally, after a long afternoon of “fun in the sun,” Samantha and I packed up our beach towels, buckets, and snacks and left the sand, the water, and the sun behind as we returned to the cold, the snow, and the ice of a Kansas winter afternoon.  The day at the beach in the middle of February had truly done me some good.  I was warm, happy, and relaxed…

…and exhausted…wow! 

Unless you are in good shape, never take a four-year-old to the beach on a winter day!

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Embracing My Heritage

Several weeks ago, I had a very unusual dream.  I was in a large auditorium.  I don’t sing or dance, so it is rather surprising that I was onstage.  My performance had just ended, and I was walking down the wooden steps at the front of the stage.  As I moved through the crowded auditorium, people were clapping for me and patting me on the back.  I was hugged and told how much I was loved.  I politely thanked everyone but continued walking through the room.  I didn’t stop moving until I came to the very back of the auditorium where I suddenly noticed an elderly woman standing in the last aisle.  I stopped walking and stared at her for a moment.  Her dark, heavy hair was hanging in waves down to her shoulders, and her dark eyes were looking deeply into mine.  Her mouth was set in a firm but kind line.  For just a moment, we looked at each other and breathed deeply.  Then the woman stepped forward and pulled me into a deep embrace.  Her thin arms were wrapped tightly around me as she told me how much she loved me.  She told me how proud she was of me as I hugged her close.  At that moment, I opened my eyes, and I was no longer in the auditorium.  I wasn’t surrounded by crowds of people.  Instead, I woke up in my own bed in my home in Kansas City, Kansas.  But even though I realized then that I had been dreaming, I still believed that I could feel the elderly woman’s arms holding me close. 

There was no doubt that the woman who embraced me so intensely was my paternal grandmother, Mary Zunick, who had passed on more than 25 years ago.  I was surprised in my dream that I could feel so loved by someone I never really knew.  I wasn’t close to Grandma Zunick while I was growing up.  I wasn’t comfortable being around her.  Her stern, morose personality scared me.  I didn’t like the smell of the exotic, foreign foods that filled her home.  I didn’t understand why she always wore long dresses and kept her hair pulled tightly back behind her head.  I struggled to understand the words she spoke in a heavy, strong, harsh accent.  Grandma would struggle with English for most of her life.  As a child, I was too impatient, too scared, and too nervous to spend any time with my grandmother except on holidays when the whole family would get together.

But then, in 2008, my mother and I decided to go on a long road trip to the east coast.  In New York, we stopped at Ellis Island to pay homage to the many immigrants whose dreams and hard work made America strong.  I watched as my mother frantically searched through the long lists of names engraved in stone plagues around the courtyard.

“What are you doing, Mom?”  I asked her curiously.

Mom absentmindedly answered me.  “I’m looking for the name Mary Ozanic.”  I stared silently at her for a moment with a blank look on my face.  “Your grandmother,” she clarified for me.

That’s when I finally knew my Grandmother Zunick’s maiden name.  Suddenly, I felt a strange shift in my heart and mind.  I leaned forward and helped my mother search until we finally found the name “Mary Ozanic” carved into the brass plaque on one of the many short stone walls that surround Ellis Island.  I suddenly felt inspired and, on our drive back to Kansas, I began to ask my mother about my grandmother’s life.  My mother’s information triggered an interest in genealogy in me.  Through online explorations and deep discussions with relatives, I found out some very interesting information that made me look at my family, especially Grandma Zunick, in a completely different way.

My grandmother was born Mary Ozanic in Yugoslavia on October 30, 1904.  Mary’s mother passed away when she was just a young girl.  Her family consisted of two sisters, a younger brother, and her father, who left his family behind to create a new life in America.  A few years later, when Mary was in her late teens, she traveled with her two sisters, Kate and Anna, to the United States to be with their father.  The young women arrived in America on August 10, 1922.  They settled in Kansas City, Kansas in a district known as Strawberry Hill, which is mainly populated with immigrants from Yugoslavia and Croatia.

Unfortunately, Mary and her sisters had to leave behind a 10-year-old brother, Jozes, in Yugoslavia.  The siblings would not see each other again until Jozes finally visited America 56 years later in June 1978.  It was an incomplete reunion since Mary’s father and sister, Anna, had passed away several years before.  This was the only reunion the family would ever have.  After two weeks, Jozes returned to his home in Krjnski Kuzelj, a small mountain village, where he worked as a tailor.  After Jozes’s departure, Mary and Anna dreamed of returning to Yugoslavia, but due to financial concerns, time constraints, and health complications, Mary and Kate would never see Yugoslavia or their brother ever again. 

I have the only existing photo of Mary, Anna, and Jozes from their 1978 reunion.  I have amazing pictures of my Grandmother Zunick receiving her American citizenship shortly after arriving in the United States.  I smile when I look at my grandmother’s wedding photo.  Mary Ozanic married Joseph John Zunick, when she was in her early twenties.  It was rather a marriage of convenience.  The couple respected each other but rarely talked about any important matters.  Grandma didn’t even know that she had married a man 25 years older than she was until their 8th wedding anniversary.  The couple had two sons, Albert, in 1928, and my father, Joseph John Jr, in 1934.  Mary was a stern mother who worked hard to keep her young sons in line.  My father used to laugh when he told stories about hiding under the bed because my strict grandmother had chased him around the room while swatting him with a long handled broom.

Grandma passed away in December, 1992, after a complication of diabetes and heart disease.  She passed while I was living in England, so I didn’t get a chance to say good-bye.  Having learned so much about my family history over the last few years, I have tremendous respect for my grandmother.  I just wish I had spent more time with her while she was alive.  I understand now the challenges and losses Mary had to overcome to make a better life for herself and her family.  I have learned to respect and truly appreciate my heritage now.  I would love to tell her just how much she means to me.  But maybe the embrace Grandma offered to me in my dream was a way of letting me know that she loves me, too, and that she is always with me, Even though we may be separated by time and space, we will always have a connection through blood, through family, through dreams, and mostly, through love. 

MESS

I try hard to be clean, but I do have to admit, there are days when I am a complete mess.  Some days, I don’t take time to style my hair or put on makeup.  I never polish my nails, and I’m much more comfortable going most places in sweats.  I’m still waiting to see my picture pop up on the People of Wal-mart website.

But life is busy.  There are so many things to see and do.  I don’t want to worry about smearing my lipstick or mascara running under my eyes.  I don’t want my hands just to look pretty.  I want them to create.  I want my face to show expression regardless of wrinkles, and I want my feet to walk all corners of this earth through grass, mud, water, and dust.

I try to clean myself up when I go out to work or to social engagements, but I don’t always succeed.  For example, last Sunday, I was standing with my co-workers at our morning meeting, and I just happened to glance down at my feet.  Oh, my gosh, though I had showered and put on clean clothes that morning, I hadn’t realized that my Sketchers were still covered in mud!  When I had arrived home last night, I had rinsed my muddy shoes off in hot water in the bathroom sink.  When I thought they were clean, I had placed the shoes in the bathtub to dry.  I got up Sunday morning at 5 o’clock.  I quickly showered, dressed, and slipped on my still slightly damp shoes.  I didn’t even realize until I got to work that there was mud still caked on my Sketchers.

I was a little embarrassed, at first.  But then, I thought about how the mud had gotten onto my shoes in the first place.  The day before, Saturday, a friend, Chandra, and I decided to go to the Renaissance Festival in Kansas City, Kansas.  The festival is one of my favorite places.  I go at least once every year when I am in Kansas.  Chandra and I were lucky that we had picked Saturday to attend the fair.  Saturday was the only clear, dry day in a week’s time.  It had heavily rained in the Midwest for six days.  Even though the sun was lazily shining on Chandra and me, the ground was still heavily saturated with water from the heavy rainfalls from the numerous storms.  But Chandra and I didn’t really mind.  We sloshed through the deep mud as we laughed together, talked to the many characters, took pictures, shopped at the numerous stalls, watched the people, were awed by craftsmen plying their trades, and had interesting psychic readings.  Along the way, we slipped and slid through the mud as we walked along the many trails and paths that circled around the festival.  In some areas, the mud was so deep that our feet would actually sink into the ground with each step we took.  The mud would squish up over the top of our shoes.  But Chandra and I didn’t care, because after six dark cloudy days, the sun was finally shining, and we were having fun out in the fresh air and sunshine as golden leaves fell from the trees all around us.  So…what’s a little mud…

So Sunday morning….and for the rest of the day…whenever I looked down at my muddy self, I remembered the fun we had had on Saturday at the festival…and I just smiled and laughed….and I didn’t care what anyone else thought about the mud that clung to my shoes.  It honestly didn’t matter.  When life has been fun and good, I don’t care what negative thoughts and opinions other people may have of me.

And yes, I am very messy sometimes, maybe even downright dirty every now and then.  But I live my own life and value my own truth and I know what’s important to me…and that’s all that really matters.  So I let the mud remain on my shoes, and I let it naturally peel off a little more every day.  And instead of trying to hide my shoes, I wear these messy Sketchers proudly.  I smile, I remember, and I hope everybody notices the mud on my shoes.

 

 

Connections

I glanced at my phone again and felt incredibly ridiculous.  What was I thinking?  How could I have been so delusional?  But for just one moment, one second in time, I had flipped back into the past.  I had slid out of the present moment and felt as if I was living ten or twelve or even twenty years before now.

I had actually just picked up my phone to call my mother.  Maybe I wanted to call my mother because I suddenly remembered that I still have her phone number programmed into my phone.  I know that I should probably delete it.  In fact, I should have erased it a long time ago.  But that action just seemed so final.

With all of my traveling and moving lately, I’ve lost or given away pictures, mementos, knick-knacks, and souvenirs.  Some of the items from the past have been packed away in places where I don’t have access to them every day.  So my mother’s phone number registered in my phone is my only constant reminder that she had been a part of this journey.

I haven’t dialed my mother’s number since the day she had moved to California from Kansas in August of 2009.  She spent the last nine months of her life with me in Palm Springs, so, of course, her phone had been disconnected the day she left Kansas.  Why did I keep the number even after she moved in with me?  Maybe I kept it because it was the same phone number that my family had when I was a child.  Maybe it is the number not only to my mother’s phone, but to my past as well.

I don’t know…Maybe it’s just laziness.  I don’t pay a lot of attention to my phone.  I don’t mess with it.  Maybe I just don’t worry about my phone because I just don’t care about technology.

But, for whatever reason, my mother’s number is still in my phone.

I wonder if the phone number has been recycled now.  I wonder who would answer if I suddenly got over my fear and anxiety and called my mother again.

I stared at my phone for a moment.  What if by some miracle, by some miraculous connection to heaven and by the pure grace of God, I would hear my mother’s voice again after the nine years she has been gone now?  If my mother answered the phone, what would I even say to her?  But, damn, wouldn’t that be amazing!

I stared at my phone again, so tempted to hit the call button.  But if I did how would I explain the reason I’m calling if someone other than my mother answered?

This is so hard…

Because, damn, I just really needed to talk to her today.

Mind/Body Connection

Our Shih Tzu, Starburst, has an underbite.  Whenever she smiles, her bottom teeth prominently show.  This is what the dog looks like when she is happy:

 

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It makes me laugh to see her smile because, sometimes, I worry that she suffers from depression and anxiety.  There are days when she is completely listless.  She won’t get out of her bed.  Some days, she becomes impatient, angry, and demanding; other days, she is very quiet and remains distant and aloof.

Lately, however, Starburst has been very happy.  She jumps around excitedly whenever I walk in the front door.  She runs around in circles and then stops right in front of me.  She smiles while her tail wags so hard and fast her little backside bounces off the floor.  Then she runs down the hallway and tumbles over with her bottom flipping up over her head.  She prances back into the living room and jumps excitedly up onto the couch and begs for attention until I rub behind her ears.  “Hey, little Fur Face,” I’ll tease her.  But she doesn’t mind my name calling.  She’ll roll over onto her back and wait for her belly to be rubbed.  I usually avoid doing this, though.  Starburst has a very sensitive spot on the right side of her body.  If I accidentally brush over this area, she’ll sit up with a shriek and nip at my hand.  I’ve learned the hard way not to be persuaded to rub her belly, even though she looks up at me with her big, brown puppy dog eyes.  I’ll just shake my head at her, walk into my bedroom, and close the door behind me.

Starburst isn’t finished playing, though.  Her favorite game is “Ding Dong Ditch.”  She likes to scratch at my door while I’m working.  I try to ignore her, but she keeps knocking until I finally get up from my chair and open the door.  I look down the hallway and see the dog’s furry backside bouncing up and down as she runs back to the living room.  I follow her only to find that she has jumped into her small, round bed and pretends to be asleep.

I go back into my bedroom and a few minutes later, the scratching begins again.  I open the door, and Starburst is once more running back to her bed.  She jumps onto the mattress and once more pretends to sleep.  “Stop now, Starburst,” I’ll tell her.  “Your not funny.”

But the situation happens again.  I hear scratching at my door.  I see a small dog racing down the hallway.  I see her little body jerk into bed.  She lays her head down and once more closes her eyes.  This time, however, I just laugh at her.  I walk over and  pick her up. I cuddle her close and carry her back into the bedroom with me where she will fall asleep on my lap while I work on my novel or my poetry book.  Sometimes, she’ll crawl underneath my bed where she snores and sniffs loudly as she enjoys her dreams.

There were some late nights when Starburst would visit my bedroom and become very agitated.  I don’t know what it was, but something inside my closet upset her.  She would stand stiff and straight in the middle of my room, staring intently and growling at something in the corner of my closet.  There were some nights that she really freaked me out, too.  Did she see…or sense…something that I couldn’t comprehend?

But last night, she was suddenly over her fear.  As soon as she entered my bedroom, she went over to the closet and climbed in through the open wooden door.  She then quickly created a small nest out of my shoes and promptly fell asleep.  There was no growling or barking, no fear or agitation.  She snored peacefully. And I slept much easier that night, too.

Starburst is also learning to have better manners and not be so impatient.  Before, whenever she was hungry or thirsty, she would stand in the kitchen with her bowl in her mouth.  She would fling the bowl, hitting me in the ankles with it, whenever I walked into the room.  Oh, yes, I got the message: she needed food or water!

Starburst no longer behaves this way now, though.  The other night, I walked into the kitchen to wash the dishes.  I didn’t notice that her bowl was empty.  Instead of throwing it at me, I suddenly heard a small cough.  Seriously, the dog just started to emit dainty, little coughs.  Ahha! Ahha!  She sounded just like Ben Stiller in Zoolander when he thought he had the black lung.  But she got my attention, and I filled her bowl.  She looked up at me with a grateful smile, sipped slowly, and then gracefully walked out of the kitchen with her tail held high.  She hadn’t been anxious or angry.  She was courteous and kind.  This made me very happy.

Starburst had had some health issues over the last few months.  She had been suffering from digestive illnesses, and her right eye had become infected making it difficult for her to see.  Mary, my sister-in-law, had taken Starburst to a series of vet appointments that include a few shots and several rounds of medication.  The loving efforts of my sister-in-law and the doctor really has made a difference.

Starburst is returning to good health, and her personality has been affected in very positive ways. She is a perfect example of the mind/body connection.  It is true for every living thing.  When we are in good health, we are loving and kind.  When we feel good about ourselves and practice love, our phsyical bodies heal.  I smile now as Starburst comes into my room.  And as she cuddles up on my lap and falls asleep, I wish good health and loving blessings on everyone of God’s precious creatures.  God Bless You and Good Health!

 

Dreams Never Die

My body suddenly grew warmer as I felt a wave of positive energy coming towards me.  I glanced up to see an elderly woman approaching my table at the mini-fair that the Psychic Research Society of Kansas City was presenting on Thursday, July 26, 2018.  The woman must have been in her late 70s or early 80s, I assumed, as she sat down in the chair opposite me and introduced herself as Kate.  I smiled and shook her hand as I gave her my name.  Then we began the session.  I offered Kate the card deck to shuffle, and then instructed her to intuitively pick three cards that she believed would best represent her current life and personality.  As I slowly turned over each card and gave my impressions, Kate responded with joyful insights, especially when I suggested that she should start keeping a journal.

“Oh,” Kate exclaimed, “I love to write.  Just last year, I finished writing a book.  It all just seemed to come to me in one rush.  Guess what it’s about, Jamie.  Guess what it’s about!”  But before I could even respond, she leaned towards me and said, “Space ships, Jamie.  I wrote about spaceships!”

“That’s wonderful, Kate,” I responded enthusiastically.

And then Kate excitedly told me, “And I’m finishing a poetry book now.  Yes, I’m writing a book of poetry.”

“That’s so wonderful for you, Kate,” I smiled.  “Even according to the cards you are very talented and have amazing insight.  This is a great time for you to be creative.”

“Yes,” Kate agreed, “my family told me I should try getting my writing published when I was 91-years-old, but I didn’t feel right about it.  Then, at 92, I said no again.  At 93, I started to think about it.  Now, several years later, I decided it was time.”

I stared at Kate for a moment and didn’t say a word.  I was absolutely stunned.  Did she honestly just say that it was now time…several years after she turned 93?  I wondered just how old this woman was but didn’t want to appear impolite by asking.  And besides, I suddenly realized that age didn’t make any difference anyway.

Okay…but I still have to admit, I was in total awe of this amazing woman with the incredibly bright, sparkly eyes.

After talking for a few more minutes, Kate gracefully stood up from the table and said, “I think this moment should end in a hug.”

“I definitely agree, Kate,” I answered as I got up and we shared a deep, loving hug.  Kate walked away from my table then, and I continued reading the cards for several more clients.

When the fair ended at nine o’clock, I was putting away my cards and cleaning up my table when I once more felt a wonderful sense of energy surrounding me.  I looked up to find Kate approaching me again.  “I think you and I really made the best and most solid connection tonight,” she said as she giggled happily.

This statement made me smile.  I was happy to know that this beautiful, awesome, ninety-something-year -old woman felt connected to me.  I put my arms around her, and we once more hugged closely before saying good night.

On the drive home, I thought about all of the amazing people I had read for over the last three years.  I have had people break down in tears in front of me.  I have connected them with family members.  I have heard their most intimate dreams.  I have tried to calm their deepest fears.  And they, too, have taught me how to love and how to feel more connected to souls, God, and the universe.

And now, lovely Kate had taught me to never stop dreaming, never stop setting goals, to always take each day as a true treasure, to always connect with others and love deeply, and to never ever give up on living.

To write poetry and publish your first book in your 90s…Wow…Just how cool is that…

 

Be Still

I am a natural born fidgeter.  I can’t help it.  I just can’t be still.  When standing up, I find myself mindlessly swaying from side to side.  When sitting down, I am tapping my foot or swinging my legs back and forth.  I can’t even sit still at the dinner table.  Even when I am out for meals with friends, I continue to slide the water glasses and salad plates around the table.  I twist plastic straws into impossible knots.  I spin the butter knives around in fast circles and build towers with the condiment bottles.  One night, as a friend and I were waiting for our food at PF Chang’s, I spun my chopsticks nimbly around my fingers before beating the wooden utensils against the table as if I was the drummer in a rock and roll band.  I only stopped my performance when our server offered me a wrapped set of chopsticks while saying, “You were having so much fun with those chopsticks I thought you would like to take some home with you.”

I have an extremely hard time relaxing my mind as well.  Anxiety, stress, and depression have been constant companions for years.  I wake up in the middle of the night with my mind spinning from events of the day.  I can’t even fall asleep most nights because my constant mind chatter refuses to quiet down.

My endless need to fidget is the main reason I started learning yoga poses and Tai Chi movements.  I couldn’t sit still in meditation, which was something I have wanted to do for years.  I yearned to meditate just so I could experience a sense of calmness, of peacefulness, that I always heard was a benefit of the practice.  I wanted to feel a connection to the universe that I believed meditation could provide.  I wanted to let my mind roam free.  I could feel moments of peace when I was in the mountains or by the ocean.  But I don’t always have the opportunity to be out in nature, so I truly wanted to train myself to sit in stillness and experience peace no matter where I might be.

About two weeks ago, I finally decided that if I truly wanted to practice meditation, I would just have to force myself into silence.  I had read several books on meditation, but reading doesn’t help if there’s no follow through.  I didn’t want to play at this anymore.  It was time to get serious or let it go.  I had developed more spiritually and I was slowly developing a new perspective on life over the last few years.  For some reason, I felt that this was my time.  I was ready to trust in the universe.

So, on June 25, I turned off my computer, put away my books, and set my timer.  I told myself to just remain as still as I possibly could for just ten minutes, which really isn’t a long time.  I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and began counting backwards from 100.  I was surprised how easily I suddenly felt my spirit slip away from my body and from all of the things of this world that had been holding me down.  I didn’t dwell on any thoughts that drifted through my mind.  I just let all emotions and thoughts pass right through me.  And I felt my spirit lifting, rising higher as my body surprisingly began to vibrate with energy.  I was surprised when I finally opened my eyes to find that I had drifted away from this world for over eight minutes!  Because this first session was such a positive experience, I decided to try again the next night.  Once more, I emerged from my meditation with the same sense of peace and bliss that I had experienced that first night.

I don’t want to  fall out of practice, so every night, at around 9 pm, I set my alarm for 10 minutes and let my spirit slip away.  The meditation becomes easier each time I practice.  To my surprise, I am able to block out all the mental chatter and clear my mind as I force my body to relax and sit still.

My biggest challenge to this new ritual, however, occurred on Independence Day, July 4th.  Once more, I set my timer for 10 minutes, took a deep breath…and suddenly popped my eyes back open when a loud firework exploded outside my window.  The noise caused our three dogs to bark and whine hysterically.  I opened my eyes to find that our little Shih Tzu, Starburst, had wandered into my room and was now jumping up on my legs as she whimpered pitifully.  I got up from my chair, shut my bedroom door, and then picked up the dog and placed her on my lap.  I reset my timer and took another deep breath, counting backwards on the exhale.

100….99…98…97…96…

Suddenly, another loud pop and crackle came from somewhere in the neighborhood.  The two dogs in the living room where jumping between the couches as they growled and barked.  Starburst shuddered and jerked as she dug her claws deeper into my right leg.  Oh, my gosh, this was just crazy.  I was trying to leave this world behind and float away into the universe while fireworks sizzled and popped outside, and three dogs whined, barked, and howled inside the house.

And there I was…in the middle of all of this chaos…laughing!

Instead of letting myself get annoyed and upset by all of the noise like I normally would, I couldn’t stop laughing over the situation.  And suddenly the feeling of peace and bliss that I had been experiencing the last few nights started to vibrate through my body.  And instead of getting distracted, I had the best meditation that night because I didn’t let myself get aggravated.  I just enjoyed the craziness of the moment and kept myself calm in the midst of all the commotion.

And suddenly, that’s when I understood the true importance of meditation!  I realized that I needed to keep meditating because it was teaching me that I didn’t have to give in to panic and stress.  I didn’t have to allow myself to become anxious or afraid or frustrated anymore.  I could remain calm even when everything around me was spinning in turmoil.  I can hold on to my inner strength, my inner focus.  After six minutes of meditation on July 4th, I opened my eyes and cuddled Starburst closer to me and kissed her on the head.  I felt love and gratefulness for everything I had and wanted to keep the feeling of happiness and peace going in my life.  I’ve continued to meditate every night and can already see a change after just two weeks.  I am learning to live in peace now without stress, anxiety, or depression.  Life will always be chaotic, difficult, and messy at times; that’s just what life is.  But meditation will always help me find my inner strength, my inner guidance, and will lead me back to God and his plan for my life.  God wants me to live in peace.  He wants me to be happy.  And I have discovered a way to honor God’s plan for me.

Be still and know that I am God.

Dear God, I am learning to be still….