Tag Archives: inspiration

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…

 

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Best Medicine

Over the last few weeks, our Shih Tzu, Starburst, is happy to see me every time I come home.  She runs to the door, trips around my feet, jumps back in an attack pose, leaps forward again, and then dances back.  “Oh, my gosh,” I laugh as I watch her, “you’re full of piss and vinegar today!”  And I swear she smiles at me as she wags her long, furry tail so hard that her hindquarters actually bounce off the ground several times.

After this greeting, Starburst usually runs ahead of me down the hallway.  She knows my routine.  She waits for me by my bedroom as she continues to run around in circles.  When I open the door, she runs inside the room and stays with me for the rest of the afternoon.  In fact, she doesn’t leave my side for hours.  On Monday and Tuesday afternoons, we sit together, snacking on cheese crackers, while watching American Idol on Hulu.  (She is rooting for Gabby; I’m cheering on Cade.)  She only leaves me when the show ends, the Cheese Nips are gone, and she wants to go back into the living room to her bed for a while.

Later in the evening, she scratches on my closed door and waits for me to let her into my room again.  She stretches out on the floor by my feet while I work on the computer.  Later, she will slap at my legs with her shaggy, blond paws until I finally pick her up and cuddle her close.  She stays snuggled on my lap for the rest of the evening.  “Time for bed,” I’ll whisper to her as I try to pry her up off my lap.  But Starburst will suddenly become very heavy for such a small dog.  Her resistance to leaving me is apparent as she lets her body go limp and sluggish as she tries to oppose my efforts to remove her from my lap.  I finally stand up and carry her across the room.  I sit her down in the hallway and she stands outside my bedroom staring at me while I wish her a good night and close the door.  I wonder about her behavior as I lie down in bed.  I’m not sure why Starburst has become so attached to me, but it ‘s not just the Shih Tzu.  Lately, the cat has been acting strangely, too.

Zoey, my sister-in-law’s cat, has never liked me since the day I moved in three years ago.  She did not hesitate to let me know that this was her house, and I was invading her space.  She would nip at me, scratch me, or totally ignore me.  All of my efforts to make friends had failed miserably.  But over the last several weeks, Zoey stays in the same room with me.  She sits next to me on the couch.  She lets me scratch her shiny black head.  She lets me run my fingers down her long sleek back.  I can’t help but wonder why the cat is suddenly nice to me.

At first, I thought that the animals’ behavior was cute.  Now, I am worried that it is one of those “pets know when their owners are about to die” kind of things.  I tell myself that technically these animals are not my pets (they belong to my sister-in-law), and yet I am still overwhelmed by their kindness, especially right now when I can use unconditional love the most.

My health has become my biggest concern.  Tumors and cysts are common in my family, so I haven’t been surprised that tumors have been diagnosed throughout my body lately.  I have had this problem before.  Over the years, I have had ruptured ovarian cysts, breast cysts, fibroid and benign tumors in my uterus, an enlarged right ovary, precancerous tumors and polyps in my digestive track.  And now, just a few weeks ago, my dentist discovered a bloody tumor in one of my teeth.  Over the last few weeks, I have been stressed, exhausted, and overwhelmed.  Yet, every time, I come home, there’s Starburst bouncing around happy to see me, and Zoey allowing me to be in the same room with her.  And I know, I just know, everything is going to be okay.  Pets just instinctively seem to know when there is a problem and can offer amazing unconditional love and kindness, which, of course, is always the best medicine!

Learning Mindfulness

I tend to be a worrier.  I admit that I can stress out over little things.  I can ponder small details late into the night as I struggle to slip off to sleep.  Over the past couple of weeks, my biggest worry has been the winter weather. The winter season always puts me in a state of apprehension.  Even though I know there is nothing I can do about it, I dread hearing forecasts of upcoming bad weather.

Even though I grew up in Kansas, I still am uncomfortable with the freezing temperatures and snow or ice storms that usually begin in late October and last through March and, sometimes, into early April.  Though I have been back in Kansas now for two and a half years, I still don’t do well, physically or emotionally, in winter.  I’m at the age now when my knees begin to ache to different degrees as the temperatures begin to fall.  I don’t like driving on freezing roads and I continue to worry about my family as they travel to and from work.  I can become depressed when the days are shorter and colder.  So for three days last week, I was in a constant state of apprehension as snow, rain, sleet, and freezing rain drizzled down over the Midwest from Tuesday until Thursday.  Many people were not able to get into their cars due to the ice that covered the doors and sealed the vehicles tightly shut.  The streets and parking lots were turned into mock ice rinks as people who made it into their cars now tried to maneuver on pure sheets of ice.  Even the grass was crunchy with ice particles that crackled and shattered underfoot.

But eventually, as with all storms, the skies began to clear, and by the following week, all traces of winter had disappeared.  On Monday, February 26, the skies were bright with sunshine, and the temperature had warmed up to a balmy 61 degrees.

I should have been happy with the change in the weather.  I should have left the house and gone to the lake or the park and enjoyed the gorgeous blue skies and the comfortable temperatures.  But instead, I stayed inside and tried to complete a few mundane tasks.  I needed to clean my bedroom and do the laundry.  I wanted to complete the short story I had been working on for a few weeks and finish up some paperwork.  I needed to prepare for upcoming classes and workshops that were scheduled for next month.  I had so much to do today before I returned to work tomorrow…and, of course, I began to stress over completing all the task I had set for myself this afternoon.  I choose to concentrate on minor concerns and ignored the glowing sunshine that lit up this singularly beautiful day.

But I didn’t let the dogs miss out on enjoying the good weather.  While I stayed inside the house, I put all four dogs out in the backyard.  I didn’t think they would stay out long.  Usually, they have a hard time making up their minds if they want to be inside or out.  I think they just like making me get up and continually open the door for them as they run back and forth.  I was having none of that nonsense today, though.  I had too much to do and too little time.  So, early in the afternoon, I put the dogs in the back yard and went back to my room to work.  I completely lost track of the time and suddenly realized that I had left the dogs outside for over two hours.  I was only reminded of the situation when I heard loud barking and rough scratching against the back door.  When I swung open the French style doors, three of the dogs ran around my legs and quickly into the house.  Only three?  Uh-oh, one of the dogs was missing.  I looked at Greg, Friskie, and Cowboy as I realized Starburst wasn’t with them.  I sighed deeply and opened the back door again.  I glanced around the backyard until I finally spotted little Starburst, our furry shih tzu.

“Starburst?”  I called out to her.  But she didn’t move.  “Starburst, come in.”

But she was completely undisturbed by my shouts.  She just laid there in the grass like an Egyptian sphinx.  Her back legs were tucked under her body and her front legs were stretched directly out in front of her.  Her head was held up regally as if she was descended from a long line of royalty.

“Starburst,” I called to her again, and once more she ignored me.

Then the dog slowly raised her head up higher and tilted her face directly up to the sun.  “Oh my gosh,” I thought as I watched her, “our little shih tzu had become a sun goddess.”  Starburst continued to sunbathe in the warm glow of the afternoon as she appeared to enjoy the feel of the gentle breeze in her long white and brown fur.  As I watched her, a revelation suddenly occurred to me.  Starburst was in the yard enjoying the wonderful weather while I had locked myself inside the house and stayed surrounded with worry and useless busyness.  All that mattered to Starburst in that moment was just to be at one with nature and at peace with herself.  The contented expression on her face left no doubt that she was happy within her own spirit.  No other thought seemed to occur to her.  She was just joyfully in the moment.

Suddenly, I didn’t feel so overwhelmed with all of the things I imagined I needed to accomplish this afternoon.  I sat down on the back porch and stared at the white puffy clouds that drifted across the blue sky.  And I realized then that Starburst had it right.  All that mattered was to be mindful in this moment of bright sunshine and warm temperatures.

Starburst turned her head then to look at me and I swear that dog smiled.  Knowing that I, too, was at peace now, she turned her head straight again, took a long deep breath, and relaxed into the moment.

And so did I.

It didn’t matter if I needed to clean my room, do my laundry, or finish writing my story.  The dog and I sat outside just enjoying the unusual afternoon…

…and I knew then that everything was just right in the world today.

The Magic of Uluru

Oh my gosh!  It was so cold!  I stood in the early morning air and pulled my old, comfortable, black sweater tighter around me.  I was, needless to say, completely unprepared and underdressed for this experience.  But then again, that just seems to be the way I operate.  I usually get so excited about an event, I don’t always think things through or plan as effectively as I should.  This morning was no exception.  I was freezing…and yet at the same time, I couldn’t stop smiling!  This moment…this dark, bone-chilling moment…was the culmination of a dream come true.

I had arrived in Alice Springs, Australia, on Friday, September 02, 2017.  I had dreamed for years of seeing Ayers Rock.  I have always been an earth person.  I know that some people (some people?) may think I’m a little crazy, but I swear I can look at mountains, hills, and boulders, and actually see them moving.  I don’t just mean blades of grass ruffled by wind or leaves on trees tussling with the breeze.  I can sit for hours and watch the earth breath as it inhales and exhales in slow modulations.  There is a pulse to the earth that seems to vibrate with my own soul.  I can find absolute beauty in rock formations and believe I am glimpsing the universe when I stare into the fissures  and fractures of stone.  Maybe that’s why I love crystals and keep a collection of amethyst, quartz, jasper, and pyrite with me at all times.  When I can touch the crystals, I can feel the vibration of the earth even when I am trapped in my home or at work.  I can find God in a small pebble, in a grain of sand.  So, of course, Ayer’s Rock was always a place that I fantasized about visiting someday, and now that dream was being fulfilled.

I woke up on Saturday, September 03, at 4 am feeling very excited and very alive even though I had only four hours of sleep the night before.  Although, I knew I was going to be out late on Friday night, I still couldn’t resist the opportunity to see the sunrise over Ayer’s Rock this morning.  I quickly showered, dressed, and then left my hotel room.  My room just happened to be in the back of a resort of small, well-space-out cabins.  I stepped through my doorway into completely obscurity.  I was surprised that the resort didn’t have a lot of outdoor lighting.  In the dark, I made several wrong turns as I tried to navigate the many different paths that lead to theaters, museums, and restaurants.  Eventually, I found my way to the front lobby as several people were already boarding our tour bus.  I don’t know if people were excited or cold but either way everyone was moving around and talking enthusiastically as we climbed aboard the vehicle.  Once we were underway, the driver, a large, sweet, young man, told us the history and legends of Ayer’s Rock, the Maori people, and the outback.  I really loved hearing that the Australian parliament had voted to change the names of treasured monuments back to the original names that were created by the Maori, the native people of Australia.  Ayer’s Rock now only refers to the general area.  The rock itself is known by the native name of Uluru.

Once we arrived at the site, all of the passengers gathered around tables that held large hot water urns, coffee, tea, and cookies.  In the freezing morning air, it felt good to hold a cup of coffee in my cold hands.  I sipped at the hot liquid as our guides encouraged us to fill our pockets with packages of cookies in case we got hungry throughout the day.  Once I refilled my foam cup with coffee and stuffed my pockets with treats, a young female tour guide walked over to me.  “If you are ready, you can go on up to the viewing area.  Just follow the path,” she said.  I stared in the direction the woman pointed.  It was still completely dark!  I couldn’t see anything beyond the generated glow around the snack tables.  The tour guide then pointed as she said, “There…just follow the lights.”  I looked again in the direction she was pointing and noticed small twinkling red and green fairy lights that were positioned on the ground just a few feet apart.  The lights were so small, so subtle, and placed so far apart, I hadn’t noticed them at first.

Now, while the majority of the tour group stayed gathered around the snack table,  I took a deep breath to calm down my racing heart.  I nodded my head, thanked the guide, and then sat off in the darkness, following the blinking lights.  Even though I was stumbling forward on rocky ground in the pitch darkness, I couldn’t help feeling the magic all around me.  I was on sacred ground according to the Maori.  And even though I lost track of the lights and wandered off the trail several times, there was an energy that kept pulling me back in the correct direction again.  It was a long hike up to the viewing area, but with the gentle help of the fairy lights and the energy of the outback, I finally found myself at the bottom of a flight of steps.

I grabbed the rough plank rail and started to climb up to a large wooden platform.  I soon stood on the platform and turned around slowly.  I was surprised to find that Australia was just as beautiful in the dark as it is in the light.  Then, to the south, I noticed a large dark formation rising up in front of me.  Uluru, I sighed as I sensed where the rock resided even though I still couldn’t see it.

Soon, the top of the wooden viewing area grew crowded with other pilgrims.  I smiled as I listened to their excited voices and laughter.  I heard Asian, English, French, Australian, and American accents all around me but I couldn’t see faces, but surprisingly I still felt the companionship and security of being with other people from all over the world.  The darkness, the energy, the stars, the moon, and all of the many people around me made me feel completely connected to the universe in a way I had never imagined before.

I stood there, shivering in the cold air, but did not feel uncomfortable.  Surprisingly, I have never felt more contented anywhere I have ever been, even though I wished I had paid more attention to the environment.  I should have thought more about the weather.  I knew when I planned my Australian trip for late August/early September, the continent would be transitioning from winter into spring.  Also, areas located further north or further south of the equator were cold .  The time of the year and location should have made me aware that there would be a chill in the early mornings,  even though the days would be warm.  But in my excitement of coming to Australia, my sense of direction and knowledge of geography had completely deserted me.  I have always been the type of person who jumped into an experience without planning or thinking it completely through first.

And suddenly I realized I wasn’t the only one…

As I stood in the dark, freezing but happy, a young man approached me.  Out of the shadows, I heard his deep, English accent as he said, “I see you didn’t know it would be cold either.”  I glanced around us and compared all of the bulky, parka-heavy shadows compared to our two lean forms.  I suddenly realized the man was dressed in shorts and a thin t-shirt.  As we watched all of the people moving around us in heavy coats, we laughed and talked for a moment about how unprepared we were for this moment.  Then, slowly, over his right shoulder, I suddenly began to see a soft glow breaking up the darkness.  I stared in the direction of Uluru and watched excitedly as the shadow of the sun slowly began to kiss the huge rock formation.   Uluru began to grow and stood out against the dark sky like a shadow of God.  As the sunrise grew stronger, the rock began to change colors, from black to light brown to golden to red.  I was fascinated by all of the colors that suddenly began to glimmer and sparkle across the surface of the monument.  Uluru continued to shimmer as it breathed slowly in and out.  I could feel the soul of the rock as energy waves radiated out and the formation glowed and change shape in the approaching sunlight.  The visible energy of Uluru resembled ocean waves; it looked like heat rising up off the land; it portrayed an upcoming dream sequence in a movie.  Uluru was natural magic.

As the sun now shined across the outback, I walked down off the platform and followed a trail that lead to a fenced viewing area situated closer to the rock.  I leaned against the fence and stared at Uluru as I watched it breathe, alive and well.  And I knew that despite the cold, despite stumbling around in the dark, I too was alive and well.  And as I watched the energy filling the air around Uluru, I realized that I had been blessed with a dream come true.

And it didn’t matter that I was dressed in a black sweater while most people were wearing parkas.  And I didn’t care that I had tripped and stumbled up the dark path.  It didn’t matter that I was there alone while other people were with friends and family.  Looking at Uluru I realized I had been fortunate to experience a dream come true.  I took a deep breath in and captured the energy of Uluru in my heart and soul and knew that no matter what happened I would be forever bonded to this magnificent land.

And it would be forever a part of me.

 

New Year’s Resolutions

I really enjoy going to the gym.  Working out is not only something I do to physically stay in shape, but regular exercise keeps me in good mental shape as well.  For the last twenty years, going to the gym has been a great stress reliever for me.  During this time of year, however, my exercise routine can be more stressful than relaxing.  Most days, I usually have to wait to go to the gym until after work.  (Honestly, I don’t want to get up at 4 am just to exercise—don’t judge me!)  Now, I typically get to the gym around 6:15 pm when the parking lot is full.  (It always surprises me how many people who go to the gym fight to get a parking space right in front of the door.  This seems somewhat counterproductive.)  By the time I get to the gym, I have to park on the far side of the lot and walk in the dark and the cold to the entrance.  When I walk into the warm steaminess of the gym, it is already crowded with people sweating, grunting, and, sometimes, complaining.  (Okay, that’s usually me!)  My regular workout routine is continually interrupted.  I can’t exercises on the machines I need or I have to wait in line for a cycle.  I also tend to be a bit of a klutz.  I have dropped weights on my feet, tripped over benches, and rolled off the treadmill with a gym-full of people watching me.

But all of these situations don’t discourage me from working out.  First, I need to be thankful for being healthy and strong, even on days when my workout has been disturbed.  Besides, and I hate to be so negative, but this is the simple truth: this jam-packed gym situation doesn’t last long.  Most of the people who joined the gym around the first of the year are there because they have made resolutions to lose weight and get in shape.  In the twenty or so years I have been working out, the gym always gets crowded around the beginning of January but is empty again by the time spring blooms.

It’s sad that so many people don’t fulfill their New Year’s resolutions, but I don’t blame them.  I don’t think weight goals go unresolved because people are weak or lazy.  They aren’t quitters.  This is a situation that can happen to anyone no matter what his or her resolution may have been.  People set big goals for themselves every year.  It can be hard, though, to break old habits and start new routines, especially when life gets in the way.  So many times, good intentions are put aside due to family emergencies, work demands, and monetary troubles.

And, honestly, I know that I am no better.  I may have made a solid commitment to the gym, but I struggle when I set arbitrary goals.  I know that I will only disappoint myself in the end.  I stopped making resolutions when I realized that a lot of goals I was setting were based on what I thought other people wanted from me.  Or what other people thought I needed to be.  That was probably why I couldn’t commit to any resolution.

And as I looked around the gym today, I wondered if that was the reason most people were here.  Were they actually here based on their own desire to be healthy or were they at the gym trying to lose weight based on society standards?  How many people are motivated to go to the gym because they have been bullied or teased about the way they look?  Were they concerned about their health or did they feel unloved because of their bodies?  Is that why they can’t commit?

Maybe this just isn’t a good time to join a gym.  That’s another strange thing about setting goals.  Timing is everything.  Maybe people leave the gym in the spring because it just isn’t a good time to achieve that particular weight loss goal.  And that’s okay, because time is an illusion anyway.  Time is a man-made tool so what does it matter if people accomplish a goal in one year or ten?

So no there is just one promise I commit to every year.  Each year, I try to spend more time with God.  I believe that if I pray more, if I concentrate on my faith more, than all other aspects of my life will fall into place.  I don’t worry about breaking this resolution, because every year, my faith has just grown stronger and I find myself praying more now than I have ever before.  It’s amazing how much easier this particular “goal” gets every year.

So now, I wish everyone the best in fulfilling any goals they may have set and hope that no one feels bad if they aren’t 100% perfect.  Just pray, believe, keep trying, do the things you enjoy, and above all, just resolve to love yourself no matter what the outcome…there’s always next year…or the next life…or whenever the time is right!

August 21, 2017

I had asked my family and friends not to have any celebrations on Monday, August 21, 2017.  Because everyone had listened to me and honored my request, I woke up that morning suddenly realizing that it was now completely up to me to make it a great day.  So to begin with, I decided to take myself out to breakfast.  I quickly got up and dressed and left my home.

As I drove to the local Taco Bell (okay, yes…I’m a fast food/diner kind of girl!), I was abruptly stopped by a traffic light on State Avenue.  As I waited for the light to change, a sudden movement to my right caught my attention.  I now focused on a large, chunky, young boy walking down the street.  The boy was about 13- or 14-years-old and dressed in blue jeans with a black t-shirt.  The long bangs of his black, curly hair brushed against the silver wire frames of his glasses.  A tattered, brown backpack was strapped across his broad shoulders.  I watched as the young teen pumped his right arm wildly into the air.  I couldn’t hear any music, but the punching of the boy’s fist and the quick banging of his head gave the impression that he was listening to rock or heavy metal music.  Oh, my gosh, I thought, this was one of the most amazing things I had ever seen!  This young boy was dancing down the sidewalk next to the busy avenue without any care of who was watching or what anyone might think!  I knew then that that kid had a lot more courage than I ever had.  And I prayed that someday I would be that free, too.

I carried the image of the boy in my mind as I parked my car and walked across the lot to the entrance of Taco Bell.  Suddenly, the glass door pushed open and a middle-aged man in a torn white t-shirt and glasses walked out.  His sparse dark strands of hair were tousled across the bald areas of his head as he stepped to the side and held the door open for me.  “Thank you,” I told him to which he quickly responded, “You’re welcome.”  Then he enthusiastically shouted, “God bless you!  God bless you!”  I stopped for a moment and smiled.  I don’t know who the man was or what special powers he may possess but I suddenly felt immensely blessed as I ate my breakfast and contemplated the rest of my day.

And the day just kept getting better.  I returned home to find that the neighbors across the street from our house were out in their front yard.  The three-year-old son was joyfully running around the lawn with his hands raised up in the air as his voice emitted loud shrieks.  The child would run up to his father and then spin around.  He would walk slowly away while screaming, “Monster!  Monster!”  That was the father’s cue to chase after the boy who ran around the yard in wild circles.  Finally, the man grabbed the child and threw him up in the air as both father and son giggled loudly.  Then, the boy was placed on the ground and the whole sequence would start all over again.  I covertly watched the neighbors play for a few minutes before climbing out of my car and walking inside the house.

I spent the majority of the afternoon cleaning my room and tossing away my old files of class notes, bank statements, and receipts.  Today, I felt a compelling need to clean out the old and anticipate the new.  I compulsively worked on this project until it suddenly became too dark to see what I was doing.  I didn’t turn on any lights.  Instead, I got up from my desk and walked into the living room.  I opened the front door and looked outside.  The sky was growing steadily darker and the streetlights all began to glow.  I stepped out onto the porch and looked at all of the neighbors who were standing in their front yards looking up at the sky with plastic and cardboard glasses strapped to their faces.  I didn’t look up.  I knew not to stare at the sun without protection.  I didn’t purchase any glasses and I hadn’t planned to participate in watching the moon cross in front of the sun.  I just wanted to experience the sudden darkness creeping over the Midwest and witness the changes it created in nature.

I just sat on the front porch in the dusk and listened to the crickets beginning to chirp at the early night, even though it was only 1:08 pm on Monday afternoon.  A solid peace overcame me as I contemplated my fascination with the dark heavens.  Some of my best memories are the moments of seeing shooting or falling stars.  I always felt a solid thrill race through me at this phenomenon.  I have seen many shooting stars over the years and they have never failed to elicit an unusual excitement within me.  It’s the unexpectedness of the heavens suddenly moving and displaying an immense, living essence that thrills me.

And that’s how I wanted to experience the solar eclipse of August 21, 2017.  I didn’t want to pay for glasses and “plan” to watch.  I wanted the eclipse to ease over me, taking me by surprise as it engulfed me in its unusual occurrence.  I wanted the eclipse to unexpectedly thrill me as if I had just seen a thousand shooting stars.

So, now, I sat in the darkness while taking deep breaths and contemplating the universe.

And then, something unusual happened.  After sitting in the darkness for a few minutes, there was a sudden snap as if a switch had been flicked and light suddenly began to shoot through the black afternoon.  The darkness had been gradual but the light seemed quick.

It made me think of the days when I would sink into a deep depression, an emotion that had the power to weigh me down and pull me under.  The feeling would come over me slowly until I felt trapped and could not find a way back out.  And then, when least expected, hope suddenly surges through me and immediately pushes me back to life in one swift breathless movement.  That’s what the eclipse was like for me.

I sat for a few more minutes as sunlight continued to chase away the night before I finally got up from the front porch and walked back inside the house.  And not a moment too soon.  Suddenly, with the eclipse passed, thunder echoed through the sky and a hard rain fell to the ground.  As lightning sliced the gray clouds, I walked back to my room with our three small dogs running along behind me.  The dogs made me laugh as they tripped over each other as they raced into my room and under the bed.  They pushed and shoved at each other as they battled for safety from the clashing storm.  I snuggled and played with the dogs for a while before shooing them back out of the room.  Only Starburst refused to leave.  She made me feel unconditionally loved as she cuddled up on my lap as I worked at the computer for the rest of the afternoon.

Later that day, dinner consisted of Chinese food and cake with my brother, Tony, and sister-in-law, Mary, when they came home for work.  As we easily talked and laughed together, I couldn’t help contemplating what a great day this had been.  And I realized then that as I get older I didn’t need big celebrations or expensive presents or huge crowds of people around me.  I just need peaceful moments, times that enhance my spirit and enliven my soul.  Without a doubt, this day, Monday, August 21, 2017, was one of the best birthdays I have ever had.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pennies from Heaven

When my mother was a small child, she always carried coins in her black-and-white saddle shoes for safekeeping.   It became a habit that she continued into her adulthood.  My mother always placed pennies in her shoes before putting them on her feet.  “It brings me good luck,” she would say whenever I questioned her about it.

I never could figure out how Mom’s ritual brought her good fortune, especially when her old shoes had numerous holes.  But my mother truly believed in her superstition and, I guess, there were a few times when it was a true blessing.  When I was a child, I remember watching my mother scrape spare change together from the bottom of her purse to pay for the weekly groceries.  If she was still a few cents short, Mom, standing right there in the check-out line, would step out of her shoes and pick out the coins that she had placed there for providence.  She would hand the coins to the cashier, and then, with her head held high, she would step back into her shoes, gather together her groceries and children and proudly walk out of the store.  Yeah, there were times when those pennies brought her real luck and good fortune.

Though I never put pennies in my shoes, there was another coin tradition Mom taught me that I completely embraced.  Mom believed in “pennies from heaven.”  Every time she randomly found a coin on the ground, Mom would tell me that an angel was watching over her.  Whenever angels are near they leave gifts of coins and feathers.  I have always had a great belief in angels and continually looked for spare change whenever I needed a boost of faith.  I rarely found the reassurance I was looking for.

Well, that was until my mother passed away on March 16 of 2010.  After that day, coins suddenly seemed to appear around me at the most random times and in the most unusual places.  From the very first penny I found after Mom passed, I truly believed it was a sign from heaven that she was still looking out for me.  And whenever I found more valuable coins I felt doubly blessed.  Whenever I find pennies, I always think of Mom and her ritual even though I keep the coins I find in a special glass vase and never in my sneakers.

For some reason, I’m not sure why, I suddenly thought of Mom and the spare change she kept in her shoes while I was at work on Easter Sunday.  I didn’t consciously concentrate on the memory.  It just came and went as a passing thought.

But that afternoon, my right shoes suddenly felt a little funny.  I took a few steps and felt a strange pressure at the bottom of my right toe.  I shook my foot trying to shake away the feeling.  It didn’t help.  Every step I took caused a small achy pressure into my toes.  I tried hard to ignore it.  I was at work and didn’t want to be bothered by something so trivial.  I knew there was something in my shoe but didn’t know what it was.  Finally, when the pressure was too annoying, I took off my right shoe, held it up over my left hand, and shook my sneaker.  To my surprise, a nickel fell out of my shoe and came to rest  in the center of my palm.

I stared at the coin in surprise.  I don’t know how the nickel suddenly got into my shoe that Sunday afternoon.  What an amazing Easter gift.  I whispered a quiet thank you to my mom and my many angels for always looking out for me.  Even though I had to work on this holiday, it was, without a doubt, the best, most blessed Easter I had  ever had.