Worlds are there in books

readI have been a reader my whole life. I don’t know how old I was when I started reading but I do know that books have always been my friends. I still have a lot of books in my house. My husband told me that if I brought another book into the house I had to take one out so I bought a Kindle.

For years reading was how I remained sane when I was on the verge of panic. I could lose myself in a book and escape. I have some books that I have read over and over. I put them on the shelf for a few years and then pull them down and read them again. It is like visiting an old friend.

I love my Kindle but I still like holding a book in my hands. There is something about the feel of the page that is special to me. I hope that with all the electronics we don’t do away with books. It would be terrible not to have libraries to browse in. It is so different from looking up books on line.

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I read everything from fiction to the orange juice container. I think one of the best ways to learn to write is to read. Reading increases your vocabulary and your knowledge. I want to keep reading and learning until my life ends.

Don’t give up

Acceptance. A powerful word. A word that can take time, struggle and sometimes agonizing over. Reaching it can make you go through the storm with no umbrella.

The medicine that worked for my IBSD last time doesn’t seem to be doing the same thing. I will continue to hope that it will at last work but in the meantime I need to think about moving forward where I am.

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To just sit and  bemoan what is happening doesn’t help. It is best to reach an acceptance and go to plan B or Z if that is necessary. Moving on is what has kept me afloat for all these years. Sometimes I enjoy wallowing in misery for a short while but that doesn’t really help.

Sometimes we would just like to get in the bed and pull the covers up but life tends to make us get up. At least if we want to live life we have to get up.

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Don’t ever give up and let set backs push you into a hole. Life is better if you take a good breath, fuss about your problems, and go on.

 

Watch! You may find wisdom

Each of us has a story. Story is so important. It sticks with us so much more than classes or text books. We often think of story as fiction but so many wonderful stories are true and the people were real. Some of the greatest learning experiences have been taught with the use of story. I had a history professor in college who said that good historical fiction taught us more about lives in the past than anything else.

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Story also comes from TV, movies and our own lives. Lately I seem to find great meaning in the oddest movies or programs.

I can’t begin to count the wisdom I have acquired in stories…. fiction and non-fiction. I often find a quote that I have to ponder on. I actually keep a handwritten quote book with things that have taught me or touched my heart. Here are several of my favorites:

Any man who thinks he can describe love understands nothing about it. From “The Gargoyle” by Andrew Davidson

To live is to dance in and out of the shadow of joy. From the blog “The Death Project.”

Hate is a very big, very hungry thing with sharp teeth. It will eat up your whole heart and leave no room left for love. From the movie “Amish Grace.”

We have the best system of government the world has ever seen but it is only as good as the people in charge. From the TV show “Madame Secretary.”

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Wisdom shows up in the most unexpected places. We have to pay attention to catch it. The things you learn are worth the effort.

 

Religious Literacy

Religious illiteracy is a luxury (we) they can no longer afford. Barbara Brown Taylor in “Holy Envy.”

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I am loving the book “Holy Envy” which is Taylor’s  reflections on teaching a course in World Religions. This really jumped out at me. In today’s world we cannot be ignorant of the tenets of other faiths. No matter what our job other’s beliefs will touch us in some way.

Years ago, when I worked in the hospital, we had to be aware of the needs of the Gullah people who live off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina on small islands. Much of their culture has now been lost due to encroachment on their islands but they had ideas that impacted their healing. Blue is a very auspicious color for them and selecting a blue hospital room, when possible, could enhance their recovery.

The world has grown so small that we can’t afford to discard other beliefs just because we don’t agree with them. At some time we will be interacting with those of another faith and would do well to understand backgrounds and customs.

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Placing other faith’s tenets beside our own can expand our understanding of our own…..that is if we are not afraid of really exploring with an open mind. Being fearful or unwilling to step outside of our comfort zone exposes how little we have tested and explored our own faith.

Don’t be afraid to talk with others openly about their beliefs and be willing to accept where they are.

Discernment

Finally got to a computer at my daughter’s house. I can’t blame them it is my own relaxation that has stopped me from writing. It is nice to take a break.

I have been doing a lot of reading and just being. Spending time with this family is a boost in intellectual conversation and different foods. My son-in-law is a great chef and we have been indulging.

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It has also been time to consider my life in the scheme of things and I am mostly content with where I am. Sometimes there is that nudge to stretch out and do something more but my sense is that what I have is enough. Overextending can leave us with not energy. Then our ability to be creative is stifled. I have had to wean myself from some of my former passions and learn to be comfortable with where I am.

This is a difficult thing to do. There is always the pull wanting to go back but different times in live require different things of us. It is so tricky to discern what is called for. Life always throws us curves and makes us take a few steps back and reevaluate.

Image result for discernment quotesOne of life’s challenges is knowing what is called for at each stage of our life. To do that we have to take a hard look at where we have been and where we need to go. Sometimes we don’t want to take the time to do that processing and we end up in a quandary. We can be too hard on ourselves.

We must spend time “centering down” and living with quiet. it is crucial to our well being.

Explore options

My husband has taught me over the years some comments that he lives by. One of my favorites is “there is always a solution…it may not be the one you envisioned or wanted but there is one.”

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I have so often found this to be true. Sometimes the idea that we have can’t be done the ordinary way. We don’t need to give up but be willing to search until we come up with something else that will work. This kind of thinking has lead me to be creative in my solutions and come up with ideas that I might not have found before. It helps me to not give up.

Over the years I have seen my husband (a structural engineer) receive awards for buildings that he was told “it can’t be done that way.” He does it. It works and stands the test of time.

I know that over the years he has learned things from me too. I am a people person and am astute at judging motives and at nudging out the truth. People usually open up to me. I am absolutely no good at math and engineering. I have always been the literature/psychology person.

When I was young I wanted to be a nurse but thought I couldn’t get through the science part to get to the people part. My first college degree was History/Music. Later in life I made up my mind to defy my fears and sturdy nursing. I found out I could do the science since I love learning about human anatomy, diseases and how to help those with problems related to them.

My people skills led to living the last 20 years of my career as a parish nurse. This brought all of my experience, skills and faith and wrapped them up in one package. It was an amazing experience.

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I always tell young people to not worry if they don’t know their passion or their path right away. Just leap out and do something. You have time to do many things and pursue many ideas in your life. Never give up exploring. Something you thought early on may change with time and experience. It is never too late to make changes if you have the desire and the drive to do it. As my husband’s quote says there always is a solution. It may not be the first one you find. Jut keep on and try different things until it works!

Life has meaning

I read a blog today that was an interesting discussion. There was much back and forth about life and death. It was quite technical. At some point a meaningful life was mentioned and it seemed to me to most participants completely let that drop for more esoteric thoughts.

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I am totally concerned about life having meaning. At this time in my life I have no doubts that mine does. This may be hubris on my part but over the years I can see where something that I did or said changed something or someone. I have had people that I don’t even remember who they are come up and say that I changed their life. I can’t remember what I said or did but that doesn’t matter. Somehow, at the time, I was blessed with the right thing to say. Does this mean that I am special? No way. I was just a catalyst…a stop on the road.

For me, these are the things that make life meaningful. Was I able to help someone? Was I in the right place at the right time? Did the right things come to me out of the blue? Yes! It was not me. It was God, or a higher power, or coincidence. Whatever works for you. But this is what helps me to understand how our lives are meaningful.

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Loving, giving and sharing our stories and our pains helps others along the path. Because of this I can know that even when I messed up my life has had meaning. I plan to keep on loving and giving until the day I die.

Shared wisdom

gardentimeToday was my first major day of gardening ending my lull during winter. Now I need to keep to a schedule or else the whole thing will become overwhelming. I worked so hard last year to get things to a maintenance state so I hope this year will be easier. We have a huge yard with lots of leftover plantings my grandmother did. Some of it is wonderful but some things completely took over after she died my aunt was in charge. She kept near the house neat and ignored the rest. After clearing out last year I can now recognize the places where some change needs to take place. I can get that done this year and be in good shape.

I like some gardening. it is really good exercise and fun to see the results but I don’t want to feel that it demands my attention every day. There is something about planting something and seeing it grow that gives me a sense of the continuity of life.

seed growingA friend gave my grandmother a needlework picture that says: “Who plants a seed beneath the sod and waits to see believes in God.” I have this memento hanging in my house and love it!

 

My grandmother was an amazing person. She was born in the 19th century and lived to be 100 years old. I often went to her for advice and to tap into her wisdom. She grew up on a rice farm and watched the help beat the rice in a large mortar and pestle and throw it into the air to let the wind take the chaff away. She played the pump organ at her church and loved music. I was blessed to have her in my life.

I hope that those growing up now are taught to respect and appreciate their elders. There is so much that can be learned from those of us who have lived and learned. Our experience is there to share and it’s free.

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Choose life

It is difficult to face each day thinking that whatever chronic problem you have will never change. Yet, there are people who do and live fully each day. Their “fully” may not look like yours and mine but for them it is enough.

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How do we learn to live in the “enough?” I do wonder. Could I do it? I don’t know and I have to say I don’t want to find out. Maybe the stressors that have been present in my life would have swamped someone else. Maybe each of us can best manage our own problems. I have mentioned before that at a conference the leader asked everyone to write their biggest and most pressing problem on a sheet of paper. Those were passed forward and put in a jar. She then asked if anyone would like to come and draw one out and take it on. There were no takers.

Our expectations of life can be so extravagant and unreasonable. I know that those who grew up in problem homes may not have seen things that way but many of us did. We want everything to go exactly the way we want. We don’t look for life to knock us down. When I grew up with IBSD I thought it was normal. In those days people didn’t talk about it. For that reason I just accepted it and moved on with my life. Fortunately, I had some breathers between episodes so I coped pretty well. I just battled through when it caused anxiety and depression. I guess in some ways ignorance was bliss.

I know so many people who are living with issues that seem insurmountable to me. I think I would be crushed by them but they are living each day. On Word Press I read someone who has ALS and writes about his faith and love for his family. I used to visit a lady who had lived her whole life with Cerebral Palsy, in an electric wheel chair. Part of it was spent in a nursing home as a young adult. (imagine having to live with only the elderly for company in your youth) She was able to live in an apartment after changes were made in disability coverage. She was always cheerful and grateful for her life.

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It is people like them who help us to see that life is about choices. Will I choose to live a life of “poor me” or one that is grateful for each day no matter how difficult. We are entitled to get down but not to stay there. We have to learn to continue learning, being grateful for life, coping and growing.

 

Education at home and in the world

What we are taught from childhood on is what carves us into the people we are now. Children absorb not only what they are told but also what they see. Their world is their home and family. What happens there sets the path.

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Have we been teaching children to think only of themselves?

Have we taught intolerance?

Have we taught hatred?

Have we belittled them?

Or have we taught love?

Kindness?

Caring?

Education is not just what we learn in school. That is important and the more we learn the more we can understand about the world around us. The more we learn about the lives of others the less likely we are to be intolerant. However, learning in early childhood is crucial.

Every kind of education is necessary to make the world a better place. We must help families to teach their children well. We need to marry what we learn at home with what we learn of the world. The more knowledge the better. Never stop learning.