At one point during my journey, I found myself constantly looking for stable employment. I was living far from home as a transplant in another state. I held on tightly to one of my Unity pamphlets and repeatedly read the quoted line, “Then saith He unto his disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few.”‘ (Matthew 9:37). It took a while for the meaning to sink in, but it gave me the courage to get out there and try to find work again.
I was hired on my first temp job and there I learned to stuff envelopes, neatly fold business letters and file in a filing room. One job led to another, and I ended getting a proofreading job through another temp agency in that state.
Now, as, I look back, I am stunned by the multiple skills that I have acquired along the way while keeping the cash flowing in to pay bills. I have learned to use business etiquette as I answered corporate phones. I cheerily greeted weary travelers who were coming into offices for high-powered meetings while working as a receptionist.
Temping also allowed me to manage different executives’ calendars and input data into an intricate engineering program. I even learned how to collate sheets and build presentation notebooks for an upcoming conference. I had to use Excel in-depth for one job and mastered using the sum icon to calculate the numbers on the spreadsheet.
Very importantly, during those years of temping in different cities, I learned how to build slide presentations. I even purchased a couple of how-to books to guide me as I continually worked on perfecting my ability to do it efficiently. At the time, I could not see that I was collecting and gathering a wide variety of things that I can now do with a level of ease.
Along with all of those temp jobs, there were so many other accolades. The settings were often refined and located in luxurious skyscrapers with breathtaking views. There were sometimes fresh cut flowers sitting around those offices to add to the welcoming atmosphere. I was also invited to a quite a few high-end office parties where the ambience was beautiful as I met many wonderful people along the way.
So, no. I did not get the big job with the fancy title. I did not get the 30-plus year retirement. I did not get the gold watch. But Lord, I received so very much more! And now, many of those skills still serve me today as a continue to work and labor during these present moments.
In the summer of 2002, me and my only friend in Boston braved a trip to Niagara Falls. We boarded a Sunshine Travel tour bus that left from Boston’s Chinatown, and we were the only non-Asians on the luxury bus. But we did not care because we were ready to latch on to a new adventure!
My traveling companion had told me months earlier that she had dreamt that we went to New York together. I had dismissed it as being far-fetched for I had no plans of going to NYC at that time. Little did I know that the gods had accurately sprinkled angel dust into her dreams. We did indeed go to New York together; just not New York City.
The bus was quite nice with all of the special amenities. She slept and I took in every sight as we traveled into new territory. We stopped and ate at an Applebee’s Restaurant in Waterford, New York. We later stopped somewhere else and enjoyed a hefty feast. I remember that a huge baked fish sat in at the center of the table along with other delicious side dishes. It was quite apparent that a lot of planning had gone into organizing this trip.
We further ventured into upper state New York and our first stop was the 1000 Islands where we watched several boaters celebrate Pirates Days. We even crossed the historic St. LawrenceSeaway on our open boat ride and later stayed over at the Knights Inn in Liverpool, New York. After heading back out, we rested on the bus as were looked forward to the main event – Niagara Falls!
At one point after dozing off, I woke up and noticed these huge rainbows as I looked out the window of the bus. I was amazed and wondered what was happening. As we got closer, I saw that we were actually approaching the Falls. I guess the water created the prism-like reflections in the sky.
I don’t recall the actual order of things, but I remember that once we were in the Niagara Falls State Park area, we decided to take a ride on the Maid of the Mist. During the time on the boat, we were so close to actual Falls that I thought that it was my last day on earth. It was terrifying and we were quite soaked before it was all over.
Yet, that did not deter us from testing our nerves nor verve. We later had to put plastic on over our shoes to experience The Cave of the Winds, as we walked along side of the mountain-like steps or wooden decks. Spectators from the top were looking down at us as if to say, “Wow! Why would you take that chance?” as we maneuvered the slippery walkways. Years later, I saw the movie Niagara with Joseph Cotton and Marilyn Monroe and I was reminded of those dangerous wet, scary redwood walkways.
Once we were back on dry land and had left the park area, we had another great meal at a Chinese restaurant. Our bus then headed back towards Boston, my temporary home. Helen Keller said it best when she wrote, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all!”
For years as I drove from state to state either in search for a better life or to care for loved ones. I had a silent divine covering in the trunk of my Mercury Monarch. It came in the form of a quilt made by my great-grandmother, Sophie. On many occasions, I used it for comfort in times of fear of the unknown.
Now, many years hence, I realize that my great-grandmother’s arms were silently hugging me as I drove throughout the Southeastern states. The love that went into that quilt blanketed me as it protected me, one of her descendants. I only met her once and as a very young child, I do not particularly remember her face.
However, I have a clear memory of her house. It felt warm and inviting after we had traveled in the hot sun to get there. My father parked under a shade tree across from her house, to cool us down. Once inside, I recall the long lace tablecloth that was draped across the dinner table in a dainty fashion. I also remember the hand-crafted doilies that sat on the arms of the furniture and decorated the room like fresh flowers. I have liked doilies ever since that day.
Little did I know that the same hands that adorned that house would one day offer me solace through a red quilt. It accompanied me for quite a few years and over many miles. My mother passed it on to me. And as fate would have it, that quilt offered me divine protection as a familial shield. So grateful!
Once we slow down and come to our senses, we can pull back our proverbial curtains. We look around and down at our feet and we may notice that it is already done. We used to sing that at one of our worship services in Atlanta. “It’s already done!”
Everything we really need is right there at our fingertips. As one friend used to remind me, “You are prepared!” Yet, somewhere in the midst of our fast movements through life, we forget that we had the wherewithal and subconscious presence of mind to continually prepare.
We did our homework even though we did not know exactly when this information would be needed for some future feat. However, we worked diligently and filed our work away in a safe place. And when the need arises, we can flip our rolodex and look through our files.
“Viola!” There it is. Just what we need! It has been sitting there quietly, waiting. If it could speak, it would say, “I was wondering when it would be my turn to help you advance your journey.” After having that oh yeah moment, we pull out our trusty, gathered information remembering that the legwork has already been done.
Now, it’s simply time to dig in and get busy. Quite like a sponge, we can soak up our handiwork and we give thanks for the golden fruits of our labor. We can now ease on down the road with all that we need in our hands!
Life is an adventure! It is comparable to snuggling up with a good book as we enjoy the journey of a special, fictional character. As in real life, there will be battles to fight, dragons to slay and challenges to overcome as we put one brave foot in front of the next one.
Good books take us on long adventures as we hold our breaths while our heroes and heroines fight the good fight. We pack our bags and take the plunge with them. We see Alice in Alice in Wonderland, Billy Bones in Treasure Island, Gulliver in Gulliver’s Travels or Janie in Their Eyes Were Watching God. Each one works to overcome individual fears and make it home again.
As we journey through life, we also cross over into uncharted territories. We may see scary creatures pop out of doors as in haunted houses in an attempt to stop us in our tracks; but we vow to keep it moving. Whether we are battling addiction, toxic relationships, joblessness, homelessness or harsh criticism, we can stay on the road and push through to the finish line. Quite like the characters in the classics, we too have a beginning, a middle and an end.
The good thing is that we have silent angels and helpers standing guard and keeping a high watch as we move through the invisible locks. They are hovered above offering us that divine protection. And when we are tired, we become like the weary travelers who tell the tales. We simply need time to rest, regroup and rejuvenate and tally our data.
We can take those great memories and impart what we have learned along the way! We have a lot to share with others in the forms of storytelling, writing, teaching or in photography. We are happy to say that we have lived!
As the French grandmother advised in the movie, An Affair to Remember, “Make your memories while you are young. Reflect when you are old.” With that advice in mind, we give thanks for the opportunity to have experienced such great adventures!
As a student at Hyde Park High School in Chicago, we prided ourselves on the fact that Aviator Amelia Earhart and Comedian Steve Allen had gone there. The other day, I decided to do a little fact-checking and yes, Wikipedia confirmed that the illustrious Amelia Earhart did walk those hallowed halls and graduated from there in 1916. She continually mystifies the aviation world who are determined to find out what happened to her and Noonan on that ill-fated flight.
We also, bragged about being ranked as 17th in the nation back then, during the volatile 1960’s. Amid the war, we had state-winning cheerleaders who reminded us that SUCCESS, is the way to spell success at Hyde Park High. That mnemonic devise still rings in my ears and has sustained me over the decades.
We also had many local greats that graduated from Hyde Park High such as Herb Kent, the Kool Gent. He reminded me that I was indeed a boss feznecki, (a good –looking girl) when I was going through the insecure pre-teen years. He interjected these hilarious stories with his silky-smooth voice as he played the latest hits on the radio.
We had great leaders and teachers who led the young charge such the memorable Timuel Dixon Black, my cousin, Johnella Wells and the tiny sheriff/ assistant principal, Ms. Stacker. (We all feared her and we often went in the opposite direction if we heard she was in the hallway.) Others such as Ms. McElroy (English), Ms. Marva Lee (PE), Ms. R. Johnson (English), Mr. Schwab (Science) all dot the lengthy list of teachers who guided us, admonished us, and steered us towards the finish line.
Brian Doyle wrote, “A great deal of who she really is are stories we do not know, stories she may or may not share, stories perhaps even she does not know the meaning and shape quite yet. People are stories,aren’t they?” (Martin Marten) Thus, I share this story of some of the experiences from a place that truly shaped me in multiple ways. Hyde Park High helped me build upon a good foundation and walk on into the future singing the Beach Boys, ‘Good Vibrations!’
We hear many conversations about generational wealth. It would indeed be great if that wealth was there to pass on to the next in line; however, if the funds are not there, it is another kind of wealth to be shared with others.
It is called inner wealth. It may not be a dollar amount, but the quality makes it priceless. It too takes time to amass and is quite comparable to building blocks on a solid, sturdy base. Its effects are both far-reaching and permanent!
Once the rust of growth pains have been somewhat scraped away or subsided, a huge mountain of wealth appears on the horizon. That inner wealth include a wealth of knowledge attained over the roads of life’s meandering journeys; a wealth of compassion and love to share with those that are hurting and a wealth of relation-building with those who have touched our lives.
That inner wealth also includes the consulting of experts and gurus who took the time to write down instructions for future followers. They left us pebbles of wisdom behind to guide us in applying financial laws or meditative techniques to help us remain calm during harrowing times. We can always re-visit their writings by reviewing our highlighted and underlined directions in our tattered books.
And quite like a pot of gold sitting at the end of a fresh rainbow, we realize that we have a lot to give, share and disseminate to others. Those with open ears, open hearts and open minds are ready to receive the gifts of our inner wealth. For them, we scoop up a big heaping of what we have and blow it to those who are saying, “Yes!” with open arms.