Monthly Archives: November 2014

Paying Debts

My beloved cousin, Kenneth wrote a poem called, Paying Dues, some time ago.  I thought of him and his poem today while creating this post.  We pay our dues and we pay our debts.  Nothing is given to us for free and we generally earn the things that we enjoy.  That includes our spiritual rewards and our material pleasures.

Spiritual rewards simply come by applying the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  It is a basic law that works and assures a rich harvest.  But sometimes, we miss the mark and when we do, it is our responsibility to ‘fess up’ and make amends whenever possible.  If an apology is due after an affront, then we should try to make things right or at least tolerable so all may live in peaceful co-existence.  Now, that is a term that I have not heard in a while.

On the material plane, it’s that time of year where many of us are creating a lot of debt in order to have a joyous holiday.  Those debts can add up as we shop. That little voice says, “Just one more thing, please.” And we go on and drop it in the cart and our credit cards moan in pain as we stretch them to their limits.  So, we have to make lists, schedules and get a handle on our debt.  Starting the New Year off in deep debt is never a good idea.

I personally try to keep my creditors quiet as I pay my debts and put one foot in front of the other. I may use a calendar or sheets of paper listing who’s owed and what amounts. Paying up can be a pain, but on the second thought, it is actually a pleasurable occasion. I am always happy when I have enough to use bill pay or write checks.

We should never pay those bills grudgingly because for every debt, there was a service rendered. It could be for our roofs, lights, phones or Internet service.  We should bless our providers and know that we needed their products to exist comfortably in 2014.

Being in the clear gives us a light feeling and a sense of liberty after we have handled the business at hand.  And while we are paying financial debts, we should also share our debt of gratitude with those people who helped us along the way. Their spontaneous assistance gave us a chance to be here to click the mouse!

Freedom is low overhead, “according to Various Attractions.

Lynn                                                                                                                            November 30, 2014

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Waterfronts

Charles and benches

I find waterfronts to be soothing! Different lakes and rivers have offered me comfort at varied points in my life. Each has its own of unique serenity and bounty.  I fare better in cities that have a waterfront.  I briefly lived in a couple of landlocked cities that only had man-made reservoirs; but having them was better than no water at all. Certain bodies of water have served as regular comforters.

Lake Michigan has been a stay in my life. Its blue, normally tame waters add to its special beauty.  Yet, it can become quite turbulent and its appearance can be deceiving.  During the summer months, there are a number of boating mishaps; but, for those who simply want to venture close and stay along the shore, it’s fairly safe.  Today, I saw dog owners letting their pets run freely along the beach.  The dogs truly enjoyed their freedom!

I‘ve take numerous walks on Lake Michigan and this year I have written quite a few blog posts at the 39th Street beach in the City. I used to sit and write on one particular bench labeled the Peace Grove.  It was dedicated by some group and I was always happy to see it empty as I rushed to occupy it. Or, I would sit on the rocks and write or stay in my car and write as I looked out over the lake’s horizon dotted with sailboats.

Then there is the mighty Mississippi River, known as Old Man River.  All who know her give her the utmost respect and stand in awe of her power.  There are many tales of its overflowing banks, drownings and its infamous suck holes.  The Mississippi is a force to be reckoned with; but it still offers solace to those who live nearby.

While living in the mid-south, my coworker, Donna and I would go to a place called The Pier located on the riverfront after work. We had seafood and wine as we watched the sun slowly descend as we rehashed the day’s events.  When the sun had set, we were ready to go home and renew.  It makes me think of one of William Faulkner’s pieces called That Evening Sun which speaks to the importance of seeing a day come to an end.  The sunsets over the Mississippi bluff are a beautiful sight to behold!

And then there are three waterfronts in the Boston area that I frequently visited. I would take the train to Revere Beach and spend time there.  It sits on the Massachusetts Bay and I would sit on the beach or under the gazebo. As I peered out over the horizon and its blue skies, the possibilities seemed endless. In about an hour or so, I felt refreshed and would head back to the train. I also went to Rowe’s Wharf which is located on the Boston Harbor.  There are benches available and I would sit close to the docked yachts and look at the water taxis as they came in from the airport. And, oh, there is the Charles River who became my friend. How could I forget?  I cannot count the days that I walked, sat, wrote and meditated there with my music. All three, ah, so healing!

Some people like to be on the water and that’s fine; but sitting on the banks is sufficient for me. Being close to the water allows me to breathe, exhale, renew and each visit gives me a new lease on life.

Lynn                                                                               November 29, 2014

Writing it Down!

writing-lists

How do some people get so much down?  How do they always seem to be ahead of the game?  They probably write things down and make lists. I have studied time-management and every moment counts for those of us who are serious about getting things done.  William Shakespeare said, “Make use of time; let not advantage slip.”

I make several lists throughout the day, but most certainly in the morning.  Yes, those ‘things- to- do’ lists actually do work quite well. I cross items off after the tasks have been completed.  Sometimes, I may have to move an item over to the next day.  As we all know, ‘the best laid plans of mice and men go astray.’  But having a visible list helps us keep those ‘must-do’s’ in the forefront of our minds.

There are several types of lists that can be kept to make sure we are in the progressive mode.  I keep lists for household chores, one for financial affairs and of course on-the job duties.  The household list includes whatever it takes to keep everything rolling along.  The financial one is a strategy for paying bills and the on-the-job list of course will vary.  But, we know what we were hired to do.

When I watch television, I still might be working on a project that is on my list.  I could be grading papers or doing some light writing. I can still listen to the TV show and look up at intervals.  Let’s face it; we all feel better when those things are DONE. We are all well-intentioned and we all have the lure of being a couch potato; but when tasks are completed, there is room for real enjoyment.

Nothing makes us feel more disjointed than procrastination.  We may not be able to pinpoint what is really bothering us, but we know that there is that this gnawing feeling which will not leave us alone.  We may try to relax, but that little voice seems to sit on our shoulders saying, “You know you need to get that done.”

I would say, go on and make those daily lists. Strike off things once they have been accomplished.  Then, the relaxing time is earned because you have stayed the course. Now, you can just be!   People may wonder how you get so much done.

Lord Chesterfield writes, “I recommend you take care of the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves.”

Lynn                                                                                          November 28, 2014

Travel Logs

I was going through some old papers the other day and I realized the importance of keeping a travel log. I wanted to blog about a literary experience that I‘d had over a decade ago. Thanks to my careful notes, I was able to relive that appointment and then revisit the time spent there.

We take so much for granted and sometimes we don’t take note of the details that we have witnessed. I have talked with people who have traveled to far and exotic lands and they cannot give me the type of description that I am looking for after having had such a great opportunity.

I want to hear about the landscape; the people and how they interacted; the food and the menus; the attire and etc.  I guess that is why I like travel shows.  I am always disappointed when travelers cannot make me feel as if I had been there. I wonder if they even noticed the surroundings or maybe their minds were just on other things.

The travel shows make me feel that I have had the experience to the point where I may feel that I  do not need to make that particular trip.  Details are really colorful and that is why I write things down.  I can pull out my notes from my travel log, add it to my memory and give a vivid account of my experience in that place.

We have all been inundated with those travelers who have brought out the old 300 slides of their summer vacation, back when the carousel was being used and bore us to tears.  Many times, 20 of the pictures looked identical and we cringed as we wondered when it would end.  So, no, that is not what I had in mind.

When someone asks us about our travel or a vacation that lets us know that they want to hear about our adventure. We can lean on our travel logs and give them a full description of that location. We should make them feel as if they have taken a flight there, by talking about the weather, the people, the scenery, the food, the fashions and the overall pace of life. We can also highlight those extra mini trips that were included in the travel package.

Then the listener might say, “Well, since you’ve  just  taken me there, I can use my vacation for the next place on my list!”

Lynn                                                                              November 27, 2014

We Give Thanks!

At this Thanksgiving season of 2014, we stop and give ample thanks to our heavenly Father who has reigned down superfluous blessings in our lives.

He has brought us through ‘many waters, meaning He has brought us out of many adverse situations or conditions.  He has sent “helpers” that we need to assist in sustaining us and who brought huge shoulders and protecting arms to engulf us.

He has seen to it that we have shelter.  Wayne Dyer says we should be thankful for our roofs.  Though we may have felt we wanted or deserved better shelters, we give thanks that we were under a roof and not outside fighting the elements such as rain, sleet, snow or frigid temperatures.

We have clothing.  They may not be the ‘threads’ (street lingo) that we once wore, but we still have clothes.  We are warm, comfortable and we have what we need. It is enough. For that, we give humble thanks.

We have food.  We are thankful for ‘our daily bread.’ It may appear to be an uncertain future, but our daily needs are met and a way is provided for us to nourish our bodies with the essential nutrients.  We send up a huge thanks!

We give thanks that we are able-bodied and can carry out our daily functions.  One minister said, “If you can look up, you can get up.” Each day we wake up and can get around, even with assistance, we still give thanks.

And we should all send up praises and thanks for seeing another Thanksgiving.  We have the opportunity to show reverence, have silent consecrated moments in the stillness and to share our voices of acknowledging the grace that has placed our feet on higher ground.

As we break bread on this Thanksgiving with our loved ones or alone, we should all remember that we are never alone.  There is an Invisible Presence that encompasses us, surrounds us, guides us and gently points the way.  It is our duty to listen and receive the directions.  And for that, we give eternal thanks!Thank You

Lynn                                                                         November 26, 2014

Walking

 

There is nothing like a good, brisk walk.  Henry David Thoreau said, “An early walk is a blessing for the whole day.” This morning, I parked my car quite a distance from where I needed to be because I wasn’t sure about where I was going.  A woman assisted me by pointing to the right building. She suggested that I go and get my car rather than make the long trek.  I started to take her advice, but then I thought about Thoreau’s quote and decided to walk.

The weather was dry, sunny and the air was quite crisp.  It was the perfect time to blow out those muddled thoughts and let the wind take them and drop them somewhere else.   A good walk is energizing any time of the day.  It pumps those leg muscles and clears away those mental cobwebs.

When we walk, it gives us new perspectives on things and helps us see situations and people from new angles.  We recognize our angels and we see the not so glorious, but mainly, we see more clearly.

I often walk on the lakefront and it helps me breathe as I enjoy nature.  The fresh wind blowing against my face is comparable to a morning facial washing after a good night’s sleep.  That fresh air is essential and it is also one of the first things that a good doctor advises.

For years, jogging was thought to be the most energizing mode of good recreation; but it was later discovered, that a nice walk is adequate enough.  The southern malls used to open its doors to the local residents for morning walks before the stores opened. This was a safe environment for many of the seniors. I don’t know if this is still being done, but it was very popular at the time.

A few years back, my mother and I used to take advantage of a local high school’s race track for our evening strolls.  Many people from the community were also out there walking at different paces. Some had on headphones as they listened to music; some conversed with their walking partners and others just listened to their own thoughts or to the sounds of nature.  It was a wonderful way to de-stress after the work day.

Yes we will walk with a walk that is measured and slow.”  (Where the Sidewalk Ends-Shel Silverstein)

I thought about famous paintings of people taking a walk, stroll or une promenade.  One that comes to mind is Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte later made into a musical called A Sunday in the Park with George.  There is nothing like a relaxing walk!

Sunday in the Park w George

Lynn                                                                                                        November 25, 2014

 

The Baha’i House of Worship

Bahai Temple 11-14

I wrote an article about this magnificent structure many years ago.  As I revisited it today, the same feelings came rushing back.   I came around the curve,  looked to my left and there sat the Baha’i House of Worship.  It’s a breathtaking sight because it’s like seeing the Taj Mahal in a residential area.  The majestic structure stood with all of is elegance waiting to be noticed.  It was just as I remembered it!

Initially, I parked in a lot that said Baha’i House of Worship, but I thought, this must be an overflow lot. So I went to where I remembered the lot used to be located near Linden Avenue; but the spiritual hand knew what was right. I was in the right spot at the first turn.

The old parking lot was under repair, so I went back the first parking lot. The minute after I got out of the car, I took a picture of the temple from across the street.  It demands that type of attention and I could not wait before capturing my first shot.

I crossed the street. The weather was dry and sunny.  I  walked to the temple  as the crisp morning refreshed my spirits.  I climbed the steps knowing that I was in for a pleasant experience.  Once I reached the entrance, two greeters opened the door with welcoming smiles.  I was guided to pick up a few brochures. I then headed into the sanctuary and found a place to sit in the plush chairs.

There were a handful of people sitting in quiet meditation.  I sat down in the serene atmosphere.  The only sounds were those of the lawn mowers from outside.  I felt the same sense of awe that I had felt years ago as I looked around at the sacred beauty of the décor.  The lace-like walls, the golden lamp posts, the fresh flowers on both sides of the podium were some of the first items that I noted.

I decided to jot down a few things and commit them to memory.  The sun came through the oblong windows and as I looked up, the windows on the second level had sheer white curtains which gave a nice calming effect.  I sat for a moment, closed my eyes and simply took it all in as I let go of some of my own personal concerns.

I opened my eyes and looked up at the unique design in the ceiling.  I wanted to get the description right so I looked back on the words I had previously written. They read, “The dome-like top of the building symbolizes the nine fingertips ‘touching to praise God.’ The lace-like pattern typifies the inter-woven religions of all men.”  .  One of the newly acquired brochures reminded me that, “The Baha’i faith is open to all people and focuses on the oneness of humanity and dignity of every human being.”

I continually sat and enjoyed the silence.  I felt safe and secure by merely being in  this presence and further cleared my mind.   I considered staying for the 12:30 afternoon devotion, but my time there had been sufficient.  I was ready to go back out and face the world, but more fortified.

There were several sayings and scriptures displayed around the walls. As I looked at the other people in deep contemplation, I knew we were on a common mission. I felt connected to the others and reconnected within myself. I chose this saying from the wall. “Ye are the fruits of one tree!” I left the Baha’i House of Worship feeling a sense of renewal and  went on to enjoy the rest of the day.

IMG_1009

 

Lynn                                                                                                  November 23, 2014

 

 

 

So Glad!

Hindsight is 20-20! When you look back at some of the things, situations or people you thought you wanted in your life and did not get them, you may later breathe and say,” Thank goodness!” And you can inaudibly add, “So glad.”

It’s like going to your class reunion and seeing the old heart throb of the senior class.  Now, he is old, graying, overweight and has a nondescript job.  He can be equated to the literary term ne’er-do- well.  In fact, he is hardly recognizable!  You chuckle to yourself and go, “Hmmm.”

You may attend a class reunion and see your former classmates. You are so glad that the planning committee had the foresight to use the yearbook pictures as name tags to help you make the connections.  As you greet and shake hands, you may look up at the person, then at the picture.  You look up at the person and then at the picture.  Again, you look up at the person and then at the picture and finally you might think and say, “Oh yea!” as if to say, he is in there somewhere.

At the grocery store, you may run into an old boyfriend or girlfriend, who you thought you simply couldn’t live without.  You thought that they were the finest specimen of a human being you’d ever met.  Then, you lean hard on your memory and you compare it to the person standing in front of you and you silently say, “So glad.” (I am so glad that it did not work out!).

Oh, it could be a profession that you thought you really wanted. You look at those who did make the grades and were given the rites of passage.  But you look at their stress levels from what they do on a daily basis and once again, you exhale and say, ‘So glad!” (You wonder where you would be if you had gotten it.)

It could be of a particular job in which you thought you’d be great.   Then you discover that the company is in shambles or no longer exists.  If it is still open, it could be in constant upheaval or being run by the mediocre. You hear from those who work there and you sigh and say “Oh.  So glad!”

And last, you think of a lifestyle that you thought you really wanted.  You happen to converse with others who have been living that life for a while. After they have shared the depths of their burdens, distresses and responsibilities, you quickly realize that it is not all that it is cracked up to be.  You step back from that talk, breathe and again you say, “So glad.” This time you might say it out loud!

As one minister said, “Be content where you find yourself!  The universe knows where you should be and what you should be doing!  So glad!

Lynn                                                                                          November 21, 2014

Brrr!!!

Brrr

It is cold!  I thought I had dressed for the winter blast, but when the wind hit me this morning, I felt like I had on summer clothes.  My turtle neck, two layered set of items, a winter hat and winter jacket simply were not enough.  Brrr!!!!

Okay, I thought,’ When I go back out, I know what to do.’  It’s time to pull out the real reinforcements like extra scarves, long johns and the whole nine yards.  I got over the shock of how cold it actually was and my car even winced as I warmed her up.   I wanted to say, “Welcome to winter, my sweet.”

So, the two of us, my car and me, did a quick attitude adjustment and admitted, ‘Hey, it is mid-November.’  After we both warmed up and started our journey, I noted how others were faring in the cold. I saw one bicyclist who had on a full face mask, with sunglasses!   I could not see him, but he obviously could see us, as he navigated his way through traffic.

One woman was standing on the street between two cars  with a small child in tow.  Her jacket was wide open and she didn’t have on a hat. She was looking quite distressed.  I first thought that she was going to her car, but as I looked in the rear view mirror, I saw that she was actually crossing the street.   I looked to the left and saw a school. and knew where she was headed with the toddler.  I know that this mother had not listened to the weather report before she came out. She had to be freezing.

The frigid temperatures were deceptive because it was dry and sunny.  But once the wind started to pierce those ear and finger tips, it was clear that this was a serious situation.  It had snowed earlier, but the wind chill came roaring in with a vengeance.

I continued on my journey and noticed the steam and vapor coming from the back of the city bus.  It was as if the bus was saying, ‘I am functioning, but this weather is requiring all I’ve got.’  If only buses could talk!

I saw a Metra train to my left zooming by and all seemed to working well there.  I imagine that it was filled with warm, comfortable passengers.  My experiences with Metra have always been good.  But, sure enough, later  on the evening news, they too had their share of problems.  The cold had affected their equipment and the machinery was also feeling the pain.

Amtrak rolled by and seemed to be chugging along with no problems.  As I sat at stop lights, I had the opportunity to observe several modes of transportation.  I later reached my destination, giving thanks for heat and some good music.  That always helps any commute and once I arrived to where I was going,  I parked with ease.

But the minute I got out of the car, I felt as if I was in Alaska.  I had to get something from the trunk and I had to do a little dance to keep my energy flowing as I searched for the items.  I left the cutesy gloves in my pocket and quickly reached for my lined gloves that I keep in the car.  When, I finally pulled it all together, I walked briskly, almost in jog-mode to the entrance of the building.

When I entered the business, I exhaled when I felt the  warmth and comfort.  I sighed, “Yes!”  It was a brief visit, but the reprieve from the cold was nice and comfy. When it was time to go back out and brave the elements again, I took a deep breath, made sure I was all wrapped up and when I opened the door, all I could say was “Brrr!”

Lynn                                                                                     November 19, 2014

 

Joy!

Joy comes in the morning

Joy is when we wake up from a bad dream and know that it was only a dream!  As the Biblical quote goes, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalms 30:5

There is nothing like seeing the sunlight peeking through your window as a rooster somewhere cock-a- doodle doooo’s saying, “Get up! Time to rise and shine!  Time for a new and fresh start.  As Benjamin Franklin reminds us, “The early bird catches the worm.”  So each day is a joy- filled chance to put some more seeds in the ground or cut back some of the growth already there. One thing is certain; each new day brings the opportunity to put some new things in place that will sprout in the future.

In my novella, A Golden Leaf in Time Revised. Phoenix is poignantly named for the phoenix bird, which renews and awakens each day to begin new possibilities.  She vows to take action and works towards bringing more positive experiences into her world.  Modern Thought, a work from 1889 said, “Action goes farther than speculation; it changes possibilities or simple probabilities into realities.”

So, as one scripture says, ‘Count it all joy’ as we progress from one step to the next.  Joy is when we can look back for a brief moment, reflect and see what ‘by-products’ we have produced as a result as our labors.

It could be a happy healthy child, an accomplished adult-child who makes us smile; a student sent into the world adequately able to compete because of good teachers; or a minister who saved a soul by showing someone the assets of living a clean, moral life.

Joy comes in so many forms wrapped in a variety of illusive baskets.  There are numerous things that occur in a single day that bring us joy. Oh, if we only had time to stop and jot them down!  It could something as simple as hearing a song on the radio that makes us smile, reminisce or even dance in our seats.

There are the small things that keep us feeling uplifted and  joyful such as a brief chat with someone while waiting in line; or a friend checking to see if we are okay; a light snack that hits the spot or laughing at a joke told by some comic on television.

Joy comes in a host of hardly noticeable ways and each day we should give thanks because we are alive. Thich Nhat Hahn titled one of his books, Breathe, You are Alive.  One of his breathing exercises reads, “Breathing in, I feel joyful.  Breathing out, I feel joyful.”  Breathe and enjoy your life!

Lynn                                                                                  November 17, 2014