Monthly Archives: August 2015

Walk Away

Many years ago, I saw the movie Valley of the Dolls which centered on the lives of three young women.  Each had challenges thrown at them but I always strongly identified with the actress Barbara Parkins’ character.  She played Anne; Patty Duke played Neely and Sharon Tate played Jennifer.  At the end of the film, I remember Barbara Parkins walking down a sidewalk and simply moving on with her life.

That image has greatly encouraged me to continually move on.  It may be with a tear-stained handkerchief in hand and several emotional scars, but advancement to the next level of existence is a necessity. One poet from the Memphis area named W. Herbert Brewster wrote a poem called, Be Proud of Your Wounds and Scars.  I recall how one co-worker read it in a library setting.  She read it with such animation and emphasis.  She pounded her fist like a judge does an anvil as she repeated the chorus.

Though inner pains may slow our normal quick pace, we too can walk away from situations that continually bring us heaviness and gloom.  We can salvage ourselves and look for the lessons.  We can learn from the role we adversely played so that we will never have to repeat that pain again.  It  only holds us back when we don’t understand what we need to do to break the negative cycle and stretch out in a linear fashion.

Sometimes, as Barbara Parkins’ character realized in Jacqueline Susann’s book, Valley of the Dolls, we have to leave certain people behind.  It could be a do or die situation.  Either she had to leave it or it would have completely destroyed her. She chose life and I will always remember how she decided that a solo flight was better than no flight at all.  Her other two friends were not as fortunate.  One succumbed to death and the other was heavily addicted to pills and she was not likely to overcome the use of them.

Valley of the Dolls

Kenny Rogers sang  these lyrics from The Gambler:

“You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em,

Know when to fold ’em,

Know when to walk away.”

Lynn M.

August 10, 2015

The Dump Truck!

How is it that people remember one’s gifts when they need a sounding board?  That person may be tucked away or virtually forgotten until….until, a crisis arises.  A crisis?  Yes, I fear.  A crisis. They do come.

 “Life is like the oceans’ waves that ebb and flow. The storms of life surely come and they surely go.” 

And when they do, people need to let it out.  They need someone who will listen.  Really listen and not just go ‘uh-huh.’ They need that quiet, one-on-one attention as they spill the beans.  My cousin, Johnella, called it dumping. They need someone who is patient, compassionate and caring to simply listen.

When the trouble button is tapped, people go here and there telling their tales of woe.  They talk to this person and to that person but as The Rolling Stones sang, they Can’t Get No Satisfaction.  Even after talking and talking, the pain lingers. The anguish only seems to surmount.  And then, the light bulb goes on and they say, “Oh yeah.  I know who will hear me out.”

It is like that old commercial when the older brothers needed someone to taste a certain food that they did not like or want.  They said, “Give it to Mikey.”  Little innocent Mikey was the younger brother, still in a high chair, who gladly took the unwanted food.

Case and point?  That is what the heavy-hearted do.  In their fog, they slowly remember the listener with the patience of Job.  They then take their dump truck filled pain, loss, disappointment, heartbreak, outrage and disenchantment, to name a few and back it up into that trusted person’s driveway.

They flip that lever that releases the back of the truck in an upward motion and all of their sorrows tumble to the ground.  They walk away breathing easier and feeling lighter after having let it go from their minds and hearts.  It has been aired.  The burdens have been lifted.

The dumping has left both the listener and the speaker feeling an airy lightness because the weight has been tossed to the wind. It is always good to have a reliable place to serve as a landfill.

The listener is wise enough to keep that magical extinguisher handy for times such as these. This silent reminder says, “It’s no thing on me. It’s not mine. Thank goodness.” They can simply go back to whatever was happening before the truck came and breathe knowing that as Euripides said, “Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness.” 

Lynn M.                                                                             August 9, 2015

Dump truck

A Clearing: Short Story (Part 3 of 3)

Lynn M.'s Reflections

Daniel and Mira continued their private therapy sessions. He talked and she listened with little input. He informed her during one of her visits that the team of doctors said that his healing was miraculous. She beamed upon hearing this report and again said virtually nothing. But she thought, “Healing is holistic.”

Listening to Daniel and his philosophy on life was opening new ways of thinking for her. She was seeing greater possibilities just by listening to a man with an entirely different mindset from Brian’s. Daniel continually improved and regained his strength.  One night, during her shift, he said that he wanted to walk down the hall.  He had been practicing with the physical therapist so this was an approved move.

She helped him up and handed him his deep maroon robe.  She noted that it was quite plush and she could tell that it was quite expensive.  She…

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A Clearing: Short Story (Part 2 of 3)

“Hi Mira,” he smiled.

“Hello, Daniel,” she answered warmly.  His smile gave her a good feeling.  It seemed to say, ‘I’m glad you are here.’  This was quite different from the way Brian made her feel.  His curt responses made her feel as if she irritated him in some way.

“So-o-o, Daniel,” she rolled it out slowly.  I have thirty minutes.  Talk.  Pour.  That is if you still want to talk,” she said in a perky voice.

“Oh, yes. I do.”  He carefully adjusted his position on the bed. He did not want to disturb the attachments.

“Mira.  You are a sweetheart for listening.  Somehow, I felt that you were someone who had a listening ear and I have some things that I need to get off my chest,” he added.

“Okay,” she said.

He began.  “About three years ago, I met this girl or shall I say, woman.  We became close and I eventually asked her to marry me.  She suggested that we live together first.  I did not really like the idea, but thought, Oh well.  Everybody else seems to be doing it.”

‘Like me,’ Mira thought privately.

“Things were going along fairly well until one of her old girlfriends came back into her life.  I noticed some changes in her behavior but did not think too much about it. She became more callous and had this sense of entitlement like a queen bee.

That was the first red flag, but I did not notice a big change in our routine. She seemed to talk even faster and did not give me time to think on many occasions. We were both so busy working and it was hard to pinpoint exactly what was going on.

To make a long story short, Mira, I found out that she had been defrauding me by duplicating private papers and documents and making use of them in devious ways. The details are too much to share and I am still  tied up in legal proceedings.  I guess you never really know people.  Things happened gradually but the results caused a sharp pain deep down within which contributed to my physical state. Let’s just say I got burned. I was totally caught off guard and I am still playing catch-up from her actions.

She decimated me and she broke my heart.  I thought I was a better judge of character, but obviously I was not.  I thought I knew her better than that but when it rains, it pours.  My doctor advised me to slow down and get myself together.  Otherwise, he warned me, I was headed towards some type of threatening disaster.  I heeded his warnings a little too late and here I am.  I believe that I was more into her than she was into me,” Daniel continued.

‘Obviously,’ thought Mira who crunched down on her apple as the tale was told.

“I am an only child.  Parents deceased.  No first cousins.  I thought, Debra and I would create that family,” Daniel went on.

‘Debra.  Humph,’ thought Mira as she continued to chew, never speaking a word.

She threw a handful of raisins in her mouth in an effort to remain healthy as well as to keep her thoughts to herself.  Listening to Daniel’s voice was like listening to a melody of a singing bird.  Even though it was woeful tale, there was something about his presence that had staying power.  She did not feel anxious nor in a hurry to exit the room as she often did with unhappy patients.

She compared Daniel to Brian.  Here was a man pouring out his heart.  Brian shared very little with her.  If he did, she would better understand why he was so agitated.  Daniel wanted a wife and a family.  Brian almost went berserk whenever the word marriage was mentioned.

Daniel paused and took a drink of water.  She looked at the clock and realized that her break was over and she had to return to her duties.

“Daniel. I have to get back to work.  Would you like to continue this tomorrow night?  It looks like you will be here for a while,” she said.

“I would like that very much,” he said in an exhausted voice.  It was as if the wind had gone out of him.

She packed up her things and heard a gentle snore.  She sighed and with a sense of new energy, she returned to her nightly duties. That evening, time seemed to fly by. Before she knew it, it was time to punch out and go home.

Lynn M.                                                                 Originally written: October 19, 2014

A Clearing: A Short Story (Part 1 of 3)

Lynn M.'s Reflections

Mira punched in as the night nurse at the city’s hospital.  She checked the charts to see what rounds she had and which patients she would be attending to that night.  She looked at her image in her pocket mirror and saw how haggard she actually looked.  She sighed,  “At least, I made it to work.”

She had been up during her sleep time arguing with her live-in boyfriend.  Mira was trying to make sense of it all, but the haze enveloped her.  She simply knew that she could not go on like this.  Something had to give.

She momentarily forgot her woes as she reviewed the patient charts.  There was a new patient and from what she could tell his prognosis did not look good. He had had surgery and she saw that he was 42 as she was. Her jaw dropped when she saw that they had the…

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Two Festivals in One Day!

On Saturday I went to two fests! Yes, two.  First, I went the Lakeshore Arts Festival held along the lakefront.  It’s amazing to see how a place can be transformed from the everyday appearance. The tents were situated around the pond and this time, Evanston decided to put the music stage at the base of the pond.

I strolled through and saw all of the magnificent artwork such as paintings of fireflies, ink etchings, hand-crafted clothes, jewelry to wood cut pieces.  The wood cuts were as small as coasters for only $3.00 to large chess boards with all of the pieces which were probably priced in the hundreds.  There were so many choices.

I simply browsed and when I heard a group come on stage, I sat on the lawn along with many others.  This was an acoustic blues duet from the Mississippi Delta.  I read the line-up and saw that they were Donna Herula and Tony Nardiello.  She played a slide guitar and he played both guitar and harmonica.  They played and sang such tunes as “Gonna Move to Kansas City,” and “What is the Soul of a Man?”  I enjoyed listening to them and later read on-line that they are a husband and wife team.

The people were very quiet and peaceful as they moved from one tent to the next.  It was a serene atmosphere and there was a light breeze on that picture perfect day.  People were making purchases and walking away with smiling faces and new wares in hand.  After the group finished entertaining us, I got up and walked to my car in an unhurried pace.  Though I made no purchases, I still left feeling a sense of calm and delight.

The other fest was the Gospel Fest.  As I walked up, I snapped a picture of the sign.  This was a first for me and I had a feeling that this was also going to be a fulfilling event.  When I reached the stage area, there was a youth choir singing on the outside tarmac.  They were standing on temporary bleachers and had on red tee shirts which read Camp Tag-Along.  They were filled with energy as they sang and quite cute!

I stood for the first hour and swayed to the music. Neither the standing nor the sun bothered me because the music was so uplifting.  The Master of Ceremonies had a wonderful sense of humor and he kept us laughing between performances.  He often joined in and sang with the choirs as well.

After standing for about an hour, I noticed that more chairs had been added.  I took a seat because I was not ready to leave.  More church choirs took to the stage and some of the youth sang and did praise dancing.   One little group of girls did their mime to the Kirk Franklin’s Imagine Me. Half of their faces were painted white to match their white tutus. They did a memorable and animated performance.

I ended up staying at the Gospel Fest for two hours.  The singers ministered to us by raising their voices in song.  One soloist Ms.Tina Bennett sang and she brought us to tears.  I was later able to touch her hand and let her know how much her beautiful voice meant to me.

On my way out, I ordered some barbecue to take home.  But just as I was about to go, I heard a group singing Hezekiah Walker’s Every Praise. I could not leave yet so I lingered and listened with my barbecue in hand until they finished!  Then, I went on to my car feeling satisfied. Two festivals in one day! What a gift!

Lynn M.                                                                              August 2, 2015

Summer’s End


As the summer begins to wind down, many of us will wonder, “What did I do?  Where did I go?  Did I have any fun?  Was it an enjoyable summer?”  William Shakespeare wrote, “Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”

For those of us who live in the Midwest or in any city that gets all four seasons, we can simply sigh and say, “Amen,” to his quote.  Summer is just too short.  We wonder if we’ve had the opportunity to wear all of our summer wear before….well you know.  It’s too hard to write.  The chill, the cold, the snow and so on and so on.

August is the time to get in gear for the serious business ahead.  Whether one is an educator or a parent, August means the beginning of school in most of the districts.  It is time to give attention to our children as we buy those supplies, new school uniforms or clothes and get those haircuts to make them look presentable for the new.  They will probably be going to a new grade, a new teacher and maybe even to a new school.

August is the month when we go from having overly zealous fun to a stark seriousness which signals that the party is over.  It is time to put away the swim gear, the flip flops and the beach toys.  It is also time to pull out the pencils, pens, rulers, protractors, notebooks and clean paper and buckle down to learning or assist those who will be learning.  Our faces will go from sunny smiles to game face on as we proceed into the inevitable changes of autumn.

We know that after August, then comes Labor Day.   The days shorten and the darkness comes earlier.  This a wake-up call that says, ‘Hope you took a lot of pictures because summer 2015 is just about to become history.’

I am reminded of a children’s story that a colleague shared with me.  I don’t know the title but in essence, this animal character was asking his neighbors for food during the winter. They asked him what he’d been doing while everyone else was out working and storing up for the cold months.  He answered, “Dancing.”  They cruelly replied, “Then you need to dance through the winter.

So as reality sets in and we put the summer in our rear view mirrors, we have to put away our dancing shoes and fun gear and lean towards Hesiod’s advice.   He said, “It will not always be summer; build barns.”

Lynn M.                                                                                                August 1, 2015