All posts by dixonl2014

Shoot Your Best Shot!

jumpshotWhen given a task to do, we often wonder, “Can I do this?” In the children’s book, The Little Engine That Could, the small engine took on the job of getting the freight cars across the mountain to deliver the toys to the awaiting children.

Oftentimes, when we answer the call, the motivation or underlying reason for the request will cause us to muster up the strength to take on the challenge.  As in the story, whenever children are involved, few of us can say no.  Looking into their eyes of innocence pulls on our heartstrings and makes us use the familiar motto, “Yes I can!

We may even look up some age-old reminders or affirmations such as I am strong, I am brave, I am willing, I am patient or I am more than a conqueror.  All of the statements combine to make each of us know that it takes persistence to win.

Og Mandino writes in The Greatest Salesman in the World, “If I persist, if I continue to try, if I continue to charge forward, I will succeed.  I will persist until I succeed.”

 So, when our services are requested or needed, all we can do is dribble around, build up our energy field, focus on our goal, make a high jump and shoot our best shot!

Lynn M.                                                          November 18, 2017

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Inside Joy!

joy

Do you remember Whitney Houston’s version of The Greatest Love of All?  Songwriters Michael Masser and Linda Creed wrote the lyrics, “I found the greatest love inside of me.”  It is definitely an inside job.  Outside things and people can bring us certain levels of joy and add to our comfort but when those external forces are not there, we have to go within and find our own inner pockets of joy.

Some people always seem to have a pleasant smile and others share ripples of laughter on a regular basis. They have learned to give life the light touch. We would tend to think that they were problem-free though that is unlikely.  Everybody is dealing with something.  But, they obviously have found a way to find joy inside of their tears as Stevie Wonder mentions in one of his songs.

In his book The Greatest Salesman in the World, Og Mandino reminds his readers to be mindful of their emotions.  He wrote, ” ..but I make my own weather, I transport it with me.  If I bring joy  and enthusiasm  and brightness and laughter to my customers, they will react with joy and enthusiasm.”  Joy, laughter and humor are true gifts of the Spirit.  They are housed deep down within each of us and they can bubble up at the most opportune times.

Laughter minimizes those unrelenting concerns because light and dark cannot occupy the same space.   The light barrels in and the darkness disappears.  So what will it be?  Tears or laughter? The latter is the remedy to enhancing those healing powers as the road to recovery gets brighter and brighter each day!

Lynn M.                                                                             November 11, 2017

Settings Set the Tone!

Seetwo years

Isn’t it interesting how a story’s setting subtly sets the tone and mood for the reader?  Yes, I said for the reader.  Readers are unconsciously affected by settings.  They envelope the mind like a magical blanket and create feelings that are aligned with the place.

Jim Lynch writes, “As a writer, I’m driven by settings.  Others are driven by characters or predicaments but with me, settings come first.”

To that point, I am slowly reading a book called Two Years before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana.  It is a narrative that he wrote in 1840 which tells about his adventures aboard a merchant ship that specializes in the collection of hides.  He leaves from Boston and takes time away from Harvard due to a case of the measles.

His ship, The Pilgrim, passes through Cape Horn at the bottom of South America. I was reminded of a bit of information from a dear writer-friend who once lived in South Africa. She told about healing effects of the horn or Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa which seems to blow away physical distresses.

The narrator’s health improves after he travels around Cape Horn. Once they return to North America, they spend over a year going up and down the California coast as they work in different ports.

Dana describes the ports, the people, the various tribesmen, the shipmates and daily work details.  I feel as if I am aboard taking it all in because he writes with such precision and clarity.

I read just a little each night and just like the ship, I do not feel hurried or rushed to finish this tale. He has been traveling for over a year now. He has even changed ships and finally, they are about to head back to Boston. So, perhaps, I will pick up the pace with them as he anxiously heads home.

But, like the setting, this has been a book that I have stretched out over the months as I read other works with a greater sense of urgency.  This one, however, has been a calm, insightful read and like the sea and those on the ship, I have taken my time to savor every word and wave!

Lynn M.                                                                                     November 5, 2017

November Bounty!

Horns of plenty

Deeply colorful leaves , so rich,
Filling backyards, needing a pitch,

Into piles, then a large trash bag,
May cause those workers’ backs to sag.

Harvest time in so many ways,
Tally the fruit from former days.

Work and toil bring big pay offs,
Full horns-a-plenty rest in lofts!

Time to give thanks for all we’ve gained,
Fill those coffers with all attained!

Lynn M.                                                                                     November 4, 2017

Take a Step Back!

Batter

When feeling overwhelmed, rushed or hurried, we can choose to simply take a step back.  In the neighborhood, some use the slang, “Don’t bum rush me!”  It is usually said with a certain force because in essence, it means to back off!

That means that we are asking for some space to be able to slow down and think things through.  It is equivalent to peace be still or as another adage goes, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” (Lewis Carroll)

It is time to push the Pause button, put everything on hold so that we can make good sound decisions.  From our earlier days, we may remember that when we felt rushed, we made rash decisions which came with greater consequences.

Mark Twain wrote a short story called The Five Boons of Life.  A fairy offers a man five gifts and she returns after he has become disenchanted with each one of his choices.  He has the opportunity to choose from wealth, love, pleasure, fame and death.   Of course, he avoids the last one but the quencher is that she continually reminds him to think carefully before making a choice.

We too must put everything and everyone on the proverbial back-burner and think.  We may have to shut ourselves off for a while and come out from amongst the fast-paced world to truly get in touch with our real feelings.  Then we can hear our intuitive leads.

We might even have to retreat.  Stuart Wilde tells us in his book, Silent Power that, “Retreat can sometimes be the most powerful tool.”  Then, when we return to the real world, we are better equipped to handle things in a more practical manner.  There will be a quiet assurance that we are indeed on the right path and we will be filled with few, if any regrets.

So, take a step back like a hitter in the World Series before his bat makes contact with that fastball and knock the ball out of the park.  Then those sound choices will have memorable, staying power!

Lynn M.                                                          October 28, 2017

Marshall: a movie review

Marshall

The movie Marshall focuses on one case in 1941 in Bridgeport, Connecticut that was co-lawyered by the famed Thurgood Marshall (Chadwick Boseman).  He was sent by the NAACP to defend a black man who had been accused of raping his employer’s wife, Mrs. Eleanor Strubing (Kate Hudson).

The Connecticut judge deemed that he was not to speak in the court so he had to use the voice of his other lawyer, Sam Friedman (Josh Gad) as they sought to defend Joseph Spell, the family driver (Sterling K. Brown).  As the proceedings continued, they ultimately discovered that the driver was telling only a part of the truth about the events of that fateful night.

It was a highly contentious time and both Marshall and Friedman were roughed up by hired thugs during the trial. Yet they endured to the end. Thurgood Marshall’s brief encounter with a woman at a bar led him to re-phrase his questions for Joseph Spell.  In essence, she said that men will be men and women will be women.

This led Marshall to question the driver again and the truth rolled out like the lifting of a heavy blanket of fog.  Once the truth was uncovered, the case took a huge turn as many witnessed and a victory emerged for both of the lawyers and their defendant.

Thurgood Marshall was not there to hear the closing arguments nor the reading of the verdict but he left Friedman detailed instructions on how to close out the case.  He had been called to help a young teenager who was in trouble in the Deep South.

This is an ample slice from the life of the renowned Supreme Court Judge.  Go see this movie with its landmark cast and see how Chadwick Boseman does it again with his excellent portrayal of Judge Marshall!

 

Lynn M.                                                                     October 21, 2017

The Little Things

We have all heard the old adage that reminds us to slow down and smell the roses.  It’s the small, everyday things that bring us the greatest glee.  It may be something as simple as opening a window and letting in some new, fresh air after using air conditioning all summer. We can breathe in and experience true nature in all of its glory.

Or, we can take note of the richly colored leaves dotting the landscape during the calm season of autumn.  Many are still on the trees, yet some have fallen but their beauty still beckons and demands our attention.

We can listen to the chatter of children as they walk by and go to and from school.  We automatically smile because we remember when we walked to school filled with innocence and anticipation.  We can recall the faces of dear friends from times gone by.

Perhaps, we decide to drive more mindfully as we travel to work and notice a store that we had not seen before, so we vow to come back and take a look-see.  Or we perhaps run into some old acquaintances and we greet them with friendly smiles, handshakes or hugs.

It is the little things that mean so much.  In our rushed daily living, we may unintentionally take these occurrences for granted.  But, if we are asked to pen a poem or a narrative of some sort, we will usually remember something meaningful and simple that truly touched our hearts most deeply!

So, when life gets hurried or even messy with all of its unexpected twists, turns and challenges, it would behoove us to make a pointed effort to enjoy the small pleasures.  It is what makes life abundant and the most precious things are often free for us to notice, enjoy and ultimately savor!

Enjoy the little things

Lynn M.                                                                                                 October 14, 2017

‘Tis October

 

autumn

Fallen leaves lay all around,
Yes, autumn is now abound.

Those sweater days are now here,
And wearing light coats is near.

Colorful trees are in sight,
We sigh with all of our might.

Pumpkins, apples to be picked.
Harvest, ready to be nicked.

The beauty of October,
Witnessed. Can make you nobler.

Lynn M.                                                                                               October 7, 2017

College Memories!

hefner

Upon hearing about Hugh Hefner’s passing, I was reminded of how his empire touched my life.  In Chicago in the early 70’s, many of our lives were memorably affected by his posh existence.

I remember going to the Playboy Club on the Gold Coast and having dinner.  We were actually served by a real live bunny.  In those days, gifting a Playboy Club key card was quite common.  It resembled a credit card but it gave access to the actual clubs.

I kept my memorabilia for years such as a heavy mug, a stirrer, a lighter and a set of earrings to name a few.  All of them were emboldened with the historic emblem and they were keepsakes which brought lots of pride.

There was also a Playboy dance club on Michigan Avenue.  I remember the headphones that dropped from the ceiling.  The music was amplified and I became my own private dancer in my own world as I moved to the beat. What fun for a college student!

And then there were those weekend getaways for the lucky ones.  Many made the trek up to the Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin where there was a resort. Hugh Hefner’s empire was enjoyed on an even higher level.  It was a real hotspot.

Oh what glorious memories!  Thank you, Mr. Hefner!!

Lynn M.                                                                         September 30, 2017

The Patriarch

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I just read a book called Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi which was another lucky find from the local library.  It tells how four children’s lives are adversely affected when their father walks off and leaves the family without an explanation.

He, Kweku, is an African doctor living in the States and wearing his white coat means the world to him.  But when he is unable to save an older member of a wealthy family, he is fired.  His younger son happens to see him in an embarrassing position as he pleads for his job at the hospital.

He never tells his wife, Fola and  just simply leaves town and starts over, eventually returning to his homeland in Ghana.  Olu, his oldest son is affected but finds a companion to help him cope, but the twins, Kehinde and Taiwo, are sent to an uncle in Nigeria and they endure mind-boggling abuse from the uncle and his wife. Sadie, the youngest daughter, is hiding her bulimia and her secret affinity towards girls.

Fola does her best to manage and all four of the children eventually reach adulthood.  She relocates to Ghana after receiving some unexpected property.  Upon hearing that Fola has returned to the country, the father, though remarried, has a heart attack and suddenly dies.

The children travel together to attend his funeral and this gives them time to bond. The mother, Fola learns more of their personal stories, pains and irreparable damage done from the father’s absence.  She listens, nurtures and tries to erase some of their grief.

Patriarchs have key roles in families and even for those of us who were not deserted, we are still stymied by their deaths.  We never really get over it but their absences force us to leave our childhoods behind.  We gather what gifts they have left us and we utilize them as we take ownership for being adults.

Our next mission is to pass on the wisdom, share the knowledge and personal stories as we try to equip the next generations with some sure-fired guidelines for living a decent life.  As one cousin said, “We become the family griot who passes on what we know and keep the wholesome traditions alive!”

Lynn M.                                                                                September 23, 2017