All posts by dixonl2014

Awaiting Recognition!

There are times in our lives when we are looking for something from the outside that we already have on the inside.  Buried deep inside of us are those seeds that are awaiting our recognition, sometimes known as “our calling.”

If we study our journeys, we can see that it is right before our eyes.  We can ask ourselves, “What am I most comfortable doing?  How do I spend most of my leisure time when no one is making demands?  What comes to me most easily and naturally? 

Those questions can point us in the right direction as we seek our purposes and missions.  Our queries continue as we make lists and note our most dominant actions.  Here are some things to ponder.

Do I find myself drawing and sketching?  What am I sketching?  Are they designs of buildings or perhaps designs of fashions?  Am I writing?  Do I have a journal that I furiously protect from the intrusions of others? Do I find myself giving advice to others on a regular basis?  Or, is there a sport that takes hours and hours of practice as I seek to perfect my game?  Do I like to repair things or are am I the one who organizes everybody else’s things around the house?

The answers to these questions can help us to find our passions.  As the old saying goes, “Do what you love, and the Mercedes will follow.”  With this awareness, career choices would come a lot easier and fewer dollars would be spent on tuition costs that are spent in the wrong areas or disciplines.

If we slow down and look around at the things we hold near and dear, we will see the seeds of our divine purpose.  Instead of trying to please others’ ideas for our lives, we will clearly see what we have been put here to do. Then, we can pour water our newly, discovered seeds.  They have been sitting there for a long time simply awaiting our recognition. So, cultivate them.  Preen them.  Cut back the weeds and watch them sprout upward into new growth!

Lynn M.                                                     February 16, 2019

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On Track?

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We must remind ourselves that it is still close to the beginning of the year.  There is plenty of time to look at the promises that we made as we vowed to make fresh beginnings in the New Year.  We can ask ourselves during this second month of 2019, “Am I on track?  Am I on the right track to achieve what I am setting out to accomplish this year? Am I mindfully setting down new footprints in the sand or have I already fallen back into the old, familiar territory?”

According to the groundhog who did  not see his shadow, spring will be coming sooner than we think; so we need to be ready. The birds have already begun to sing in the wee hours of the morning and they surely know nature’s plans.  We don’t want spring to burst forth and find us still living amid last winter’s drudge.  Nor do we want to be caught behaving as if it is 2018 and encompassed in yesteryear’s rusty angst.

We want to be in tune with the new wonders that are around the corner.  So, we should continue to get rid of the old, unnecessary things of the past that have served their purpose. Otherwise, they simply become weights that will hinder our movement. We want to make way for the new and awesome things that the universe has waiting.

So, take a moment and look down at the ground.  Locate the tracks underfoot and make sure that everything is in alignment.  Check to make sure that all is truly in divine order. Pull on that train whistle and shout, “All systems go!” and chug-a chug, chug right on down the track!

Lynn M.                                                                                         February 9, 2019

Truly Frozen!

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As I look out across this winter wonderland, it has become somewhat surreal.  We are not viewing a movie.  This is real-time Chicago that is being held in the grips of Old Man Winter.

We are reminded of our dependency on both our infrastructure and our utility companies.  We realize how co-dependent we are as we lean on each other for comfort and reassurance.   Yes, we are fragile and dire circumstances reawaken us to that fact.

We know from our history lessons that  Rome was not built in a day but once it was built, it all eventually came to a crashing halt.  So, it would behoove us to cling tight and hold on to our faith as we ration out our resources and look out for our neighbors.

We should take nothing and no one for granted because we see how quickly it  all can float away like debris down a river.  Perhaps we are being nudged to go back to basics.  We must scale down, get rid of some of the fluff in both possessions and in arrogant, haughty attitudes. Over time, none of it will count as a little more than a hill of beans.

We should reapply The Golden Rule and truly do unto others as we would have them do unto us.  If we can reign ourselves in, cut back on the unnecessary things and treat others well, then we can unfreeze our hearts.  We can come out on the other side and look forward to a budding spring encased with a warmer heart.

Lynn M.                                                                                                     February 2, 2019

Fruitful Food!

Image result for Female Silhouette Clip Art ReadingDuring these trying times, one of the best ways to stay above the fray is to read a good book!  Reading is a way to escape the brittle predicaments that gloom our horizons and keep us feeling off-base.  It’s a way to pack away our own concerns and see what is going on in someone else’s life without engaging in petty gossip.  It’s a safe get-a-way.

Art forms have been known to give hope and creative outlets to many people during wars and times of political struggles and uncertainty.  The movie reels of the 20’s and 40’s sustained the American public when their stomachs were beginning to growl and their outlooks were dimmed by the dire circumstances of the day.

So, if we find ourselves trying to hold on and tighten our grip, we can choose to crawl into the rabbit hole like Alice in Wonderland. We can create our own adventure by picking up a book and see what is happening with the characters inside of the covers. Every book shows us something new and opens the doors to greater insight into some aspect of life itself.

I recently read the British writer Joss Sheldon’s Individutopia.  It shows us what the world of the selfie will look like 50 years from now and makes us think about where we might be headed as a society.  Then, I took an excursion into the life of The Dubliners and walked through 15 stories of everyday Irish life with James Joyce.

Last night, as I too waited for the storm to pass over, I cracked open Gloria Swanson’s Swanson on Swanson.  I stayed up late and thought, “Oh my!”  She tells her own story and as I digested the first serving, I was reminded that we all have our crosses to bear.

So, when picking up the groceries for that next meal, swing by the library or bookstore and get the dessert by getting a book.  Then, after clearing away the dishes, feast on some fruitful food for thought!

Lynn M.                                                                                        January 26, 2019

You Get What You Need!

 

The Blue Bottle Club: Newly Repackaged Edition

The Blue Bottle Club by Penelope J. Stokes is a well-crafted piece.  I also read another work by Stokes called Circle of Grace where she used creative techniques to tell the tale.  Her writings seem to mirror life as she shows how the puzzle pieces fall together after her characters are confounded by life’s mysteries.

In this book, Brendan Delaney is a news reporter who is doing a story on a historic landmark that is about to be demolished in Ashville, North Carolina.  It is a huge house that once belonged to the Cameron family and was later used for other city events.  As she is about to leave the property, a guy on her crew gives her a blue-bottle that he had found in the attic.

She tucks it away and later discovers that it has four notes inside written by four teen girls.  They each write what they would like to achieve in life and vow to remain friends on that Christmas Day in 1929, the year of the stock market crash.

It is now some 65 years later, and Brendan immediately wonders what became of the women who would now be in their 80’s if still alive.  This story seems to pull on her and is just the impetus she needs because she has begun to lose her drive for her job and her faith had been waning for quite some time.

With her station manager’s approval, she takes on the momentous task of searching for Leticia Cameron, Adora Archer, Eleanor James and Mary Love.  Did Leticia marry her beloved wealthy boyfriend and have lots of babies as she had vowed?  Had Adora become a successful actress in Hollywood?  Had Eleanor become a social worker like  Jane Addams? And, had Mary Love become a great artist and painter as she dreamed?

Brendan, who rarely prayed had uttered the prayer,” Please God.  Please let them still be alive.” After that, she followed a lead and went to a nearby church that the Archer family had once attended.   She met the current pastor and sure enough, he referred her to Dorothy Parker, a senior in her 90’s who lived at the local home for the aged.  From there, the door to discovery swung open as Brendan was pointed to the whereabouts of Leticia Cameron who was a short distance away.

Brendan’s journey begins as she hopes to interview each woman and see how their lives turned out.  In her search for the truth, Brendan finds a new-found faith, friendships and a sense of belonging.  But what happened in these women’s lives?  Did she find them all still alive as she had prayed?

Read this remarkable story which is filled with life lessons, faith and perseverance. See how these four women’s lives turned out in the long run.  The Blue Bottle Club is filled with many strong prayers and Brendan comes out much richer in the end.

The Rollin’ Stones song You Can’t Always Get What You Want best exemplifies the message of this book.  Push play and enjoy this 1969 version of their song!

Lynn M.                                                                                   January 19, 2019

 

Exit, Stage Left!

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It’s still January and we are continually setting down the new frameworks that we intend to follow for the new year.  We have promised ourselves to release the old things and people who no longer benefit us.  Parting with material things is difficult enough but parting ways with people we have known is even harder.

Just like a worn-out pair of shoes, those relationships are no longer comfortable and in fact they may simply hurt.  If we keep wearing them, we will find ourselves winching from the pain; so, we eventually must let them go before we do more damage to our feet.

Last Sunday, Carol Burnett, the comedienne, received a special Golden Globe for the many years that she brought so much laughter to her viewers.  She closed her weekly show with a song that said, “I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together.” Then she would pull on one of her earlobes as if to seal the deal.  We can use her lyrics as we give thanks for those that we have once known.

As we clean out our lives, we can remember the hours of deep conversations and moments of hearty laughter that we have shared. Surely, we have been enriched from the encounters and for that we should be grateful.  Our fellowshipping may have stretched out over several years or it may have been short and sweet. Yet, we know when it is time to move on.

Children are weaned from their mothers so that they can advance to the next stage of growth and we adults must do the same thing.  If we try to hold on to that which we’ve outgrown, pain is guaranteed.  So, we unfurl our grasp and grip on people, open up our hands  and simply let go as we watch the parting shadows exit stage left.

There may a tear in the corner of our eyes but if we are honestly in touch with our real feelings, we will slowly smile.  In time, precious memories will flow to the top like marshmallows on a cup of hot chocolate and all the bitterness will remain at the bottom!

Lynn M.                                                                                               January 12, 2019

Yeah!

thg9giwc1iWhen newly laundered clothes come out of the dryer, they normally have a fresh and crisp smell.  They make us feel like going on as we graciously crease and fold them.  We can compare this New Year of 2019 to a clean wash because we have the chance to take a deep breath and start over.

New resolutions have either been written or spoken as we vow to do better in a variety of areas.  We can only hope that we can live up to these self-imposed challenges as we strive to grow and go forth.

Just like the dried clothes, we have folded the situations of the past year into neat, little piles and tucked them away.  We have greater insights as we see that some things blessed us; some confounded us and some even spooked us.  Yet, we continue and keep on keeping on.

We may have had to hum Gladys Knight & The Pips’ song, I’ve Got to Use My Imagination for encouragement.   They sang:

“I’ve really got to use my imagination,

To think of good reasons

To keep on keeping on

Got to make the best of a bad situation….”

We realize that we have pulled on a lot of resources to get us to New Year’s Eve night when we witnessed the ball drop as the world rung in the New Year.

Those sources may have included things like the reading of spiritual literature and good books, writing our innermost thoughts on a regular basis or listening to calming music.  Or maybe it was our relaxing during yoga classes and poses, dancing during Zumba classes, taking long walks by the waterfront or communicating with loved ones either in person or on social media.

Our silent helpers may have been seen and several may not have been visible to us.  But, their well-wishes were heartily felt as we triumphed and closed out the old year.

So, in 2019, we start by counting our abundant blessings for there have been many.  If any obstacles or hurdles present themselves on our path, we can view them as a bunch of bowling pins.  They are there waiting for us in formation.

We simply pick up the right bowling ball, position our thumb at the perfect angle, take a careful aim and heave the ball towards them.  And, we just might hear our cheering section scream, “Yeah for you!”

Lynn M.                                                      January 5, 2019

Tick Marks!

Over this holiday season, I have had the opportunity to revisit several movies and take another look at why they remain special to me. Each reminded me of where I was living and what I was doing when I saw them for the first time.  Some things change yet some remain the same!

I saw The Graduate again. It came out during my freshman year of college. I loved it this time around as much as I did way back then. The lyrics to Simon and Garfunkel’s song The Sound of Silence came rolling back to me as if time stood still.  Dustin Hoffman’s dilemmas and moves obviously etched scenarios in my mind.  I was there inside his mental space with him.  Since that time, I was able to make it to the UC Berkeley campus and I later owned a convertible Spider similar to his Alfa Romeo Spider in the movie.

Then, I saw Claudine again with Diahann Carroll and James Earl Jones. It was a big hit at the time because though she was a domestic with six kids, she fell in love with a garbage collector.  He almost abandoned her and her children because he realized he did not make enough to feed them.  It takes a hard look at the traps of the welfare system but ultimately love won! The music written by Curtis Mayfield and sung by Gladys Knight and The Pips kept everyone going On and On.  I was teaching high school at the time and oh, the memories from that era came rushing back in!

Seeing Agnes of God baffled me as much this time around as it did when me and a couple of my co-workers from a community college saw it for the first time.  I remember that day because we did a movie marathon and saw two movies on the same day.  Jane Fonda fashionably chain-smoked as she tried to figure out who impregnated a young nun that murdered her newborn. I thought of how unattractive smoking is today and how it is now prohibited in most public places.

Both she and the talented Anne Bancroft acted superbly in this drama and this time around, I was able to connect a few more of the dots.  Plus, I did a little more research to see what drove the playwright to write the play.  He based it on a true story of a nun in Upstate New York; but, it was less of a mystery because that nun had spent time outside of the convent for a conference.

Over time, we grow.  Society rules change.  I have changed.  Several of my perspectives  and points of view have also changed.  If I stood against a measuring stick and compared where I was then to where I am now, I would have to reach up really high to strike off my new tick marks of growth!

Lynn M.                                                                                               December 29, 2018

 

Shush!

It’s that time of year when we find quiet moments to commune with Our Creator during this busy season.  We look forward to those down times so that we can make sense of things and more clearly realize our divine purposes.

As in any rhapsody, we find pauses and moments of rest.  We become still and stop our senseless strivings after ripping and running to and fro in our efforts to get it all done.

Our older, wiser selves teach us to slow our paces and think before we act or speak.  We are grateful that we have been brought to this point in time and we understand that it only happened through His grace and mercy.

We began to assess our actions over these past twelve months. We may be able to count and see how many persons we have either helped along the way or hindered through  our careless actions or vain babblings.  Then, we can start to make the case for ourselves as we vow to do better in the coming year.

Hopefully, our characters have grown, and we see that we certainly are not where we were in our thinking, let’s say this time last year.  Yes, we have indeed evolved, and our viewpoints are not the same. Yeah!

We are not as puffed up over our possessions because we have truly come to see that all is quite temporary and fleeting.  Looking at the daily news reminds us of how quickly those things can be gone in a poof!  We now know that our things do not define us because our spirits of resiliency may be tested at any given time.

We do not wait for a guardian of the silence like a librarian to shush us when we are too noisy.  We voluntarily quiet ourselves, settle down, turn off the chatter boxes and listen.  If we are fortunate, we will be led to take those new and right steps specifically designed for us!

“The Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him.”  Habakkuk 2:20

Lynn M.                                                                        December 22, 2018

 

Good ’til the Last Drop!

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I had to read The Octopus by Frank Norris in college but at the time, I was too young and immature to appreciate Norris’ writing talent and I had no interest in the story itself.  But I just finished The Pit: The Story of Chicago and I was mesmerized by his ability to paint such clear images through his choice of words and of course, the locale of Chicago kept me on the edge of my seat.

The Pit takes place in the early 1900’s and it is set in the heart of Chicago.  I could see every step that Curtis Jadwin and Laura Dearborn took before and after they married.  They settled off North Avenue close to the Conservatory in Lincoln Park.  She often spent her lonely evenings riding her horse over to the park where she listened to the waves of Lake Michigan for consolation.

Her husband was a financial guru, known as the Unknown Bull who privately controlled the stock market.  Wheat was king at the time.  He worked at the Board of Trade Center which is located at the south end of LaSalle.  Coincidently, my first job in the Loop was steps away so it was easy to envision him going in and out of the building.

The only things that seemed different about places such as The Palmer House or the rumbling of the elevated train was the time and era.  The men and women dressed differently and were still traveling by horse and buggy, but the Chicago streets are the same and the gamut of human emotions that the characters felt remain unchanged.

This story, the second of a trilogy, shows how people get so caught up in the game of winning that they lose sight of what is truly important in life.  Jadwin controls the stock market and has already amassed millions but cannot let go of the fervor of the chase.

The Jadwins’ mansion is humongous, and they do not even remember all of the rooms in their home.  Laura has many gowns, yet she does not have anywhere to wear them all. They have a summer home at Lake Geneva but eventually, they do not have time to get there because Jadwin needs to stay on top of the game of speculating the wheat prices.  It gets to the point where he stays in a downtown hotel and does not always go home to Laura.

Invariably, it all begins to come crashing down after Jadwin’s identity is exposed and his dear friend kills himself. Jadwin finally loses all his wealth.  As things spiral out of control, Laura seriously considers having an affair with an artist-friend who always loved her.

Jadwin physically and mentally breaks down and after a near-death experience, he vows to start anew. The beautiful, self-centered Laura stops focusing on her own personal needs and nurses her husband back to health.  The Pit closes with him and Laura leaving Chicago and heading out west to start a new business venture.  They have just a little more than the clothes on their backs, but they have finally realized that the greatest of these is love.

Lynn M.                                                                                December 15, 2018