Gee, Thanks!

Gee, Thanks!
Ye did it for evil,
God did it for my good.
So you spread lies and rumors,
Like jelly on a piece of stale bread.

Ye ran away the kissed toads and frogs,
And freed me from the undeserving people and places.
Gee, thanks!

In retrospect, I see that I am free to explore the higher.
Higher consciousness, higher thinking,
Higher events and circumstances.
Again, thanks!

For lifting me up so now I can march on,
With a more congenial drummer
Who will always have my back!
Gee, thanks!

Lynn M.
August 28, 2021

Speed Bumps!

Sometimes during those long, quiet meditative stretches of peaceful thoughts, we encounter a speed bump. A negative memory or some affront pops up and we may silently admit, “Ouch. That still hurts!” We thought that we had gotten over it, but we have to say, “Apparently not.” 

It is still down there gnawing away while taking swipes at our peace of mind. So, we know that it is time to pull out the soap, the water bucket and the good ‘ole scrub brush and get busy doing some more deep inner cleansing. We hope that total healing will assuredly come our way as we remember that healing is always a work in progress. 

Though we thought that we had successfully closed that chapter or era of our lives, we may discover that, “No. It is not entirely over.” It could be that there are still more lessons to be learned or perhaps we need to muster up some more forgiveness. But then, as we look down into our canteens of sensitivity, we may find that it is empty. There is no more balm to rub over things nor spread around. 

So, we may have to just live with certain pain. There is no more energy left to give to those situations. We have been depleted and we come to the final consensus that we cannot give it any more thought. Nothing. Zero. Nada. 

We cannot process any more pretentiousness, so we just shake our heads, and walk away with both heart palpitations and sweaty palms. We slow down our racing, thoughts and give thanks for the speed bump because It protected us from making poor choices. We press on after letting out a huge sigh of relief as we acknowledge that we must live with “the good, the bad and yes, even the ugly!” 

Lynn M. 
August 21, 2021 

One Thread, Similar Themes!

My Twitter writer-friend, Val Poore stated that she liked ‘how one book leads to another.’ She was referring to the fact that I ended reviewing two books about life on the Native American reservations. Truly, there was one thread that ran through similar themes. 

Rez Dogs is more of a juvenile piece which is written in prose by Author Joseph Bruchac. The protagonist, Maia, is stuck at her grandparents’ home on a New England reservation when the Covid pandemic shuts down the world. She is in for a lot of lessons about the differences from her prosperous life in Boston. A reservation dog miraculously shows up to comfort and accompany her during her stay. 

Shortly thereafter, a neighbor handed me a copy The Night Watchman, an adult-themed novel, which also takes place on a reservation outside of Minneapolis. It involves the trafficking and detainment of a Native American woman, alcoholism with other forms of abuse. Again, we see how life on the reservation requires improvising by those living on scanty and limited provisions. These two books gave me new insight into the lives of those that we rarely hear about, period. Each left me filled with deep reflections as I admitted how much we take so for granted. 

 I recently finished Kaia Alderson’s Sisters in Arms. It is a fictional account of two black women who were WACS or Women in the Army Corps during WWII. Though entertaining, it was based on many historic events that the women experienced in the 1940’s. Alderson offered a light spin on Grace and Eliza’s lives which overshadowed some of the more brutal and scathing losses that the women endured as they ventured into new and unknown places. 

And then, it happened again. I broke my stride to browse an outdoor book sale and noticed Fly Girl by Sherri L. Smith. It had a picture of a female pilot on the front. I picked it up and when I saw that it had been endorsed by Jacqueline Woodson, I took a second look. This time it looks like Ida wants to join the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), but there is a problem here. Ida is black and it looks like she is light skinned enough to pass for white. She plans to use that to get her toe in the door. Hmmm. Military? WWII? Brave, adventurous women? Again, a common thread and theme. 

So now, I move from the Native American reservations to two books about women of color in the military during WWII. It looks like I am in for a real treat as the thread stretches on to loop through these similar themes. I will read on to enhance by learning as summer winds down to a slow crawl as we inch towards the fall season! 

Lynn M. 
August 14, 2021 

Libraries -Sainted Places!

Libraries are truly hallowed places! Sacred houses of great minds! I have spent so many hours waiting in libraries in a number of locations. I may have been waiting for classes to begin, work shifts to change or even waiting on someone. Here, I feature only five libraries from a very long list because if I wrote all of my memories from special libraries, this post would never end!

I used to drive my mother to teach her evening literature class at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, Illinois. I would climb the stairs of the old library and wait for her to finish her day. There, I wrote and wrote and wrote and thus, my first novella in a set of seven was born. It is now published and titled A Golden Leaf in Time Revised! There is a newer version of the library but the old spaces remain etched in my memory.

I also waited in the stacks when I worked as a PT librarian at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee. I am quite certain that I journaled and wrote but I distinctly remember perusing the works of Thich Nhat Hanh. His writings just seemed to fall into my lap and I was in for a real treat as I read to Breathe! You Are Alive! along with his many other works.

I recall sitting in a quiet spot, in a small cubicle with a window view at the Henry T. Sampson Library at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. Of course, I had to wait for some evening class to start and I do remember browsing a copy of The Chronicle of Higher Education along with other scholarly publications that were lined along the wall.

And then, there was the old Main Library in Downtown Chicago on Michigan Avenue which is now called the Chicago Cultural Center. It was beautiful, warm and welcoming with its long, winding staircases. But the book volumes outgrew those spaces and over time, the current Harold Washington Library was built on State Street. It has a different feel to it yet it is still filled to the brim with patrons. Its long, heavy wooden tables are truly any writer’s dream desk!

I will close with sharing precious memories of time spent in Boston Public Library’s Main Branch on Boylston Street, the country’s first free municipal library. I lived close by and walked there regularly. The library has so much character and each department is comparable to getting to know a lot of different people.

Each nook and cranny probably has its own stories. Sometimes, it felt as if the great writers from the lined shelves were whispering and saying, “Try me!” I heard some of them and picked up books such as Nina Simone’s I Put a Spell on You and the little-known younger Bronte sister, Anne’s books. I read all of her books and I felt as if I was watching her Mr. Huntington in action!

I could go on and on about the libraries that I have known and adored. They are one of the few places that all can enter for free and still leave with both fulfillment and an arm load of books and other materials. They are truly sainted places and spaces even if they have been altered, renovated and changed from the way we remember them. It makes me think of the Beatles’ In My Life. Push play and enjoy!

Lynn M.
August 7, 2021

Be Encouraged!

Be encouraged!
Stand strong!
If need be, stand alone.
Though the way ahead
May seem to be unclear.
But it is sure, if you don’t lose
Your head, Your faith, Your footing,
And mostly, your resolve.

Turn off the telly,
Mute the noise.
Listen to the wind, the crickets or the birds.
Reach back to those ancient sounds
Which propelled our elders forward,
Eons ago.

And they will surely do the same for you,
We, us – who remain back here.
We must bring up the rear for our youth
And thus, bring smiles from those on the other side.
So troopers, march on, stay focused,
And mostly be encouraged!

Lynn M.
July 31, 2021

Rendered Speechless!

This is a spoiler alert! When I recently finished Louise Erdrich’s book The Night Watchman, I was rendered speechless by one of the subplots, not the main plot, of this engaging novel. One of the focal characters, Patrice (Pixie) is the breadwinner for her indigenous Chippewa family. 

She is the only one in the family who has a job, and she works at a jewel factory performing very delicate operations. Her father is broken from the many onslaughts of reservation life, and he has become an abusive alcoholic who is often gone away from the family. No one looks forward to his infrequent returns, especially their mother because of what they all must endure when he is at home.

Her older sister, Vera, has moved away to the Big City but is now considered to be missing and the family is deeply concerned about her. Pixie puts her job on the line as she borrows days from her co-workers to venture into the Big City to look for her sister. She is tricked at the train station and ends up in a would-be perilous situation herself. She temporarily works at a bar swimming in a fish-like tank with dyed water for the customers’ entertainment. 

One of their friends, a boxer named Wood Mountain, senses that she could be in danger, and he goes to the city to make sure that she is okay. No one will tell them where Vera is at that time, but they do end up bringing back Vera’s infant son after Pixie makes her get-away from  the bar.

The family embraces the baby and all cuddle and nurture him as Pixie returns to her regular job. She eventually begins to fall in love with Wood Mountain and finally gives into him as her first lover. Overtime, Vera surfaces and she has been detained against her will and trafficked on a ship. When she is used and nearly dead, they discard her on the side of a road in Duluth and fortunately a medic finds and helps her. 

Vera makes it back home, but she is damaged both physically and spiritually. They are happy to see her and she falls back into the embraces of the family. By, then, Wood Mountain is extremely attached to the child and often frequents the family home. And then, it happens. 

Pixie returns home from work one day and notices the rhythm between Vera and Wood Mountain as tries to say he loves them both. But Pixie, says, “No. It is not going to happen like that!”  Instead, she agrees to help fix up a small house on the property for Vera, Wood Mountain, and the baby Thomas Achilles.  

 I see Pixie going on to greater heights like on to college or choosing some new path for herself.  She has the strength of character to do so, but this part rendered me speechless. How much can one give? And how much can one accept from another’s labors? It reminded me of the movie The Valley of the Dolls, when Anne Welles (Barbara Parkins) walked away with a wrangled, wildly beating heart but definitely moving on! 

Lynn M. 
July 28, 2021 

Summer Reads, Thus Far!

 I have been inundated with some great reads, so far this summer. We still have a ways to go, but here is a line-up of exciting books for avid readers. These reads have kept me calm and engaged during these ever-changing times.

Val Poore’s Faring Forth Again on the Shoe takes us on another boat journey from the Netherlands, through Belgium and into France with her and her skipper, Koos. Her historical notes, photography and colorful descriptions of each town entertain us as we hold our breaths to see if they will get through the next lock to continue on their way.

Bill Clinton and James Patterson join magical forces in The President’s Daughter as they tell this thriller! We sit on the edge of our seats to see if the former president will ever see his kidnapped daughter alive again. She was taken from the rural parts of New Hampshire and ends up overseas in some pretty frightening situations.

Then, Lally Brown takes us to the Caribbean again in The Volcano, Montserrat and Me, but this time it is a much more harrowing experience. She recounts her time as an ex-pat on the island of Montserrat during the volcano’s high activity in the mid 90’s. She has all of us rooting for her and her family while feeling quite concerned about their safety while many do flee to other places.

Rez Dogs by Joseph Bruchac was added to the list after hearing him speak at a recent librarian’s conference. A young Bostonian girl is unexpectedly quarantined with her indigenous grandparents on a reservation when the Covid pandemic shuts down all travel. She learns a lot about her parents from her grandparents along with other life lessons. Then, a mysterious dog shows up and acts as her protector and companion during her lengthy stay on the New England territory.

Dear Fran, Love Dulcie is a heart-stopping tale of two pen pals who wrote letters from Detroit, Michigan to Queensland, Australia. These young married women never meet in person but we see deep into the heart and life of Dulcie who is a hard-working farm wife. Her letters were preserved and lasted from the late 50’s to the early 80’s before they found their way to Author Virginia Tweed.

Covenant: When We left Paradise by Mary Clark takes place in 1960 on the Gulf Coast of Florida. It is a coming-of-age novella where a girl named Orchie is the leader of the pack. She rules her buddies: Red, Bobby and Lucy as they enjoy the beaches, listen to Elvis, while other famous names pop up like JFK, Sputnik and Enos, the space monkey. They learn many crude things about adult life as they observe their parents. They realize that in a short time, they too will be faced with similar dilemmas as they evolve into grown people.

There are many positive ways to stay cool and grounded during the summer. Fun comes in a variety of ways and delving into a good book is a sure way to take a trip to other lands without leaving home!

Lynn M.
July 24, 2021

Eyes Open!

Keep your eyes open,
Peeled back. Aware.

As you enjoy these summer days,
Which are short though sweet.

Cook, dance and sing, if you want,
As you embrace life to its fullest.

Give life a big squeeze like you hug your loved ones,
Listen to the birds sing and doing their thing!

Take a few mini naps while the cicadas hum,
Or relish in the rippling laughter of happy children.

Yet, do notice the warning yelps of the dogs,
As you stay vigilant and keep your eyes open wide.

Do not hesitate to take in all of summer’s delights,
And the wonderous joys and beauty it imparts,

But, do stay in the moment, my dears,
And most importantly, be safe!

Lynn M.
July 18, 2021

Your Business!

In Your Erroneous Zones by the late Wayne Dyer, there is a scene where a dog is going in circles trying to catch his tail.  He was instructed to mind his own business, and his tail would follow him.  This lesson has stayed with me over the years, and I try to remember to practice this in my daily life.  

When I find myself getting off course and indulging in the daily hype of pop culture and social media, I feel like pinching myself and saying, “Okay.  Enough already!!”  I tell myself to snap out of it and check out my own affairs.  Are they in order?  Could they be more intact?  What can I do to make things work even better? 

I recently had the occasion to check in on some unfinished business.  When I noted the calendar, I could not believe how much time had passed.  When I had a moment to ask what on earth I had been doing, it became quite clear that I had been minding my own business.   

I took some time to make a list of what I had accomplished during that time period, and I was astonished to see the list of things that I had done.  It was comparable to Nehemiah who ignored the detractors as he focused on building the much-needed wall for his city.  I was so immersed in the projects at-hand that time just continued to pass, as it surely will do. 

It is important to ‘keep your nose to the grindstone,’ and there will be a less likelihood of getting caught up in what Alice Walker calls, stuff.  There is so little time, and we don’t have the luxury of wasting our precious moments by staring at other people’s affairs.  Wasted energy and noses in others’ business is a sure equation for ending up with tattered, torn lives that are in disarray and shambles.   

It would behoove us to take care of ourselves just as often as we take those self-absorbed selfies. And one day, we will have a moment to pause and look back and say, “Wow!”   Remember to “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” Ecclesiastes 11:1 (ESV) 

 Stay busy, stay focused and handle your own business! 

Lake Michigan

Lynn M. 
July 14, 2021 

Continual Hope!

Following your own path, 
Though filled with twists and turns, 
Filtered with high levels of uncertainty; 
Ultimately leads to a straight line, 
Designed specifically for you! 

Though it appears to be non-linear, 
With many oblique questionings 
Of both self and others  
Strewn along the way;
There is a master plan. 

By assertively placing one footstep 
In front of the other, 
Whether moving rapidly, at a slower pace 
Or even in a tired trudge;
It is imperative to ‘keep it moving.’ 

Who knows where the journey will take you? 
If you hold on. Work in the moment. 
And when you turn that next corner, 
Pleasant surprises could be in the cards, 
If you don’t give up on that continual hope

Lynn M. 
July 10, 2021