Truth

Truth: that which is fact or reality

I was listening to Billy Joel’s song HONESTY yesterday. He says it’s hard to find…

I’m a stickler for the truth. I want to know what is real, what is fact. I don’t want lies. Lies foster mistrust and bad decisions.

In any relationship, honesty is most important. What is said must be the true foundation on which a relationship is built. Oh, actions are important, too. Yet, trust, truth, is what I count on.

When I share my self with someone, I am speaking from my inner self, the one who ponders and weighs words. When someone shares their thoughts with me, I expect that the words that are spoken will be what is really in their heart and mind, too.

Experience has shown me that lies can look like truth. Cleverly disguised, words can take on a persona that is false. They can look real, feel real. Maybe even the actions give credence to what is said.

In Roman mythology, Veritas (meaning truth) was the Goddess of Truth, a daughter of Saturn and the mother of Virtue. It was believed that she hid in the bottom of a holy well because she was so elusive.

“honesty is such a lonely word”   Billy Joel

 

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Walls

When a situation you’re in isn’t going the way you want, you have a choice. You can keep running harder and harder into the wall in front of you, trying the same things over and over.” Christian Carter

Seems kind of silly, doesn’t it? Trying the same things we’ve always tried, and, of course, getting the same results again.

There is a choice!

Does the wall seem too wide, too high, too deep, too thick? Is it surrounding you, or only in front of you?

When a wall is surrounding you, it does seem futile to try to get out from inside of it. Banging one’s head continuously may eventually create a chink in the wall, but headaches are a side effect of this method. Instead, we can try to build steps to climb over the wall, no matter high high!

The steps are made of our journaling pages. Each day, we capture our thoughts, fears, ideas, desires, emotions on paper. Thin pieces of paper. They don’t seem to amount to much, yet, after a year, there could be about an inch of height. Doesn’t seem like much! However, the more we write, the more pages we have, and the steps grow, until, one day, we may be able to peek over the wall. Maybe the paper steps will present the wall with such a powerful push that the wall starts to fall apart. Imagine! The power of words breaks can break down a wall!

If the wall is only in front of us, we can easily fix this. Ignore the wall, turn around, and move in another direction…

It took years for me to destroy my walls. They were the surrounding kind, the kind that feel like a prison, never allowing for travel beyond the restrictiveness. I felt safe inside of the enclosure, but it was narrow and didn’t get much light and air. I started to feel confined. I knew the walls were of my own making, that I had built these walls through years of stress and fear.

There came a time when I no longer wanted them. Journal pages, self-help books, prayer, delving into my creative persona (her name is Kate), and ocean visits – these were the tools I used to destroy the prison I was in.

Now, I’m mostly free. Bricks appear sometimes, and trip me because I’m not paying attention to where I’m going. So, I pick up the brick and examine it. Whatever the issue, meditation, pondering, musing can disintegrate the stumbling block. Of course, some are easier to destroy than others. My experiences help me to realize that, with time, I can overcome even the biggest hurdle.

It all starts with a thin piece of paper…

 

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Crocus

I search for it every day at this time of year. That first sign that Spring is on its way.crocus

Today, there it was. The first crocus! Along the side path, where the sun shines in the afternoon.

A lavender color, with a bit of orange inside. All alone amid the debris of the winter.

It provides hope for me. It helps me to know that the time of renewal is not far away. Time for me to dig in the ground, get my hands dirty, smell the aroma of earth.

This is my favorite time, when new life shows itself. Soon, the forsythia will bloom, the celandine will sprout, daffodils will pop up, and all the brown will turn green.

Snow has melted in the vegetable garden. Strawberry leaves are visible. The earth is wet and fertile, just waiting to hold seeds and plants.

Oh! Happy day!

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Listening

Listening involves more than ears! The eyes are involved and the heart.

Listening for truth is necessary if we are to understand those we share our life with. We can’t just listen for what we want to hear. We must use our eyes to see the face of the speaker. We must use our heart to separate the important from the unimportant.

Some of us talk because it’s how we process what we are thinking. We use many words so that we can make sense out of the chaos in our mind. We send the words into the world, into the face of the listener, and hope, expect to be understood. We play with words to see what feels right. We think out loud.

Some of us talk after we have processed our thoughts internally and are ready to speak our reality. Few words are needed because we’ve already filtered out the unnecessary. We don’t need anything extra as we speak our truth.

For the listener, it’s an exercise in discernment. We need to concentrate our thoughts onto the speaker. No wandering of mind allowed here! If we don’t give our full attention, we may miss the significant parts. If we are listening with only partial attention while we are planning how we will respond when the speaker is done, we are sure to only get a piece of the intention, not the whole.

Emptying my mind is the first step in listening. I can’t have my thoughts jumping in and skewing the words I am hearing. That won’t work. I want to be present, in the moment, with openness, and empathy. I try to connect what I’m seeing with what I’m hearing.

It means I must be silent.

My silence allows the person to offer their thoughts to me. It gives them space.

I try to hear what is being said by looking into their eyes. What message are the eyes sending? What unspoken words lie within the recesses of their eyes?

When words seem to have ended, a question may seem right to clarify what I’ve heard. This gives the speaker an opportunity to help me understand what they are telling me.

I remember seeing an actor in a commercial answering a question about insurance. “Do you understand?” she is asked. She says “yes,” while shaking her head no. So, what’s the message? Clearly, she is not sure that she does understand.

My preference for conversation is one-on-one. Because of the intensity with which I listen, it’s draining if I have to do it with more than one. Sure, there are times when the conversation is just social, no ambiguity. Talk about the weather, the price of gas. Yet, it’s important to know when the words become more meaningful, when attention needs to be a priority.

I’m naturally curious. I like experiencing how people process their thoughts. It’s intriguing to listen, really listen, to someone I care about. Their face changes as their emotions sift through their words. Their eyes can glow with happiness or fade with despair.

Words are my life. I need them, want them, and cherish them. I hold them in my heart and allow them to comfort me, educate me, and challenge me. I don’t want to talk about the weather.

When I ask how you are, please tell me. I really care.

 

The good listener – “...she never tries to top it with a story of her own in those pointless competitions many people enter into, but  rather concentrates on the person who seeks her attention.”      Making Toast,  a memoir by Roger Rosenblatt

 

 

 

 

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Snow

I remember the winters when my children were young. The snow came often, and in big accumulations. It stayed for weeks. Snowmen appeared. Snowball fights were common. Layers of clothing to keep in warmth. Wet floors. Soggy mittens. Red cheeks. Drippy noses.

It was fun!

When I was 37, when it became an effort. I didn’t want to be cold and wet. Didn’t want to play outside in freezing temperatures. My youngest was 3. He played with his siblings instead of his mom. I watched from the window, perfectly satisfied, actually, enjoying the sight of my children having fun with each other.

VJ, our cat, like to be outside. Seeing him lift each paw as he tried to navigate the changed terrain was comical. He shook each foot as he raised it from the snow. Sometimes, he sank into it. Undaunted, though, he moved on.

Once, there was a snow fort that their daddy helped to build.

Now, I watch my grandchildren. They are not shrouded in layers as their parents were. They might not even own boots! Winter hats, mittens, maybe a scarf around their neck, that’s it. No leggings and sweaters and layers of pants, shirts, and socks.

Snow is less plentiful now. Global change! Warming of the earth!

I certainly don’t miss those good old days. I like it much better with only the occasional storm.

My mom tells of the 50′s and 60′s when the family members would gather at Meme and Pepe’s yard to shovel out their big driveway. Shovel, take a nip. That’s how they worked. By the time they were done, the driveway was clear and the shovelers had a buzz!

Now, the sounds of shovels are less frequent. Instead of that soothing sound, we hear the motors of snowblowers that get the job done in minutes instead of hours.

The sound of silence that was present when shovels were used is gone, replaced by the hurry-up method of gas-powered machines.

Progress…

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Unearthing Some Truth

“Dig with your pen.” Sarah Ban Breathnach Simple Abundance

Treasures are found deep within. Many layers must be removed before even a hint of something appears. Slowly, we work to uncover the years of living that hide who we really are.

The masks we wear – humor, altruism, busyness, know-it-all, half-truths – disallow reality. They keep us in darkness, afraid of the light, afraid of letting anyone see our soul. We are fearful that we won’t be good enough, that, when we look inside, there will be nothingness.

Such a simple tool – the pen. It can’t take down a mountain in one blast, yet it can make inroads, one tiny piece at a time.

As we record words into our journal, we are digging through that mountain. Just as workers did when they created tunnels for the railroad to travel west, we are chopping away at the stone until we make a small hole. Once the hole has been started, it becomes easier to make it bigger.

Start with a simple hole, a simple phrase, a simple thought. Put it on paper. Make it real.

“I remember…”

“I wish…”

“If only,…”

“Why did I…”

“What would have happened…”

“I regret…”

“I’m happy about…”

“I want to know about…”

Inside your mind, there are millions of memories. Call them forth. Bring them into the light. Let them become a part of your consciousness. Let them be the first steps on a journey of discovery where there will be ‘aha’ moments to celebrate.

 

 

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Dig In

Archeological digs are a way to uncover layers of earth and find history. Sifting through the dirt, removing shards of the past, and gathering them together, like puzzle pieces, to form a picture provides information that might otherwise have been lost.

Journaling provides the same opportunity. We use memories as the shards and record each one onto the page. Our hand moving across the blank space captures our thoughts. When enough pieces are amassed, a picture starts to develop.

Photographs of ourselves when we were very young can start the process. Really look at each photo. What does it reveal? Look at the background – the wall, the furniture, the windows, the trees. Each element of the picture gives us information. Who is in the picture? How old are you? Do you remember anything about when the picture was taken?

Who was the photographer? Was this person the one who always took the photographs?

What year is it? What was happening in the world at that time? Are there family stories about that time period?

We need to sift through the ‘dirt’ and collect the tiniest of pieces in order to form the whole. We need patience and a open mind to invest in this process. We need to trust that each iota is a blessing in the journey of self discovery.

 

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Warmth

It’s happened gradually, over years – the need to be warm.

During winter months, when the light is lessened, the days are shorter, and the temperatures drop, my hands start to feel cold. Then, a chill permeates my body.

I put up the heat, put on a sweater, and cover with a quilt. If I’m lucky, a thaw will set in. I’ll become toasty. I’ll feel the sun shining on me through the window. I’ll be lulled to take a nap.

About 2:30 in the afternoon,the sun reaches a point in the sky where it shines into the window near my power chair. I’m reading, or trying to. My eyes get heavy. Duchess comes to sit on my lap. And it happens. I feel warm enough. I drift off to sleep, my book falls against my chest.

For an hour or so, I am at peace. Warm enough. Comfortable enough. Relaxed enough.

 

On the days when I pick up my three grandchildren at school, I bundle my body into two or three layers of clothing, a scarf, a winter coat, gloves, a hat, and earmuffs. Then, I walk the 700 steps to the school and try to stand in the sunshine, away from the wind, while I wait for the bell to ring and the children to appear.

They come bouncing out, full of energy. They walk to me and get a hug, then they race ahead of me, trying to outdo each other in getting to my house. I’m always last, trudging along, carrying backpacks and whatever else they’ve accumulated during their school day.

Sometimes we meet and pass Mr. S. He moves more slowly than I do, makes me feel good that I can outpace someone.

The warmth of my home welcomes me back. The children get drinks and snacks. They chatter away. I make hot tea for me and settle at the table to listen, help with homework, and play games. When they leave, I neaten up the room and return to my power chair to continue my reading. Now I am warmed by the lingering sounds of these three precious children. I’ve cuddled and kissed them, even when they object. “Stop it, Gramma.” They have reached the age when they are too busy for what Gramma wants to offer. It’s okay. I take what I can get.

Kay and Kee like our face ritual. One at a time, a girl sits on my lap facing me. With one finger, I lightly trace the outline of her face, whispering the part I am touching. Forehead, cheek, eyebrow, eyelid, eyelashes, nose, lips, chin, ears. Her face is serious as I do this. It’s a connection that is special between us. The girls are polite, and wait their turn for the Gramma touch. It’s comforting to share these private memorable moments.

I am warm.

 

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I walk through life unadorned

I walk through life unadorned. I wear no make-up. I wear no jewelry. I dress for comfort, not fashion.

Kay and Kee asked to play with my jewelry box the other day. I put it on the dining room table and they rummaged through the drawers, commenting on the items they discovered. I was busy doing housework, however, their comments brought me to the table and I picked up the pieces of adornment that had been a part of my life decades ago. Necklaces, bracelets, earrings (clip-on), pins. I thought back to when I used to wear them, and the masks I wore in those days. No one saw the real me. Too dangerous.

Most of my jewelry is silver; gold is not my favorite. Yet, today, I’ve put on a gold filigree necklace and a gold scarab bracelet. I’m dressed in brown, ready to go to high tea with a friend. The gold ornaments seem right for my outfit.

My favorite color to wear is red. I wear it when I’m feeling good, self-confident, trusting. I like the way red looks with my white hair. (In my novel, the protagonist always wears a touch of red.) Red is joyful and fun.

Going through life unadorned is meaningful to me. I present my Self to the world just as I am. No artifice. My eyes, my face are the parts that speak of me, that tell what I am feeling.

There is depth to me. Those who are willing to delve will find it. Those who see the mystery of who I am and are tantalized by it are welcomed in with open arms. When I give, I give deeply. This kind of relationship is limited in quantity. Being an introvert, I am easily drained by people. Groups leave me scoured, chafed. One on one – I thrive.

Adornment – a friend mentioned this to me, my lack of it. I think it takes courage to appear naked to the world. In my nakedness, I am also invisible. There is nothing to draw anyone to me. At times, that feels safe and welcome.

 

 

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Tomatoes

Got a chance to work in the veggie garden today. Put in four more tomato plants and some zucchini and cucumbers. After yesterday’s all day rain, the ground is nicely saturated. The two tomato plants already in the garden grew at least two inches as a result of the rain. They are looking healthy. Several flowers on each plant. Roma, big boy, early girl, and cherry – those are the kinds I like.

Strawberries are plentiful. Kay and Kee like to pick them. Sliced with sugar sprinkled on top, these are a treat for the girls. Son#2 put in a few plants two years ago. The patch now holds a few dozen.

Raspberry bush has some flowers. Maybe I’ll get a few fruits this year.

I take breaks often – every 20 minutes or so. I sit and look at what’s in bloom (coreopsis, wild geranium, lupine, foxglove, and irises. Lavender has shoots almost ready to open. Honesty pods are big. baby’s breath has reached the three foot stage.)

Mom is visiting this weekend. We played several games yesterday and she lost them all!

Kay and Kee have a dance recital today. They are in four songs. I watched rehearsals Friday night. They do just about the same thing in each of the four songs, except they wear different costumes. So adorable! Last year was their first recital on a big stage. I gave them flowers after their performance. So, of course, they asked if they would be getting flowers this year! (The answer is ‘yes.”) The cutest song this year is Splish Splash. They have pink dresses, white shower caps, bows, and gloves.

Retirement isn’t what I planned. Instead, it’s much better. I’m a fortunate person to have such a good life.

 

 

 

 

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