Category Archives: Personal

Discover Challenge: “Forgive and Forget”

I have received many pieces of advice in my almost sixty years of living here on earth, and not only that, but I was raised in a family of seven children. And believe me, my mother and father had plenty of advice to give out during the time that I was living at home – not only to me, but to my other six siblings! I heard it all – from “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch,” to “Treat others as you want them to treat you,” which I must admit is one of my all-time favorites. And in those days, sometimes the advice was given simultaneously with a spanking, so you never forgot it!

But I must say that the best advice I have ever received came from my dear mother. Because there were seven of us children, naturally we didn’t all get along all the time. We had our little arguments and we had our big arguments, too. And of course there were hurt feelings. And our mother told us that the best thing we could ever do would be to forgive and forget and not to ever hold a grudge. She said that when you hold a grudge it just festers inside you and makes you dark inside and all you are really doing is hurting yourself and the person you are holding a grudge against. But if you forgive the other person it will heal that grudge inside you and make you lighter and you will feel better.

Some years later after my mother passed away, I felt as though one of my sisters had done something wrong against me and we didn’t speak for quite a while. I was holding quite a grudge against her and I was finding it very difficult to forgive her. I knew in my heart that what I was doing was wrong, but something was holding me back from doing the right thing. I just couldn’t forget what she had done to me.

It was the day after Thanksgiving, and it was our tradition to decorate the house for Christmas. As I was unpacking a box of decorations, I found my Mom’s caroler bells. This was my special family heirloom. At that moment, her words “Forgive and forget” rang loud and clear through my head. I knew then that the healing inside me had begun. I could feel the grudge that I had been holding against my sister begin to slowly melt away.

I called her, we made amends, and things have been good between us ever since.

Forgive and forget. And never hold a grudge. It will only eat you up.

 

This is in response to the Discover Challenge: A Piece of Advice

 

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My Temple

 

my temple

When I think of my body as a temple, it gives me pause to consider how much care and attention it truly deserves, for I believe that is what my Creator intended. He would not have allowed me to inhabit this temple if He did not think I would care for it in the manner that He intended. There are many different parts to my temple, and each one deserves my ministrations.

~ My head is the center of my intelligence. It holds the ideas which are borne from my creativity and imagination. It conjures up all the dreams that I dare to dream. And it contains every thought which directs my actions.

~ My eyes are the windows through which I see the world and all the beauty that it has to offer. My eyes can also shut out the world if I desire to do so. And if I wish, I can shield them from the ugliness and hatred which sometimes resides within the souls of mankind.

~ My ears are the amplifiers of the sounds surrounding me. With my ears, I can hear all the sounds that the world has to offer, such as the birds when they sing their morning song, the wind as it whistles through the trees, and the rain as it pounds on my roof during a heavy shower.

~ My mouth is my instrument that allows me to communicate with the world. It helps me to grow closer to those around me through the art of conversation. With my mouth I can speak volumes or whisper sweet nothings. I can also sing praises to my God and King.

~ My nose allows me to smell the delicious aroma of freshly baked cookies, the aromatic scent of pine trees in the forest, or the sweet fragrance of a newborn baby’s head.

~ My hands allow me to touch those that I love. With my hands I can tend to my loved ones when they are ill, I can cook the meals that sustain us, I can write the stories and poetry that I love to write, I can create the music that I so dearly love by playing the piano, and I can reach out to others in need.

~ My feet allow me to walk the path of life, no matter where it takes me, following wherever my God will lead me, trusting in Him and Him alone.

~ My heart and my soul are the center of my being, the part of me in which faith, hope, and love reside – faith in my God who sustains me, hope for a better tomorrow, and love for my family, my friends, and for all mankind. This is the very best part of me.

My temple is my own, given to me by my Creator, and only He can take it away from me. Until He does, I will reside in it, and I have vowed to love it and care for it until the day comes that I must leave it and finally enter my heavenly home.

Age is a Work of Art

I enjoy the summer with its plentiful sunshine, warm breezes, and gardens overflowing with green plants and colorful flowers. I love to sit on my backyard deck and listen to the birds as they sing their cheerful songs from the branches of the trees overhead and watch the squirrels as they chatter among themselves and scamper through the yard. It’s often a welcome relief from the cold winter months of Minnesota. It’s also a time for family gatherings like graduations, weddings, picnics, and backyard barbecues.cake with candles 1

There’s one other event that the summer brings to our family, and that’s birthday celebrations. During this time, our family celebrates three birthdays in quick succession, each one only a week apart. And my birthday happens to be one of them.

Usually I enjoy celebrating birthdays. It has never really bothered me what age I was. I always believed that age was just a number, a state of mind, and that you were only as old as you feel.

But this summer I’ll turn 59. For some reason, the thought of turning 59 bothers me. I suppose it’s because it means that next year I’ll be 60. My apologies to all the sexagenarians out there, but 60 sounds old to me! I still can’t get used to the idea that by all standards, I’m already considered a senior citizen. I don’t feel like a senior citizen. As far as I’m concerned, my brain still thinks like the 25 to 30-year-old woman who I once was. And when I look at my reflection in the mirror, I can see that I truly don’t have that many wrinkles and I can only find three or four gray hairs. As a matter of fact, when people find out that I’m 58, they always tell me that they would never have guessed that I was that old.

But maybe I should look at this from a different point of view. Perhaps I should leave my emotions out of the picture and instead of thinking about all the negative aspects to aging, maybe I should consider all the benefits to growing older.

One of my favorite quotes is by Stanislaw Lec and it goes like this: “Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art.”

I think that says it all. It’s true that when you’re young, you have the whole future before you. You have high hopes for tomorrow and so many dreams to chase. There’s so much to look forward to and you never give a second thought to growing old. But as we grow older, as we mature, I believe that we have so much more within ourselves than we had in our youth.

For instance, we have the knowledge and the experience to live our lives even smarter and better than when we were younger. We know what to do because there’s a good chance that we’ve been in similar circumstances before. We make wiser decisions and hopefully, smarter choices. Not only that, but we can help others to benefit from our experiences – those we love such as our children and even our grandchildren if we’re lucky.

Our emotions are more finely tuned and usually we can deal with those emotions better (not all the time, but most of the time). We can enjoy other people’s company more because of the experience we’ve gained from our past relationships.

And I think we can love others more fully and more deeply than ever before. And that’s the best part of all.

Do you remember that old jingle: “You’re not getting older, you’re getting better?” I believe it’s true.

So maybe turning 59 won’t be so bad after all. And before I blow out those birthday candles, I’ll think I’ll make the wish that next year my 60th birthday will be even better.

 

School Days

appleSchool days, school days,
Dear old Golden Rule days!
Reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmetic
Taught to the tune of a hick’ry stick.

I loved being a student, from the time I was in kindergarten. I never minded it when it was time to wake up early in the morning and go off to school, even in the middle of the cold Minnesota winters. And there were no school buses to transport us to our elementary school. Yes – we had to walk six blocks, even in what was sometimes 30 degree below windchill temperatures! My mother would bundle us up to ward off the freezing temperatures, and to me it was worth it.

I enjoyed learning everything, from art to science. And the year that I began to learn how to read – now that was banner year for me. I remember how excited I was to learn that if you put together letters in a certain way then you could form words and those words could form sentences and that this was the key to reading. And from there you could write. Yes, reading opened up a whole new world for me.

I’ll admit that I was a good student and learning did come easily to me. My mind was always hungry for new knowledge and I soaked up any new knowledge like a sponge. I was receptive to any and all teaching. Maybe that’s why I was a good student. And when report card time came, I was always proud to bring it home to show my parents how well I had done. We were never rewarded with anything but praise for a job well done. And I was content with that.

I’ve always valued a good education and believe that it is the foundation for a good future. My husband and I instilled this value of a good education into our children as they were growing up. While they were in school, we always told them that they needed to do their best, and if their best was a “C” at report card time, that was okay. We never rewarded our children monetarily for their grades. And they always did their best. I’m proud to say that all three of our children graduated from college with bachelor’s degrees. And they all worked their way through college, too. Not only that, but our youngest daughter just completed her first year pursuing her master’s degree in music performance on the cello.

Am I bragging? I guess maybe I am. But as a mother I just can’t help it. I’m so proud of all of my children. I’m proud that I was able to pass on my love of school to all of them and that it shows. And I know that my children will pass that love on to their children.

And this is one of my greatest accomplishments.

So what do I miss about being in school? Everything.

 

 

Share Your World – 2015 Week #24

What’s your favorite charitable cause and why?

St. JudeMy favorite charitable cause is the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. And the reason is easy to understand, considering the fact that not only am I a retired nurse, but I’m also a mother. What better cause could there be than an organization which is dedicated to finding cures for children and saving the lives of children? I have been very fortunate to be the mother of three healthy children and never had to worry about whether they would live to see adulthood, but just imagine if you were the parents of a child who was facing the possibility of perhaps not even surviving beyond their third or fourth birthday? So you can see why I believe this charitable cause is a very worthy one. After all, I hope to be a grandmother some day, and I’d like to take comfort in the knowledge that if one of my grandchildren were diagnosed with what is now considered to be an incurable disease that by then, it will be curable, all because of St. Jude’s.   

What color do you feel most comfortable wearing?pink

I really don’t mind wearing any color, to tell you the truth. I’ve always worn whatever color suited my mood at the time, although I have gone through periods of wearing just one certain color for weeks at a time, although I’m not really sure why that’s been, and in particular that color was black. I think I did that because black just goes with everything! But I will tell you that my favorite color to wear is pink. I’ve always adored the color pink. It’s so cheerful and it makes me happy. Did you know that the color pink evokes feelings of love, sensitivity, and tranquility? But it’s funny – I really don’t have that much pink in my wardrobe because I can never seem to find the right kinds of clothing to wear that are in the color pink. Now why do you suppose that is? There should be better pink clothing in the world, don’t you think?   

If you had your own talk show, who would your first three guests be? (guest can be dead, alive, famous or someone you just know)

benjamin franklin1.  Okay – the first thing you must know about me before I tell you who my first guest would be is that I am a HUGE history buff, and my favorite era in history to study is the American Revolutionary War Era from 1775-1783. Just the fact that the thirteen American colonies, struggling for their independence from Great Britain, were able to hold their own and eventually triumph over the greatest army in the world (that being the King’s British Army) has always amazed me and filled me with a sense of American pride. I know – I’m kind of a geek, right? So, my first guest would have to be Benjamin Franklin. From what I’ve read of him, Benjamin Franklin led quite an extraordinary life. Not only was he one of our founding fathers, but he was also an inventor, diplomat, author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, civic activist, and statesman. I’d have a very long list of questions for him!

 

florence nightingale2.  Being a retired nurse, I’d absolutely have to invite Florence Nightingale as my second guest. Florence Nightingale, a celebrated English social reformer and statistician, was also the founder of modern nursing. She’s most famously known as “The Lady with the Lamp,” a name which she received after making rounds of wounded soldiers at night during the Crimean War (1853-1856). While nursing the soldiers over this period of time, Florence believed that the death rates were due to poor nutrition, lack of supplies, stale air and overworking of the soldiers. She also came to believe that most of the soldiers at the hospitals were killed by poor living conditions. It was during this time that her advocacy of the importance of sanitary living conditions for the soldiers at the hospitals was the greatest contributing factor to the reduced death rate. I would love to interview a sister nurse!

 

eleanor roosevelt3.  For my third guest, I would love to have Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President Franklin Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States. Eleanor Roosevelt was called “The First Lady of the World” by President Harry S. Truman because of her human rights achievements. She advocated for expanded roles for women in the workplace, the civil rights of African Americans and Asian Americans, and the rights of World War II refugees. During her time as First Lady, she was very outspoken, which didn’t earn her any points with the public, but she didn’t care because she stood up for what she believed in regardless. And on a few occasions, she even publicly disagreed with her husband’s policies. She was the first presidential spouse to hold press conferences, write a syndicated newspaper column, and speak at a national convention. When Franklin became partially paralyzed due to polio, it was Eleanor who persuaded him to stay in politics, and she even began to give speeches and campaign in his place. After he was elected as Governor of New York, Eleanor regularly made public appearances on his behalf. She also shaped the role of First Lady during her time as First Lady and beyond. She was a great lady and I think she would make an excellent guest.

List:  What are at least five places you’ve enjoyed visiting?

Yikes! I haven’t traveled to very many places in my life, but let’s see if I can come up with at least five.liberty bell

1.  Philadelphia, PA:  Okay, the reason for this is quite obvious. As I said, I love American history, and one of the best places to go sight-seeing, especially for history regarding the American Revolutionary War Era is Philadelphia, PA. After all, there’s Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Declaration (Graff) House, Betsy Ross House, Congress Hall, President’s House, and Society Hill. walt disney worldThere’s so much to see in Philadelphia!

2.  Disneyworld:  This was the trip of a lifetime for our family, and it was a place I had only dreamed of going to when I was a child. When the trip practically fell into our laps, I could hardly believe our luck! I’ll never forget the way I felt as we stood on the paddle boat and crossed the lake to Magic Kingdom Park, with my two girls standing on either side of me. I remember that I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as the music, “When You Wish Upon a Star” was playing all around us from the speakers which were positioned above us on the boat. We had a great time that week and made memories that will last a lifetime.cabo san lucas

3.  Cabo San Lucas, Mexico:  This was a stop on our 25th wedding anniversary Mexico cruise for my husband and me. We took this cruise with my sister and her husband and my best friend and her husband. When we first arrived at this stop, we took a ride on a glass-bottomed boat, which was quite unique. I could see all kinds of sea life! After that we were on our own and headed for the beach. I’ll never forget how blue the water was. It was absolutely breathtaking and so serene. I really hated to go back to the ship that day!

Rushmore4.  Black Hills, SD:  Our family has been to the Black Hills a few times, because it is one of our favorite places to go. There are just so many things to see in the Black Hills that I can barely begin to list all of them, but here are a few of my favorites: Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, Wind Cave, Deadwood, Reptile Gardens, Bear Country, and Badlands National Park.

 

5. See – I told you I haven’t been to very many places! Okay, so how’s this: “To be continued . . . ” 

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Top Three Pandora's BoxLast week was a great week for me! I’ve been entering my stories/poems at the challenges over at yeahwrite.me for almost a year now, but have never won any awards, but still I continued to post my stories not just because I enjoy the challenge, but because I enjoy writing. Period. Never didEditor Pick My 68-year-old Brain I expect to win an award because all the writers are so great over there. But last week I actually won not only one, but TWO awards! Can you believe that? I was so happy that (silly me) I cried tears of joy! The first award was the “Top Three Award” in the fiction/poetry category for my poem, “Pandora’s Box.” And then, best of all, I won “Editor Pick” for my story in the nonfiction category, “My 68-Year-Old- Brain.” I’m telling you, I had to pinch myself because it just seemed like a dream to me and I thought for sure that at any minute I would wake up and find out that it really wasn’t true! I guess it just goes to show that you have to keep trying and continue to do what you love, no matter what, because that’s what will make you happy.

hope springs eternal 500There are two things that I’m looking forward to in the upcoming week. I’ve been having so much trouble with my back; as a matter of fact, this has been a chronic problem which I’ve been suffering from for years and I’ve tried everything to get rid of it – medication, physical therapy, injections, even surgery, and all to no avail. So now I’m going to visit a chiropractor and I’m keeping my fingers crossed because I’m hoping that perhaps he will have a solution. I’m just so tired of my back pain preventing me from living a normal life. Some days I can’t even sit at my piano – and if you know anything about me, you know how much I love my piano! So I pray that this will help.

The second thing is so much better because this weekend is Father’s Day! This means that my son Joe,happy father's day my daughter Sarah and my son-in-law Axel will be coming over on Sunday to help me celebrate the wonderful man who is their father, my husband Mike. He is probably the best Dad on the planet. He has always put his children first, no matter what – even before me! And that about says it all, right? He would do anything in the world for his kids just to be sure that they are safe, healthy, and happy. And that’s only one of the many reasons that I love him. We’re planning on having a barbecue in the backyard and will spend quality family time out on our deck, and hopefully our Minnesota weather will cooperate. Right now the forecast tell us there’s a 40% chance of thunderstorms, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed!

And I’d like to wish all those Dads out there a very Happy Father’s Day. And remember: Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a Dad.

So now you know a little more about me.

I’m glad we had this time together and I’d like to thank you for spending it with me. I’m so pleased that I was able to share a bit about myself and my world with you and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Best,

Cindy's signature with flower and butterfly

share your world

 

This post is presented as part of the Share Your World Challenge. If you’d like to be part of this great activity, please click here:

Cee’s Share Your World Challenge

You Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Til It’s Gone

Why do we work? If we think about this question carefully and answer truthfully, most of us will answer that we work to earn a living in order to pay for things like a roof over our head, clothes on our backs, and food to eat. But how many of us don't knowappreciate the fact that we can work?

For twenty-five years I worked full-time as a registered nurse at a local hospital in a busy operating room where we performed many different surgeries – from simple tonsillectomies to complicated brain surgeries. There were many emergency surgeries and I couldn’t even tell you the number of times when I was part of a surgical team that saved a patient’s life. My work could be very awesome and rewarding; it could also be very stressful.

During this time I led a very busy life. Every day, after working an eight-hour shift at the hospital, I would rush home to my “other” job as wife and mother. Our three children kept my husband and me very busy. We had to chauffeur them to all their activities, wherever they might be. Our children were involved in many activities from sports to dancing and music lessons. We spent countless hours in hockey arenas, on baseball and football fields, in dance and karate studios, and in gymnasiums for gymnastic classes. I cannot even count the number of times we attended boy scout and girl scout meetings, school plays, orchestra concerts, and cello recitals. Our children loved these extracurricular activities and we felt they helped to make our children well-rounded. In addition, my husband and I were active members in our church and we volunteered for many ministries. We were so busy; and now, many years later, it’s all just a blur to me.

While our children were growing up, I fervently wished I didn’t have to work. I really wanted to be a stay-at-home mom instead. After telling my husband how I felt about this, we sat down and took stock of our financial situation. But even after much juggling here and there, we still could not find a way to make this a reality. Our finances simply could not support my wish of being a stay-at-home mom. I couldn’t even cut back to part-time! So I reluctantly resigned myself to this fact and went about the business of being a full-time working wife and mother.

Then a few years later, when our youngest was in high school, our world came crashing down. I was diagnosed with a serious illness which soon took its toll. After several attempts at working even though I was ill, I just couldn’t do it any more. It was simply too painful for me to continue and so I became medically disabled. My wish had finally come true – I could not work any more, not even part-time.

It didn’t take long for me to discover that staying home from work was not all it was cracked up to be, especially if you were sick and in bed most of the time like I was.

Not only that, but I missed my work; I missed my friends; I missed the busy schedule; and my husband and I really missed the salary I had been making. And even more than those things, I missed the person that I once was – a healthy, vital, happy woman who had something to offer to the world.

And now, instead of waking up every morning, jumping out of bed, and getting ready for work, here I am – sick at home with the days stretching out before me with really nothing to do. Sometimes I’m so lonely that I go into an internet chat room just to have someone to socialize with. And talk about being bored to tears! After all, there is only so much television that a person can watch in a day. And then the depression sets in. I’ve cried more than my share and have often wondered why I’ve been given this lot in life. Being a person of faith, I know it’s just part of our heavenly Father’s plan, but sometimes this fact is not so consoling.

With all this time on my hands, I do a lot of thinking. I think about those busy days when the kids were growing up, and I remembered that we really did have a lot of fun together. I think about the nursing job I had and all the worthwhile work I was doing, like saving people’s lives and making people’s lives better with the surgeries that we performed, and that maybe those surgeries went so well because I was there to help. I think about the conversations I had with my friends at work during coffee breaks or lunch, and how much I miss their company. I think about the days when I could buy something new and not have to worry about the expense.

As I think about the past twenty-five years, it is then that I realize something. I realize that all I’ve really done was wish my life away – instead of appreciating the life I was living at the time.

So my advice to you is this:  Enjoy your life. Live in the moment. Learn how to take the bad with the good. And make wonderful memories.

And remember that it’s true what they say:  “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it is gone!”

 

 

My 68-Year-Old Brain

yeah write editor pick #217

 

As a writer, one of your most valuable possessions is the wealth of knowledge that you have accumulated through the years and locked away inside your brain. It is there at your fingertips, ready to be accessed at a moment’s notice, whenever you decide to open those memory files and put them into use.

While I was growing up, I was always an A student, excelling in English grammar with a knack for writing. I enjoyed writing and it wasn’t long before I was writing on a daily basis. As a matter of fact, writing was so important to me that nothing stopped me from doing what I loved most – not even being bedridden for several years, the many hospitalizations and surgeries I had to undergo, nor the fact that I was pretty much literally on handfuls of pills every day.

But then five years ago I began to notice that I was having a difficult time writing. I was forgetting words. I’d be ready to write a word, have it right at the tip of my tongue, but then I’d forget it. I couldn’t remember what I wanted to write.

This scenario began to occur more.

I wondered what was happening to me. Was it just because of all the medication I was on? Was I going crazy? Was I going senile? Or even worse – did I have Alzheimer’s? I was only 58! On the other hand, I knew of people getting early onset Alzheimer’s. But I didn’t dare mention any of this to my husband because the prospect was just too frightening. So I kept my worries to myself.

Then one weekend my husband went on a camping trip with his buddies. As for myself, I was all set for a weekend of writing and watching movies. The last thing I remember is talking on the phone to my sister Friday evening. I woke up on the living room floor 24 hours later.

Two days later I was standing with my husband in our spare bedroom having a chat. I remember that I fell forward to my knees, and as my husband helped me up, he said: Are you okay?” When I asked him what happened, he told me that I had passed out.

This is when he brought me to the clinic. Although my doctor believed I’d lost consciousness due to dehydration from kidney problems, he wanted me to see a neurologist.

At first the neurologist thought my lost weekend was caused by a seizure. I know – scary, right? So they did an EEG, which was normal, although it was quite a pleasant experience – I even fell asleep during that test, much to my surprise.

Then the neurologist determined that an MRI of my brain was in order. I’ve had plenty of MRI’s done before – mostly of my spine, but also of my brain. I thought: They’re not going to find anything wrong with my brain – the EEG was normal – surely the MRI is going to be just fine, too, because it’s always been fine before.

But then the results came back. First the neurologist said that my loss of consciousness was in all probability due to dehydration, just as my family practitioner had diagnosed. And then there was something else.

I was told that I have spots on my brain. While everyone acquires these spots as they grow older, I have many more than I should.

“As a matter of fact,” said the neurologist, “even though you’re only a 58-year-old woman, you have the brain of a 68-year-old woman.”

Then the light bulb went on in my 68-year-old brain. I asked: “Is this the reason that I have difficulty remembering words?”

He told me that it was. And that it was probably a result of my chronic illnesses. Not my fault. But that didn’t make it any easier. He also said that I might start to have problems remembering events or dates.

My 68-year-old brain knows these things: I cannot reverse this process. I cannot remove the spots on my brain. As much as I want a lifeline, the neurologist cannot offer one. All I have is one more pill for my list, an aspirin every day. This may slow the spots down, but it won’t stop them.

And so I continue to write. Every day it is a struggle to hunt down my words, gather them up, and pin them down on paper. Sometimes it takes hours to write just one paragraph, sometimes days to write just one blog post, perhaps a week or more to write just one story, because the words are so elusive. But the struggle is worth it.

We all have our challenges. This is mine. But I will never give up. Never.

Because I am a writer. And I will find a way.

 

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