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Writing 101: Day Nineteen – “Don’t Stop the Rockin'”

Day Nineteen – Don’t Stop the Rockin’:  

* Today’s Prompt:  Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop.

 

Up to this point, I believed that I was quite satisfied with my life just the way it was. After being medically disabled for the past eleven years, I had finally come to accept my situation and had learned to deal with the pain of my disability so that I could participate in the activities of daily living. It had been a very long road, but I had come a long way, and now I was at a point where I was enjoying many good days. But I knew that there was one thing that I was supposed to do that would make me feel even better and that was exercise. It’s not that I didn’t want to exercise, but every time that I tried, my lower back would go into spasm and then I would just stop. So I just never exercised.

Then last week my sister Diane phoned telling me that she and my sister Terri had begun playing a new game called “pickleball,” and she asked if I’d like to come on Saturday to try it out. I was hesitant at first, wondering how my back would hold out, but then a little voice inside told me to go ahead and try it and so I agreed. Here was my opportunity to get some exercise.

On Saturday morning, I packed up for the trip to the gym because we were going to an indoor court. I had decided ahead of time that I would bring my laptop, already thinking that I probably wouldn’t be able to play this game because of my back. I figured that I’d give it a try and then if my back couldn’t hold up to the strain, I could sit on the sidelines and do some writing while I waited for my sisters to finish their games (Diane had told me we’d be probably be gone for two to three hours).

After arriving at the gym, I noticed there were six courts set up to play this new game. My sisters had informed me on the drive over that pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S. It’s a combination of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong and is played with a paddle and a wiffle ball on a short court. I was grateful for the shorter court because I had tried tennis before and had failed miserably. Goodness knows I am no athlete!

 

 

And so my sisters began to coach me on the game of pickleball: how to serve, how to hit the ball back and forth, how to score, etc. I began to get the hang of the game and before long, I was actually enjoying myself, and so we decided to play a game. By this time, a woman whom my sisters worked with had joined us so that we’d be able to play doubles. And so we began.

After about fifteen minutes of playing, right on cue, my back went into spasm. But I didn’t want to stop, so I pushed through the pain and before long, like a miracle, the spasm disappeared! I was ecstatic. Not only that, but the back pain never returned. This had never happened before. It was such a glorious feeling. I felt as though I had won an Olympic medal!

We went on to play four games of pickleball that day, which lasted a total of nearly three hours. I could hardly believe that I had accomplished such a feat. Imagine me – who led a sedentary life, doing that kind of exercise for nearly three hours! And I had such a marvelous time – with no back pain. It was incredible.

And guess what I did that afternoon? I went out and bought my own graphite pickleball racket because I knew that I was going to be playing a lot of pickleball.

I learned a valuable lesson that day: Just when you think you want to quit is when you have to keep pushing even harder because when you do succeed, that’s when you’ll find it will all be worthwhile. And it was.

 

 

Writing 101: Day Seventeen – “Your Personality on the Page”

Day Seventeen – Your Personality on the Page:  

* Today’s Prompt:  What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears. 

* Today’s Twist:  Write this post in a style distinct from your own.

 

I don’t think that there’s a single person in the world who doesn’t have a fear of something. If there is someone who says that they’re not afraid of anything, then he or she is truly unique. Either that, or they just don’t want to admit it!

According to Psychology Today: “Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger – if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats. But often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death, and thus FEAR1hang back for no good reason. Traumas or bad experiences can trigger a fear response within us that is hard to quell. Yet exposing ourselves to our personal demons is the best way to move past them.”

Being afraid is healthy. Being afraid is normal. Being afraid is part of being human. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s something that we all experience, and therefore, it’s something we can all relate to. The only difference is that we don’t all have the same fears.

I am no different from anyone else. I have fears of my own. And I can also tell you what I’m not afraid of. I’m not afraid of the dark. I’m not afraid of spiders. I’m not afraid of clowns. I’m not afraid of thunder. And I’m not even afraid of dying.`

My number one fear is the fear of heights, otherwise known as acrophobia. In my research of acrophobia, I read that everyone who suffers from acrophobia experiences it in their own way and may have different symptoms. Typical symptoms include shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea, and overall feelings of dread. This fear of heights can be dangerous, as in situations where the person has a panic attack in a high place and becomes too agitated to get themselves down safely. Some acrophobics also suffer from urges to throw themselves off high places, despite not being suicidal.

Acrophobia 200In researching the causes for acrophobia, I discovered that the most widely accepted explanation is that acrophobia stems from the natural fear of falling and being injured or killed. A phobia such as the fear of heights occurs when fear is taken to an extreme, possibly due to unintentional learning, generalization of the fear response, or the result of a traumatic experience. Like other fears and phobias, acrophobia is created by the unconscious mind as a protective mechanism, which agrees with the article that I read in Psychology Today, as mentioned earlier in this post. It could be that at some point in my past, there may have been an event linking heights or high levels and emotional trauma. My mind could be seeking to protect my body from further trauma and that is what is causing an extreme fear of the situation, in this case the fear of heights.

I have racked my brain, trying desperately to remember what event could have caused my fear of heights, but to no avail. As a matter of fact, in my youth, I had no such fear. I remember going to the fair or to the amusement park and absolutely loving it when I could ride on the ferris wheel. I also remember going to the top of the IDS Tower in Minneapolis and looking out over the city with its beautiful view, reveling in the feeling. And the IDS Tower has a total of 57 levels! Never once was I afraid in any of those situations.  But the very first time that I had to fly on an airplane, I was terrified. I almost didn’t get on the plane.conquering fears 100

Now I’m afraid to look out the window of a two-story building. Even worse, I’m afraid to stand on a chair for fear that I might fall. But what’s even stranger is that I have flying dreams. Now how do you explain that? Wouldn’t you think that a person who is afraid of heights wouldn’t have a dream about flying? Or maybe the two aren’t even related.

But I guess it could be worse. I could be afraid of people, intimacy, or even love. And yes, those are real fears that real people are afraid of.

So what to do about our fears, whatever they may be? I’ve thought about this and I think that the answer is not really all that difficult. First, I think that a person has to realize that they’re not alone. There are probably millions of people who have the same fears that you do. Then the next step is to face your fear by exposing yourself to it. And I realize that this is the hardest step. But if you do it, just a little at a time, then maybe one day you can conquer your fears.

ferris wheelAs for myself, I’m hoping that some day I can ride the ferris wheel again without being afraid. It would be so nice to sit in one of those ferris wheel cars with one of my children or my husband and enjoy myself as it goes up and down. And then when it stops at the top, I can look out over the fair grounds and think: “Wow! I did it. I’m not afraid anymore. Isn’t life grand?”

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Writing 101: Day Sixteen – “Serial Killer III”

Day Sixteen – Serial Killer III:  

* Today’s Prompt:   Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar, or tell a story about something interesting you find in a pile.

* Today’s Twist:  If you’d like to continue our serial challenge, also reflect on the theme of “lost and found” more generally in this post.

After being medically disabled in 2004, my world came crashing down and depression quickly set in. But then my husband suggested that I return to writing, a love that I had long since forgotten. It was a suggestion for which I will be forever grateful because writing changed my attitude about life and all of a sudden, my situation didn’t seem as tragic as I had pictured it to be.

With the event of my medical disability, I lost my nursing career, something which I treasured. But on the other hand, with the event of my medical disability, I found one of my first loves: writing, another treasure, which had been buried for so long and so deep within me. And I was so happy that I found it once again.

One day while cleaning out our basement, I stumbled upon a large cardboard box which contained hundreds of old photographs that I had totally forgotten were being stored in this particular part of our house. Curious, I decided to carry the box up to our kitchen and look through its contents, and I was so glad that I did.Mom Wedding pic 3

I found a photograph of my mother which was taken on her wedding day. This photograph was a black and white 8 X 10 picture and it revealed that she was indeed one of the most beautiful brides I have ever seen. It could be that I’m biased, but I have included a copy of that very same photo with this entry so that you can judge for yourself. The photo brought back a memory of the story that my mother related to me of my parents’ love story, and it was then that I realized that this was the perfect first story for me to write about after rediscovering my first love – writing.

Regarding my parents’ courtship – now this is an interesting and romantic little tale to tell. As a matter of fact, it’s just like something out of a movie.

My father John came from a very large family of eleven children. Yes, my father’s parents were good Catholics and absolutely believed in large families.

During World War II, my mother was engaged to my father’s brother, Patrick, who was the second oldest sibling. At this time, my father was a sergeant in the army and was serving overseas, and my mother had never even met my father.

My Aunt Dorothy, who was married to my Uncle Ray, the oldest sibling, was good friends with my mother. She told my mother: “Marg, (my mother’s name was Margaret) if you like Pat, just wait until you meet Jack.” She was referring to my father, who was nicknamed Jack.

When my father was discharged from the service and came home, his brother Patrick then entered the military service. It was then that my mother met my father through my Aunt Dorothy. Somehow they began to date. I think my Aunt Dorothy had a lot to do with this. I think she felt that my mother and father were destined to be together instead of my mother and my Uncle Pat being together.

My mother and father fell in love. She broke off the engagement with my Uncle Pat. And she told me that this was one of the most difficult things she ever had to do, and she felt so awful doing it, but she knew she was meant to be with my father. My father proposed to her and she accepted. Now this is the stuff that romance is made of, and who would have ever thought that something like this would happen between your mother and father, of all people? Ah, such is love.

My parents were married on November 19, 1946. And my father asked my Uncle Pat to be his best man. According to my mother, on their wedding day, my Uncle Pat said to my father: “I hope you’re never happy.” Yes, I guess he was a little bitter. But eventually he accepted their marriage and later on, my father and my Uncle Pat became the best of friends once again. My Uncle Pat married a wonderful woman – my Aunt Colleen. They would always vist us on Christmas Day, and you would never guess that my Uncle Pat held a grudge against my father for a while.

I am grateful that my mother chose my father to be her husband. They loved each other totally and deeply. And even though they never had much as far as wealth is concerned, they always had the one thing that is the most important – true love. And who could ask for anything more?

 

 

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Writing 101 – Day Fourteen: “To Whom It May Concern”

Day Fourteen – To Whom It May Concern:  

* Today’s Prompt:  Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What’s the first word that jumps off the page? Use this word as your springboard for inspiration.

* * * (The word I first word I read was “Father”)

* Today’s Twist:  Write the post in the form of a letter.

Dear Father,

Words cannot express how much I have missed you all these years since you’ve been gone. When you left us, it was as though a great void was created in our lives that was never filled. Mom did her best and kept the family together, just as you asked her to do before you left to be with God. She was so strong, Dad. You would have been proud of her. And you know it wasn’t easy, either. But she made sure that we had everything we needed, always sacrificing what she needed for herself. Then again, she’s always been that way. But we still needed you, Dad. I guess God needed you more.

I married a wonderful man named Mike. I know that you’d really like him. He’s kind, honest, compassionate, and hard-working. I couldn’t have asked for a better husband or father for our children, Dad. He’s always there for me; even when I was very ill he was with me through it all. I only wish you could have been there to walk me down the aisle on the day we were married. I thought of you on that day, Dad. I hoped that you were smiling down on us from heaven. I wish we could have danced the father-daughter dance together. How I missed you on that special day.

We have three beautiful children – your grandchildren, Dad. Do you watch them from heaven? I wish you could have bounced them on your knee when they were babies. Children are so happy when they’re with their grandparents and I know that my kids would have loved you. How I wish they could have known you, and how I wish you could have known them. They’re all grown up now. They all graduated from college – something that you wished all of your children could have done. Your grandson Joe works for a large retailer at their corporate offices and is climbing the corporate ladder; your granddaughter Sarah is married to a great guy and is working as an optometric technician; and your granddaughter Stephanie is working on her master’s degree in music performance on the cello at a university in Wisconsin. They are dad at christmas timeamazing adults and we are so proud of them. I know that you’d be proud of them, too. 

I want you to know that I think of you often, Dad. I tell your grandchildren stories about you and have shown them you photographs. I have even written stories about you to keep your memory alive. I don’t want the world to forget about you. 

And I know that even though I miss you now, I will see you again one day, Dad. Until then, watch over us. Keep smiling down upon us. And remember that I love you.

Your daughter,

Cindy

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Writing 101 – Day Thirteen: “Serial Killer II”

Day Thirteen – Serial Killer II:

* Today’s Prompt:  On day four, you wrote a post about losing something. Today, write about finding something.

* Today’s Twist:  Today’s twist: if you wrote day four’s post as the first in a series, use this one as the second installment — loosely defined.

In 2004 I was medically disabled from working as a registered nurse in the operating room. It was quite a blow to me because I loved my job. While I was working, I felt as though I was making a difference in the lives of my patients, and suddenly those feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment were being taken away from me. It was almost too much to bear. To say that I was depressed was an understatement.

Since my children were in school all day and my husband was at work, I was alone and lonely. The days stretched out before me and the hours seemed as though they were much longer in length than just sixty minutes. The fact that I was restricted to bed for the most part didn’t help matters any, and I had plenty of time to feel sorry for myself. It wasn’t long before depression settled over me like a blanket which covered every inch of my being.

My husband became quite concerned over the change in my personality. And it was he who became my savior.

“Cindy,” he said, “remember how you used to write stories back before the kids were born? You used to be really good at it. Maybe you should start writing again. It would give you something to do.”

I thought about what he said and I began to remember. The desire to the write was ignited once again and has burned writing 500brightly ever since.

I am so grateful to my husband for helping me to find my long-lost love for writing. Because of my nursing career and motherhood, I had forgotten all about her, but with the event of my disability, I now had the chance to nurture and care for her once more.

Writing has given me so much. I can tell my stories in my own way and not have to worry about what anyone else thinks. I can write how I feel at any given time and once I put my writing 200feelings down on paper, it’s over, done with, gone. When I write, I can be exactly who I am. I am compelled to write.

So now when I think about becoming disabled, I’m not as sad as I used to be. I still miss it, but not as much any more.

When I wrote my entry for Day Four, one of my readers made this comment: “Your honesty is refreshing. For some reason though, I feel as if your illness which forced you to be home, was really so you would have time to write and share hope & inspiration with others.” 

Maybe she was right.
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The Boy Who Was Meant To Be Our Son

The time had come for my husband and me to make a momentous decision that would change our lives forever. Both of us had grown up in big families; Mike had five siblings, and I had six. We both knew the joys and happiness of being part of a large family, and we wanted to have the same kind of family – with at least three children

We had moved into our four bedroom home about eight years before, but the rooms were empty and the silence was deafening. We wanted to hear the sound of children padding down the hallway in their slippers. We wanted to say goodnight prayers with them before they went to sleep. We wanted to be good parents and encourage and comfort our children as needed. This was our wish, but no matter how hard we tried, our wish would not come true.

Actually, I had been pregnant once. It was right before we moved into our house. During this time, we were so excited and happy.  We thought it was the perfect time to have a baby. Naturally, I wanted to share our happiness so I called my mother, all my sisters and my brother and told them the good news.  Mike did the same with his side of the family. At that time, life seemed so perfect.

Then it happened.  Two days after my pregnancy was confirmed, I suffered a miscarriage and our perfect dream was ruined.

I will never forget that tragic day. I was so depressed and so unhappy. What if I could never give birth to a child? What would we do then? We had tried so many times to get pregnant and when we finally did, I miscarried. Our hopes and dreams of a big family soon grew dim.

Three more years passed by and still no baby. We went to fertility specialists and had all sorts of tests and procedures done.  Nothing happened. No matter what we tried, I still did not become pregnant.

It was around this time I decided I needed a change of pace.The plan was for me to go to nursing school, and when I graduated I could work in the operating room. I had two sisters who worked in the operating room and it sounded like the perfect job for me. My husband supported me in this decision, as he always did.

I started nursing school. I had a very hectic schedule. I would go to work in the morning, still working my full-time hours, and when I finished working for the day, I went to nursing school. Then I would get home around 10:00, eat something for dinner, and shortly after that I would retire to my bed.The next morning, I woke up and started all over again. My weekends were filled with studying and doing clinicals. These were the hours we spent at the hospital working as student nurses. It was valuable experience.

But no matter how hard I worked, whether it be at my job or in school, I knew there was still a hole in our lives. I also knew that the only thing that would fill this hole would be a baby. I talked with Mike about this and after many such discussions we decided that we would go ahead and adopt a child. After all, any child was God’s child, and we would be honored to raise one of God’s children.

We decided to go through Catholic Charities and begin the process of adoption. We wanted a newborn baby, and Mike wanted a son.  So after all the paperwork and red tape, it was finally just a matter of waiting for the baby. They informed us that it would be about three years for the adoption to occur. This meant that I would have plenty of time to graduate from nursing school and find a job working as a nurse before our baby came.

As the days passed by, we redecorated one of the bedrooms and made it into the nursery. We painted it blue because blue is Mike’s favorite color. I made curtains for the windows and a matching quilt for the crib. The theme for the nursery was “Care Bears”. . Care Bears were all over the room; in the curtains, in the quilt, in the pictures on the wall, and there were even Care Bear toys in the crib.

Next came the moment to hang a plaque on the wall which matched our sentiments exactly:  On the plaque were these words:

 Not flesh of my flesh,
 Nor bone of my bone,
 But still miraculously my own.

 Never forget for a single minute;
You didn’t grow under my heart

But in it.

As a final touch, we hung a cross on the wall; a symbol that our baby was loved by the Lord.

We  were finished.  All we had to do now was wait for our son to be born. We had already decided on a name.  We would name him Joseph Michael – Joseph after my husband’s father, and Michael after my husband.

Life continued with me working every day and going to school every night. Another year passed, and then it happened. I was home studying for a big exam that we were having that evening. As I was sitting in the kitchen, surrounded by all my books and notebooks, the telephone rang. It was my husband Mike.

“What are you doing?” he asked nonchalantly.

“I’m studying for the test – what do you think I ‘m doing?”  Because of the difficulty of the upcoming exam, I was under a lot of pressure, and therefore I was a little grumpy.

“Are you sitting down?”

“That is the standard position used to study for a test; of course I am sitting down!”  I kept thinking that we were wasting valuable time on the phone when I could be studying for the exam.

“Then I have something to tell you.”

“Okay, what is it?” I answered hoping the conversation was almost over.  I wished he would just hurry up and get it over with so I could get back to studying.

“She called!”

I could hardly believe it.  When Mike said “She called,” I knew exactly who he was referring to.  I don’t know how I knew it, but I did

“Really?  Oh my gosh, really?  This isn’t one of your pranks, is it?  Did she really call?”  He had finally gotten my attention and a shiver of excitement ran through me.

“Yes, dear, she did call.  I wouldn’t fool around about something like that. Anyway, she said that tomorrow we can come and pick up our son”.

Now this was too much. When Michael said we could pick up our son, I lost it. There was a huge lump in my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes. Before I knew it, there I was, crying like a baby.

“What’s the matter, Cindy? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine; I’m just so happy, that’s all, and it’s happening a lot earlier than we thought, so I’m surprised, too!” It was a minute or two before I gained my composure back, and then I started to ask questions.

“How big is he? When was he born? Is he eating cereal yet?” I questioned, as I gave Mike the third degree about our new son.

“Whoa, hang on honey. I didn’t ask her all those questions, but I knew you would, so she gave me her telephone number and said you could call any time and she’d give you all the details.”

So Mike gave me the telephone number and now I wanted to hang up so I could call the social worker.

“Well,” I said, “you’re probably pretty busy at work and I suppose I should let you go.”

Mike laughed. “Okay, okay, I get the hint. You want me to get off the line so you can call the social worker. It’s okay. I understand. Go ahead and call her and then we’ll talk before you go to class tonight. I think we have some planning to do.”

“You’re right about that. I’ll be waiting.”

When I put the receiver down my mind was spinning out of control. All I kept thinking about was the baby. What does he look like? How big is he? Does he have a family history of any medical problems? What day was he born on?

So it went on like that and after a few minutes, when I had calmed down, I picked up the receiver and started to dial the number Mike had given to me. My hands were shaking as I punched in each number, and the first time I dialed a wrong number. So I tried it again and this time I dialed the right number. After two rings it was picked up, and a friendly voice answered.

“Catholic Social Services. How may I help you?”

“I would like to speak to Lisa, please.”

“Of course, please hold and I will transfer you”.

As I was put on hold there was music playing softly on the line. I recognized the tune as Pachelbel’s Canon in D, one of my favorites. The melody was coming to an end when finally a voice caused the music to stop.

“This is Lisa.,  How may I help you?”

“Hi Lisa. This is Cindy. I believe you spoke with my husband a little while ago?”

“Yes I did. Tomorrow’s the big day! How are you feeling? Are you excited?”

“Oh my goodness, I am so happy and excited! \Words cannot even begin to describe how I feel. We are so excited, but we didn’t expect the baby for at least another year, so you have really taken us by surprise. Today we’ll have to go out and get diapers and formula and whatever else he may need. We do have the nursery completed, thank goodness.”

“That’s wonderful. Now tell me – do you have any questions?”

“Oh my, I have so many questions. How big is he?”

“He weighs 8 lbs, 9 oz. He is a big boy.”

“How old is he now?” I asked.

“Let’s see – here it is – he is eight weeks old”.

“Wow, he is young. What is his birth date?”

“Ok, let’s see – where did I find that before? Here it is. His birth date is listed as November 22nd.”

I could not believe my ears. November 22nd! My hands started to shake and I couldn’t hold back the tears that filled my eyes. Soon I was crying so hard that it seemed as though I would never be able to stop.

“Cindy – are you okay? What’s wrong? Did I say something to upset you?” Lisa asked as I was sobbing.

I tried to stop crying and gain my composure once again. After a minute or two I was able to speak again.

“I’m sorry about that. You just took me by surprise, that’s all.”

“Took you by surprise about what?”

“Okay.”  I took a big breath. “You see, a few years back I was pregnant. We were moving into our new house and it seemed the perfect time to have a baby. We told all our family and friends about our good news and then two days later I had a miscarriage, but after that couldn’t become pregnant again. That’s why we decided to adopt a baby. But the reason I was crying is because when I was pregnant, the baby’s due date was November 22nd, the same birth date as our new son. I can hardly believe it.”

At first there was silence on the other end of the line. Then after a moment Lisa spoke very softy.

“Oh Cindy, you just gave me goosebumps. This is wonderful. I truly believe this little boy is meant to be your son.  Congratulations!”

“Thank you Lisa. What time may we come tomorrow to pick up our little Joey?” I inquired.

“Ten o’clock. And bring an outfit for him to wear when he meets his new mommy and daddy..”

After my exam that night, we rushed to Target to buy essentials for our new son – bottles, formula, diapers, and an outfit for him to wear for his homecoming. When we arrived home, I placed everything where it should be. I also thought we should clean our house; after all, we were sure to have visitors over the weekend. We worked for a couple hours and then we settled into bed. I thought I wouldn’t be able to sleep, but for some reason the minute my head hit the pillow, I fell into a deep and peaceful slumber.

In the morning, we were both in happy moods as we showered and dressed for the big day. Finally 9:30 arrived and we left for Catholic Charities. We made sure we had the car seat for the baby buckled up tight in the back seat. I also brought a couple of extra blankets since it was January and the wind chill was 20 degrees below 0. When we arrived at Catholic Charities, we told the receptionist who we were and soon enough, Lisa came and greeted us.

“Let’s go upstairs,” she said.joey-at-16-months-old

We walked up the huge staircase to the second floor. She showed us into a little room where we could sit and wait.  I gave to her the clothing I had brought for our new son. She left the room and gently closed the door. Not a word passed between me and my husband. We just sat there, holding hands, waiting for our new son to appear.

It was not very long before the door opened. Lisa came into the room carrying our new son. There he was – our baby, our son – our little Joey. I tried to hold back the tears on this happy occasion. Lisa said to us, “Mom and Dad — meet your new son.”  I held out my arms and she gently placed him into them. He was awake and alert and he didn’t seem to mind being handed over to me. When I looked up, Lisa was gone. My husband and I were alone with out new little bundle of joy.

As I looked into the face of our sweet little baby,  I felt unconditional love for him flow through me.

It was then I knew – this little boy resting in my arms truly was meant to be our son, our little Joey.

 

Red-Letter Saturday #9: The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

RED-LETTER SATURDAY #9:

PaulRevereRide 1On this day, April 18, 1775, during the American Revolution, the British advancement by sea begins. It is then that Paul Revere and William Dawes rode from Charleston to Lexington at midnight warning that “the regulars (British) are coming!” In the days before April 18, Revere had instructed Robert Newman, the sexton of the North Church, to send a signal by lantern to alert colonists in Charlestown as to the movements of the troops when the information became known, in what is well known today by the phrase “one if by land, two if by sea,” meaning that one lantern in the steeple would signal the army’s choice of the land route while two lanterns would signal the route “by water” across the Charles River. After crossing the Charles River by rowboat and slipping past the British warship HMS Somerset at anchor, Revere safely landed in Charlestown and rode to Lexington, avoiding a British patrol and later warning almost every house along the route. He then rode through present-day Somerville, Medford, and Arlington, warning patriots along his route, many of whom set out on horseback to deliver warnings of their own.

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I cannot tell you how excited I was to see this particular historical event listed for today. The reason for this is because I am an avid history buff, enthusiast, student, life-long learner, and lover of the American Revolutionary War Era. Therefore, the subject of Paul Revere’s ride is truly a fascinating one for me. There are just so many interesting and intriguing details to about this dramatic night. Oh, how I dearly would have loved to have been present for his historic event.

If I had been there, perhaps I could have witnessed Dr. Joseph Warren as he participated on this infamous night. Dr. Warren was an American doctor who played a leading role in American patriot organizations in Boston during the early days of the American Revolution. He is the man who organized the midnight ride. On the afternoon of April 18, 1775, Warren received information that Joseph Warren death 2there was troop movement of the British army. It was he who sent Paul Revere and William Dawes on their midnight ride to warn the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, then sitting in Concord, the site of one of the larger caches of the patriot military supplies. After receiving the warning, the Concord residents began moving the military supplies away from the town. I wonder how he felt. Was he worried about the safety of these two men whom he was sending out, perhaps to their very deaths? He had hardly any time to ponder this because the very next day, Warren slipped out of Boston and during that day’s Battle of Concord and Lexington, he coordinated and led militia into the fight alongside William Heath as the British Army returned to Boston. It was during this battle that he was nearly killed, and later he became the head of the Provincial Congress. Proving himself to be a true hero thereafter, he died in the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Dr. Joseph Warren was a true patriot.

 

And could you just imagine being Robert Newman, the sexton of the North Church on that historic night? Just picture it. You are Newman, just settling down for a good night’s rest. Perhaps you just finished reading old north church 1000a passage in the New Testament of the Bible. Suddenly you receive a message that the regulars (the British are called the regulars instead of the British because even the American colonists were British) were coming by sea. You know that it is up to you to climb the stairs into the steeple of your church where you must light and then hang two lanterns in order to alert the back-up riders in Charlestown about the movements of the British. As you light each lantern, are your hands trembling with apprehension and fear at the knowledge that perhaps you could be arrested for treason? Or are they steady and sure with the confidence and pride of patriotism?

Robert Newman was another true patriot.

 

Finally, what would it have been like to be Paul Revere himself? Revere was a silversmith, and although he is most famous for his midnight ride, a little known fact about him is that in 1800 he became the first American to successfully roll copper into sheets for use as sheathing on naval vessels.Sons of Liberty 1000

With regards to the American Revolution, Paul Revere was a member of the Sons of Liberty, which was a group of militants. It is Boston Tea Partytherefore not surprising that he was a ringleader in the Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773, when colonists (some disguised as Indians) dumped tea from the Dartmouth and two other ships into the harbor. This occurred after the passage of the Tea Act which authorized the British East India Company to ship tea (of which it had huge surpluses due to colonial boycotts organized in response to the Townshend Acts) directly to the colonies, bypassing colonial merchants.

Then on April 18, 1775, Dr. Joseph Warren sent Paul Revere on his midnight ride to warn the colonial militias about the British troop movements. Imagine the scene. First of all, total secrecy was required. There was no shouting of the phrase: “The British are coming! The British are coming!” According to eyewitness accounts, the phrase which was used was: “The Regulars are coming out.”

Let me map out his route for you:

  • 1.  Revere crosses the Charles River by rowboat and lands in Charlestown.
  • 2.  He rides through Somerville, Medville, and Arlington, warning patriots along the route.
  • 3.  He arrives in Lexington around midnight and Dawes arrives to meet him a half-hour later.
  • 4.  He and Dawson continued along the road to Concord accompanied by Samuel Prescott.
  • 5.  They are detained by a British roadblock in Lincoln.PaulRevereMap 1
  • 6.  Prescott jumped his horse over a wall and escaped into the woods; he eventually reached Concord.
  • 7.  Dawes also escaped, though he fell off his horse not long after and did not complete the ride.
  • 8.  Revere was captured and questioned by the British soldiers at gunpoint. He told them of the army’s movement from Boston, and that British army troops would be in some danger if they approached Lexington, because of the large number of hostile militia gathered there. He and other captives taken by the patrol were still escorted east toward Lexington, until about a half mile from Lexington when they heard a gunshot. The British major demanded that Revere explain the gunfire, and Revere replied that it was a signal to “alarm the country.” As the group drew closer to Lexington, the town bell began to clang rapidly, upon which one of the captives proclaimed to the British soldiers: “The bell’s a’ringing! The town’s alarmed, and you’re all dead men!” The British soldiers gathered and decided not to press further towards Lexington but instead to free the prisoners and head back to warn their commanders. The British confiscated Revere’s horse and rode off to warn the approaching army column. Revere walked to Reverend Jonas Clarke‘s house, where John Hancock and Samuel Adams were staying. As the battle on Lexington Green unfolded, Revere assisted Hancock and his family in their escape from Lexington, helping to carry a trunk of Hancock’s papers.

paul revere statue 400Can you imagine how he must have felt when he was given his mission to carry his message to the patriots? Was he excited to be part of the American dream? Or was he terrified? Perhaps there was a mixture of both emotions in his heart as he rode on that fateful night. I can only imagine how Paul Revere must have felt with the cold night wind blowing against his face and through his hair. If I try hard enough, I can hear his horse’s hooves pounding on the ground as he races down the road, going up and down the hills, and galloping across the meadows and fields, snorting with each frigid breath that he takes in and out. And Revere’s heart must have been pounding in tandem, as he willed his horse to ride faster and harder with each gallop so that he could reach his destination sooner, his urgency apparent in each command given to his mount. And then – to be captured. Did he feel as though he had been a success or a failure? I wonder.

But I know that Paul Revere was one of the most courageous Americans ever. He was tantamount to the success of the American Revolutionary War effort.

Paul Revere was by all definitions a true patriot.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “LISTEN, my children, and you shall hear of the midnight right of Paul Revere, on the eighteenth of April in seventy-five; hardly a man is now alive, who remembers that famous day and year . . . ”  ~ from “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

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This post is presented as part of my special weekly feature, Red-Letter Saturday. If you’d like to know more information about Red-Letter Saturday, click here:

Red-Letter Saturday 

 

 

 

 

Writing 101- Day Three: “Commit to a Writing Practice”

Day Three – Commit to a Writing Practice:  

* Today’s Prompt:  Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

* Today’s Twist:  You’ll commit to a writing practice. 

Music has always been an integral part of my life from the time I was very young and learned to sing my ABC’s. I’m always singing a song wherever I go, and if I’m not singing, then I’m humming or even whistling a tune. I’ve been a member of our church choir since 1978 and can play the flute, guitar, organ, and just began taking piano lessons last year at the age of 57, which has been a lifelong dream. Even our children are musically inclined and our youngest daughter is pursuing her master’s degree in music performance on the cello. My life would not be the same if it did not include music in some capacity.

There are several songs that have special meaning to me, but I think the one that has holds the most significance for me is How Can I Keep From Singing  written by Robert Wadsworth Lowry. The reason I chose this song is because it helped me through a dark period in my life. In 2004 I was forced into retirement from nursing by severe medical conditions that came on suddenly. I also had to undergo surgery at that time which in turn resulted in the complication of an injury to my recurrent laryngeal nerve. Because of this, my left vocal cord was paralyzed and the gift that God had given me, the gift which I treasured beyond anything else, my singing ability, was taken away from me. I had to drop out of our church choir and was very depressed. Not only could I no longer work, but I could no longer do the one thing I loved doing above everything else – sing. I would listen to this song and I knew in my heart that some day I would sing again. Gradually my right vocal cord moved over to function with my left vocal cord and after eight years, I could sing again! The day that I rejoined our church choir was one of the happiest days in my life.

MIKE - THE LOVE OF MY LIFE

MIKE – THE LOVE OF MY LIFE

The next song that has significance to me is Bridge over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel. It is a song which describes what my husband Mike is to me. He is always there for me, no matter what the circumstances may be. Whether it’s in good times or bad times, through sickness and through health, whether we’ve been financially secure or not, he’s never wavered, not for one single moment. I have always been able to count on his love and support. He has always been my bridge over troubled water,

The last song which has special meaning to me is On Eagles Wings by Michael Joncas. I’ve  chosen this song because it was my mother’s favorite song and whenever we’d go to church and they’d have it listed as one of the hymns we were going to sing, she’d be so happy. It was one of the songs that we had sung at her funeral. I miss my dear mother, and whenever I hear it or we sing it in church, I think of her. She has been gone for a very long time now: twenty-eight years. Our son was only three when she passed on to her heavenly reward. She never did meet our two daughters. I know that our daughters would have loved their Grandma, and it makes me sad that they never had the chance to know her. But I do have comfort in the knowledge that some day we will all be together again, carried to meet her on eagle’s wings, and held together there in the palm of God’s hand.

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Red-Letter Saturday #8: “The United States Flag”

RED-LETTER SATURDAY #8:    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On this day, April 4, 1818, Congress decided the U.S. Flag would consist of 13 red and white stripes to represent the original Thirteen Colonies that rebelled against the British crown and became the first states in the Union, and 20 stars, with a new star to be added for every new state. The act specified that new flag designs should become official on the first July 4th (Independence Day) following admission of one or more new states.

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If you are an American, I’d like you to consider something: what emotions do you feel whenever you see the American flag? Or have you seen it so often that you don’t really have any emotions one way or another? If that is the case, then let us remember what the American flag is all about.

For more than 200 years, the American flag has been a symbol of our nation’s strength and unity. It has been a source of pride and inspiration for millions of citizens.

The American flag serves as a reminder of all the brave men and women who have given their lives to preserve our freedom and to protect our country. It reminds us that we as American citizens have a longstanding tradition of the ability to do the impossible as long as stand together united as one nation. It helps us to remember that with determination and hard work, we can overcome any obstacle – whether that’s landing on the moon or warding off terrorists. It is a symbol of liberty, justice, courage, happiness, and hope.

You can see Old Glory flying just about everywhere we go: On top of post office buildings, in school yards, on bank buildings, at American Legions, in parades, on top of bridges, from police stations, on football fields, on houses, in national cemeteries, even to people waving them in their hands.

The American flag is displayed all over our country, and next time you see it, perhaps you should stop to think just what it means to you.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “I am whatever you make me, nothing more.  I am your belief in yourself, your dream of what a people may become…. I am the clutch of an idea, and the reasoned purpose of resolution.  I am no more than you believe me to be and I am all that you believe I can be.  I am whatever you make me, nothing more.”  ~ Franklin Knight Lane

red letter saturday 2

This post is presented as part of my special weekly feature, Red-Letter Saturday. If you’d like to to know more information about Red-Letter Saturday, click here:

Red-Letter Saturday 

Beyond the Earth

 

Stars twinkling in the moonlit sky,

Shining brilliantly, a breathtaking sight to behold,

Each one waiting with a secret to be discovered.

How long before we mere mortals can reach them?

 

galaxy-cluster-1e-0657-56Planets — more than we can even acknowledge,

Exist in other galaxies, in far too many than we can even count.

The possibilities are endless if we ever journey to these planets.

What secrets could we unlock there? What life may exist there?

 

Galaxies, infinite beyond number; are lying out there in the great beyond,

Awaiting to be discovered; galaxies to be observed that we have never laid eyes on before,

Beyond the Milky Way, beyond any galaxies that we could even know,

Who will be the first to behold these magnificent sights, these most awesome of wonders?

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