Tag Archives: Nonfiction

The Cellist

She was thirteen and just starting middle school. She felt out-of-place and disliked. It was plain to see that she had no friends. There was no one who would talk to her, no one who would eat with her during lunch time, no one who would walk with her to class, and no one who would sit with her on the bus. It seemed that no one liked her.

She struggled with homework and she had a difficult time when it came to taking tests. She felt like she couldn’t learn anything, couldn’t remember anything, and couldn’t do anything right. No one understood her, cared what happened to her, and it seemed as though no one even knew that she existed. And she felt sad as she wondered: Is this the way that it’s meant to be?

Then one day it happened. There was something new in her life, something exciting, something just for her.

A cello.

This magnificent instrument entered her life and she began to learn how to play it. She practiced and practiced and then practiced some more. It wasn’t long before she became a member of the school orchestra. Yes, it was wonderful, and her world became a better place.

Her cello became her constant companion and her best friend. This friend was always there for her, understood her, and never let her down. When she played her cello, she could be herself and everything was all right.

She began to make friends at school – friends who played in the orchestra with her. These friends introduced her to more friends. Soon, friends were calling her at home, walking with her to class, eating lunch with her, and riding with her on the bus. And she knew that life was good. She was filled with happiness as she thought: Maybe this is the way that it’s meant to be!

Three years passed and she entered high school. All the old anxieties came rushing back to her. She was sure it would be the same thing all over again – no one to understand her, no one to care about her, and no friends except for her faithful cello.

She auditioned for and subsequently won a place in the concert orchestra, which was quite a feat for a freshman because freshmen rarely were allowed to play in the concert orchestra. Surely luck played a part in her placement. It never occurred to her that it was her talent which had secured her position.

Then something wonderful happened. The other kids told her that she was good; as a matter of fact, they said that she was really good. As before, she made new friends, and those friends introduced her to more friends.

By the time she was a junior, she was the first chair in the cello section – the chair reserved only for the best cellist. At last she was really someone, someone of status, someone who played an important part in the orchestra. And she knew that life was good. With a feeling of great joy and hope she marveled: Yes! Maybe this really is the way that it’s meant to be!

Then came her senior year, the year that every teenager awaits with eager anticipation. It was a wonderful year; indeed a memorable year, and at the final orchestra concert, she and her best friend – her beloved cello – played a solo. She played for an audience of 500 people or more. The piece she played was a difficult one, but she played it perfectly, and her best friend – her cello – did not let her down.stephcello4

When she finished, there was silence. Oh no! she thought in dismay. They didn’t like it!

Then it happened – a thunderous applause! All those people were clapping for her! One by one, everyone in the auditorium stood up and applauded. She could hardly believe it – a standing ovation! This was a rare thing indeed! But it really was not that difficult to understand why this happened. The audience recognized the talent she had, they appreciated the beautiful way she had played, and they gave her the credit that she truly deserved.

She knew then that she had found her life’s work.

And finally she realized: I know this is the way that it’s meant to be.

 

* Author’s Note:  At the present time (May of 2015), our youngest daughter Stephanie has just completed her first year of studies at the University of Wisconsin in Madison where she is pursuing her master’s degree in music performance on the cello. Her dream of being a professional cellist and some day performing with a symphony orchestra burns brightly.

 

Share Your World – 2015 Week #18

What type of pets do you have or want?  Or do you not want pets?

When I was growing up, we lived in a low-income housing project which did not allow us to own any kind of pets such as cats or dogs. So my father raised parakeets instead and he always chose to raise albino parakeets. He did such a great job with these parakeets, teaching them tricks and getting them to talk. How he loved those birds! I enjoyed them also, but in my heart of hearts, I always wanted to have a dog for a pet. After I was married, I finally got my wish,lucy in leaves and today I am the proud owner of the sweetest little toy poodle you’d ever want to meet. Her name is Lucy and she became part of our family in 2005 when she was eight weeks old. At that time, I had become disabled from working due to serious medical illness and my husband thought it would be a good idea to have a dog to keep me company while he was at work and the kids were at school. I was also quite depressed because having to quit work was very difficult for me. I loved my work and suddenly I found myself bedridden and no contact with the outside world. I think my little Lucy helped me with the transition and as a matter of fact, I think she helped with the healing process. Not only is she cute as a button, but she is very intelligent, fiercely loyal, and so loving. I don’t know what I’d do without her. By the way, did you know that my little Lucy is now famous? If you’d like to read about it, please click here:

Lucy Become Famous

What was or is your favorite cartoon?

gumbyOkay, so now you’ve got me. This may sound weird, but I’ve never been a big fan of cartoons. Even as a kid, I never really cared to sit down and watch cartoons! I’m not really sure why. Okay, maybe I do know why. Here it is – I think it’s because I knew that they weren’t real and that’s why I didn’t like them. I know. Sad, huh? But even as a little girl, I was always being realistic. Now don’t get me wrong – I loved fairy tales! I just didn’t like cartoons! They just never appealed to me. I did, however, like the computer animations, which in my day was Gumby. Do any of you out there remember Gumby? And Pokey. I can’t seem to remember if there were any more of those computer animations at that time, but I did like them. But as for just plain cartoons – sorry. So I wonder what the psychologists would say about that?

When you’re alone at home, do you wear shoes, socks, slippers, or go barefoot?footies

I never wear shoes when I’m at home, whether I’m alone or with someone. And it’s not because we have gorgeous carpet that we don’t want soiled or beautiful polished wooden flooring that we’d like kept that way. Oh no, it’s not that. It’s because I just don’t like to wear shoes if I don’t have to! So the minute I come home, the first thing I do is kick off my shoes, boots, sandals, or whatever else I happen to be wearing on my feet at the time. And then I go and find a pair of my favorite footie socks to wear. I don’t usually go barefoot because for some reason my feet do tend to get cold, so that’s why I wear the footie socks. And no, I don’t like to wear just plain socks; I must wear footie socks. And believe me, I have pairs upon pairs of these socks: all different shades and colors; striped; polka-dotted; fuzzy; lacy; even sequined! Yep, I can never have enough footies!

Are you a traveler or a homebody? 

If you’ve been reading my entries for Share My World, then you know that I’ve been medically disabled since 2004, and because of this, I am usually a homebody. I have my good days and my bad days as far as my health is concerned, which suitcase 2means that I haven’t had the opportunity to travel very much in the past eleven years. It’s difficult to travel when you’re not feeling well. I am feeling better these days, though, so maybe there will be a trip in my future.  I’ve always wanted to travel to Rome, Italy and visit all the sites they have to offer such as the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, the Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Castel Sant’Angelo, Palatine Hill, and Vatican City itself. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll get my wish and embark on my dream vacation to the Eternal City. As with my piano dream, I’ve learned that dreams really do come true. Therefore . . . never say never.

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

I’m grateful that I was able to finish the Writing101 course that was offered through the WordPress Blogging University during the month of April. This was a four-week write-every-day challenge which was designed to help create a writing blogging 101habit and push you as a writer, while publishing posts that meshed with your blog’s focus. We wrote every day, except for the weekends. I was able to hone my writing and blogging skills and at the same time I met a lot of great people, which was the best part of all. This was the first course that I’ve taken through WordPress and I enjoyed it so much that I’m looking forward to what they’re going to offer next. But the part that I’m really grateful for is that when I began the course, I made a pledge to myself that I would follow through with the entire course, and even though there were a few days when I floundered, I still kept pushing through, so I’m pretty proud of myself. It’s so great when you set out to reach a goal and then when you cross that finish line, it’s the best feeling in the world. So – thanks, WordPress!

This next week I’m looking forward to Mother’s Day, and I hope that all the mothers out there are, too. Two of our children, Sarah and Joe, are visiting on that day. Our youngest daughter Stephanie, is at the University of Wisconsin, so she won’t be able to make it, but I know I’ll be receiving a phone call from her. My husband’s planning our traditional Mother’s Day barbecue which we always have in our own back yard for that day. My daughter Sarah phoned me the other day to tell me that she was going shopping with our daughters’ best friends to “gather the components” for my happy mother's dayMother’s Day gift. She never can contain her excitement when it comes to giving me her Mother’s Day gift, and she always gives me something that I would never guess that she would give me and usually it’s something that she’s put a lot of thought into. One year she gave me the gift of a Mother-Daughter makeover day topped off by a Mother-Daughter photo shoot in a local park; then one year she had a professional makeup artist and beautician come to my house and give me a professional makeover (I kept thinking – Is she trying to tell me something, like I need a makeover or what?); and one year she gave me this beautiful vase that she had made herself and fired in a kiln at one of her college classes. So you see what I mean? I never know what she’ll be giving me. But most of all, I’m just looking forward to spending time with my family because that is the best gift of all.

And last, but not least, I’d like to say a few words to all the mothers out there: Remember that you do the most important job in the world and you deserve to be recognized for it. Celebrate your motherhood on this very special day. And I’d like to wish all of you: Happy Mother’s Day! 

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

Three Words You Never Hear Any More

I grew up in a family of seven children, and whenever the telephone rang in our house, you could hear seven voices chime out simultaneously: “I’ll get it!” Following this was always a race to see who could manage to pick up the receiver first and say that special word: “Hello?”

In our house it was a privilege to answer the telephone. We didn’t have cell phones back then. We didn’t have an answering machine, either, so there was no screening of the calls being received. Hard as it is to believe, we actually wanted to know who was on the other end of the line calling us. We never allowed a telephone call to go unanswered. telephone ringing 1But today it seems that the words: “I’ll get it” are three words that you never hear anymore.

With the birth of the answering machine and the ability to screen calls, it is practically unheard of to answer a call without first checking to see who is calling. And how many of us have land lines anymore? Today most of us own cell phones, a modern convenience which allows us to receive our calls anywhere at any time. But in many instances we’re not even talking on our phones because often we prefer texting to talking. Yes, modern technology has certainly changed our attitude towards the telephone. And I wonder: Has it been for the better?

As a matter of fact, I did not own a cell phone until a couple of years ago. I’ve been unable to work for the past eleven years due to medical disabilities which has kept me homebound, and so my husband felt that I didn’t need a cell phone; after all, I had the land line available to me. After an emergency arose, it became apparent that I did need a cell phone, and so finally (as my children so aptly put it) “I stepped into the 21st century.” They pointed out to me that a cell phone was better than a land line because of the texting feature. With texting, I’d be able to communicate faster and easier with people because sometimes it’s “inconvenient” to talk on the phone. At least, this was the way that it was explained to me by them.

But it seems to me that it’s more difficult than ever to get hold of people, even my own children! Well, is it just me or does everyone have this problem? I text, I leave messages, and often I never hear back from the people I call or text. It’s so frustrating not to be able to get hold of other people. And I can’t count the number of times that I’ve been with others who have simply ignored their cell phones when they’ve been ringing, and I think: Aren’t you going to answer that?

I think that the other problem with the cell phone age is texting. I know what you’re going to say because I’ve heard it from my own children. Yes, it is convenient, and yes, it is quick. But what about our communication skills? I’m talking about good old-fashioned talking, one-to-one voice communication. I’m talking about a verbal exchange between two people. There can be problems with texting. Many times you really can’t express all that you need to express in the printed word, such as the tone of your voice or the way you emphasize a certain word. Now I realize that you can place a smiley face or some other emoticon in your text message, but is it really the same as “hearing” the smile in someone’s voice when they’re talking, or listening to them laugh? What about when they’re feeling sad or worried? Can you really express those feelings in a text message? I truly don’t believe that you can.

I know that technology is here to stay, and I’m all for it because we’re supposed to evolve and become better. But maybe we should start thinking about being a bit more considerate of each other when we use it. After all, it’s supposed to help us, not harm us. Maybe we should use a bit of common sense and think about whether it’s better to text or to actually talk on the phone depending on the situation. And I always plead with my children: Please check  your messages and call people back.

And for heaven’s sake, don’t be afraid to say: “I’ll get it.”

 

 

 

 

 

Share Your World – 2015 Week #17

What is your most favorite smell/scent?little girl smelling sunflower

The sense of smell is really quite fascinating. As a matter of fact, it is the only sense that has a direct connection to the brain. Okay, so I’m a nurse and I can’t help but give you a few facts – sorry about that. But did you know that according to the journal Science, people can detect at least one trillion distinct scents? Isn’t that incredible? Not only that, but we can also smell fear and disgust! These feelings are detected through sweat. The researchers found that women who smelled the “fear sweat” opened their eyes widely in a fearful expression, and women who smelled the “disgust sweat” also displayed facial expressions of disgust. Isn’t that interesting? I thought so, which is why I couldn’t help but mention it. Also, smell is the oldest sense and women have a better sense of smell than men. Maybe that’s why we love our perfumes cinnamon rollsso much, eh?

As for me, my favorite smell is cinnamon. It could be that it reminds me of my days growing up when my Mom would make cinnamon rolls. It was always one of our favorite treats and it wasn’t something that she did very often, but when she did, it was so special. Usually she’d bake these yummy treats on Saturday morning because on Sundays there simply wasn’t enough time because of church. The sweet aroma of the cinnamon in those rolls as they baked in the oven would waft from the kitchen all throughout the house, and if you happened to be sleeping at the time, it woke you up for sure! And now, whenever I smell cinnamon, my first thought is often of my mother and those long ago days of my youth when life was so much simpler.

Do you prefer long hair or short hair for yourself? dippity do

When I was younger, I wore my hair long, a little past my shoulders. I have naturally curly hair and believe me, that was not always easy to manage, especially thirty years ago when that type of hair was not “stylish.” I actually used to sleep in huge rollers after using “Dippity-Do” hair gel just to get my hair manageable! Then after I was married, and while my husband was away for a weekend camping trip with his friends, I decided that I’d had enough of all the fuss and muss of my hair, so I went to the hair salon and did the deed. I had them cut it short. I really liked my new haircut, but I was a little apprehensive about curly hairwhat my fairly new husband was going to have to say about it because I knew that he loved my longer hair. Believe me, he was plenty shocked when he walked through the door to our apartment that Sunday evening. He could hardly believe that I’d gone ahead and done such a thing without telling him about it first. It took him quite a while to get used to my new “do.” But gradually he did, and since then, I’ve never looked back. I’ve worn my hair short ever since. It’s a lot easier to manage. All I have to do is wash and wear, and the curls lay quite nicely with a shorter style. My oldest daughter Sarah has also been blessed with my curls, and she wears her hair longer, but she’s younger and she really knows how to work with her curls.

Do you plan out things usually or do you do them more spontaneous (for example if you are visiting a big city you don’t know?)

Oh, this question is without a doubt one of the easiest questions I have ever answered in this forum. I am definitely a planner. And I’ve always been a planner for as far back as I can remember. When I was young, I was always the one to spontaneousthink of which games we were going to play, whose house we were going to play at, what time we would get together, etc. And everyone wanted me be the planner. I don’t know if it was because it was easier for them or if it was because they figured that things went smoother when I was. I’m not bragging; it’s simply the way it was. And I think that because I was designated this role from an early age, I continued on in this way up until now. Now that’s not to say that I don’t like being spontaneous from time to time, because I do. I do like – as a matter of fact – I enjoy surprises and doing things off the cuff. And so, my dear husband Mike, if you are reading this (and I hope you are because you do read my blog from time to time) I could use a little more spontaneity in my life, so don’t be afraid to throw some in, okay? 🙂

pickleball 2What is your favorite outdoor activity?

Oh my! I am so happy that you asked this question this week because now I can tell you what my new favorite outdoor activity is because I just began doing it a week ago and it’s so exciting! Or at least for me it is. First of all, let me tell you that I am not, nor have I ever been, any kind of athlete whatsoever. Ever since my youth, I was always the last one chosen to be on any kind of team because I was always the slowest runner. Sad, but true. I have the shortest legs and no speed whatsoever. So I’ve never really gotten into any kind of sport because I was never very good at it. But last Saturday my sisters introduced me to a new sport that yours truly can actually participate in. It’s called “pickleball.” Ever hear of it? Pickleball is a combination of tennis, badminton, and pingpong. It’s played with a paddle and a wiffle ball on a short court, which is great for me because it means you don’t have topickleball 1 run as far as you would if you were playing tennis, which I’ve tried before and did not succeed at doing. Anyway, I’ve been having a marvelous time playing and since playing last Saturday, I have played five days out of seven so far! Isn’t that amazing? What’s even more amazing is that my back, which has previously given me so many problems with severe pain to the point where I never thought I’d be able to play such a game, hasn’t even bothered me! Go figure! So, if you’re looking for a neat little sport to try out, then you really should give pickleball a whirl. The other day, I wrote a blog post about this new experience which is more in-depth, so if you’d like to read it, I’ve included a link here:

My Favorite Outdoor Activity

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

My new pickleball racket

My new pickleball racket

I am truly grateful to my sisters Diane and Terri for introducing me to my brand new favorite outdoor activity of pickleball. I’ve had so much fun playing pickleball with them. We’ve also introduced the game to one of our other sisters, Marge (did I tell you that I have five sisters?) and she also now has pickleball fever! This means we only have two sisters to go! 🙂 Not only have I had a “ball” playing, but as I mentioned earlier, my back pain is gone, which has been like a miracle to me. It’s also been a source of wonderful exercise for me, something which I know that I’ve needed to incorporate into my life for quite some time now. I’m also hopeful that maybe now I can lose some more weight, which to me, would be just icing on the cake. So, thanks, dear Sisters! You’re the best! But watch out, Sisters – by the end of the summer, I’m going to be the best pickleball player ever, and then you’ll be sorry that you taught me how to play . . . 🙂

I finished the Writing101 course that WordPress offered in April, which means that I’m looking forward to just relaxing this week with no real deadlines as far as my writing or blogging is concerned. It’s always nice to take a course and do your best, but it’s even nicer when you’re finished and not to have to worry about a deadline.thunderstorm picture

I’m also looking forward to more summer-like weather here in Minnesota. We’re scheduled to receive some rain and even some thunderstorms in the upcoming week, but we can use the rain. And guess what? I love thunderstorms. Yes, it’s true. As long as the weather sunny day at parkisn’t too threatening, and when I say threatening, I mean damaging high winds or even worse – tornadoes, then I don’t mind a good little thunderstorm. And that’s one more smell that I really love – the smell of rain. My husband claims that he can’t smell the rain when it’s coming, but I can, and I love that smell of the rain right before it arrives. And what’s even better is the smell after it rains. And right now everything needs a little greening up, so I say, “Bring on the rain.” But I hope that a few days of sunshine are thrown in next week, too! Because that means we can play some pickleball! 🙂

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

Writing 101: Day Twenty – “The Things We Treasure”

Day Twenty – The Things We Treasure:  

* Today’s Prompt:   Tell us the story of your most-prized possession.

* Today’s Twist:  We extolled the virtues of brevity back on day five, but now, let’s jump to the other side of the spectrum and turn to longform writing.

 

I can say without a doubt, that music has always held a prominent place in my life. I discovered at a very young age that having the ability to make music, whether it is through singing or through an instrument is a beautiful gift to the person who is performing, and to perform, thereby giving that gift of music to others is so rewarding. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a passion for music. I don’t mean to brag, but very early on, I discovered that God blessed me with a singing voice, and ever since then, I have used it whenever I could. Whether I was doing my chores, walking to school, riding my bike, or just sitting on the front steps to our apartment building, I’d sing. And it didn’t matter to me if I wasn’t singing for an audience, because I knew that somehow there was someone, somewhere who could hear me, even if it was only the birds and the squirrels in the trees.

I think I’ve always loved music because I knew that in music, I could express myself, whether I was in the throes of joy and happiness or in the depths of sadness and despair. I knew that if I couldn’t find the words, I could always find the music, the melody, the mood, the tempo. Music was always there. It may not make sense to someone else, but it always made sense to me.

While growing up, one of my friends was taking piano lessons, and I was so envious of her. Oh, how I wanted to learn how to play the piano! But my family could not afford to buy piano, much less the expense of my taking piano lessons. I used to look forward to going over to her house to spend time with her because sometimes she would let me sit down at the piano and she would try to teach me some of the lessons she had learned. I was an avid student. Of course, she was not the best teacher, but I learned what I could. Not only that, but I had an excellent “ear” and could play some melodies by ear. But oh, how I longed for a piano of my very own! Then one day she and her family moved away. Not only was I sad to see her go, but I was also sad because I knew that was the end of my piano-playing days.

As the years went by, and I married and had children, every now and then I’d still think about my dream of owning a piano some day, but raising a family and other financial concerns seemed more important, so my piano dream was set aside until last January. I began thinking about playing the piano once again, now that our children had left our nest. I own 76-key electronic keyboard and I decided to take the plunge and begin piano lessons. I knew that we couldn’t afford a piano, but I could practice on the keyboard. I have a friend from church who teaches piano, so I began taking lessons from her. After a few lessons at her home, It wasn’t long before I noticed the differences between playing on her piano and practicing on my keyboard. The touch was different, the weight of the keys was different, and even the width of the keys was different.  I knew that in order to derive the full benefit of piano lessons, I would have to practice on a real piano. But how? After giving it some thought, soon I came up with a plan and knew exactly what to do.

I telephoned my church choir director. Of course – I’m a member of our church choir! Since we live only five minutes from our church, I asked her if I could practice every day on the piano in our choir rehearsal room.

“Of course, you could . . .  but, I have another suggestion,” Therese said.

“What’s that?”

“Well, I have a piano at home that you could have.”

“What?”

“Yes. I have a piano for sale on Craig’s list, but no one’s really asked about it, so you could have it.”

“But we really can’t afford a piano right now. That’s why I’d like to practice on the one at church,”

“No, Cindy. You don’t understand. You can HAVE it. For free. I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather give it to.”

I was speechless. I could hardly believe what I was hearing. She was going to GIVE me a piano. FREE. It was going to be as easy, as simple, as wonderful as THAT. Before I knew it, I was sobbing uncontrollably because this beautiful, wonderful, kindhearted, loving woman was going to make my lifelong dream come true.

A week later, the big day arrived. My piano was going to be delivered. I had spent the day before preparing for it. It was like I was preparing for company! My husband and I moved the computer desk out of the living room, which is where the piano was going to “live.” I dusted the entire living room from top to bottom. I vacuumed the rug, and swept and polished the wooden floors, making them glow.

Isn't my piano beautiful?

Isn’t my piano beautiful?

Ten minutes before the piano was due to arrive, I sat on the sofa with my little toy poodle Lucy, anxiously watching out the living room window, waiting for the piano moving truck to arrive. It seemed as though the time was ticking by so slowly as I waited. Then it appeared. Around the corner it came. The truck with MY piano! Even my little Lucy could sense the joy in my mood as she jumped off the sofa, wagging her tail, running back and forth from the door to the window where I stood, watching as the truck pulled slowly into our driveway. The doorbell rang and I ran to the door to answer it. I greeted the piano movers with a huge smile on my face and happiness in my voice. I followed their every move as they carefully and skillfully brought my piano into our house, setting it into its place of honor. Then I gave them their hard-earned pay, thanked them, and said good-bye, but in my mind, all I kept thinking was, Hurry and leave, so I can sit down and play the piano, MY piano! 

And finally it was time. My dear choir director had wrapped up the bench with a beautiful white ribbon, ending with a gorgeous bow on the top. It was so like her to make such a gesture; after all it was her gift to me. I carefully untied the bow, planning to save it as a keepsake, thinking I would place the ribbon inside the bench so I wouldn’t lose it. I opened the bench and lying inside was a carefully folded note.  It was printed by hand, and on the outside were the words: Enjoy the Piano! I opened it and inside were some more words which read: May it bring you great joy and happiness!  Therese.  These words from my choir director so touched me that I broke down and cried tears of joy.

It was at this moment when I realized that sometimes if you dream long enough and add a little faith to the mix, dreams really do come true. And that it’s never too late to begin a new chapter in your life – even if it means learning to play the piano at the age of fifty-seven!

 

blogging-university-blogging-101 1000

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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http://blainecindy.com/2015/04/09/writing-101-day-four-the-serial-killer/

http://blainecindy.com/2015/04/23/writing-101-day-thirteen-serial-killer-ii/

 

 

 

 

Not Just a Number

The other day I realized that I needed to renew my driver’s license. Believing that there’s no time like the present, I proceeded to go ahead and take care of the renewal before it slipped my mind. I pulled into the parking lot of the DMV and considered myself fortunate when a car pulled out so that I could grab the parking space it had just occupied. The parking lot was full, so I knew I was going to have a long wait in line.

Sure enough, upon entering the building, I noticed a long line of people waiting to renew their driver’s licenses. I pulled a waiting ticket which revealed that my number was 479; the number on the board showed that they were waiting on number 456. At that moment I was grateful that I had worn my best pair of tennis shoes.dmv12

I felt so uncomfortable waiting in this line of strangers where no one even knew my name. I was just a number to everyone. I could have been nonexistent and no one would have cared less. As a matter of fact, those behind me in line would have been glad if I were nonexistent because then they could have reached the front of the line sooner.

It’s so easy in this huge world to feel as though your existence doesn’t really matter much at all, especially when you’re among strangers, and that’s exactly how I felt at that moment. I was so glad when my number was called. Even then I was still treated as only just a number.

I really couldn’t blame the staff at the DMV. After all, they were only trying to do their jobs as efficiently as possible, but it still left me feeling as though I were only a number – one number in a million numbers.

On the drive home, I contemplated how often a person has this feeling of insignificance – at the DMV, at the doctor’s office, at the post office, at the supermarket, or at any number of places on any given day.

I had been born and raised in a big city and so I wondered: are things any different in a small town? Maybe so, but would I ever have the chance to find out? I doubt it. So I guess I’ll always have to wonder.

Then I pulled into my driveway. My husband opened the kitchen door to our house and our little toy poodle Lucy dashed out the door to greet me, her fluffy tail wagging furiously. I opened the car door and she tried to jump up into my lap before I could even get a foot out and on to the ground. She began to lick my face, letting me know just how glad she was to see me.

I’m not just a number to her, a nonexistent nobody. To her I am the one who feeds her, walks her, plays with her, brushes her, scratches behind her ears, rubs her belly, and gives her love. To her I am her mistress. To her I am everything. To her I am immense. To her I am the world.

And then I realized that maybe I should start looking at myself through her eyes and try to remember that no one can make me feel inferior without my consent.

Share Your World – 2015 Week #16

What are your favorite spices?spices

What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice! Okay, so that should give you a clue as to the kinds of spices that I enjoy, right? No? Well, I love the kinds of spices that help to bake up yummy sweet treats like cookies and cakes and bars – yes, I have a real sweet tooth! So my favorite spices are cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, sugar – oops – they tell me that sugar is NOT a spice! Sugar is a sweetener or additive, but NOT a spice. So I guess I’ll have to cross that off my list. But just think of what you can do with cinnamon – cinnamon buns, cinnamon for tea, in your hot chocolate – yum! Ginger for baked goods like gingersnap cookies, ginger in cake recipes, gingerbread, and ginger also in tea. And you can use nutmeg in all sorts of delicious ways. Therefore, if it helps to satisfy my sweet tooth, that spice is definitely for me. I just have to careful not to indulge too much, otherwise my clothes start to get too tight!

What object do you always have with you when traveling and why?

our family 100There are three things that I must have with me when I travel. First, I must have my medications, and the reasons for this is obvious. The second thing I must have is my chromebook. As long as I have my chromebook with me, it’s my connection to the world. Not only can I receive my email, but I can also continue blogging and writing, which is important to me. It’s also a great way of providing entertainment because I can watch movies on Netflix, HBO and Showtime if I want, so that’s another great benefit. And the third item that I absolutely must have is purely sentimental because I’m a sentimental person, and that’s a photograph of my family. I know what you’re thinking – I could just look at snapshots of my family from my phone, right? Yes, I could do that. But it’s so much nicer to have a framed 8 x 10 photo propped up on the nightstand for me to see the last thing before I go to sleep at night and the first thing to see when I wake up in the morning. It just helps to remind me that they’re waiting for me to come back home.

What is one thing you love about being an adult?being an adult

I love the fact that I’m able to do whatever I want, whenever I want, and however I want to do it. I can just be me and no one can tell me how to be me. I am free to be whoever I want. I guess the word that sums it up would be freedom. And isn’t that a great word? That’s what our country is all about – freedom – and I love every minute of it. It’s the best feeling in the world, isn’t it?

What item, that you don’t have already, would you most like to own?

Oh my goodness! I know exactly what I would like to own because I’ve been thinking about this and wishing it for the last year.

baby grand pianoEver since I was a young child I wanted to play the piano, but while I was growing up, we were very poor and my parents could not afford to buy a piano. After we were married, raising a family and other financial concerns seemed more important, so my piano dream was set aside. In January of 2014 I began thinking about playing the piano again and my church choir director actually gave me an upright piano. This was an amazing gift and I was grateful beyond words. I love my piano because it was like a dream come true. This piano is over a hundred years old and it does play very nicely; however, if I could have an item that I don’t have already, I would love to own a baby grand piano.

Could you just imagine how a baby grand piano would sound? I think that I would be in heaven if I could sit down to play music on my very own baby grand piano.

And my oldest daughter Sarah told me that when I get a new piano she would like to have my upright piano. “Mom,” she said, “just think how nice it would be if your grandchildren could learn how to play the piano on their grandma’s upright piano.” And that would be her dream come true.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? grateful 100

At the moment, my daughter Sarah is working as an optometric technician; however, she is considering changing her profession and is thinking of working as a veterinary technician. In order to see if this would be something that she’d be interested in, she decided to become a volunteer at the Animal Humane Society and has obtained a position as a veterinary assistant where she’ll be working closely with a veterinarian. I’m grateful that she’s been given this opportunity and hopefully, this will give her all the information that she’ll need in order to make an informed decision on her future in the field of employment.

hopeful smiley faceIn the coming week, I’m looking forward to getting over this bug that I’ve been sick with for the past week. I came down with it last Wednesday and it progressed from a scratchy throat to a congestion in my chest with a tight cough and wheezing. It prevented me from singing in my church choir on Sunday, which always makes me sad. I’m feeling much better, but it’s not totally out of my system yet, so I’m hoping that it will be gone soon. There is one bright spot though – it doesn’t prevent me from writing! So not all is lost! 🙂

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

 

 

 

 

 

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