Simply Put . . .

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It has been a long while since I blogged.  There is a good reason for that.

I started this blog when a friend insisted that I share my journey – express my life lessons – bare my heart.

We never stop learning, and I had a few more lessons come along like waves beating against the crags.  It took all of my energy to stay upright, but I am upright!

The lessons I learned in the past 6 months have been the most valuable, and I can sum them up in a few short sentences:

Life never stops happening.

Not everyone is going to like me – no matter how hard I try, and

Today is the best place I have ever been.

I’ve started a half-dozen different posts, but my heart wasn’t in it.  I could continue talking about sadness, loneliness, divorce, illness, but I am not going to anymore.  I have nothing life-changing or profound left to write, and my story has become trite, at least to me.  Yes, I have had to be strong, resilient, resourceful and optimistic, but who cannot say the same thing?

I once believed that I had to do great things for my life to have purpose and it was necessary to wear the heartaches and hardships on my sleeve so I could help others, and although I do believe I have encouraged a few, everyone has their own lessons to learn.  Our life experiences are so different but yet so very much the same.

For my life to have purpose, I must judge not, love deeply,  laugh loudly,  and not be afraid to die.   I’m there.

In the future, I will write more about simple things, like enjoying my granddaughter, raising a dog, going to work, falling in love, directing a radio play, turning 60, dwelling in the mountains, and being me.

I turn 60 this month.  Did you know that 60 is the new 40?  Be prepared.  I might shock you all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Sky is Falling!!

The Sky is Falling . . . NOW!

The Sky is Falling . . . NOW!

The sky is falling, the sky is falling, the sky is falling . . . NOW!

Hush, Chicken Little!  The sky never falls!

Well, almost never . . .

Detroit Michigan, 2004.  WDWO TV-18 was in the spotlight for a live program that would be broadcast around the world and in millions of households in the United States, and it was my job, as station manager, to make this happen.

I had produced enough programs to know that in order to be successful at bringing a quality program, I needed a studio audience, talent, singers, topics of interest and a speaker with recognition. Never shirking from a challenge, I went to work.  If I remember correctly, I had about 6 weeks to pull this 3-hour live program together.

I trust that all of my current and former employers would agree that “Subordinate” is my middle name.  I aim to make everyone happy, so when the president of the network called and said he wanted this one preacher man to be the guest speaker, I went to work to make it happen.  This gentleman was a very high-profile minister, a Bishop, in fact.  I had never met him, but had heard enough to know this would not be an easy scouting expedition.
Getting an appointment with any bishop in Detroit was a challenge made even more difficult because for one, I was a woman without the “covering” of a man, and secondly, I held a position of authority, and this should be reserved for men only. I had much to overcome, not to mention that not everyone has appreciation for Christian television.

The first step in the right direction was to become acquainted with the secretary of this Man of God. I made lunch dates, sent flowers, attended the church and finally garnered an appointment.
Meeting Bishop was nerve-wracking, and intimidating. I knew immediately he did not approve of me being in his presence without a male accompaniment, but I forged ahead with my spiel promoting my television station, telling him how I am giving him this opportunity to reach millions, promising he will grow his congregation, and be heard preaching around the world!

He had to pray about it.

Aarrggghhhh!!!!

Befriending the secretary proved to be a brilliant decision because two weeks later, I am still trying to get an answer, and having her help was crucial. I was determined that “No” was not acceptable, so I continued to hound from a distance until Bishop finally said he would be a part of this program.
After weeks of stress, hard work, planning and plotting, the day arrived. We picked up the president of our network from the airport. He was very pleased with my work and success with the bishop. A church was bussing in their congregation to be the audience. Our set was stunning. The Green Room well stocked with the finest foods and drinks. Paperwork and releases signed. The engineers had everything wired and synced. The camera operators were in place. Sound checks done. We were 15 minutes to air, and I am so pleased, not to mention, I see a nice raise coming my way.

Then I start to hear the sound of a crumbling sky.

My secretary comes running to me saying that we had a big problem, and indeed we did.
Mr. Minister is at the front door saying he won’t be making the broadcast because he just remembered another obligation. Crack. Crumble.
No amount of pleading, crying, promising or shaming was changing his mind.

The sky was falling. It was the end of the world. Blood rushed through my head, and I saw the end of my career just seconds away.

I had no choice but announce to my boss what had happened. Thunder cracked. Clouds desinigrated. The sky continued to fall.

The show must go on, and it did. Without the guest speaker. We made it through the 3-hour airing by improvising, shaking, stretching out the talking heads, sweating, and adding more music.

I thought the sky completely landed upon the earth this night, but I was wrong. My career continued, successfully, and I never heard from the bishop or his secretary. I think he was not ready for the big-time:-)

When I think I am experiencing the sky falling and the end of the world is upon me, I remember the bishop, and I smile.

Chicken Little need not panic. The sky may open up but will never swallow me. I’ve learned to dodge the debris.

Cartoon - End of the World

What My Basket Holds – 2013

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It has been a year since I started my blog, Simply Life Lessons, and lately, I have been so busy learning life lessons that I have not taken the time to stop and tell you about them.

My 5 1/2 years in Colorado have been “Smack in the Face” hard and the most memorable and enjoyable that I know.  There is no way to sugarcoat the trials nor the lessons that have come my way, but, if we all handed in our basket of troubles to exchange, I would take mine back, and if there ever was a place to surround yourself with kind, giving, caring, loving friends and healing strength and peace, it is Estes Park, Colorado.

A glimpse into my  year . . .

I laughed, cried, cursed, questioned, promised, succeeded, failed, and learned.

  • Stephanie got married. Beautiful wedding. Happy couple. Good life ahead.
  • Zia started kindergarten.
  • I left one great job and started another great job.
  • The flood. It happened. Anything that can be said, has been.
  • Changed addresses.
  • The word “Divorce” became easier to say.
  • Dating became interesting and unpredictable, to say the least
  • Experienced hospitalization and two surgeries.
  • Mother passed away.
  • Traveled a bit.
  • Started a weight loss journey.
  • Missed my dad.
  • Made new friends.

There was nothing simple about most of my Life Lessons this year. I don’t know why. Is God trying to make a better person of me? Karma? (Am surely hoping not!). Stuff happens? It’s my turn? I don’t have answers and have quit asking questions.

Mother died in January. No matter how prepared you are, you are never ready.  I spent the next day after she died learning to knit. She would respect that. In May, the family gathered in Illinois to bury both of our parents. Closure doesn’t truly ever come when you’re suddenly an orphan, (Daddy died in August, 2011(, but I can say I learned much about the grieving process, and there is eventually a place of peace. Memories become more precious, and understanding more sure.

My man who swept me off my feet last year? Bumpy ride. Sad ride. I doubted. He failed. Second chances. I learned that relationships at 50+ are far different from being 18 when it’s all goofy and mushy and carving hearts in trees. Life goes on. Regardless of the outcome, this was a necessary journey than I am thankful for. Very recently I met him again for the first time, so we talk, and I am trying to learn to trust. Does my heart need as much protection as I try to give it?

Zia started school in August, and in Week 2 was chosen as Student of the Week and voted as having the Nicest Smile.  Proud? You bet! She loves the classroom, her friends, being obedient and making the grade. It was a difficult transition to go from caring for her everyday to seeing her a couple hours a week, but she is busy and happy and becoming an amazing young lady. Grammie is thankful to have her as my granddaughter.

It was during this time that Zia started school that I took a self-imposed hiatus from my day-to-day routine and some days did nothing but breathe. Life lessons during this time came easy. I understood where I was and how I got there, and every bit of it was on my map, showing detours and solid paths to take. I rested, reflected, and prepared to happily continue the journey into the rest of my life.

Today? I am living in a temporary mess as I unpack and settle in my new home that rests on a mountainside, perfect for the next leg of my journey, which includes a wonderful job I started early November. Day by day I unpack more, down-size, discover new challenges at work, and contentedly find my way.

Out of the hospital two weeks, I continue to recuperate from two foot surgeries. Lessons learned? How to walk with a cane, and not everyone is kind to the afflicted. On the next level, I can only say, “Oh, my!”  Can I count the lessons learned? With my doctors’ insistence, I am now more committed to taking better care of myself. Nothing should come before my health. I am not invincible. I am not immune. I get it now, but may need reminded. Finding that I don’t have the power to make just about anything alright has been eye-opening and rather difficult for me, because I kinda think I’ve done that for a long time.

Other lessons were tougher and surely not simple. I am learning to let others help me. This has been my major life lesson of 2013. There are givers and there are takers, and I always want to be a giver.  I am learning that being complete demands a balance because givers needs those to give to.  Vulnerable once was a foreign word, but not anymore. Friends and family willingly and without thinking twice, took over my life the 10 days I was in the hospital. They packed up my belongings, moved my stuff, visited and cheered me on. They ran errands, sent flowers and cards and called. They looked out for me and worried and cared. Believe me when I say that it would have been easier to lose another toe than to have to ask or accept help in any way, but I had to acknowledge that I am loved, and I know good people who desire to do good things, even for me. It is also very true that when you are down, you learn who your real friends are, but that is another post, another day.

When people ask me how I stay positive and upbeat, I think there are 2 lessons learned long ago. My faith is a source of comfort and hope, and I know that everything in life comes down to perspective. I realize that there are so many people who are traveling unimaginable paths, and I am forever thankful that I am not.

Please know that we are not about what happens to us, but about how we develop through those happenings, and developing positively will prove to be helpful to another soul that you meet along the way. Don’t waste your lessons. Share them.

As this year comes to a close, I am excited about 2014. I have plans to experience more beauty, to be unselfish with my giving, to right all of the wrongs I can, and to embrace the joy of simply being.

Happy New Year to you, and may all of your life lessons be simple.

And Then I Found my Passion . . .

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Life often gets in the way of opportunities,  delays our chances, diverts our purpose and challenges our growth, confuses our passions and causes us to stop learning those things that are the most meaningful of all.

I always want to find a person’s passion for there lies their heart, but so many find it hard to know what makes their heart beat.

Passion is hard to define.  Being a mother and housewife and good person in my community was a wish I held since about the age of 2 when I pretended to be Susie Homemaker, and I believe that I met the challenge of being the best mom, a dutiful wife – not to mention great cook and seamstress –  and by all indications, was a respected part of my town, church, tribe.  I agreeably met expectations, and loved doing so.

As a child, I knew it was important to help others, but as I got older, I knew that  I wanted my life to be spent aiding the down-trodden, the misfits, those who struggle.  In school, there were girls who were unkempt, not bathed, wearing shabby clothes, and could never invite anyone to their homes, nor were they ever invited into the homes of others.  The kids would pass “cooties” every time one of these girls walked by or was accidentally touched.  Wrong.  Very wrong.  The scars, I am sure, still remain.

I do not recall, nor can I imagine, ever participating in this cruelty, but it was about 4th grade that I started feeling inside an ache in my heart for unfortunate people, and it remains to this very day.

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In grade school, and for many years, The Appalachian Mountains called me, but I did not go.  I sent books and gave money, but I yearned to go there to teach and hug and understand.  I still regret not going.

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After High School, I signed up for the Peace Corps, and when my departure was merely weeks away, I kissed this guy and thought I was falling in love.  I don’t know if leaving would have been the best decision, and I don’t know if falling in love was the best decision, but that’s another discussion.  Even in the midst of our discovering our passion, we become passionate:-)

Life, and influence of those around me who feared for my safety, interrupted my trip to skid-row in Chicago.  I really have no comprehension that others might want to cause me harm, so have never been concerned for my safety.  People tell me I just have a streak of stupid here.  I still want to work on skid-row, and believe that I will one day.  I know I can make a difference – if nothing more than giving a hug and a hot cup of coffee.

And such were the plans of an everyday housewife.

For a few years I regularly visited a drug rehab center for young women and encouraged many by simply listening and offering hope that a better day was ahead.  I understood struggles, and would freely share my story.  In time, I bonded with a beautiful girl who had traveled a very rocky road, and after many months of getting acquainted, Theresa and I started climbing her mountain of living independently.  We found a landlord willing to offer low rent, we scoured the county’s yard sales for furniture and household items, and we began the legal process that would allow her visitation with her 4-year-old daughter.  This story does not have a happy ending.  Drugs won.  This was not fairytale material, but in the midst of it, you cannot think failure is even possible.  If we knew the outcome, we would never climb the first rung.

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My time in inner city Detroit allowed me the privilege of loving and feeding and holding those who never felt the sun shine on their souls for even a day.  Visiting the psych ward at the Detroit City Hospital is an experience I will never forget.  Juanita was delusional and different, but she had normal days, and I enjoyed helping her manage life, driving her to church and being her friend.  The day I received the call that she was taken – in a straight-jacket – to the hospital was a hopeless one.  Juanita had tried to kill herself, and the edge of insanity had come so close that she simply had to crash on the other side.  I visited with her a few times but with too many prescription drugs and only a vague recognition, I abandoned the fight for Juanita, but the overall fight is never over.  We can never give up on those who need us.

We are all touched, in one form or another, by mental illness, and the stigma surrounding those who suffer must stop!  I am not naïve enough to say that love can cure the disease, but love can offer hope and change, but this is another story for another day.

4981911-extreme-close-up-image-of-drunk-man-holding-a-glass-of-whiskeyDoug was a recovering alcoholic.  It had been years since he had lived in his own home, and after choosing Jim Beam over his wife and children, life began its downward spiral.  He showed up at the television station every day to do odd jobs and be around “good” people.  He was funny and animated and very helpful.  When the sun started going down, he and I would walk down the street to the local coney island and get him dinner before he wandered off into the darkness toward home – address unknown.  Doug rarely cried over his lot in life.  He knew that to keep taking the 12 steps was a challenge big enough.

So many stories of people – people who are beyond the whining stage, who are standing on an unsteady floor at the bottom of nothing, who are over the idea that someone will take care of them . . . My passion, my calling, my purpose?  No one is too dirty, too poor, too lost, too sad, too sick, too lonely that love cannot change their life, but, the end of this story is not about their lives being changed, but how each of them have changed mine.  I am not a Mother Theresa because I do not do what I do without reward.

I rarely get to the end of the story with most people I have met, and I rarely know how my presence changed their lives, but I do know how they – each one of them – has affected mine, and there, my friend, is my reward.  Yes, there is a price to pay to help others.  Broken trust, sad heart, threat of disease, and a weariness that may take days to overcome, but it is worth it.  There is not one person I wish I had not met.

So, here I am in Estes Park, Colorado, far from The Appalachian Mountains or the skid-row in Chicago, but I am living my passion.

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The Promise, a ministry in Marion, Illinois, reaches out with love and hope to the homeless and needy.  Dave and Peg Maragni share my passion and allow me to be a part – from a distance.   I visited them when in Illinois earlier this month, and they are doing a tireless work.  It is my privilege to know them.  If you want to know more, “Like”  their page – The Promise, Marion, Illinois, on Facebook.

Locally, I have a family who needs help.  Their home flooded, and they are out of work, and our laws say they are not supposed to be here, so they are afraid of asking for help.  One of the parents is legal and one is not.  How to explain to the children that to ask for food and shelter threatens to devastate the family even more than they already are?  I am happy to report that after many hard days, we are getting ahead of the challenges and are more hopeful with every sunrise.

Immigration reform.  Another story for another day.

Today, I thank you for reading my heart and hearing my passion.  May you find your passion among the expectations of your life, and may your passion help others find theirs.

Truth Wins . . .

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I lied once.  Actually, it has been more than once.  Some may not think lying to yourself counts, but a lie is a lie, as my dad would say.

When pushed to my limit – and I have been many times, physically and mentally  – I will repeatedly say, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this”. . .  all while I am doing “this”.  A lie.

1d54de9acbcc311eec1f58751a214836Many people, when asked how they are will answer that they are “fine”, when they actually are far from fine.  Been there, said that.

Then there are those times when I tell myself that, “Everything’s going to be alright”, and it becomes my mantra, even when I do not believe it will be alright, but it always ends up being alright, so I lied, but it was alright.

When listening to someone yakking and yakking about ridiculous scenarios that will never happen, my heart tells my brain that I don’t get it, but from my mouth words tumble around until “I understand”, spills out.  Harmless?  Probably.

m183871107Often my lack of reasoning becomes a lie.  I am counting calories.   In a weak moment, that piece of brownie will try to convince me that it weighs only 2 ounces, but I suspect that the darn thing actually weighs more than I do!  I am naïve, and believe what others tell me (even a brownie),  so I eat it, and the truth appears on my scales the next morning.

These are examples of those “White Lies” that most folks find acceptable and innocent, but there are those untruths that we tell ourselves that are dangerous, deadly to our souls and often irreversible because we have come to know these lies as truth.

When we say we are not good enough or smart enough or pretty enough, truth is not present.  When our thoughts convince us that we are less than in any way, we are listening to lies.  I can only write about this because of the lies I have told myself or allowed others to speak to me.  Through the process of growing, I am  learning my truth.  Truth is not always pretty but it is real.

Truthfully, I am – plain, outspoken, often unsure and clumsy.  My body is too large, my hair too thin, I wear ugly shoes.  I forget and repeat myself.  I live simply and will sometimes start things I never finish.  I get my feelings hurt and cry when frustrated.  I lose my patience and might throw things.  This is not a glowing description, but I am pretty cool,  and I am caring and a great Grammie, a loving mother and faithful friend.  I am capable, dependable and honest, and nothing can convince me otherwise.

I am learning the simple life lesson that truth serves me well.  It is powerful and healing and freeing.  May you fall in love with your amazing truth.

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