Sunday, January 31, 2016

Life is made of moments

I first saw this in an email years ago. 

Last Ride
I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift, I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked.
Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly voice.
I could hear something being dragged across the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940's movie.
By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.
There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
Would you carry my bag out to the car?' she asked.
I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.
She kept thanking me for my kindness. 'It's nothing', I told her.. 'I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.'
'Oh, you're such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, 'Could you drive through downtown?'
'It's not the shortest way,' I answered quickly.
'Oh, I don't mind,' she said. 'I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice.
I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening.
'I don't have any family left,' she continued in a soft voice. 'The doctor says I don't have very long.' I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.
What route would you like me to take?' I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.
We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.
Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and she would sit, staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, 'I'm tired. Let's go now'.
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.
Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
'How much do I owe you?' She asked, reaching into her purse.
'Nothing,' I said.
'You have to make a living,' she answered.
There are other passengers,' I responded.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.
'You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,' she said. 'Thank you.'
I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.
I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk.
What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.
We are conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.
But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.
At the bottom of this great story was a request to forward this - I deleted that request because if you have read to this point, you won't have to be asked to pass it along, you just will...
Thank you, my friend...
Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance. J.L.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Back on my feet

Last semester was rocky and emotionally devastating.  No recovery time before the "Holiday Slam."  Each year, I have creative ways of coping but I am still coping.  Some days I am tired of the uphill battle.  Then January hits...woohoo.  My emotions settle out.  I started a new semester.  I am feeling like I can tackle the world.   Not all at once but a little.  I am back to researching different aspects of living with PTSD.  I accepted a while ago that PTSD will be my long term thorn in my side.  Every once in a while it fades to the back ground.  I feel smug that it is 'over.'  Then I am hit with a trigger that sends me in a tail spin or my body simply quits working with the tell tale sensation of loss of all energy instantly.  I go back to basics to get myself going again and again and again.  I figure if I have to live with it, I'm going to minimize its impact.  I am also working on the concept of capitalizing on its affects.  For example, hyper-awareness is a bonus driving the freeway.  Internal rage burner when tamped down and channeled makes a formidable fuel to my life engine.  Depression stops it.  Release the depression, unleash controlled emotions focused on a goal almost guarantees success.  Learning to control it and allow my feelings move me forward is a crazy balancing act that enough to propel me forward but not so much to burn me out.  This year is looking like a challenge that I am ready to take on. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Today I was able to validate a coworker's frustration with a situation.  I knew a meeting was coming up and I prayed that morning I would have the courage to say what I thought.  My speaking up changed the whole tone of the meeting.  I'm not sure if there will be fall out but I am glad I shared my perspective which validated what another person was saying. 

I also spent part of the day with toddlers.  I enjoy playing with play dough, cuddling, and crayons.  I feel rejuvenated by being juvenile.  Happy this evening. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Article I agree with

Judy, my sister, posted a link to an awesome article that debunks the oft spoken phrase "God won't give you more than you can handle."

The article articulates what I felt for a long time.  Suffering is sent that can break you.  If it won't break you, why would you need God?  I expressed this before to some people and been reamed out for flying in the face of their belief.   That this life should be easy.

If life is a test shouldn't it be difficult?  If a broken heart is a requirement, won't things happen that will break your hear?  'If you can't stand it, try your knees' is a far more logical mantra.   

I've broken.  I believe that Christ had a hand in my healing.  I couldn't do it without Him.  I believe a loving Heavenly Father sees me differently and my experience as a refining process I barely comprehend.  I am thankful for angels that walk among us.  My sister is one of those angels. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Where does it come from?

Anger shows up early in life.  Many a parent of a toddler can share horror stories of angry tantrums seemingly to maximize the parents embarrassment. Babies can go from googoo happy to screaming rage in split seconds.  I don't believe parents set the example of laying on the floor kicking and crying.  I could be wrong.  Children feel anger.  I am thankful to my counselor, KavinCoach, that taught me that anger is a secondary emotion.  If you take the time to analyze what is zipping through your emotions hurt, fear or frustration came first.  To add to the confusion, quite often it is a combination that sets off the rage.  When I started counseling, my therapist seemed to be fascinated at how I could make anger vanish.  Part of his therapy was to piss me off then listen to what I raged about, however, I wouldn't get mad.  I would start to get angry, I would recognize the emotion, then I would make it go away.  Progress was slow.  Like trying to beat down a pillow wall.  It gives instead of breaking.  But that is how I survived.  I gave instead of breaking.  Sadly, I gave so much, me as a person completely vanished at times.  First, my counselor taught me to allow the anger I felt.  Then he slowed down my reaction to feel the emotion that came before.  This took several years of work.  I was persistent because what I was doing before helped me to survive but that was all I was doing, staying alive one day or 5 minutes at a time.  Living is feeling emotions.  Numb is not thriving, it is existing.  It is not healing either.  It is a living coma.  I did this.  Not fun.  Don't wish away your ability to feel. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Celebrating with my sister

She finished her 8th book for the Holiday series.

I love creating the book covers to with what she writes.  Look up Laurel Hawkes to find all her books.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Experiment upon His word

Living with faith is an often spoken words phrase feels cliche when the person saying it hasn't been to hell yet.  Easy to live in faith when hell is just a possibility.  However, those that have lived there stepping out in faith is scary stuff. When you have fallen flat on your face and maybe broken some bones, getting out there again is difficult.  Lately I pondered on this scripture:

Matthew 17:19-20
19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
 20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

 I can't move mountains, moving me is a real challenge some days.  I know how small a mustard seed is, about the size of a period on this page.  So my faith is less than a dot.  Heavy sigh.  I can make all sorts of excuses.  That won't change anything.  I'm working on increasing my faith.  I noticed when I pray to increase my faith my troubles seem to quadruple.  Only recently, I considered the connection that when I struggle through my challenges is when I increase my faith.  Peter didn't get out of the boat when it was calm.  He stepped out into a raging sea.  When he took his eyes off of Christ and looked at his problems he was standing on he lost his courage and started sinking.  I remind myself that Peter did get out of the boat.  

Another analogy used is experimenting upon His word.   Kind of a try it and see what happens method.  In preschool one of the yearly experiments is to place a seed in a plastic bag with a wet paper towel.  No matter which way the seed is planted the same process happens.  The seed splits, a small root heads down, and a green top heads up.  

Found a video of the process:

Some days when I feel like I'm totally falling apart I remind myself of this process and Christ challenge to allow faith in his gospel grow within my heart.  

Luke 8:4-15
 ¶And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable:
 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.
 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.
 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.
 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?
 10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
 13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
 14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
 15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

 Let it swell within your heart and then you will know that it is a good seed.  Working on growing faith.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Sad Harry Potter Fan

My friend shared this on Facebook.

Evanna Lynch with Venkatesh Kumar and Aaron Kumar.

I don't have many stories to share about Alan Rickman because, truthfully, I was terrified of him as Snape and throughout the course of the films I always gave him a wide berth. But I wanted to share the brief but significant encounters I had with him. He was probably the only cast member who met my fangirl expectations because everybody else broke character to be nice to me and make me feel welcome to the Potter family, and also to be themselves, while he remained impassively, Snape. So I assumed he WAS Snape and made myself small whenever he went gliding past in those big, shadowy black robes. Among the only people who didn't keep their distance were the throngs of children he used to bring to lunch in the canteen. It was odd that any of the adult actors would lunch in the canteen, but odder still that Snape would, surrounded by a group of giddy little girls and boys. I was told that they were his friends' children and that NO, I would not be allowed to bring that many guests, and nor would anyone but that nobody fancied the task of telling Alan he shouldn't invite his friends' eager young children to the studio on a weekly basis. Thus we all enjoyed the bizarre sight of Snape in his all-black, bat-like glory sitting head and shoulders above a gang of unnaturally unfazed children. For me, these glimpses of Snape chatting quite amiably to young people was the only hint that there was an Alan in there too and that he was in fact very, very nice.
It wasn't until a few years later that I had the chance to meet Alan as himself. It was at a charity dinner and our nameplates were next to each other. I started to panic quietly and I even asked another guest would he like to take my seat! But an organiser insisted we sit at our assigned seats and I steeled myself for the most awkward dinner conversation of my life!! I sat down and much to my shock he greeted me warmly and by name. My real name! That put me at ease and after that I was quite happy for him to feign intense interest in his dinner plate rather than make casual chit-chat with me. But he did keep talking to me, asked lots of questions and seemed genuinely interested in my interests and projects. The conversation got round to acting quickly and at the time I was stressing about the pressure I felt to already be a successful actress and that I'd run out of time to make mistakes. I was aware I was talking about myself so I kept trying to shift the conversation back to him but he just wanted to help. He told me he hadn't known what he'd wanted to be out of school, that he'd gone to art school first to be a graphic artist and had come to acting a few years later when he applied for drama school. As an actress, already having to lie about my age at 24, it seems mad that Alan only found his vocation and began his acting journey at 26 and turned out to be…Alan Rickman. But when I told him that I was worried if I didn't figure myself out quickly I would miss the most important opportunities and never get them back, he simply told me that I was focusing on the wrong thing. He said not to worry about getting 'there' and instead to focus on feeding my soul and following my heart from place to place. And then he gave me the loveliest acting advice I've ever gotten. 'People think that they're watching this' he said waving his hand in front of his face, 'but really they're watching this' and he pounded his fist on his heart centre. After dinner, I thanked him for the advice though for some reason he rejected the notion that he'd given me any advice (I don't know why) but whatever it was, it truly stuck with me and it made me start living differently, being more in tune with my heart, listening and following its rhythms and wishes and surrendering the need to control my life.
After that meeting I thought about him a lot and what a truly lovely, kind, generous person he was. For someone as established, wise and revered as he, the greatest gift you can give someone is your full attention and presence in the moment. Most people of his measure of talent and intellect are extremely busy and are anxious for you to know this. You start to talk to them and their eyes are already darting to the other corners of the room, their fingers reaching for their phone where a million more interesting people are pinging away at their inbox. They can't afford to spend their precious time and entire mental facilities just on you, so mostly they just give you a bit, just for a few minutes. But Alan Rickman was not that at all. In the hour I sat with him, he managed to be completely present, kind, attentive and curious about someone who did not expect or look for that from him. It says a lot about him, how nice a person he was and what discipline it must have taken to stay in character so much. It must have been hard to play Snape and to have to alienate himself from everyone. It must have been hard to have to stop smiling at people. And uncomfortable to make others so uncomfortable. There aren't that many actors that would go to such lengths for the integrity of their character. There were deep and heart-breaking reasons why Snape didn't smile, why he is such a loner and the most stubbornly emo adult ever. I so appreciate the fact that he cared that much about his character, that he didn't dismiss Harry Potter as a 'kids film', a handy job and a sizeable paycheck. He loved and honoured Snape the way all beloved characters deserve and he made the Harry Potter world that much more real for us.
I can't quite believe he's not here anymore. I somehow still think actors are immortal like the characters they play but then they leave us. Please honour his memory and what he gave us by talking about and sharing stories and continuing to celebrate his legacy so then he will be here, as we like to say, 'Always'.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Pruning hurts

One of my yearly rituals is pruning roses.  The roses do so much better after pruning away dead wood.  Carefully selecting the correct place to prune so that the branches extend out instead of across the center of the bush, where windy days cause the branches to rub against each other.  Cleaning out grass, old leaves, and other debris protects the plants from disease.   The process takes time.  Heavy gloves help protect me from painful pokes.  As I pulled grass, pruned then painted the tips that I cut from the bushes, I pondered how much pruning is similar to counseling.  Old ideas are pulled out, cutting out bad habits, choking belief systems thinned or discarded, keeping the healthy portions of myself to rebuild and allow new growth.  Hanging on to old dead stuff stunts my growth.  I also painfully learned that when night is coming and you can't tell the difference between a rose branch loaded with stickers and cannas, it is time to quit for a time and give myself a rest.  Fortunately, I hadn't grabbed too hard.  Overtired or dim view is relieved by giving myself time to finish the pruning the next day.  I learned that rushing counseling also had a painful, negative backlash.  The pruning process is not fun, however beautiful blooms a few months later makes an awesome difference. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Rule number 1

My counselor took great pains to point out how often I lied to myself.  All the soothing lies of "it's not that bad", "I'm just fine", "If I do the right things then they will love me."  He carefully pointed out and underlined how messed up my life was and how bumbling I am in relationships.  He then worked with me many long years trying to make me into a human that wouldn't accidentally or on purpose hurt other humans.  Some days, I simply back off from all humans.  I can't do it.  Then morning comes.  My alarm rings and God gives me another chance to show I am different.  I am an old dog that can learn new tricks....that is what repentance is all about, second chances to do things differently.  Often people cringe at the word repentance, I rejoice, Heavenly Father gave us a recipe for change and Christ made it possible for the process to work.  I embrace repentance.  I love the opportunity for me to make new beginnings.  I believe that is the most joyous thing about the New Year it reminds everyone they have opportunities everyday to change and do things differently.  I messed up in life, I'll mess up again.  I'll go through the steps of first stop lying to myself.  Admit how I messed up.  Commit to change and set the change in motion.  The older I get the more beautiful repentance becomes.  However it all starts with rule number 1, stop lying especially to yourself.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Feeling Blue


I'm hitting the after Christmas blues.  Its ok.  I expected it to happen.  I'm not in the drop-in-the-hole black.  I'm learning that sometimes I need to go with the rhythm of my body.  Not fight it so much.  Also doing my best to get all the sweets out of the house.  wow are they yummy.  I discovered an amazing way to make caramel popcorn that tastes almost like cracker jacks without the toy.  I'll feel better soon. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


This quote on Facebook struck me as stronger version of Henry Ford,  “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.”
I think 2016 will be pushing my limits.  I am taking stuff that I've done and pushing past anything I believed I was capable of doing.  I am doing today so much more than anything I thought of last year.  I am edging forward in several areas.  I am testing to see if the limits really exist anywhere but my own mind.  I feel like I'm on the edge of tomorrow. 


My friend on Facebook posted a photo challenge for the month of January.  I found the link....

I'm adding a requirement.  I have to use my phone camera.  I tell people all the time that the camera helps me see things differently.  Doesn't matter if it is a Nikon or my phone.  The list is a fun way to explore.  I'm not sure how to get them from my Facebook onto my picture blog.  Hmmmm learning while having fun.

Water from day 3
Figured it out.  Fun.  :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Hi ho Hi ho its off to work I go


Easy drive to work this morning so I suspect not everyone is back at work yet.  I enjoyed the day.  Remembered to do several things from two weeks before.  I still marvel at the ability to remember something.  Years of no memories makes having useful ones is fairly novel still.  I am exploring areas that I want to work on.  I spending this year on some education.  My job is structured so that if I take more classes I can get paid higher.  The side benefit is I learn very cool stuff.  A couple of years ago I took a class on understanding the teenage mind.  I learned so much in that class.   I'm looking forward to this next class I'm taking.  I am learning new ways to teach math concepts and encourage students to go on to college.  One of the things I like about working at this school is the atmosphere of encouraging students to excel not just pat them on the head but really make them work to achieve success.  I enjoy going to work.  I feel like I can make a difference there.  I do find I get a bit tired and miss having the energy to do other stuff at home.  Part of my plans for this year is to improve my health.  One part of that is earlier to bed, that means before 1 AM.

Good night.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Working at plans for 2016

I am working out a plan for 2016.  I am praying for guidance because I want to improve my relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus.  Can't do that if I leave them out of my plan.  My sister keeps talking about the movie War Room, on my list of things to do eventually.  I started at the end of last year including in my prayer to ask to be aware of how to serve others.  I saw so much more than I am able to do.  Part of my plan for this year is to create a space where I can do the things I think about doing.  Improve my health so I have the energy to do it.  Open my heart to let emotional connections happen.  I am in such a different place than 10 years ago when I started counseling.  I am taking what I learned and applying it to my life.  Too often I chicken out and want to keep preparing to become, preparing to do, preparing to take action....time to do it. 

Light my inner fire and go. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Day 2 of the New Year

Have you heard it yet, the shattering of New Year's Resolutions breaking....yea that is why I tend to look at making goals instead.  I also learned that I have any number of bright ideas that when I put them into action, not so bright any more.  This year I am working on an aspect that my first counselor tried to get me to understand.  He asked me who I was and I gave him a bunch of information on what I do.  Here's the deal.  When I set a SMART goal it is tracked by what I do.  For example, I want to become kinder, I do more kind things.  I want to be more patient, I let another driver in front of me on the freeway.  When I want to become some trait, I do those things that represent that trait. But I do not integrate the trait right away it is part of the doing.  When I was small I watched the movie the "King and I."  The song whistle a happy tune was a big part of my growing up years.
 Make believe what you want to become then you actually become what you believe.  At first I thought lying to myself was just one more delusion to overcome.  However, as I study articles about doing to becoming I am changing my mind about this.  If you are aware that you are scared and choose to act bravely, a person becomes brave.  This is not a lie.  This is not about self deception.  It is choosing a path, an attribute, or attitude then acting on what I want to be. 

“The mind is everything. What you think you become.”

 Buddha quotes (Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.)

The lump of glass will become a beautiful glass vase.