Persistance, Surrender, and Finding Your Cheese

“Nothing ever happens in the past that can prevent you from being present now, and if the past cannot prevent you from being present now, what power does it have?”
Eckhart Tolle

I did myself a favor today. I took a walk to the beach to clear my head. Persistence and surrender came to mind as I sat on the bench looking across the water. Persistence is both a good and bad thing. In my case, persistence has been both a burden and a blessing. I was persistent in staying in a past that no longer existed– that was the burden. Persistence in living in the present moment is the blessing.

Surrender is the savior. It reduces the persistent gnawing that I have had about the past. I hate to admit it, but I am the worst at letting go of memories and seem to be persistent in forgetting the worst times. I know when I’m doing it. I recognize this weakness in myself. I know I have to surrender the past and move forward in the future. Surrendering my past, has been the blessing. In surrender comes freedom to explore new possibilities and new life changes in the present moment. Life is so good when the past is put away and a new road awaits.

The Mouse, The Zen Master and the Cheese

The Zen Master was taking his afternoon walk. As he looked down, he saw his rodent friend the mouse, and reached down to pick him up. ” Still looking in the same places I see. You look troubled and so unhappy.”

The little mouse sighed. “I want the cheese I used to get. I keep remembering how good it tasted, and how beautiful it was to look at. Now all I get is dull looking cheese with holes in it. Nothing satisfies me like the cheese I once got.”

The Zen Master stroked the mouse’s head and looked deep into the little mouse’s eyes. “I can see you are hurting, but not to worry. It’s all about attitude and surrender. What you had was good cheese, but there are so many other wonderful things to taste. You have forgotten that even the best cheese can go bad. If you persist in looking for what you once had, all the rest that is here in front of you goes unnoticed and never to be savored. You will miss the best to come! You cannot be like your cousin the hampster on a wheel just working and working and going nowhere. It isn’t in you to stay in one place.” The Zen Master reached down and saw some crumbs of bread on the ground. “Did you see this? It is full of yummy things for you. Taste it for a new flavor. Touch it for its new feel. Smell it for its sweetness.” He passed it to the mouse who did what he was told.

The mouse’s little nose sniffed at its sweet smell. Umm, it’s a good smell, he thought. His little paws placed the bread in his mouth. He closed his eyes and chewed. “Umm, it tastes as good as it smells, ” he said to the Zen Master. “Now I get what you are trying to tell me. If I hadn’t been open to surrender, I would have missed this experience.”

The Zen Master smiled as he saw the look of pleasure and happiness on the mouse’s face. He placed the mouse back on the ground, and said, “now go and be happy with what is waiting for you now. I guarantee you will be happy with all the new joys life has to offer.” The little mouse scurried off to find what else was waiting for him, and the Zen Master smiled as he watched his little friend run off to new happiness.

What ways have you had to surrender to your past? Please comment in the comment section. I am most interested in sharing.

Happy Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day. I am a mom, and I am lucky enough to still have my mother with me. I don’t have many memories of Mother’s Day from when I was a child other than to go to my grandmother’s house and take her flowers. I was too young to realize that although we honored my mother’s mother, we really didn’t honor our mother. I don’t remember any complaints from her for this oversight. She was happy with the little cards we made for her at school. She was Mom, and like many children, we took advantage of that and didn’t know how lucky we were to have her in our lives.

I used to complain how she would curl my hair in rags every night, and force me to wear frilly dresses. Of course I was a tomboy, so she always had a fight on her hands with the frills and curls. Three hot meals a day was the norm in our house. Everyone’s needs came first. I never thought as to how she probably would have preferred to spend her time reading a magazine or relaxing in a nice hot tub. She was a 1950’s mom, a stay at home mom, a Donna Reed kind of mom.

I am a mom with six wonderful kids- all grown with kids of their own. I remember Mother’s Day when they were growing up. I had gifts of sprouted bean plants in fancy paper cups, and cards carefully drawn and colored with lots of “I love yous” on them. Their dad always bought me marigolds to plant- never my favorite- but flowers just the same. They would help me plant them in the garden.

When I go way back, I remember my first Mother’s Day with my baby girl. Her dad bought me a rocking chair I had wanted desperately so I could cuddle and hold her. What a wonderful feeling that was to rock her to sleep.  I was the happiest young mom around. I felt blessed for what I had been given. I loved being her mom so much that I wanted more children.

When the second was born, I was so in love with the first,  I wondered how could I love the second as much as the first. I needn’t have worried. I had plenty of love to go around. That is how a mother’s heart works. No matter how many children, there is always enough. I had six wonderful kids- trying at times, but the love never stops, the concern never stops no matter their age. They are all gifts, all little packages we mothers unwrap over the years. We watch them unfold in their talents, their personalities, their joys and sorrows. Our pride in them never wanes.

I have never been the kind of mom my mom was. When the children were very small- the first four of them, I didn’t work. I was a PTO mom, a “rah rah” mom when the kids started tee ball or asked if I would come to the school and help out for field trips and fun things to do the school was offering.

As the family grew,  the expenses did as well.  I had to go to work. I juggled my work schedule with my be at home schedule, but I no longer was  a stay at home mom, a three meals a day mom. I have always regretted that, but I have no apologies for it. Financial responsibilities grew as the children did.  With our big brood,two working parents were necessary to keep the family going. From the youngest to the oldest, my kids had to clean their own rooms, do their part in chores to help me keep the house going. I wasn’t always there like my mom was to bandage a boo boo or have a mother/child talk when there was hurt or confusion in their lives. To this day it saddens me that my kids were on their own a lot when I worked. The older ones cared for the younger ones. Being “mom” often caused a lot of arguments and resentments from them.They cared for each other when I should have been there. I had always worried that they would feel abandoned or hurt that I wasn’t there all the time. I hoped they knew I loved them, despite my working outside the home. I wasn’t totally absent; but life in our household changed. Looking back I am full of regret and am sorrowful for not  being that mom who was always there.

Today, I have bittersweet memories when our  home gradually turned into a “zoo” while I tried to juggle back and forth from working mom to a stay at home mom. I was no Donna Reed. My children survived, but without some scars of me not being there.

I am proud to say, that all of my children are grown and successful adults with children of their own. My daughters have loving relationships with their children. My sons are great dads to their children. My one son, raises his daughter alone, and she is a smiling happy little girl. My other son is a wonderful uncle to his siblings kids.

There is a lot to be said for being an “at home mom.” For the young mothers of today, if it’s possible, stay home, be a mom to your kids. There is no more important job in the world than being a mom to your children.

Please comment if you have something to say.

The Mighty Schwinn Still Lives

Out from the dust of the attic, I got out my first bike. I remember getting this bike on my 5th Christmas and how hard it was to not ride it until the snow and ice went away for the spring. Dark blue and white shiny fenders, red handle grips, and my own city bike license filled me with pride and excitement. It was my first taste of independence. Mom allowed me to ride my bike to the corner and back as much as I wanted. I remember that feeling of freedom as the wind pushed back my pony tails and kissed my face.

Creative and imaginative me could see worlds not possible until I got the Schwinn to transport me to these places and adventures, even though the corner was just four houses down from my own. The wonder of it all! Racing on fat tires with the sound of baseball cards pinned to the spokes was my favorite sound and feeling as my imagination took me up and down mountains, across rivers, through thick forests to rescue my friend Tommy who lived just down the street. The faster I went the louder the sounds on my bike spokes as the cards clicked back and forth.

And then I grew up. My bike was replaced with bigger and “better” bikes as I grew, but no bike could replace the feeling I had with that Schwinn. I kept it for all these years when the bigger bikes were given away.Rust grew on its fenders, the handle grips are no longer racing red, the shining handle bars are brown from years of moisture and neglect. The fat tires that raced me on my adventures were now flat and cracked. It is considered an antique now.

Yesterday I decided she could be put to better use than cluttering up my attic. I washed and dusted her off, and as I did memories flooded back of a little girl who found magic in this wonderful bike now rusted and broken. She was stationary for so long that she squeaked. Like me, she has grown old, but her imperfections are beautiful. The rust on her bike rims and wheels were well earned and told me stories of years of use and adventures.

Today I made a special place in my garden for my bike. Dusted off and clean, she proudly boasts a special spot in my garden. On her seat is a beautiful basket of flowers. Nature surrounds her. The squirrels have noticed. The birds have noticed the feeder that attaches to the handlebars they perch on. I have given her life again, despite her age.

I’m not that different from my bike. Time has worn me, but I can still be beautiful with new adventures and friends. It’s all good.

I would like to hear about a childhood memory you have held on to. Please write in the comment section.

The Old Lady and the Hot Balloon

One hot and humid afternoon, I got my lazy ass off the couch and placed it on the hammock that hung between two trees  in my yard.  Being a procrastinator has shown me that if I move from one location to another, it makes the day go much faster.  It teases the eye  into seeing something other than the tv  or the poorly painted four walls.   On this one particular afternoon I was having a feast as I looked above the trees into the bright blue sky.  It was quiet.  Not a bird or a squirrel were talking.  The birds and squirrels just perched in the quiet and the heat. As I mourned  that this would be one of the last times in my yard, my eyes averted to see an Old Lady stand beside me.

 Some might say she looked like a bag lady.  She was old and squat. She wore a floppy large brimmed hat with a daisy pinned to the side of it.  Her long skirt met the tops of her leather work boots that were worn and crusted with dirt and mud.  She was plump in all the right places.  Her gray blonde hair was unkempt underneath the hat brim that shaded her bright blues eyes.  It was the eyes that took my attention as they seemed to light up her face. Beneath the deep wrinkles I could tell that at one time this woman was a beauty. Her skin had a healthy glow.  She was welcoming as those bright blues eyes looked at me.

            ” My name is Hermina.  Would you mind if I sat awhile? Your yard is so beautiful and I would love to just sit and take in all of it.” Her gaze moved as she looked closer at the gardens and then up into the tall trees above. She didn’t wait for my reply, but took the garden chair next to me and sat.

 

I should have been startled at the least, but I wasn’t. I felt a warmth move through me as I offered her a glass of sweet tea. She nodded with a smile as her wrinkled hand took the glass into her hand.

            ” What a beautiful day to have been blessed with,” she said after taking her first sip “You are truly blessed. We all are you know.”

            “Hermina, it’s good you came. I was just thinking the same thing. It’s nice to share if with someone.”

 Actually I was thinking too much before she came walking in my yard.  As I was enjoying the birds and the nature I lived in, I was also hurting inside. I was going to lose this place soon. I was going to miss it. Money was too tight. Work was tight. My love life was failing miserably. Nothing was right other than being right here for these few moments of peace.

            “I sense you have some troubles,” the Old Lady said as she took my hand and looked into my eyes. ‘What a blessing!”

            I pulled my hand away and exclaimed, ” A blessing? I must have a lot of blessings! My life is a mess. It is not a blessing to be broke, to be alone, to be losing so many things in my life at once.”

She smiled at me as I began to rant about all that was wrong in my world. “No, it’s just a nudge telling you that this chapter is over and a new one is about to begin. It’s all in your attitude and the choice to make the changes towards the new. It’s like this.  If you were in the basket of a hot air balloon, you wouldn’t get too far if you just kept the sand bags on the ground, and wouldn’t light the fire. You would just sit there. However, if you  lifted up the bags and placed them in the basket and lit the fire, you would lift to the clouds. Don’t be afraid to lift the bags, pack them away so you can move!  What sites you will see as you leave the old behind and float into the new open spaces! It’s your choice you see.  See the possibilities! Feel the excitement of the newness that is just around the bend! Don’t just chase balloons, be in the balloons! You have the choice to reinvent yourself. Fly with those choice!”

 The Old Lady was right. I looked to the sky in a different light and studied the clouds, felt the warm air blowing against my face.  When I looked down to thank her, she was gone.

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This little story is just a representation of how we all can keep the sandbags down in our lives rather than changing our attitude. Life can be like riding an air balloon!  We just have to let go of the bags so we can float to a higher level and place to acceptance and happiness. Why would anyone want to be grounded if they have a choice not to? Now I see that’s what I did. I stuck myself on the ground never moving forward, and wallowing in the thick damp shit of my mind and emotions. All I had to do was let go of the bags.

 For those of you who know me, you know that I have gone through troubles the past two years. I lost a marriage, a business partner, nearly my home, my business of 15 years, and an emotional beating I don’t ever hope to have again. My problems aren’t any worse or better than any else who goes through hell. I know we all suffer from our own private hells. Fortunately, for me, I woke up out of the daze and chose to see these negatives in my life, and turn my life towards the new and positive. It’s not easy.  Sometimes I want to drop the bags and come down to ground level again. I’m sometimes swept up in the rain clouds and storms, and it just seems easier to land until the storm blows over.

 I have abundance!  I have happiness! I have a smile, a warm touch to share. My life isn’t perfect, but now I know that the balloon can take me to better heights, and share with me all of everything good. I struggle everyday against the negativity around me, but I look up, see the sky, and feel the “me” inside. It’s much more fun seeing the positive in small things.  It puts the joy inside me, and the best part?  I can share this with everyone with only a smile or a touch.  It is catchy!

 What is the best thing I did to bring me to this place?

1. Forgiveness. Oh that was hard. I still struggle with it.

2. Acceptance

3. Letting the past go.

 Check your bags at the door! I want you to let me know some positives in your life, and I’ll be sharing the positives in mine. Here is my list for today.

1. It’s a beautiful day!  The sun is shining.

2. It’s Sunday and I finished my billing for work

3. I had billing to do!  Now that is a wonderful thing!

4. My birthday just passed.  Older now, but what a great thing to be able to say!

5. My family, despite all of our past issues, is strong and well again.

6. I have abundance in love, passion, and life!

 How have you reinvented yourself to bring happiness into your life? Please share.

 

 

Imagination

“I like nonsense.  It wakes up brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.  It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope, which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”  Dr. Seuss

Today I was with a high school student to take her to an informational interview with a police officer. I provide these informational interviews to students who are interested in doing career searches. She lives in a rural community so we had quite a distance to travel to the State Police department where she would be met by the officer.

 

On our drive there we were talking about the kids today and how they don’t have imagination. I had to agree with her to a point, as I feel that with all the computer games and tv shows available to kids today, they lose their imagination when the pixels do the work for them. She said she had no imagination, not because of computer games, but because her father told her she didn’t have an imagination anymore since diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. If you are interested in learning about Asperger’s Syndrome, you can find information at http://www.aspergerssociety.org

 

I cannot attest to that as being true or not true, but it made me think of how my life would be colorless without my imagination. As a child, I was friendless because of no kids to play with in the neighborhood other than boys. My mother hated it when I would sneak off to play with them, and would always punish me if I came home muddy from playing war in our dugouts. It was my girlish wish that I had been born a boy because of the fun they could have, while we girls had to sit pretty with our curled hair and starched dresses. How boring being a girl was- especially for a girl who didn’t get into playing with dolls.

 

So began my imagination.  I used it to be my friend and my constant companion while I wrote stories and poetry of adventure. I would read whatever I could get my hands on, and while most kids were out having real adventures, I was reading about them, and creating adventures in my own little world. I was told I was a strange girl by the neighbors because I would create these stories just to get some shock value from them. I guess I was a bit passive/aggressive in those young years. My mother would always ask me “why?” Out would come another story, until I realized that storytelling in that way was not conducive to being accepted or believed.

 

As a mother of six, my imagination again rose as I saw life through those young eyes. They came up with some “stories” of their own as all kids do, but I relished in their play and their laughter while making their own little worlds of fantasy. I never told them to  put their imagination to rest. It is best shown in my adult son’s artwork as he pulls out his imagination in his illustrations, ( http://www.vonecker.carbonmade.com ) and in the humor of my other adult sons, and the empathy my daughters have for other people.

 

As a writer we all have our secret worlds, places to escape to, but imagination is also good for reinventing oneself as circumstances in our lives change, or what we have done just doesn’t work anymore. After life threw me some real curves, I have been on that path of reinvention. In my next post I will be discussing the ways one can reinvent themselves through imagination.

 

I’m interested in how you have used your imagination to reinvent yourself.  Please share with me your stories.