Thursday, January 30, 2014

The End of A Collection of Days on Blogger

This is the last blog you will see from this website.  I will be opening up a new blog on another site.  Thank you for your loyalty in following my collection of days.  My new blog address is:

I hope to see you all soon to share my collection of days with you. And, if you are new to this blog, please enjoy my blogs from the past several years as you journey with me and my new blog.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas - A Time For Family

In my collection of days, there never is a day that passes that doesn't either remind me of family, that I don't speak to a family member, or I fail to experience what it means to be a part of a family.  As Christmas approaches, I am keenly aware of all kinds of families, which aren’t all as mine is, and I stop to ponder just what is going on in this world. 

I always believed that families were a special entity, designed to love, support, build up, and take care of each other.  Even in my darkest days, when I was reminded by a family member that I had disgraced our family name, I was never abandoned by my family, or made to feel like I was not a part of my family.  They circled the wagons around me, protected me as best they could, prayed for me, and more than anything, loved me.  Even though many members of my family are not close to me geographically, with cell phones, texting, Facebook, and yes, even snail mail, we stay in touch with each other on a regular basis.   We are bound together by our heritage and our DNA, and the family ties are ones that can be pulled and stretched, but never shredded or broken.   Families are treasures that should be cherished and protected with all our might.

This brings me to something that breaks my heart.  I have some very close friends whose families are not like mine, or display the concept of family that I so strongly believe in.  I don’t understand it.  There are mothers whose grown children have not spoken to them in over a year, fathers who have been cut off from their children for reasons that they don’t understand, and children who have not been in contact with their parents or siblings in many years.   As I talk to these friends, I listen to their stories, wondering what has happened to the family.  Where is the love?  Where is the compassion?  Where is the forgiveness?  Where is the heart that is supposed to be at the heart of family?  What has happened to the family?

It is Christmastime.  It is time to celebrate family, set aside differences, forgive transgressions and failures, rejoice in victories, and bask in the love of God.  While we stop to think about the birth of Jesus, we also need to think about what he taught during his ministry.  He didn’t teach us to abandon or judge members of our family because we don’t agree with them.  He didn’t teach us to turn our backs on our children or our parents because they hurt our feelings or made us angry.  He didn’t teach us to hold a grudge against members of our family who have slipped along their path.  He taught us to forgive, to love, and to reflect God and God’s love through our lives.
As I think about all these things, I am reminded of a young woman I have recently met.  Her story is one of troubles, drug abuse,the loss of a child, and a myriad of problems that would make many people cut and run.  Her mother is an alcoholic who was never an ideal candidate for Mother of the Year at any time in this young woman’s life.  However, as this beautiful young woman has gotten her life back on solid ground, she has never stopped loving her mother or trying to help her.  While she is not rewarded by her mother with support and love, she continues to be a part of her mother’s life, always hoping that she will change.  She makes these other families look pitiful in contrast, because she knows the importance of family, even a far from perfect one.  It is not a pretty story, but she gives me hope for other families.

I am thankful for my family, and my wish at Christmas is that everyone will rediscover something about family that may have been forgotten, buried, hidden, or brushed aside for one reason or another.  My wish is that forgiveness and love will triumph where hurt and disappointment has tarnished the beauty of family.

Christmas is a family time of year.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Viet Nam - Then and Now

I wonder how many of my blog readers remember these? 

It was a Fall day in 1972 at the University of Georgia.  As I got off of the campus bus on my way to class, I stopped at a table outside the student center to see what was being sold.  The table was covered with bracelets just like this one.  The young woman at the table explained to me that they were POW/MIA bracelets with the names of soldiers engraved on them.  For $5, I could purchase one and wear it until the person whose name was on my bracelet was either released or found.  I didn’t have $5 to spare that day, but I selected a bracelet, put it on my wrist, and let go of my beloved $5 bill.

I wore the bracelet until the war ended and the prisoners of war were released.  I searched the newspaper for the name of my soldier, but I never saw his name.  I placed the bracelet into my “treasure box”, and over the years forgot about it.

This fall I have been re-introduced to the Viet Nam War through a special veteran friend, and from meeting another veteran and two young Vietnamese men who are now in charge of a not-for-profit organization in Viet Nam, Project Renew, to find and disarm unexploded munitions left there from the war.  What I knew about the war, and more, has entered my life through these individuals.  Then, to top it off, I watched a special on television last night about The Smothers Brothers and television censorship.  It was an excellent program and brought back memories of those war years that I had tucked away.

The other day while I was going through some of my possessions that I retrieved from my house this past summer,  I found my POW bracelet.  Gone was my treasure box, but in the bottom of a garbage bag that Phil had filled for me to take to my new home, gently lay the silver bracelet.   Now that we are in the information age, I was able to Google my soldier’s name.  I was delighted to discover that he was released from prison in Viet Nam, and was not one of the war’s casualties.

As I think about these days in my life, spread out over four decades, it is amazing to me how the threads have woven together to bring this story to its conclusion.  However, as I think about it, I realize that the story isn’t over.  The Viet Nam War is still with us in the veterans who survived and carry memories of their days there, and in the Vietnamese people who today are the victims of explosions of bombs we left behind.   I am grateful to the Americans and Vietnamese of Project Renew who continue working to heal the wounds we inflicted to this faraway land.  I wonder what happened to my soldier of the POW bracelet, and if he is still alive.  I may never know, but I am thankful that I found my bracelet, have been re-awakened to the Viet Nam experience, and have concluded this chapter in my collection of days.
Now, it is a new day.  What will it bring?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Goodbye Sweet Ellie

I arrived at the kennel early Thursday morning with only one thing on my mind – sweet Ellie, the German Shepherd.  Ellie has been boarding at Ashley Hills since long before I began working here, but for the past year-and-a-half, she has become one of my dearest canine friends.  This particular morning was special.  Today was Ellie’s last day to board with us.  Tomorrow her life here on earth would end, as she is escorted into eternity and all of her pain will be over.  I wanted to have a few minutes with her alone before our day began in earnest, and to pet her and talk to her on this final day at the kennel.

Ellie is special.  She is a beautiful German Shepherd with a gentle disposition and dark liquid eyes.  She is a regular guest, because her owner traveled a good bit in her work and wanted Ellie to stay where she was loved and cared for.  Ever since I have been here, a year-and-a-half, Ellie has been suffering from hip dysplasia, which has caused her to have increasing pain and trouble getting around.  While she has had happy times of frolicking with other dogs, those days became fewer and fewer in the recent months.  When she stays with us, she is visited and treated by an animal acupuncturist and a dog chiropractor.  She also discovered swimming a few weeks ago, where she learned that being in the water made her feel young and whole again.  She loved the pond!

For her last days, her owner brought her to us to stay overnight.  She got to go for a swim in the pond, play on the training field with her German Shepherd friend, Rommel, and receive one of Ashley’s wonderful baths, which she came out of “smelling like a girl.”   We loved on her, gave her a zillion hugs and kisses, and at the end of the day when her mama came to pick her up, we told her good-bye through tear-filled eyes.

What more is there to say or write?  Ellie, you will always hold a place in my heart.  I am happy that our paths in life crossed.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Hitching My Wagon to a Star

I’m not sure where I heard this phrase, but it has become part of my vocabulary, and I use it often when talking to people about their relationships, dreams, and goals.

This past week in New York City, I found myself in a conversation with a fascinating young man who was attending Brian’s private screening of his movie, “Checking In.”  As we became acquainted through our conversation, I learned that Brian had recently officiated at the wedding of this gentleman and his partner.  He shared with me some of his feelings about how wonderful it was to be married to the man he loved and to be able to call his partner his husband.   I said something about him hitching his wagon to the star of his partner, from which a new conversation began about what the phrase means.  I also commented that I felt that Brian tied a strong knot whenever he officiated at a marriage, to which he smiled and confirmed that he believed his knot was secure.

I have been single for over a year now.  I have met a couple of men that I liked, but until this past April, none whose star shone brightly and strongly enough for me to think about hitching my wagon to.   Now, as I move through the first stages of a new relationship, I am re-thinking this phrase, and wondering if it is applicable to my life anymore.   At sixty-five, I consider whether I want to hitch my wagon to another’s star, or if maybe I’d prefer to pull up alongside his star and travel side by side while still hitched to my own star.    Or perhaps we could hitch our individual wagons in tandem to both of our stars and travel the universe together while not fully letting go of our own vehicles.  Could this make our journeys through life easier - us sharing each other’s load?  Would this be possible in a healthy relationship?  I’d like to think it could.

I have to admit that I am a bit shell-shocked after my last experience.  I trusted totally, and followed blindly behind a star that was in its last stages before burning out in tragedy.   I thought I was smart and strong, but I wasn’t.  It has left me somewhat bewildered and befuddled about relationships, questioning if I will ever be able to be in a healthy and solid relationship.  I find myself insecure about myself and my ability to love, and often in a confused state of mind.   I don’t want to ruin what I have found, because this new one is a rare gem, and one I don’t want to lose or throw away. 
Can I hitch my wagon to his star, and do I want him to hitch his to mine?  I don’t know.  On this day in my collection of days, I ponder life and relationships, and hope that somehow the right path will be revealed to me. 

 I also hope I don’t crash my wagon in the process!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Longing for the Ordinary

Extraordinary days in an ordinary life….this is the title of my blog.  I am beginning to believe that my life is extraordinary, and I would love to have an ordinary day!  Recently, none of my days have been ordinary, and I am reeling from the adrenaline flow, the pushing and pulling from tension and stress, and from riding the emotional  waves of my life. 

This morning I am sitting in the family waiting area at Saint Joseph’s Hospital while a friend has knee replacement surgery.  He didn't want to burden his children with feeling they needed to change their daily schedules for him, so I volunteered to bring him this morning and be with him today.   While sitting here all morning has not been my idea of a fun day, it has allowed me to do some writing, catch up on correspondence, and to spend a little down time with no interferences bombarding me.

This past month has been one of reflection and introspection squeezed in with record numbers at the boarding kennel where I work, creating hectic and harried days, and causing my mind to reel and my body to scream at me to slow down.   Emotions have been resting on the surface of my skin, bringing forth free-flowing tears, a grand showing of my stubborn streak, and a severe case of tunnel vision.  I have not been an easy person to be around.   I have also discovered that the past couple of years of my life have done some damage I had not been aware of.  I am having a terrible time learning to trust again, of allowing myself to open up and be vulnerable, and of being able to express my feelings in a comprehensible language.  I have footprints all over my face from putting my foot into my mouth, and a few bruises where my words have caused my foot to kick me squarely in the face!  I have not been very happy with myself.

I wrote in my journal this morning in an attempt to understand my patchwork quilt of recent feelings and emotions.  I dare not go back and read it – I am afraid it may not make much sense!  I’d like to exchange this quilt for a monotone colored blanket of dull and faded colors.  I want a little ordinary in my life more than anything in this world right now.   A little normal would be mighty nice.

As I sit here waiting, the ordinariness of this waiting room comforts me while I listen to bits and pieces of conversations as people discuss the surgeries that are happening behind the big brown double doors, and as I tune in on phone conversations informing loved ones of successful operations.  I also can’t help but overhear conversations of people sharing tidbits of life as they wait for the doctor to walk through the doors.  This is life.  This is an extraordinary day for a room full of ordinary people.

And I am one of them.   Somehow this makes me feel better.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

To Fly!

One of my favorite pet owners brought his two dogs, Kendra and Kincade, into the kennel today to board for a few days.  Tracy and I enjoy chatting when he brings the dogs to stay with us, and our conversations can cover just about any topic.   Today, we began talking about wishes coming true.

Tracy asked me, “If you could have one wish come true: to either fly or be able to read other people’s minds, which one would you choose?”

No hesitation at all for me!  To fly! That would be my one wish.  He nodded in agreement and said that he would wish the same thing.   I told Tracy about my recurring childhood dream of being able to fly, and he told me that he had similar dreams.  From the topic of flying, we segued into cloud gazing, only to find that we both enjoy the same sport, as clouds are integral ingredients in the world of flight!

My childhood dream is so vivid, I can picture it as I sit here typing.  It follows the theme of Peter Pan, as the children are sprinkled with pixie dust and float out of the nursery window on their journey to Never Never Land.  In my dream, I am in my bed, and a fairy appears waving a wand over my body, sprinkling sparkly dust all over me.  As the sparkles touch me, I begin to float and soon find myself high above my bed.  I use my arms and legs to propel myself through my bedroom window, where I soar above the trees in our backyard, and float with the night breeze toward the moon.   I am not afraid, but fully caught up in the sensation of drifting higher and higher above the earth.  The dream never had an ending or a conclusion – I would always wake up while in mid-flight!

To fly!  I still have that wish and dream.  My spirit soars with the wind and rides the clouds, but my body remains glued to the earth.  I gaze at clouds, wishing they were the pillows of fluff that they appear to be from my vantage point on earth, and long to jump into them, leap from one to another, and feel their softness against my skin as I tumble into them  and become enveloped in them as one does in a down mattress .  I also gaze at the nighttime sky, and want to explore the galaxies.   The black velvet of the nighttime sky beckons me as I dream of dancing from star to star and sitting on the crescent moon to observe all of God’s creation around me.

It is a dream, only a dream.  But perhaps one day I will be able to fly, and my dream will come true.  When it does, I hope I’ll be able to write about it to share with you!