To Be Genuine

To Be Genuine

What does it mean when a person says they are your friend? It all honesty, it can have several definitions. Friendships can be genuine, generic, or self-serving. Generic and self-serving seems to be the more prominent categories. Genuine….are few and far between.

Let’s talk about generic friendships, first. These are relationships that offer a friendly face or smile, good conversations, cordial interactions, basically. I have lots of friends in this category, as most people do. You sit beside these people in meetings or even at church; greetings are offered, how-do-you-do’s and so on. Inquiries are made regarding how a person is feeling or how are things going. The answer is often the same; everything is going along just fine. In those instances where the other person elaborates with details, we nod and express compassion and once the conversation is over, go on about our business. Lives are full of these friendships, which are necessary for social interaction, as well as reflective impressions.

Then there are those that are self-serving. We attach ourselves to people that can be of benefit to us or vice versa. Those are the relationships that often exhibit behaviors that include always seeking something in return. There is no denial in the fact when that “friend” calls upon you, it is because there is an ulterior motive of some sort, either spoken or insinuated. People utilize those friendships to advance their own well-being, in business, or in certain life’s situations. Like consequences, these self-serving relationships can be positive or negative. However, I am a believer there is no excuse to ever use another person in any way shape or form.

Now for the substance of these thoughts; genuine friendships. I almost want to blurt out, “What are those?”, but I will refrain from such. There are genuine, true friendships to be found and enjoyed, but let’s be honest, not many. The adage that if two people are friends for a long time, they will be forever. That simply is not true.

Genuine friendships evolve over time. Both parties must have a continued vested interest in the relationship and a heart full of understanding. The years are filled with a roller coaster of interactions, experiences, emotions, joys and heartaches. You always consider the other person’s feelings above your own. There is sharing of stories, good and bad, told in confidence. Trust is never questioned, never even thought of being questioned.

There is an unspoken respect that accompanies the word “genuine”. Friendships that fall into this category are held at a higher level in the minds of those involved. The Golden Rule that should always be adhered to is never give indication, let alone crude frankness, of personally degrading the other person through verbal expressions or actions. There is a huge difference between compassion and honesty and being cruel and just plain mean. Just because a person has always been of concrete foundation in the relationship and provided comfort and support under any circumstances, does not give a free pass to disregard the genuine offerings. You might get surprised at the response.

Regardless of the established trust and comfort, it can be broken. Somewhere along the way, people get taken for granted. That self-serving dilemma surfaces. Honesty turns into rudeness and callousness. Those stories divulged in confidence somehow find their way back through the voice of someone that should not have the information. Trust is broken and all that was thought was genuine has suddenly become a realization it is not.

We are all just human beings with more faults than we care to admit. I am neither above forgiveness nor above asking for it. God makes that plain. I am, also, realistic enough to recognize situations and people for what they are. People will disappoint and sometimes it is the very ones you never thought would. Initially, it causes questions to arise in reflection to try to find reason within your own self of what you did to cause or contribute to the dilemma. In truth, people change; circumstances change; and the relationship that was once thought genuine, changes. It is what it is.

This is something that unfortunately happens to everyone, sooner or later, in some capacity. It shouldn’t, but it does. I chose to write about it because it is not a subject anyone likes to talk about, but most can relate to. I am reminded now to keep your friends close and your enemies closer. No; I don’t think so. The ones I will keep “close or closer” are those very few “genuine” friendships I enjoy. I say very few because I don’t allow many, by choice. Trust is an earned rite.

It all comes back to the truth in the end……..Genuine, never waivers. Your actions today can dictate your true friendships tomorrow.

I’ll see you on the flip side……..

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A Flock of Red

A Flock of Red

Lately, I’ve been visited on a daily basis by a small flock of redbirds, also known as cardinals. I have seen pictures of small flocks, but never personally…..until the last couple of weeks. Sure, I have seen two or three together at a time, but not ten or twelve. Every time I see them, I am startled by their beauty and then the memories surface.

Both of my parents and my brother loved nature. Birds were always a favorite and continue to be mine. Redbirds…..cardinals…..were the ones to “oooo” and “ahhhh” about. Their vibrant color and poise are substantial enough to make a person stop and watch them flitter about and seemingly converse with one another. These feathered friends are year round residents so they add their pop of color to each season. I am just in awe of them.

Birds, being creatures of flight, usually won’t hang around when there is movement, so I stop and admire for what brief period I am allowed. Each time I see a cardinal, I remember the family from whence I came. It is often a fleeting acknowledgement of life that is no more and a mixture of peace and sadness. The beauty and intricate detail of the little red birds mimic a life of complexity and depth and I am reminded of those unique qualities that made each of my loved ones an individual in their own right.

It has often been said when a cardinal visits, it is a loved one that has since passed on. I am a Christian and use the Bible as my guide. I am not God, therefore I don’t have or understand the great knowledge of His creations nor do I question it. I do believe God speaks to us often and individually in mysterious ways. Therefore, I do believe He can use whatever He desires to have interaction with us, including a flock of cardinals.

As I stop to watch the small flock of birds, I am filled with an array of emotions. I was once a child carefree from the burdens that awaited me to now an adult who is the only one left from the family of my origin. I am allowed those quiet moments of joy and happiness within as I watch silently the communion of red feathers. I believe it is joy sent from God, Himself, as a reminder of what resides in the deep recesses of my heart.

Why am I only now experiencing this beautiful sight and on a regular basis? There is no argument that my attention is garnered. These lovely birds always gather in and beneath an apple tree my father planted not long after he and my mother built their new house. It is on the first property they ever owned after they were married and where they lived when my brother was born. Now I have the pleasure of looking out my window at the fruits of their labor and often thinking how many times their eyes fell upon the same scenery. Was there a small flock of cardinals that visited them, too?

There is no denying the depth of what I feel when I see those beautiful birds. It is such a pull at my heartstrings to follow through on some promises I made because someone that loved me unconditionally believed in me. It reminds me of the guidance to do great things that might only be small stuff to someone else, but to me, it’s anything but. There is a purpose to all things placed within our hearts if we will just follow.

As I enjoy those special moments stopping to watch the cardinals and letting a few tears flow, I am learning to let my heart be assured that I am not alone and those that I hold within will live on through me. The echoes of their words resonate through my being and serve as a prompting to unmask and follow my dreams; dreams I have held too close for too long. Like the beautiful cardinals that spread their wings and fly so carefree, such should be that we would follow suit while we still have the ability to do so.

So, are the visits from the cardinals more than birds in and under an apple tree? I will always believe it is a gift from God to remind me that He understands and the unconditional love lives on.

I’ll see you on the flip side…..

The Bucket List

The Bucket List

I have finally started it……The Bucket List. I suppose it is something most everyone thinks about for years and then suddenly you just do it. That is how it was for me. Seems like there would always be plenty of time to consider doing things I really wanted to do after I had accomplished everything I needed to do first. So that was my mind-set. I almost felt guilty if I took time for myself to do something I considered fun.

I prided myself in being a good daughter, a good wife, a good mother, a good grandmother, a good friend. I have made myself available to those that need me and have tended to my responsibilities. This was something I wanted to do from my heart; no second-guessing there. I was taught as a child that a person is only as good as their word and that equaled dependability. When I make a commitment, there is no deviation.

And the years went by. My children grew up; my parents passed on; friendships evolved, dissipated, new ones were discovered and rediscovered. I continued to wait for “someday” to begin; the time when I would follow my heart and add an extra spark of laughter to the day or a moment of being carefree and doing something out of the ordinary. The realization finally hit me. What was I waiting for? I suppose it was for the house to be organized to perfection, every bit of life’s paperwork to be completed, and the assurance that all would be wonderful, calm, and perfect in the lives of those I cared about. Now those are some real expectations.

I have accepted the fact I was being unrealistic and decided to adopt a different mind-set, one that would embrace those simple things I longed to do. I thought it would be easy to change my ways. It hasn’t been. I procrastinated, which didn’t take much effort, and seemed to have more reason than moving forward toward my goals. After all, my personality is that of a nurturer. That is what I have always been good at. I stayed comfortable and on the course I have always known, while I looked forward to “someday”.

I can’t really say there was one single thing that got my attention, other than the “tap” on the shoulder we all feel occasionally and know God is trying to encourage us to move in a certain direction. That, and the memory of my daddy saying, “Do It!” I have finally started focusing on those things my heart desires to do. My Bucket List is pretty simple. My list includes visiting a few places in The United States, for one. There are a few regions I would like to visit abroad, but never will. I have no desire for my feet to leave American soil for many reasons, so I will thank those I know that are brave enough to travel and share photos of their experiences. That will be the way I visit those faraway lands. I want to expand my creative side to paint a picture, which I have never tried, but just know would be interesting to see what developed. There are boxes and boxes of old photographs of generations of my family that I want to enjoy, organize, and categorize, as well as do some extensive research on my genealogy.  The most adventurous feat I want to attempt is zip lining and I’ll be sure to write about that experience.

Most of all, I want to write. Writing is therapeutic and strengthens my individuality. It allows expression that otherwise would be left unattended; A way I can leave my voice and a glimpse into my being for my children and generations to come. It is an array of reflections into depth that is anything but generic. As the adage goes, some things are better left unsaid. While true in many instances, a bridge can be constructed through written words to offer expressions, thoughts, and ideas that would otherwise never be known.

So, now I wonder why I waited so long to think about The Bucket List. I should have started it when I was a teenager or young adult. But who does that? Bucket Lists are for people who are older and in the life’s seasons of Fall or Winter….well, maybe late Summer, too, and realize the “Spring chicken part of life” is gone. What odd concepts we have of our life’s journey. Each stage of our lives should include the joys of what we would pen on a Bucket List. As for me, I’m not waiting another day. I don’t want to miss anything!

God did not promise a tomorrow nor did He create us to be idle. We are to have a joyful heart and walk through this life with Him as our guide. He will provide the ink in which to write The Bucket List.

I’ll see you on the flip side………

NO REGRETS

NO REGRETS

NO REGRETS

I have never known one person that can say they don’t have regrets. Its part of decisions we make throughout life and the consequences that result. The cliché of “hindsight is 20/20” is as true a statement as it gets. So much time and energy is spent on wishful thinking if you could go back again and do things differently. Occasionally, a situation unfolds that gives the opportunity to have no regrets. I write this not as a reflection of myself, but for the importance and actions of honor and respect.

In 2010, June 1st to be exact, I had plans to take my daddy to the doctor for a routine visit. The previous couple of weeks I had noticed he seemed less energetic and even a bit unsteady. I had asked him about my observations several times, even offering to come and stay during the day, as well as the night with him, to make sure he had help if he was feeling poorly. His response was always, “There will be plenty of time for you to stay with me…..sooner or later.” I was suspicious he wasn’t telling me everything, but I let it go, trusting he would tell me when he needed to. It happened this day.

As I approached the driveway in my car, a neighbor and friend was standing beside the front porch waving his hands frantically. Lying at his feet on the porch was my daddy. I was suddenly thrown into a motion I find it hard to describe in one word. It was fear, panic, confusion, a rush of adrenaline to help him, all wrapped into seconds that seemed to have a gripping effect like quicksand. I was suddenly running and couldn’t get there fast enough. Daddy had planned to sit on the front porch to wait for me and had fallen while coming out the door. The neighbor had been sitting on his own front porch, saw it happen, and immediately came to his aid.

I called an ambulance, as daddy was only semi-conscious. He had hit his head on the concrete, so I assumed the problem was from the injury. It wasn’t. Daddy had congestive heart failure and COPD. I never went back home.

He spent seven days and nights in the hospital and I spent seven days and nights in the hospital, too. I slept in a chair beside his bed, not because I had to, but because I wanted to. It came time to be discharged and the doctors took me aside and gave me information and choices. The information was that he would be placed in palliative care…..Hospice….and he could not stay alone anymore. He could be put in “rehab” for a period of two to four weeks and then he would become a resident of extended stay, a nursing home, or if I took him home, he would stay with me or I would move in with him. That was a lot to digest because my heart was hurt. For me, I understood what Hospice meant. My daddy would not be with me much longer. As for how to proceed, that was a no-brainer; he was going home that day to his own home and I was moving in with him.

He accepted the situation with grace. After living by himself for 16 years after the death of my mother, he handled all the attention pretty well. It was a big adjustment, I’m sure, as he was very independent. But even before this happened, daddy and I saw each other most every day and talked on the phone several times a day. We never went to sleep at night without a phone call. I had always been his little girl and it was no different now. He was my hero and it was time for me to step up and take a different role.

At first, he was able to do a lot of things himself. Although weak, he was determined to do for himself as long as he could. I embraced basic responsibilities of preparing his meals, giving his  medications, helping him put on his socks and shoes, standing outside the bathroom door while he showered in case something happened and he needed help, and following him around to make sure he was ok. I’m sure there were times he would have liked to tell me to get lost for a bit, but he never did. He dubbed me “The Helicopter” and rightfully so. However, he appreciated it all and knew it was out of love.

We spent time together and talked and laughed through the heartache. He was always a wonderful storyteller and would delight anyone that listened to him with his tales. He retold stories I had heard many times before and told me some things I had no idea about. Sometimes I would take notes on any piece of paper I could find and would scribble as fast as I could so not to miss a word. It was such an enjoyable time to just be with him, even though we both knew his time was nearing the end.

I slept on the floor beside his bed, in the waiting room and in his room at the hospital during the next few inpatient periods, and on the couch and in the recliner when it came time for a hospital bed. I had it placed in the living room so he could see outside  the big window and still enjoy nature’s changing season. It was going through the colorful motions embracing Fall and it was his favorite time of year.

The last six weeks he was totally dependent. He could no longer hold a spoon, the television remote, sit up by himself, or do anything to help himself. So I fed him; I turned him as he lay unable to move; I bathed him and always respected his privacy….always keeping him covered; always; I read to him; I held his hand; I talked with him; I prayed with him. I didn’t go out of the house for those last six weeks, by my choice. I did not want to take any chances he would need help and I wasn’t there.

I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, but I would not have done anything differently. I was never burdened by the responsibilities. Instead my heart was full of joy that I had the opportunity to extend love to my father and honor him in such ways when he needed help and had to rely on someone; I chose and wanted that someone to be me. No one, but me. Those 4 ½ months were the most humbling and treasured experiences of my life. I would have taken care of him from now on if God had allowed.

There are many memories during this time I will always hold dear. But one stands out to me as I write this now. It was about ten days before he passed and there was a Medal of Honor ceremony on television. As the Medal of Honor recipient was named, in a bedfast state, daddy raised his feeble hand to his brow in a salute. He was very patriotic and understood the sacrifices of war and turmoil. He was a member of the Greatest Generation; a decorated WWII Veteran; recipient of the Purple Heart and twice recipient of the Bronze Star. How I would love to have a photo of that moment now, but, at the time, it would have been a disrespect to his gesture, so I hold it in my memory and close to my heart.

I was taught through his guidance and example what it is to live in the land of the free. It is a privilege enjoyed because of service and sacrifice by those in our United States military and the families that share their journeys. It is written on a granite wall in Washington, D.C. that “Freedom Is Not Free”. The right to vote is a privilege American citizens enjoy because those before us fought and stood for our nation, paying the price so we could enjoy many liberties.

I made a promise I would do everything I could to extend my love and care to my father during his time of need and I would have no regrets. I have none. I know he was grateful for my servant’s heart and I am thankful he allowed me the honor and privilege to care for him, just as he had cared for me my entire life. During this election year, I will honor him and all others who have served and continue to serve by exercising my right to vote. Like caring for him, this is a privilege, not a burden.

No Regrets.

In Loving Memory and Honor of my Father. Always Loved; Always Missed; Forever in My Heart…..until we meet again.

 

 

 

IMPROVING OURSELVES AND MHZ

IMPROVING OURSELVES AND MHZ

IMPROVING OURSELVES AND MHZ

Each day we awake to face our routines. I, for one, have never been a morning person. I have tried; that I can say, but to no avail. Even as a child, I never felt good of the mornings. It was always a struggle to get up and get moving; I felt tired and sluggish then and still do.  I generally don’t like anyone or anything during that time either. There is nothing more irritating than being awakened by someone full of energy and wanting to share their enthusiasm, when I am begging my body to cooperate and get out of bed one toe at a time.

Then, there is coffee. God bless the gift of coffee. I have the same thought each day as I take my first wonderful sip of java, which by the way often comes late morning, at best. My father always admired his mother for her appreciation of her cup of coffee…..and mornings. He said he didn’t understand it until he was in his fifties, but when he did, he embraced it. I understand the coffee part; I discovered it long ago. But there is that morning thing again. His mother loved to get up early, fire up the cook stove with wood, go to the chicken coop and gather the eggs, cook the day’s meals, and retreat to the front porch to enjoy the songs of the birds while she had her coffee.

When I think about that scene, of the grandmother I never knew and a woman my father adored, sitting in her rocking chair on her wooden front porch enjoying her coffee to nature’s melodies, how the feelings of peace and hope must have engulfed her. She didn’t have an easy life by any means, but she chose to embrace what she had and enhance her appreciation of nature and her blessings. She was a praying woman, too. She was doing things to improve her daily life that I’m sure she felt, but had no idea the depth of the effect on her being.

Recently I have learned about vibrational frequency and the human body. It is measured in Megahertz, which is energy within our being. A healthy person has a frequency of 62-78 MHZ. That frequency can be changed from various things such as, sickness, thoughts – either positive or negative, and meditation and prayer. I found it very interesting what an impact each of these could have on a person.

Society has become so fast-paced that we get thrown into the cycle of chaos, whether we want to or not. We all know that stress can kill, literally, as it manifests into many different forms creating unhealthy physical, mental, and emotional strains on the bodily system. Negative thoughts, alone, can decrease our body’s frequency by 12 MHZ. Sickness can begin at 59 MHZ and cancer at 42 MHZ. But being an optimist, I focused on the appeal of what positive thinking and prayer and meditation could do. Each of these increases the MHZ by 10 to 15, respectively. And then I understood.

Each morning upon awakening, not early of course, I have discovered the comfort of just lying there for a while using that time to reflect on those things that matter to me personally, but more importantly spending that time with God in prayer. I often think about how I have been blessed with another day and what tasks I may do that would be worthwhile and provide satisfaction and joy. My faith and common sense confirm this is good for me, just like my grandmother knew what boosted her, but I had no idea of the physical, mental, and emotional responses involved on a scientific level.

We are owed nothing in this life. The concept of the glass half empty or the glass half full reflects thought processes and personalities. There are optimists and pessimists and those in between. The next time you chose to gripe and groan, consider replacing the response with thankfulness and understanding. Spend time with God in prayer. These actions will increase your MHZ and improve your wellbeing on a multitude of levels, not to mention walking with God will reap the greatest rewards beyond any measure.

And just for an additional note, I will correct myself that I don’t like mornings. I actually do like the morning hours from midnight until 3 or 4 a.m. when it’s nice and quiet and my internal clock has not given up yet. After that is when there is the best sleep possible!

I’ll see you on the flip side………

 

 

JOURNEYS

JOURNEYS

I am a deep thinker. That is who I am. This was not an overnight production much like pouring wax into a candle mold, letting it set for a few hours, and then the complete finished product is presented. I have been molded, honed, seasoned, chipped and repaired; and the process continues. But the core, the foundation, of who I am remains the same.

We, all, walk an individual path that becomes our own journey. It is never the same for any two people. However, we all start at the same place. We are formed by God Almighty and life is breathed into us. We are created because He performed this miracle and, I believe, with great purposes in mind unique to each. Without the move of His hand in the beginning, none of us would exist. Thus, our journey begins.

We are impressionable as children, molded and influenced by our family units and culture. As we mature and develop, our individual personalities form. Like an artist paints a picture, there is an array of colors, textures, tools, and visions that are applied to make it what it becomes. However, unlike a picture, we have the ability to improve and even reshape things about ourselves we know are not as good or pleasing to God’s eye and ideas for us as His children.

Adulthood does not excuse us from the continuing process of being a better person from the day before. I know it is easy to take for granted the blessings in life. With the blessings, we often adopt the mentality that we are invincible and unimpressionable. And with that, it is easy to fall into an abyss of selfishness, a loss of compassion, a feeling of entitlement, and so on. This can become our journey if we are not careful. It may produce feelings of confidence, taking charge, “I am what I am” mentality and there is nothing wrong with that when applied in a humble manner. The danger is when we become so full of our own selves we fail to recognize and embrace the goodness and ideas God has for us and our vision becomes blurred.

God is very clear; always has been, always will be. We, His creations, are what alter His plans. He gives us free will to make our decisions, which affect our individual journeys…..good and bad. He knows what paths we will take; what mindsets we will have; what contributions of kindness and compassion we will make, or not, and so on. He knows there is no perfection in any of us, but He does expect and hold us accountable to continue to allow Him to mold, hone, season, chip and repair, our earthly being on our individual journeys. When we are resistant to that, it is never a positive for us.

God wants His children to be happy, fruitful, embrace struggle with compassion, and always seek Him for guidance, shelter, growth, and the continuance of being a better person….to ourselves and others…..every day, not just occasionally when we feel it is good for us or something is right for our benefit. Our actions reflected on our individual paths dictate the story of our journey. We all start out at the same place; We are formed by God Almighty and life is breathed into us. Where we end up at the end of our earthly journey is up to each person. There are no statements or feelings of “I was this way because…..” or “They made it that way…..” that will give credence in the end. It is all about the willingness and being humble to be continually molded, honed, seasoned, chipped and repaired with God at the core of our being. We won’t all end up in the same place eternally. But we all have the same opportunity and options to do so and care about others as much as we do ourselves along the way.

Like branches on a tree, the paths are multiple. The paths lead back into one avenue that constitutes the journey. You don’t know the intimate depths that have formed the basis for who I am, no more than I know yours. But I know if my earthly journey is complete tomorrow, I hope having the bravery to embrace this path of writing will have helped someone in some way and I didn’t take everything with me, but left something behind that God would be proud of me for doing so.

I’ll see you on the flip-side……