9/11

13 years ago today we were attacked on our own soil in a horrific, unprovoked series of tragic events that took the lives of thousands of our brothers and sisters in the blink of an eye.

Pause to remember

  • what was
  • what happened
  • why it happened
  • where you were
  • how you felt
  • who you were
  • what it was like.

Think, now, about what has changed – and why – and how it has impacted your life.

Reflect, also, on what has not changed.

Linger yet a few more moments and acknowledge

  • what is
  • what’s happening
  • why it is happening
  • where you are
  • how you feel
  • who you are
  • what it is like.

Those of us born pre 9/11 knew a world unlike that of post 9/11.  Or, thought we did.  We lived a dream…a surreal world that existed only in our imaginations and naivete.  Bubble dwellers, we thought ourselves insulated from the cold hard facts of life as others live it day to day to day.

The title U.S. Citizen brought security and a sense of entitlement. We wrapped God, country and the flag around ourselves and dared anyone to pierce our defenses.

We were laid bare…struck to the heart…sent reeling.  “How could this happen to US?” we asked.  And, we began to experience the age old fear people the world over have felt.

Welcome to the real world.

Now, the question is – how do we begin to make the real world a safer place and empower children and grandchildren to find their places in it and live securely and at peace together?

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July 31

Today is the 212th day of 2014.

There are 153 days remaining.

153 days to

  • become
  • accomplish
  • change
  • add
  • subtract
  • multiply
  • divide
  • settle
  • disrupt
  • begin
  • stop
  • start
  • undo
  • grow
  • take on
  • put off

Don’t look back on the days now spent.  That’s not where the energy lies for your To-Do list today…tomorrow…the next 153 days.

You do have a plan for accomplishing your goals for 2014, right?  Take a look at it.

  1. Recalculate.
  2. Reschedule.
  3. Rephrase.
  4. Redefine.
  5. Realign.
  6. Refine.

Move forward with the plan.  Make each of the remaining 153 days move you into who or what you want to be January 1, 2015.

Only you can do this.

Do it for yourself.

Excuse me…I have A LOT of work to do. 😉

Dry Spell

For over 500 consecutive days, Suzansays saw a new post appear.

And, then…nothing for five days.

I hit a dry spell, I suppose.

It wasn’t that I suddenly lost interest in writing. No…that wouldn’t be accurate to say.  And, it wasn’t because I didn’t have anything to say.

I just hit a dry spell.

Life took an unusual turn and I had an unexpected response to that turn. I was thrown off schedule and off kilter. Everything seemed out of sync.

My dry spell began seven days ago, when rain loomed large in our forecast.  The ground was dry and the gardens thirsty – ample rain was on the way…enough to saturate the ground deeply…thoroughly…satisfyingly.

I prepared for it and for the possibility of hail and wind (also forecast).  I picked the garden clean, thinking it would be a couple of days before the ground firmed and dried enough to venture into it.

I hoped for rain…prayed for it…prepared for its arrival.  I needed the rain as much as the ground did.

But, rain did not fall.  An hour south of us is where it fell for two days.  I looked lustily at the radar, desiring it to move farther north.

It didn’t.

While I was grateful that they received rain, I was disappointed we (meaning I) didn’t and set out to water the gardens and hope for rain each time a cloud obscured the sun.

Six days ago, as rain promised us fell to our south, Hubby headed out in the wee hours and slipped Southeast along the interstate.  Two days of meetings determined his direction. And, after meetings ended, he would slip East to spend a couple of days with his mom.

After less than 3 hours of sleep, (to bed after midnight and up again at 3) my body craved more and I slipped back to bed and slept off and on until nearly 9 the morning of his departure.

Early mornings are my writing times and with early morning gone and morning at the mid point, there was no time to think of anything other than heading to work.  And, beyond work, my day’s normal schedule stretched before me.

With Hubby gone, my evenings were filled with gardening (and watering) and preserving foods gathered from the gardens.

And, early mornings were spent catching up on sleep I lost working late into each night.

The days grew hot and hotter, climbing to a wilting 95 degrees F.  Everything suffered from the lack of moisture.  Birdbaths filled at the end of one day were emptied by the end of the next.  The garden, in its prime, showed signs of shutting down production.  The peas, if given sufficient rainfall, could rebound and produce one more crop – but the rain didn’t fall when needed.  And, city water does little other than keep things alive.  It just can’t provide that trigger that induces new life like rain can.

It was frustrating and in some ways heartbreaking.  So much work had been poured into the gardens….

I felt as dry as the garden…as parched as the soil.

I’d hit a dry spot.  It seemed nothing I did helped and so for 5 days I moved into and through my odd schedule thirsting to write, but with thoughts too dry to utter a word here on Suzansays I did the only thing I could.

I waited for the dry spell to end.

And, when it didn’t end, I declared it ended.

This morning I woke early with intent – the first time in 6 days – said “goodbye” to Daughter as she headed to work, checked the forecast and radar, and slipped into Suzansays to break the dry spell and begin anew.

As I look out of the window before me, the sun casts morning shadows in the garden and a breeze stirs the tops of the okra.  The forecast is for rain…perhaps a lot of rain…maybe storms.  The radar is lit with colors this morning – all Northwest of us.

I am reminded of a verse which delivers far more than the forecast or radar can promise. And, it gives hope that God has not forgotten – for God loves and cares for all.

Don’t resist violence! If you are slapped on one cheek, turn the other too. 40 If you are ordered to court, and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat too. 41 If the military demand that you carry their gear for a mile, carry it two. 42 Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.  43 “There is a saying, ‘Love your friends and hate your enemies.’ 44 But I say: Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way you will be acting as true sons of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust too. 46 If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even scoundrels do that much. 47 If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathen do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Jesus – Matthew 5)

Three Months Til First Frost

I heard something yesterday that caused my mind to run forward three months.

Let’s see…three months from now would be the last weekend in September.

Hmm…that’s a bit early…a full month earlier than last year.

You see, Southern folklore says the first frost will come three months after you hear the first Cicada.

I heard the first one yesterday.

While I”m not one to put a lot of stock in folklore, I do pay attention to the wisdom of it.

It’s how people lived before newspapers, TV and radio, internet, Twitter and Facebook told them what to think and how to do.  It’s how people eked out a living before Walmart, Kroger, and Walgreens were established. It’s how people survived.  It’s how they thrived.

To those who see, know, and understand this wisdom, there are reminders and warnings issued every day, in every season, that urge productivity in the present, a forward facing attitude, and preparation for what’s next.

We have a tendency to think only in present tense, to become wrapped up in current issues, to be unprepared for change that can’t help but come, to procrastinate, to set aside what should be done and engage in “feel good” activities….

Three months til the first frost, or maybe it will be four months – when isn’t as important as what.

What do I need to do today, and each day thereafter, to make sure I’m ready for that which I know will come and when it does will change everything?

Untethered

As I sit at my computer, I face a window that looks into our backyard.

I can’t see much, but I can see anything that happens to cross the yard, especially if it passes close to the window.

…like the white balloon did the other day as storms approached our area.

I was sitting at the computer, attending to a task for work.  The blind was open – I wanted to keep an eye on the weather.  A gust of wind shook the awning above the back door and I looked up to see what was what.

As the wind calmed, I was surprised and delighted to see a white balloon lazily drift by a few inches from the window, trailing a light pink ribbon….  It floated by slowly enough for me to blink my eyes several times.  I was certain I was imagining it.

As the balloon slipped beyond my field of vision, I made a hasty decision, jumped up and ran out the back door to catch it before the storm did.

As I leapt from the porch, I saw that the balloon was approaching the chain link fence that separates our yard from our neighbor’s. At first I thought the balloon would be halted by the fence.  It was barely 4 feet from the ground and the fence was 6 feet high.

But, a whisper of breeze stirred and lifted the balloon.  Up the fence it crept.  Concern that the crossed wires atop the fence would pop it drove me forward. At the top of the fence, the balloon hesitated as though waiting for me.  I was nearly there.

The ribbon had become tangled around a leaf of the Morning Glory that graced the fence top. I could just barely reach it, I thought, as I drew within arm’s reach of it.

It was then that I noticed the balloon was slipping farther away.  The ribbon was not tightly wound around the leaf…just slightly entangled and the tug of the breeze was pulling the balloon….

As my fingertips reached the fence and touched the tip of the ribbon, the remainder of it slipped from around the leaf and between my fingers as I leapt and grasped for it.

I watched as the balloon was lifted higher, and higher until it sailed up and over the house next door and out of sight.

As I turned from the fence and walked back to the house, I rubbed my forearm where it had connected with the wire atop the fence and thought of the balloon.  And, I wondered what I would have done with it if I’d caught it.

I’d come close enough to see it clearly.  It was a dying balloon.  The helium in it was no longer sufficient to send it upright into the sky.  The top half of the balloon was a light gray, no doubt from the city’s air pollution.  The light pink ribbon had once been brighter…more colorful.  The balloon itself looked fragile and tired.

But, untethered it was willing and able to go where the wind took it.

Free.  Unfettered.  Loosed.  Not caught or held by anything. Free to go where the winds of change took it and soar as high as chance and circumstance allowed.

To drift lazily on the breeze…to soar above obstacles…to slip away from all that would snare…to….

The balloon took a part of me with it that day.  And, somewhere, that part of me soars, untethered.

Living with Remembrance

There’s a difference in looking back at the past and remembering, and living with remembrance.

Looking back tends to keep us past focused and backward facing. Neither is conducive to forward motion.

Living with remembrance is present focused and forward facing.  It openly accepts what is and acknowledges what was and it incorporates both into a workable solution that launches one forward into what will be.

Living with remembrance honors the memory, provides an outlet for an expression of grief, and keeps one in the present and looking toward the future.

This weekend is a difficult one for my family.  Yesterday, Hubby’s mom celebrated her first wedding anniversary without her husband – a marriage that lasted almost 60 years.  She lost him 4 1/2 months ago.  Tomorrow, Hubby will endure his first Father’s Day without his dad, and I will remember three Father’s Days ago when I watched my dad take his last breath.

Sorrow has a way of sucking us back to where and when it all happened and if we’re not careful the past can wrap its memories and emotions around us and snare us.

As we immerse ourselves in this weekend, may we do so present tense with our faces set toward the future, living with remembrance, loving those left and those who left us, and rejoicing in what and who we have with us still.  May we remember the blessings we had in those who blessed us with intent, with their presence, love, discipline, strength, character…for so much of our lives.

We are who we are because of them. And, we live with remembrance to honor them.  It’s what they would want us to do.  After all, it’s what they modeled for us.

Commencement Speeches – Best Ever

If you are like me and can’t remember the Commencement Speech from your graduation(s), take heart in the realization that you are not alone.

I’ve no doubt that many (if not most) 2014 graduates have already moved well beyond the words spoken that marked the end of one phase of their life and the commencement of the next.

In light this and in honor of all graduates, it’s appropriate and timely to share The Best Commencement Speeches Ever.

Take a few minutes and scroll through the list.

Choose one to be YOUR commencement speech to inspire you as you move forward – from this point on.

 

June 1

Here we are.

The first day of the sixth month of this year and I’m sitting here shaking my head as I type this.

How is it possible?  Is it truly June now?

Apparently it is. My computer calendar assures me of such as does my phone.

My calendar on the wall, however, is still stuck in May.  I’ve not flipped the page….

Which calendar are you like?

Are you living in the present, with every minute that ticks past taking you into your future?

Or, are you backward looking…living in the past and wondering why you can’t seem to move forward?

June is here. May is gone.  What was has passed.  What is…that’s all that matters, really.

Really.

Nothing can be done about the past other than forgive it / forget it, OR, fondly remember it /  file it away.  You can’t live there. You can’t go back to yesterday.  Yesterday doesn’t exist anymore.

All you have is now.  This minute.

Look around you – how much of the past are you holding onto?

How much time do you devote to the past…to caring for it?

Why?

Ask yourself: If I didn’t have the burden of the past to hold me back and weigh me down…who would I be…where would I be…how would I invest the time and energy available to me when I cut loose the weight of the past?

Let it go.

Flip the calendar.

It’s June 1. Live fully into today…live present focused and forward facing.  Step confidently and with purpose into each and every moment given you.

Day 115 vs 250 Days

April 25th is the 115th day of 2014.

Take a moment and look back over the past 115 days.

Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

Now…remember New Year’s Day and any decisions / resolutions you made going into 2014 and any hopes you had for this year.

How’s it looking for you?

Did you stay on track? Have these past 115 days moved you forward into who and where you wanted to be?

If not, there’s time to get back on track.  We’re not too far into 2014 to regain focus and begin anew with clearer insight and greater determination.

Regain and redefine the vision of what you want.

Now, step confidently into the next 250 days and make each one count as you take possession of your dream.

There’s still time to make it happen.

You’ve come this far in 115 days – just think of what all is possible in the next 250!

The Culling

There comes a time when it’s necessary to eliminate some things –

  • from your house
  • from your life
  • from your schedule
  • from your work
  • from your office
  • from your religion/religious experience
  • from your to-do list
  • from your…

– so you can focus on what’s truly important, beneficial, and that will move you forward into who/what you need to be…want to become…hope to do.

I’ve decided it’s time for the culling.

That which adds nothing to my life or the achievement of my goals will be culled = pulled out, set aside and put to death (thrown away, given away).

With focus on the future – my future – I will, with a calloused eye, view all and reject much.

That which remains will be culled again and again and ultimately organized in such a way that it drives me forward into who I am becoming and where I want to be in my goals and dreams.

This is not a task I relish.  In truth, I dread it. I will be making decisions about things that I’ve tucked into boxes and drawers, things I’ve tried not to see and not wanted to deal with. But I know it’s necessary and wise.

I’m overwhelmed and too scattered. I need to narrow my focus and to do that a great culling is required.

What about you? What’s preventing you from achieving your goals of being who and what you dream of? What action will you take today that will drive you in that direction?