My hope is to offer encouragement to writers as well as those who simply love to read. You will find eclectic snippets here—news of projects I’m working on, comments regarding books I enjoy, favorite authors, quotes, and reflections regarding my own experiences. I especially like to write about my dreams—those parables in the night seasons. Symbols and metaphors delight and intrigue me. You will find them here.
Lately I've been thinking about creating positive environments. For instance, a few weeks ago I began an eating plan that supports an environment that inflammation doesn't like, where cancer cells flee in terror. After reading what I'd need to do to begin the program, I felt some panic. "How would I find my way through the maze of foods I'd need to buy at Whole Foods?" The task seemed too difficult. But then my oldest daughter said she wanted to start the plan as well. She created a food list, and we ventured to Whole Foods together. My daughter knew the store well and guided us to the correct aisles. At one point, a woman stopped us in the store, noting our cart full of organic vegetables and "good" fats. She said, (actually multiple times) "I see you're buying some really healthy food. I approve. I changed my eating habits several years ago, and I've never turned back." While somewhat taken aback by the woman's forthright demeanor, my daughter and I took this as affirmation that we were headed in the right direction, even though still slightly ambivalent regarding the value of MCT oil and ghee.
Last week we met for coffee to discuss how the eating plan was going. "It's hard sometimes," we both agreed. But then my daughter said, "Let's name the benefits." Our pants are fitting a little looser. Energy is increasing. Sugar cravings are diminishing. Skin is better. We both agreed to keep going. And now that we know better what to eat, shopping is easier. The plan is fairly simple: organic vegetables, good fats, lean, pasture-raised animal proteins and eggs. Lots of greens. The aisles at Whole Foods aren't so daunting anymore.
In His arms He'll take and shield thee, thou wilt find a solace there.~Joseph M. Scriven
I looked out the front window. Rain pelted the glass in noisy splotches. I was dressed for a walk, but decided I'd wait for the downpour to subside. I flipped on the TV and found Dr. Phil. A tall, tanned handsome gentleman, maybe sixtyish, appeared as his guest. The man wanted Dr. Phil's help in bringing his girlfriend home from Amsterdam. Apparently she was stuck there in some type of passport debacle. The man was convinced she was ready to marry him, if she could only get to the United States. The desperate gentleman stated he had already spent over $200,000 attempting to help her. His mother, eightyish, (also a guest on the show) had even taken money out of her 401K to help the stranded woman. Photos of the woman decorated Dr. Phil's set. She was gorgeous--flowing brunette hair and brown eyes, a brilliant smile. The man was besotted. "I talk to her every day. We text all the time. She's the love of my life. I divorced twenty-five years ago, and never thought I'd get married again. I'm ready to sell my house and move to Chicago where she lives. Start a new life. I just need your help, Dr. Phil, to get her back to the states."
But, of course, all the while you're watching, you know the situation is a scam--this man and his mother hoping against hope that all will be well when Dr. Phil puts his energies to the task. Dr. Phil surely got to work. But instead of finding a woman who couldn't get home, he proved that the girfriend was really a man who lived in Africa. The woman in the picture was real, but had no idea her identity had been stolen and her photos distributed on the internet. This woman was on the show as well, just as much a victim as the gray-haired sixty-something man. The man's eyes that had been bright and filled with expectation of finding his true love at the beginning of the show, now looked dull and clouded with tears, his lips trembling with sadness as the truth of the scam washed over him. He'd been waiting for a woman to don a bridal gown and march triumphantly into his life, to be his bride. And now he was left without his life's savings and the hope of loving someone, of being loved.
When I walked into the cabin, my son-in-law asked, "What do you think of the lighting?" As my eyes scanned the vaulted ceiling and honey-colored pine walls, I noted a soft, amber glow from the various lighting in the home. Melded with the natural sunlight pouring from the windows and sky lights, the effect was breathtaking. I exclaimed, "It's gorgeous." My son-in-law explained he had installed specialized light bulbs that re-created the effect of gas lights. As I finished my tour through the mountain home, I feasted on light. All week as I enjoyed a respite in the quietude of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the light drew me in, almost as if it carried melodic sounds. I could look up at the sky lights, perfect rectangles of blue, welcoming daylight. I could stare at the flame in the firelight on a chilly evening and allow its glow to lull me into tranquil calm. And when I walked pathways outdoors, the sun streaming through autumn red and gold leaves, created delicate patterns of shadow and light.
A good friend explained to me that he believes many people in our culture are afflicted with "FOMO"--Fear Of Missing Out--that somehow choices persons make about how they use their time, could leave them missing important and meaningful experiences in their lives. I am intrigued by this term, because I can identify with the fear myself. However, this year when my health took a nosedive and I was diagnosed with cancer, the fear dissipated. In my pre-cancer life, I often felt as if I was one lap behind in life's race and out of breath--relationships, writing, work, exercise--the list went on and on. Do more. Be productive. You'll miss out if you don't. Then cancer. My focus changed. Had to change, or I might not survive. During the months of chemo, I had never experienced such physical weakness, depression palpable. I could do nothing more than lie on the couch some days. I would rebound a little, but then I'd be hit again with another chemo treatment and faced with the difficult side effects. The experience was like living on a spare "energy" budget. I had to say "no" to almost all outside activities. I had little strength for anything but basic living. I felt free to stay at home with no reservations, because that's all I could do. And many days home was a sanctuary where I could rest and write and read and think and pray on the days I felt better. A haven. Margin. I had no fear of missing out on anything, grateful to be alive.
I knew her as Mrs. Wyld (pronounced "wild"). I never knew her first name, but most nine-year-olds don't know the first names of their teachers. Each day she wore matching polyester suits in various shades of earth tones--browns and golds, beige and olive. Her skin was pale and her short, immaculate nails were always painted in clear gloss that sometimes glinted in the sunlight that poured from a line of windows in the fourth-grade classroom when she wrote on the chalkboard. Mrs. Wyld's hair was styled in a bevy of ash-blonde curls that waved to her shoulders. A pair of wireless glasses perched at the end of her nose, and every so often she would push the glasses up with her index finger with a sigh, almost exasperated. She was strict too. She allowed no funny business. She was intent on teaching her students proper grammar and making sure we knew how to do long division. She always gave us ten extra minutes for recess.
Mrs. Wyld, though, had one flaw. And it was a major one. She was a shamer. No one was immune from her sarcastic barbs. I dodged many of her arrows, because I was a pretty good student, so when we had to go to the board and write sentences or "show our work" for a math equation, I usually did well. Frequently, students were the victims of her censorship. "James, how come you got that wrong? We've been working on diagramming sentences for weeks. You're a disappointment to me." Then James would hang his head and slink back to his desk. Mrs. Wyld didn't shame every day. She would sometimes go weeks without any toxic statements. The class would almost get lulled into a false sense of security. But it never failed. She would always strike again.