Thoughts to Ponder – April 29, 2015

“Don’t worry about losing your way.
If you do, pain will remind you to find your path again.
Joy will let you know when you are back on it.”
Martha Beck*

We all feel lost at some time in our lives. Even those who appear to have their lives in perfect order have felt lost, but have found their way back to their true path. Some are fortunate to know their future goal from the time they are children and follow the path that will take them there. Others found their path as young adults. Some of us find our path late in life after stumbling around and banging our heads into trees that stand in our way.

As Beck says, “pain will remind you to find your path again.” I’ve felt that pain over and over, not knowing what direction I should be travelling. That’s not to say that each path has been a disaster. On the contrary, each path has given me gifts and taught me valuable lessons. One path gave me three beautiful children who grew to be fantastic adults. Another path taught me about inter-racial relations. One taught me about holding on to useless hope. The list continues. Often I tried to walk two or three paths at once. Talk about confusion.

If we follow our inner guidance, we reach the day when Beck says, “Joy will let you know when you are back on it.” What a gift to know that we are spending our days as we should. A feeling of peace and joy will fill our hours rather than fear and dread.

Some days I still feel bogged down, but find that I’ve just reached a huge mud-puddle in the middle of my path. I have learned, but don’t always remember right away, to look around and see what steps I can take to avoid the mess. I give thanks to Spirit that when this happens and I feel confused, a prompting tells me, “Hey look over here. There’s a plank crossing the mud puddle. You can walk on that rather than slogging through that mess.”

Our life does not come with a guarantee for happiness. Even those we envy have days, weeks, or years of heartbreak and challenges. We can learn to examine those times to learn if this is an obstacle we should avoid or one that will lead us to a better way of living. By being quiet and listening to guidance, paying attention to the underlying messages in our dreams and just listening to others, we learn whether we are on the correct path or if we need to look for another route.

And, so it is.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, April 29, 2015

*Daily Inspiration, April 29, 2015, from “Leaving the Saints” by Martha Beck, Inc.

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com

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Thoughts to Ponder – Earth Day -April 21, 2015

“Sometimes, I laugh so hard,
it starts a hurricane in the heavens.
Sometimes, I grin so wide,
it causes earthquakes on distant planets.
And, sometimes, when I feel so happy I could float,
worlds are born, continents rise, and oceans surge.
But never, ever, ever, 
do I lay so much as a finger on planet Earth.
Because there, my work is long over,
and yours has just begun.

... Trust me, this barely hints of your true power….”
The Universe*

Today is Earth Day and, to me, this quote is apropos to its significance. I’m not going to lecture you on recycling, driving a smaller car or wearing a bicycle helmet. Rather I’m going to talk about something even more important to the future of our Earth – each of us as individuals.

For me the key lines in this quote are “But never, ever, ever, do I lay so much as a finger on planet Earth. Because there, my work is long over, and yours has just begun.

Where do we start doing that work? Being kind to others? Yes. Being kind to animals? Yes. Planting trees? Yes. However, before we can do that we must first take care of ourselves.

“But…but…but….” you say. I say there are no “buts.” We MUST take care of ourselves first. How can we raise compassionate, responsible children if we do not treat ourselves compassionately and responsibly? How can we treat other people and animals kindly if we don’t do the same for ourselves.

We must take time to relax.

We must stop and watch a sunset.

We must watch a movie that makes us laugh until we cry.

Only by taking care of ourselves first can we take adequate care of those for whom we are responsible. We must be sure that we are strong, healthy and well rested in order to provide for those we love and by extension our community and our Earth.

Enough lecture. I hope your Earth Day is beautiful and happy and that you smile all day.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, April 21, 2015

*TUT – A Note from the Universe, April 20, 2015, aka Mike Dooley, www.tut.com

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com

Thoughts to Ponder – April 16, 2015

“When our energy feels drained,
we have allowed others to plug into us,
without taking the time needed for oursel(ves),
to recharge.”
Window of Wisdom*

How often have we allowed others to drain our energy in order to please them? We were raised to be kind, thoughtful and caring by our parents, teachers and religious leaders. All of those are good traits. We interpreted our teachings to mean give, give, give.

This is because we were not taught that in order to give we have to take care of ourselves first, usually because our role models did not know how to take care of themselves. I remember watching my mother and aunts work until they were ready to drop taking care of everyone in the family. Our fathers and uncles worked their jobs/farms, came home and made repairs and then went to a neighbor’s house to do what needed done there.

They did this day after day. Taking a break to rest or relaxing was considered selfish. No matter how bad life was for them, someone else had it worse and needed their help. They became exhausted because they were not nurturing themselves. As the years passed we saw their bodies fail from overwork.

As our generation grew to adulthood, some of us followed our parents’ model. Others became takers. As the years passed most of us learned that there is a middle way, healthier for all. We have learned that we must not only give to others, but we must also take time for ourselves. Only in this way can we keep the energy flowing – in both directions.

It doesn’t matter how we take care of ourselves. Perhaps we dance or practice yoga, bike or garden, or read until our eyes close and we slip into a restful nap. I do all of the above, different methods for different days.

The point is that by taking time to heal myself mentally, physically and spiritually, I have more energy to give others. I pushed myself to the limit while raising my children, much to their detriment and my regret. During the years between their leaving home and my introduction to my grandchildren, I learned a new way, to take care of myself first.

Now I work, spend time with my great-grandsons, read, meditate, spend time enjoying the outdoors and write. I’m not all the way there, because I find writing healing and restful, but it seems to be lowest on my list of things to do for myself.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, April 16, 2015

*Window 742 – Don’t diminish your light, April 15, 2015 at https://awindowofwisdom.wordpress.com

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”
Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists
Author of one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com

Fishing exploits

Being an only child I went along whenever my parents took a notion to toss a line in the water. Since we didn’t have a boat our fishing was done from a dam, river’s edge or pier. Fishing was not really my favorite activity. I wasn’t too squeamish even though I preferred artificial bait. My problem was trying to sit and speak quietly so I wouldn’t spook the fish. If I had to be quiet I wanted a book in hand, but that wasn’t sportsman like behavior.

When I was about 10 my mother’s youngest brother, who was my age, spent the weekend with us. Dad decided G. should have an opportunity to go fishing. We loaded ourselves and all the equipment into the car and drove to the local dam. After sitting there, mostly quiet, for some time G. was getting bored.

Then it happened. A fish struck, a big one that pulled G’s line up-river. As we screamed for help, Dad rushed over and helped G. land the fish. Once G. saw how big it was, he fell on the ground, rolling around, screaming, “I caught a big fish. I caught a big fish.” He was in such a tizzy that the fishing expedition came to a halt. So did the weekend visit. G. insisted in going home immediately to show his mom. Dad put the fish on ice and we drove G. home. His mother showered him with appropriate praise. Then Dad took the fish outside to clean it. G. was much too excited to be trusted with a knife.

Years later I married an avid fisherman. I gamely fished with him until the babies started coming. By the time they were school age my husband had accumulated a small tent and a two-person inflatable raft. During the day the children and I hiked or played on the shore while O. fished. At night the girls and I slept in the tent while O. and our son slept in the car.

At sunrise I would feel something jiggling my foot. It was O. waking me so I could enjoy fishing while the kids were asleep. I gamely struggled into my clothes and then into the raft, all the while muttering that I’d rather sleep. I never caught anything on these outings, too sleepy I guess. But, I did enjoy watching the sun climb from ground level, above the trees and into the sky and listening to the birds awaken the other woodland creatures.

My most unforgettable fish story does not involve a hook and line. I had a rare opportunity. Sturgeon swim from the Great Lakes up their favorite river to lay eggs, following the same route to the same location each year. While sturgeon are huge, they are also vulnerable to poachers. Both the meat and the roe are worth large sums of money.

The most dangerous issue is that they are prehistoric fish with nodal cords rather than protective spines. This means that if they are lifted incorrectly their nodal cords will break and they will die. To protect the fish the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources assigns as many conservation wardens as possible to the nesting grounds and relies on volunteers to walk the river banks, just to be a presence and keep poachers away.

We gathered at a lodge near the river we would be walking and had a great supper. Someone brought out a 7” portable television and a video of “Robo-Cop.” About 20 of us gathered around the miniscule TV to cheer on our current cinema hero. Early the next morning we were awakened, fed and reminded to wear warm clothes because the high temperature was to be 40 degrees.

We paired up and drove to our assigned locations. Fortunately, my team mate and I were assigned to an area with a small house boat moored alongside and a narrow plank walkway leading from the bank to the boat.

By early afternoon a few fish couples decided to nest in water only a few inches deep. Males drummed the female’s sides to force her eggs to drop onto the fine gravel. Once that happened females swam away and males ejected semen on top of the eggs. Because their attention was otherwise occupied I was able to sit on the plank and pet those unique fish. Not only was touching them an amazing experience, it also reminded me just how vulnerable these gentle giants were to anyone wishing them harm. This is why caviar costs so much.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, April 15, 2015
energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”
Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists
Author of one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com

Listen to your Inner Pup

Thoughts to Ponder – April 9, 2015

“Today, give love and comfort to the starving pup inside you. 
Then let the love and comfort guide any action you take.
It’s a simple little practice.
It might not save the world.
But then again, it might.”

Martha Beck*

We all have an inner pup even if we don’t think so. Most of us deny its existence and starve the poor thing thinking that the persona we portray to others is the real us.

Some of us were fortunate to be nurtured by family and friends allowing our inner pup to grow to be a strong, healthy dog as we grew to maturity. Those inner dogs learned to love and protect us.

Often something terrible happened along the way that caused us put the young dog in a pen. These are the animals that tend to bite or at last snarl at perceived attackers. We reflect those behaviors when we feel threatened.

Others of us were never allowed to let our pup grow. Perhaps the cause was verbal or physical brutality, or simply unreasonably high expectations. “You will be an A+ student, outstanding athlete, and succeed in business, thus bringing honor your family.” These actions and unmet expectations kept our pup in its training cage so it could not run and play as it grew. Since our pup couldn’t mature, neither could we.

My family believed that dreams were for others. Our job was to grow strong, work hard and have a little fun, and if we were lucky die peacefully without pain. No expectations can hinder the pup, just as unreasonably high expectations can.

Even though my parents were proud of me making the honor roll they seldom mentioned it because it might make others feel badly if their children didn’t do the same. When I reached middle school and teachers began suggesting that I prepare for college, I was told that college was for rich people. Besides the professors would teach me useless information and erase my common sense.

Somehow my inner pup told me that I had to leave that area if I wanted to fulfill my dreams, whatever they were. I’d never allowed myself to envision or verbalize a dream. That led me to accept a marriage proposal from a military man. Whatever happened, I’d get to see some of the world. I had three fantastic children, met some wonderful people and lived in places I’d never imagined. Even with all those gifts, one day my inner pup told me to leave my marriage. I did and experienced life’s ups and downs over the next several years.

One of those gifts was the day I read an article about area colleges and my pup began barking like crazy. Even though I had no savings and could barely meet my bills, I listened to her advice and enrolled at Alverno College in Milwaukee. I graduated five years later with less student debt than most of my classmates. My pup had even found some grants and fellowship dollars. That education led me to some good jobs , the ones that sounded like fun. Those that weren’t so good were jobs I sought simply for higher wages.

As I approached 55 my inner pup began barking again leading me to retire early so I could live near my children and grandchildren here in Virginia. She told me that if I waited until full retirement age my grandchildren would be adults and strangers to me. I took the leap and became friends with my sons-in-law and grandchildren. Now I have four great-grandsons who are the light of my heart.

Even with all her good advice, I still tend to push my pup into her cage when I think something else is more important than what she has to say. Sometimes I listen to her. While sitting at the doctor’s office I allowed my pup to speak through my pen instead of reading or working a puzzle. This blog is the result.

Much of the time my inner pup is confused because my to-do list is so long. But, I’ve learned that IF I listen to my furry buddy, she’ll lead me in the correct direction.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, April 11, 2015

*Blog article, Loving your Inner Pup . . . Insight from Martha, Martha Beck Inc.

If you know someone who would appreciate reading “Thoughts to Ponder,” please suggest that he or she contact me at: energywriter@cox.net

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com