Pants on Fire!

You know the first part of that saying. That’s what I was thinking as I was trying to follow Google Maps to a city I’d never visited to pick up my copy of Go Set a Watchman. I ordered the book months ago when Books-A-Million offered a pre-sale option and I didn’t know the Williamsburg store was going to close. Before the closing date the local staff assured me that I’d be mailed a copy of the book on the release date.

It’s several days past the release date and no book has arrived. I looked on the B-A-M website to find the nearest store, which is in Colonial Heights, one hour and nine minutes west of here. There are others about the same drive time away, but I thought this option would give me an opportunity to take a leisurely drive on scenic roads to a new city. I’d previously driven about 45 minutes of the predicted 69 minute journey, so felt confident I could find my way the other 24 minutes without a problem.

You need to know that since Virginia was the first English colony, locations have unusual names and roads were constructed on colonial wagon trails (meaning curvy) and that counties didn’t come into existence until much later. Thus, I left my home in James City County and wound my way into the countryside, crossing the Chickahominy River and enjoying the beautiful scenery and the sunshine. (Only Colonial Williamsburg is built on a grid. Governor Frances Nicholson may have been lacking in statesman skills, but he knew how to build a city a mile long and four streets wide.)

I passed through Charles City County, seeing several colonial plantations along the way. By the time I came to a road change a light rain began falling. I crossed the James River at the Prince George Bridge and headed to Hopewell. By then the rain was coming down in sheets and I was hoping I could read the signs well enough to make my turns. I made two turns correctly.

The map indicated that after 3.5 miles I was to turn left on Winston Churchill Drive which did not reveal itself by the time I’d gone almost 4 miles. I pulled into a Subway and asked the clerk how to find that street. She said that it was at the intersection just a few yards away. I turned where she indicated but the sign said 6th Street. I decided to trust her and continued driving until the end of the street. At that point a right turn put me onto Winston Churchill Drive. By this time the rain had let up and I was able to follow directions again, travelling on Oaklawn, Woodlawn and Oaklawn Drives without making a turn or even changing lanes.

Finally I reached the mall where the book store was located but couldn’t find the store. After walking into the mall and asking three men for directions, a janitor told me how to find Books-A-Million – around a curve and across the street – and in no time I was at the book store. Five minutes later I was back in my car.

I left the mall and began driving back down the road. I found an exit to I-95 South that would take me to Raleigh, NC. I knew that was the right general direction and that eventually I’d find an exit that would bring me back to Williamsburg. The rain had once again turned into a downpour, but the Interstate signs were large enough to read in the rain.

Ah, a treasure loomed – a route to the Prince George Bridge and the rain eased again. After another few miles I saw familiar territory and began to breathe normally. Soon the rain stopped. I enjoyed music while scanning the lovely plantation route, eventually reaching Williamsburg. Suddenly, the sound system came alive with the Beatles’ song “Help!” I laughed and said, “You’re a little late. I’m only a block from home now.”

I made that 2 hr, 18 min round trip plus 5 minutes in the store in only 3 hours and 11 minutes. Good time, or bad instructions?

© by Sharon D. Dillon, July 28, 2015

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 “Twins! Oh no!,” 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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Anger or Acceptance

Thoughts to Ponder – July 24, 2015

 “When angry, count four; when very angry, swear.”

*Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

 Recently, I wrote a piece in which I described no longer feeling anger at a person who had wronged me. A friend challenged that statement, so today I am attempting to provide a fuller explanation of my thoughts.

Anger is a normal part of the human psyche. We all feel anger. We get angry at our family, jobs, the world situation and human behavior in general. There are so many things in this world that can trigger our anger button. Feeling anger is sometimes appropriate. It’s how we act on that anger that is right or wrong.

Do we shout and swear? Do we vow to get even? Do we stop speaking to that person? Do we refuse to see that person ever again? Do we carry our anger forever? I’ve seen all those reactions and done some of them. The results are always destructive rather than constructive.

Or we can focus our anger another way. If someone makes us angry, we can walk away and consider what triggered our anger. Was it really what they did? Was it a reflection of an old memory? Should we go back and apologize for our behavior? Should we just let the anger fly away in the wind?

Perhaps if our anger is at a larger situation we can become an active part of the solution. Are we angry that too many children can’t read? We can we become a reading tutor. Are we angry at a social situation? Perhaps we can take a page from Mahatma Mohandas Ghandi and lead a march to the sea. Or we can emulate one of his followers, Dr. Martin Luther King, and organize voter registration – still an issue these many years later.

I often get angry about my physical well-being. I’m not as strong as I’d like to be. I can’t do what I did when I was 18. I’m not really sick, but various restrictions and prescriptions make me angry. I’m learning a different tactic for this situation. Acceptance.

I can accept that the other person is not who I’d like him/her to be and move forward accordingly. I can accept that the world situation is not what I’d like to see and if I’m so moved, I can do as the bumper sticker says, “Think globally. Act locally.” Or “Imagine Whirled Peas.”

For many things in my life I live acceptance. However, yesterday my doctor told me to take yet another nutritional supplement, to temporarily forego donating blood, something that means a lot to me and to take yet another yucky test. I became angry. I did not accept her diagnosis and became what she called “cranky.” As the day passed, I realized that she was just looking out for my health. She didn’t tell me I had a horrible disease. She just told me to adjust my life a little for my ultimate good. I’m still not happy about taking yet another pill, but I’m glad it’s a supplement, not a medicine.

A friend recently told me how she recovered from a serious illness. She was following all her doctor’s directions, but feeling angry that she was in so much pain. Finally she reached a point where she said, “Okay, God, if this is to be my life, I accept it. Just show me where to go from here.” Amazingly, she began to heal immediately, a little at a time. She can now participate in activities that were once unthinkable. She’s not playing tennis yet, but she can do pretty much what she wants to do otherwise – work, socialize and just feel good.

“God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can, 
and the wisdom to know the difference.”**

© by Sharon D. Dillon, July 24, 2015

*pg 89, Pudd’nhead Wilson, Chapter X, “Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar”

**The Serenity Prayer, A Day at a Time in Al-Anon, 1987, Al-Anon Family Groups

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 “Twins! Oh no!,” 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

Keep going . . .

Thoughts to Ponder – July 21, 2015

“Keep going.
Everything you need will come to you at the perfect time.” 
Pamela Harper*

Harper went on to say, “When you trust your Creator, your Creator trusts you. To attract health, wealth or happiness you must first believe that all things in Divine order are possible for you. As you set intentions with faith, you expect that they’ll arrive on time just as you visualize them or as you anticipate another tomorrow. Believe, trust and act as if you are the Co-Creator you are meant to be.”

So often we worry about so many things in our life: family, health, wealth, friends, transportation, jobs, education. . . .  This list could go on for pages. We love to worry. We tend to make worry our main occupation. When we meet someone who doesn’t worry, we wonder what’s wrong with them. Or, how did they get so lucky that everything is wonderful in their world?

We feel justified about our worry when bad things happen. A loved one crosses to the other side. We lose a job. We don’t get a scholarship to the college of our choice. Then we get sick, heart-sick, depressed and often give up on our dreams. When we give up anger becomes the dominant force in our lives.

I know this is true, because I’ve been there. I’ve thought that my life was destined to be one of disappointment, that I would never reach my dreams. When I finally reached the point that I said, “If this is all there is, then this is all there is,” a new attitude began creeping into my awareness. I began to say thank you for everything – a filling breakfast, a safe trip to work, my co-worker was nice to me that day. Of course, most of all I was grateful that my family was near and that they seemed to actually like me. I have found that the more I noticed and appreciated, more good things came my way – a new generation to love, nicer friends, a better job. . . .

Sun, rain, and snow all come in the proper season. Currently, in my part of the U.S. we’re wondering when they are going to balance themselves. Our days are hot and humid causing us to wilt when we want to be playing outside. Then a sudden rainstorm hits and barely cools the temperature while raising the humidity. We feel like we’re living in a greenhouse and it’s miserable. But greenhouses are where flowers develop their most beautiful blooms. I’m hoping that I’ll bloom too.

This is not to say that all is fantastic in my world. I still tend to worry about this and that. But, I remember that “Everything you need will come to you at the perfect time,” and I relax and let life flow over me as it will. When I live according to that philosophy, life is easier and the things I need do come to me.

Spirit, thank you for this gift of knowing that all is in Divine order and that all will come in the proper time. And, so it is.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, July 21, 2015

*Inspiration, July 13, 2015, “Mutual Trust” Pamela@pamelaharper.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 “Twins! Oh no!,” 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

Serenity is strength

Thoughts to Ponder – July 9, 2015

“With rage in heart and clenched fists, you may feel invincible.
The truth is that you have never been weaker.”
Dr. Phil McGraw1

Life has a way of bringing our situations full circle. We face who we used to be and learn who we are now. This last week circumstances made me proud of whom I’ve become.

Many years ago I married a nice young man who said he loved me. I thought he was fun to be with, so I convinced myself that I loved him. I thought he would rescue me from my parents who set so many rules and made my life miserable. After our wedding we immediately moved across the U.S. to his military posting. We had some fun and some arguments.

After three children and several military assignments, we found that life was not so much fun and arguments were nearly non-stop. (Of course, none of this was my fault.) We parted ways, both carrying a great deal of anger and feeling fully justified in our actions. As often happens with divorced couples, our communications were rancorous and filled with threats. Eventually the children finished high school and we no longer needed to communicate. This gave us a good, long cooling off time. I could feel my anger lessen as time went by and I began to admit my contributions to the discord.

Our first visit eight years ago was touchy, but amicable. We were determined to put the past behind us. His wife and I became fast friends and I wondered where the man I had hated so many years had gone. Then he asked for directions to another relative’s city. Our daughters explained several times that he would need to go west several miles, then turn north to get there.  No matter how many times they explained, he insisted, “I don’t want to go west and north. I want to go northwest.” I chuckled and said to myself. “Oh, he’s still in there.” As the years passed we’ve met a few more times with cautious conversation and our extended family has blended well.

Last weekend was the BIG event. His family always gathers for a reunion the first Sunday in July. I’ve been invited several times by various relatives, but always turned them down for fear I’d be considered an interloper or even be excoriated for my behavior. This year I decided it was time to face the crowd. I knew I had changed and thought I could handle the situation, whatever it turned out to be.

One daughter and family drove to the mountains in one vehicle. I rode with the other daughter and husband, not an auspicious beginning. Traffic jams and motion sickness reigned supreme. I spent a good part of the trip holding onto the headrest in front of me to keep from swaying and staring at it to avoid catching any movement out of the side of my eyes. Along the way I bought Dramamine but still maintained the same position until we reached our destination, feeling only slightly stable.

Of course, everyone there thought this was hilarious, but sympathized while trying to keep straight faces. As the agony dispersed I began to interact with those present and found I was having fun. The entire visit turned out to be much better than I expected. I did not keep myself sheltered emotionally, but let events happen as they would. Even frequent rainstorms did not dampen our spirits. We laughed at the children playing in the mud and cooked for many visitors. We enjoyed seeing old friends and relatives at the reunion until the rain washed out the event and we all ran for our cars.

I felt like I belonged with these wonderful people. Even the ex and I enjoyed a few laughs and “remember whens.” I knew then that we both have finally grown into the people we were supposed to be all those years ago before anger led us astray.

Oh, the trip back was much better. I took Dramamine before we left the hotel and followed their advice about resting my head against a stationary surface and keeping my eyes closed until we were out of the mountains. I’m looking forward to seeing them again – down here in the flat lands.

My conclusion was confirmed the next day at work. A man I’d never met before said, “I sense you are a calm person. You don’t have anger in you.” I didn’t know how to respond, but WOW! What a wonderful gift from a stranger!

 Spirit, thank you for this gift of serenity after all those years of anger. And, so it is.

 © by Sharon D. Dillon, July 9, 2015

1O, the Oprah Magazine, January 2015, pg. 41

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 “Twins! Oh no!,” 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