Commuter Scooter

While walking through Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Williamsburg a few days ago, I realized that some habits never die. I’ve always been a stroller, ambling down the sidewalk at a leisurely speed, stopping to admire flower gardens or window shopping. But that day I noticed that I was ducking and dodging and maintaining a speed about four times that of the average visitor.

Why was I in such a hurry? Well, my shift was over and I was heading to the parking lot. Then the realization hit me like a smack, I was navigating the crowd like I used to do when I commuted from Northwest Indiana to my job in downtown Chicago (Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive for those of you who know the city). In the mornings I moved quickly but usually had a few minutes to grab a coffee on my way to work.

Evenings were something else. I had just a short time, as did almost everyone on the sidewalk, to reach the train back to Indiana, and, hopefully, nab a good seat. I learned how to duck and dodge with the best of the horde. If I hadn’t, I would have to wait an hour for the next train.

One day my 6’2” son came with me to spend the day roaming the downtown area. At the end of the day when we left my office, I told him to stay with me or he’d miss the train. Since his legs were significantly longer than mine he gave me that perpetually exasperated look teens wear and said, “Okay, Mom.” Away we went. Halfway to the station I realized he wasn’t with me and looked back. He was stuck in a crowd about a half block behind. I told him to hurry up or we wouldn’t make it. You should have seen him climbing over people to catch up to me.

Until that realization I had dismissed another recent incident. During the summer my supervisor asked me to deliver a package to the front of the park. When I returned he asked, “How did you get there so fast?” My supervisor stands about 6’8” so the question baffled me. I replied, “I don’t know. I just didn’t fool around.”

So what is the secret I’ve discovered? At 5’3” my vision hits about shoulder level to most commuters and park visitors. That allows me to see gaps in the crowd that are just big enough for me to scoot through. Taller people see heads in front of them and don’t know where the gaps are.

For the first time in my life, I’ve found a benefit to being short. Hurrah! All short people join in, Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! All power (and speed) to short people!

© by Sharon D. Dillon, December 31, 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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Thoughts to Ponder – December 27, 2015

“Make your mind part of the world’s peace, instead of its fear, and I promise, life will get better and better.”

Martha Beck*

 We’re still wading through the winter holidays that continue through New Year’s Day. We try to focus on a season of peace and goodwill, but often get sidetracked and hit by the “winter blahs.” At home we may experience family dissention as we stand in the kitchen washing mounds of dishes, growling to ourselves, “This is the season of joy, dammit!” We may experience lack – of everything. Or we may be lucky enough to share our bounty with a family who cares.

As the holidays wind to an end, we stop celebrating long enough to watch the news and remember all the hate and violence that is occurring in our neighborhoods and around the world. We sigh and wonder if we are doomed to live this way forever.

I can say without doubt – NO. Just as Martha Beck says, if we set our minds on peace and act on that each day, our world will get better. I can hear you all saying, “Yeah, right.” However, it’s true. When we think peace and kindness, we act out our beliefs, often not even aware that we are doing it. Each act will affect another person.

Remember the old shampoo commercial. If you tell two people and they tell two people soon everyone will use this product. Just as telling others about shampoo will convince them to buy it, our actions will eventually create peace. World peace probably will not happen anytime soon, but at least we can make our own little corner of the world a friendlier place.

I can see you shaking your head in doubt. “You don’t know the jerks I have to deal with.” I, too, felt that way for many years. Then I became tired of feeling anger and stress in myself and those around me. I determined I would create calm for myself. Each day when I get up I state firmly, “I choose to be the best person I can be today.” As time passes I find that by making that choice, my actions become kinder. As a result I notice that people are kinder to me. That makes family life, friendships and the work place kinder. I want to be with those people, instead of feeling obligated to be there.

Spirit,

Thank you for this beautiful day. Even if it’s raining or snowing, the day is still beautiful. Thank you for knowing that if we become calm, life around us will become calm. Life can be wonderful, if we believe it to be so. We choose to act on that belief, knowing that all is happening for our highest good.

And, so it is.

* Daily Inspiration, Martha Beck, December 25, 2015 info@marthabeck.com

© by Sharon D. Dillon, December 27, 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.

Healing to Growth

December 17, 2015

“The more we try to keep our wounds concealed,

the more they will emerge into the areas of our life that do not pertain to our wound.”

Window of Wisdom 985*

That single sentence says in a few words what it takes most of us years of talk therapy, 12-step meetings and journaling to understand. Some of us just go about our business hoping no one guesses what we have endured or cope with in our daily lives. We think our bravado and competence erase all traces of pain, but we’re wrong. It slips out in little ways.

We may lose our tempers when a situation really doesn’t warrant that reaction. We may accuse a person of being an alcoholic, thief or slacker. We may demand punctuality without excuse, valid or not.

We may laugh too much at jokes or maintain a jolly demeanor. We may overly dramatize an unpleasant situation when relating the story to others. We might act like a hurtful event had no impact.

We’ve all experienced wounds and have learned to cope in various ways. The most effective way that I’ve found, and is recommended by most therapists, is to feel the pain in the moment, even if the hurt is just a rude word. Take whatever time necessary to feel the feelings, but not wallow in it. Continue going to work and follow your regular schedule as much as possible. Don’t use it as an excuse nor try to overcompensate.

Here is one example. My father who had lived the horrors of Alzheimer’s Disease for many years transitioned three days before his birthday in December 1993. I had watched him slide from a strong, humorous man to a frail body lying in a nursing home. I was so relieved that he was out of his misery that I had little reaction to his leaving Earth. When anyone asked I said, “He’s out of pain and confusion now. I’m glad he’s in a better place.”

In May 2010 my mother who had lived with the discomfort of colon cancer and chosen not to treat it, departed the Earthly plane. Again I was relieved that she was out of pain and her own personal sadness. After a few tears, I took affairs in hand and did what had to be done. Soon after returning home I called work and said I was ready to return. My supervisor questioned that decision, but I insisted all was well.

The next year my son passed of a heart attack on the anniversary of his grandfather’s funeral. I took the news fairly calmly to not upset his partner who was still grieving the loss of her son. After hanging up the phone I descended into hysterics. Fortunately, a friend came to my rescue. She told me to breathe, breathe again and yet again. When I was mostly coherent she told me how to notify his sisters and each thing I had to do to prepare for the three day drive to Minnesota to handle his affairs. As I began to pull myself together I put my pain in a safe place and soldiered on. Soon I was back at work and participating in all my normal activities.

The following December the grief of all three losses hit me like a brick. I was working at a place where Christmas is the busiest, happiest time of year. Fortunately, I’d learned a little about myself and how to deal with life. I told my supervisor what was happening and that I was going to allow myself to feel my feelings and at the same time try to be a pleasant helper to our guests. He, of course, kept a close eye on me.

After Christmas our business closed to prepare for the next season. That gave me time to allow the feelings about all three passings to flood over me. If I felt like crying, I cried. If I felt like swearing at them for abandoning me, I swore. If I felt like talking about them as if they were saints, I did that. By the time work resumed I was ready to be back to work. I had done what I needed to do to heal myself.

I realize not everyone has the gift of a three-month quiet time to heal their wounds. However, everyone has a few minutes each day to feel their feelings. They can honestly evaluate where they are in the process of healing pain, dealing with an angry situation or just slogging through daily events. Taking this time is the key to healing. It is a vital step. It sets the tone for the rest of their lives. We can say, “It’s all behind us,” but only this quiet time will tell us the truth.

Beyond healing our pain there is another upside to surviving personal devastation. It’s called Post-traumatic Growth (PTG).** “Growth results from an active, engaged process of dealing with a stressor – not the stressor itself.”***

This occurs when we have accepted and learned to live with our personal disasters. For example: from my dad I learned to be sad, angry and fearful when I’m with a safe friend. The rest of the time I can look at life’s foibles with a sense of humor. My mom taught me in a backwards way, that it’s okay to feel sad but not to let it dominate my days and years. I learned from my son to be more adventuresome and willing to try new experiences. What a gift they’ve given me.

Spirit,

Thank you for this opportunity to heal everything and anything that weighs us down. We know that releasing our pain is the only way to heal. We know that we will continue to have periods of sadness, but because we have done the healing work we need not worry that the pain tumor will burst at an inopportune time. Thank you, again.

And, so it is.

*”A Window of Wisdom,” December 14, 2015, https://awindowofwisdom.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/window-985-stop-suffering-and -release-the-pain

**”Is There and Upside to Tragedy?”, Ginny Graves, quoting Richard Tedeschi, PhD, University of North Carolina-Charlotte and Lawrence Calhoun, PhD., O the Oprah Magazine, July 2015

***Suzanne, Danhauser, PhD, Wake Forest School of Medicine, “Is There and Upside to Tragedy?”, O the Oprah Magazine, July 2015

© by Sharon D. Dillon, December 17, 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.

What a busy time of year this is!

Thoughts to Ponder – December 8, 2015

 “The best way to create more free time is to take it….

There isn’t anyone who can give it to you. Not even me.”

The Universe*

 What a busy time of year this is! We are bustling around baking cookies for this event or going to a concert. We’re trying to finish our holiday shopping, or even hoping to start it in the next few days. We’re cleaning the house for guests and putting up holiday decorations.

We worry if we should say, “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” to be more inclusive of other faiths. We examine our budgets to learn what we can buy this year and who to buy for. We may just shop using our credit cards, having decided to defer our worries until January.

Whatever we are doing, we are often doing it until we are stressed. One song tells us, “It’s the hap-happiest time of the year.” Let’s be honest. Is that what we’re really feeling? Many of us are feeling stressed. We need a breather. Life isn’t going to hand us a day-off from work that most of us waste and use it to accomplish other tasks. We need to decide that we will take some time for ourselves. It doesn’t need to be a day of lounging at the spa. That would be nice though, wouldn’t it?

Many stores play holiday music to get us in the shopping mode. We can pause in the toys, televisions or tool section to listen to “Carol of the Bells” and breathe easier for a few minutes. Three minutes of listening and breathing will refresh us more than we can imagine. If we try, we can find time to read a few pages in a book or walk around the neighborhood quietly and enjoy our neighbors’ decorations.

Oprah summarized this thought when she said, “Whether you have a week to laze around or a 20-minute break between errands, I promise it is possible to relax.”**

This is true. We have to be willing to delay a task, turn off the television, computer and phone, go for a stroll, go to bed earlier, or make time to eat breakfast. The list goes on. We all have our own personal stressors and relaxers. Pick a relaxer that works for you and enjoy it.

Spirit,

You designed us to live in balance for a good reason, yet most of us have too many stressors in our lives. Thank you for giving us tasks to keep us busy and time to relax and regenerate our minds and bodies so we can live in balance.

And, so it is.

* theuniverse@tut.com, November 25, 2015

**O, the Oprah Magazine, July 2015

© by Sharon D. Dillon, December 8, 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.

Christmas Newsletter 2015

We all receive disgustingly cheerful newsletters listing dubious progeny accomplishments this time of year. Here is my contribution to the trend.

The holidays are upon us once again and our family has much for which to be grateful. We are finishing our Christmas shopping and eager to place our gifts under the tree that Husband dragged home yesterday. I’m not sure where he found it, but it smells like he found it at the county landfill. This tree is so scraggly that even Charlie Brown would reject it. The good thing is that the tree was easy to decorate. A single string of lights runs straight up the trunk and ends just below the star that is leaning precipitously to starboard. We were able to toss two strands of tinsel onto the limb stub. Three strands overloaded the stub and made the tree list to port.

Because of the economy, our gifts this year will be simple. Son #1 asked for a package of socks with extra wide tops to warm the lovely ankle bracelet generously given him by the judge. He finds the ankle bracelet attractive, but tends to fuss about the frostbite that forms on his leg. Additionally, he is beginning a trend by inspiring his friends and siblings to achieve his greatness. Already, three of his “buds” are sporting their own ankle bracelets. They cheerfully text each other about how many phone calls they are receiving from the police department when the bracelets set off bells at the station.

Son #2 is aspiring to earn his own bracelet, but so far is receiving only probation. He also wants extra wide-top socks so he will be prepared when his turn for a bracelet is approved. He also requested an ergonomic pillow for study hall naps. Classmates have learned not to criticize his snoring. His nap habit has contributed greatly to the economy as the school nurse’s office needs to keep a large stock of nose bandages.

We are so proud that Daughter #1 is achieving greatness at her high school. She passed chorus this year when the choir director generously agreed to accept her reggae version of “Stairway to Heaven” as an entry in the school’s alma mater contest. Luckily, the academic advisor has decided that she no longer needs to pass such courses as biology, math or history and will be graduating two years early. This daughter was easy to shop for, because she just asked for a year’s supply of black nail polish, black lipstick and green hair dye.

Daughter #2 won honors for selling the most Girl Scout cookies in her troop. She accomplished this by blackmailing her middle school teachers. I’m not sure where she found all that salacious information, but our family had fun reading it. It’s too bad the teachers bought the cookies, because we’d really love to share these stories with the school administrators. No shopping problem here either. This daughter requested a gift card to Slut-Mart.

Husband is doing very well. He was awarded Slacker of the Year award by his company. They said he is doing so well, that if he keeps up the good work, he’ll be given a permanent vacation. Can you imagine how much fun we’ll have with all that spare time?

As for me, I’m learning how to cook without setting of the smoke alarm. It only paged the fire department once this week when I baked brownies for Daughter #2’s Girl Scout party. The girls smiled bravely as they gazed at the brownies and held tissues over their noses to protect the tray of well-done brownies from their cold germs. They showed their generous spirits by tossing the entire tray into the snow to feed the birds.

Happy Holidays to you and your family. We hope our year has been as wonderful as ours.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, December 3, 2015, edited from 2009 version

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.