A Halloween to Remember

It was 1968. Orville had recently returned from his second tour in Vietnam and purchased a small house in Copperas Cove, Texas. A few local families were the backbone of the community. The rest of us were military families attached to Fort Hood.

To give you a little background, Orville grew up in rural West Virginia where costumes were whatever Mom could scrape together out of old clothes. Because they lived in the country, the kids only went trick-or-treating at two or three houses.

I grew up in an Ohio town that was large enough to have three elementary schools. Towns were safer then, so we went in groups carrying shopping bags or pillow cases and had the run of neighborhoods that were within walking distance.

About a week before Halloween Orville and I went commissary-shopping. I began piling bags of candy into the cart. He returned most of the candy to the shelves. I put it back in the cart. He asked, “Why are you buying so much candy?”

“For Trick-or-Treat.”

“You’re buying too much.”

“No, I’m not. We need much more than this.”

“How much candy do you plan to give each child?”

“Two pieces.”

“Then one bag should be enough.”

“No it won’t. The Smith’s have four children. The Jones’ have five. We have three. The rest of the families on our street have approximately the same number and kids will be coming from other neighborhoods.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“I am. We need at least 12 bags of candy, 20 would be better.”

“I don’t believe you, but I’ll agree to 10 bags.”

“That won’t be enough.”

“That’s all I’m buying.”

On Halloween I put the candy in a soup kettle and asked Orville to watch for Trick-or-Treaters while I dressed our three little ones in their homemade costumes. I reminded him not to give anyone more than two pieces.

“We’ll have candy left for Easter,” he complained.

“No we won’t. Remember I grew up in a town and know what kind of crowd to expect.”

Soon, the door bell rang and there stood four little beggars. Three more arrived just as he was handing candy to the first group. Then there were another five. There was a Superman, a cowboy, a doctor, a princess and more. Orville ran to grab his movie camera and said, “You pass out the candy. I’m filming this.”

“We agreed that I’d take the kids out and you’d pass out the candy,” I said.

“We’ll pay the neighbor girl a dollar to take the kids out. I have to get this on camera.”

And so the evening went, until we were down to two bags of candy. I told Orville that I needed to make more treats and headed for the kitchen. I had baked cookies that day – just in case. Two cookies went into each sandwich bag. Soon all our apples, oranges and bananas flew into outstretched treat bags. Then I began popping and bagging popcorn.

That was nearly gone when, finally, curfew hit and we were able to take a few deep breaths. Orville said, “I can hardly believe what I just saw. Next year we’ll be better prepared.” I couldn’t resist tossing a “told you so” his direction.

The following year not only did we buy more candy, but Orville also invited another couple to bring their candy to our house. The men passed out the candy and filmed the Trick or Treaters while we moms took our pre-schoolers house-to-house, then returned to make sure the snacks kept coming.

copyright by Sharon D. Dillon, October 27, 2016

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Fear or safety, it’s up to you

Thoughts to Ponder

 “Protection comes from never choosing to believe you need any.”

Mutant Message from Forever*

Fear is one of our most powerful emotions. It protects us, but can also prevent us from exploring the world. We want to protect our children so teach them to be afraid of many life experiences.  Our lessons are valuable and well intentioned. Perhaps we’re a bit too protective at times.

Other times we overreact to scary situations. One adult acquaintance is terrified of dogs because a large, black dog bit her when she was four. No amount of calm discussion and comparisons that “This isn’t the dog that bit you; He’s brown not black; He’s small not big;” could convince her that it was safe to be near any canine.

Currently many of us fear the results of our upcoming presidential election. If this candidate wins, our country will go to hell in a hand-basket. If that candidate wins, our country will go to hell in a hand-basket. Our protection is to be informed, vote our choice and know that our country has solutions built into our founding documents. The Constitution gives us the power to remove incompetent or overreaching officials. It is a complicated, lengthy procedure designed to ensure that we, the voters, act thoughtfully and deliberately rather than in the anger or fear of the moment.

How do we know if we are acting purposefully? In the same book Morgan says,

“Observe yourself. It is perfectly all right to feel uncomfortable, just don’t deny or hide how you feel. From this we learn people can have differences and each is right for his or her own path. If you can’t honor your own feelings, it would be impossible to honor those of another.”

The biggest fear we all have to overcome is our fear of other human beings. A reasonable fear to be sure. Daily we hear of terrible crimes being committed. The perpetrator has what seems to be a valid reason for the action. Possibly that is to obtain a desired object or revenge, possibly to satisfy a religious tenet or political belief. The reasons are endless, and make perfect sense to the person whose behavior we observe.

There are a lot of ways to acknowledge and overcome concerns and fears. One way is to set our intention each day to be safe and protected. We can be alert to our surroundings. We can watch fewer scary movies. We can filter what we hear on the news to retain only the facts we need to know, rather than the fearful voice of the announcer. We can take reasonable precautions.

Years ago I worked in an office building situated in a run-down neighborhood. That location choice was made to encourage businesses to move to the area and to stimulate a community atmosphere. Some of my co-workers would not leave the building except to walk to and from their cars. A few of us would go for walks, alone or together, during our lunch breaks, shop in nearby stores, and generally act as if we worked in a more prosperous neighborhood. When questioned about my supposedly risky behavior I responded that I took reasonable precautions. I wore walking shoes, not high heels, so I could run if necessary. I wore pants or loose skirts, rather than tight skirts that would inhibit my stride. I carried a few dollars in my pocket instead of a purse that might tempt a thief. And I walked with a purpose, observing my surroundings rather than acting timid.

Those are simple solutions to one potentially frightening situation. We can face anything that comes our way if we choose to observe and face it with confidence.

Spirit: Thank you for giving us the ability to reason and made good decisions for ourselves and our loved ones. We know that by using that ability we can go through life with much less fear than we might otherwise do. We are also grateful for angelic protection. And, so it is.

* Morgan, Marlo, 1999, Mutant Message from Forever, page 249

** ibid, page 246

© by Sharon D. Dillon, October 20, 2016

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy” Author of Echoes of your Choices, 2016, available as a paperback or e-book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online sites.

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Voices of Williamsburg Toastmasters Club.

Speak your Mind

Thoughts to Ponder

 “Give it a thought. Consider every angle. And then speak your mind.

You’ve not been drawn into anyone’s life just to listen.

You’re not here to be quiet.”

The Universe*

 This is a different message than what many of us were taught as children. Be quiet, listen, and learn were our daily lessons from both parents and teachers. Those were good lessons to be sure. How can we learn if we don’t listen to others?

A better lesson is to compare the speakers’ words to their actions. That way we will know if they are speaking from their hearts. Are they really saying something we need to learn or as our elders used to say, “… just talking to hear themselves,”?

For many years I thought my job was to listen and obey. Then I learned that I might have an opinion worth speaking. At that point no one could silence me. I talked on and on about anything on my mind. I knew so much and needed to share it. That behavior led to teachers and parents frequently saying, “Sit down and shut up.”

At one job a coworker had a pointed way of making me aware of my behavior. I would start to talk without knowing where her attention was focused. When she realized I was talking, she’d look me in the eye and ask, “You babbled?” Our supervisor was offended by her bluntness, but I knew that she was reminding me to be sure the other person was listening before speaking. I was beginning to become aware that I was a nuisance – to say it politely.

Years later another supervisor told me, “You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in proportion.” He was saying the same thing that the quote says. We must listen, think and consider before we speak. It is important for us to say what is on our minds, but we need to have our thoughts in order first. Only in that way can we effectively share what we know.

It took a while for that message to sink into my brain and begin to transform my communication patterns. I must admit, I still like to hear myself talk, but I do a better job of using my ears and mouth in the correct ratio.

We learn more by listening more. That is not to say we shouldn’t speak up about things that concern us. We must speak whatever is weighing on our minds. If we don’t speak up to right injustice, who will? We have to decide when and where to use our voice or written word. Speaking out on too many issues leaves our message scattered and ineffective. If we speak out in the wrong place at the wrong time we become that nuisance I mentioned earlier. By listening, thinking and considering before we speak, we can discern whether the other person will accept our words.

Spirit,

Thank you for providing this valuable lesson. Help us to use that wisdom in our daily lives.

And, so it is.

* TUT – A note from the Universe, Mike Dooley, September 14, 2016

© by Sharon D. Dillon, October 12, 2016

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy” Author of Echoes of your Choices, 2016, available as a paperback or e-book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online sites.

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Voices of Williamsburg Toastmasters Club.