Face your truth

Thoughts to Ponder

 “If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”

Virginia Woolf*

 “Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.”

Janis Joplin**

 About two weeks ago I opened my mouth and inserted foot. As soon as I verbalized my thought I felt shame. But, it has turned out to be a valuable lesson, just not one I anticipated. Here’s the short form.

While at a writers’ group one member was talking about his new book and how it will help students achieve success in college. I’m certain this book contains much hard won wisdom. Yet, I opened my mouth and said, “Discrimination no longer exists.” Where that statement came from, I had no idea. I knew that was not a true statement, yet I tried feebly to defend it. After the meeting I emailed everyone to apologize. I received very kind responses. Yet, I can’t help thinking they must think that is my real self.

Those words weighed on my mind until yesterday, when the message finally burst through my embarrassment. I was speaking to myself, telling myself I no longer have any excuses for not doing what I should be doing.

How did that attitude come to be? I has been a long, crooked path. I grew up poor, so that was an excuse not to go to college. I didn’t think I was capable of working full-time and going to school. So college was a dream for others. When I reached my 40’s I attended and graduated from a top-notch college while working full-time, disproving that theory.

During my college years I met and married a physically-challenged African-American man who had a brain that constantly astonished me. His mental retention and recall was amazing. Yet he always seemed to fall into pits that derailed his plans. I could never figure out why until one day we both had to register for classes on the same day.

He attended school in the city where we lived. My school was in a city 90 miles away. We left home at the same time. I drove the 90 miles, registered for my classes, had lunch with some classmates and drove the 90 miles home. I expected that my husband would be home watching sports on television; but he wasn’t there. I began to worry that something terrible had happened. Finally, more than an hour later he showed up tired and frustrated because registration had turned into a horrible ordeal and the school had no compassion for his difficulties.

The situation was this: Both our schools had us move through stations one through eight. I got in line and moved through the stations as directed. He started at station three and was sent back to station one. After one and two he decided he needed a coffee. After that break he lined up at station five and was sent back to three. And, so on.

What does all this have to do with my blurting out an unacceptable false statement? After stewing over this embarrassing moment, I realized I was not talking to my friend. I was talking to me. My dreams are not being fulfilled, not because of discrimination, but because I’m not following steps one through eight. I want good-fortune to fall into my lap without working for it. My age is not an issue, nor is my height, weight, need to work, or physical stamina.

My attitude is similar to my former husband’s. The rules are not made for me. I should not have to do the research, apply the BIC (butt in chair) rule to successful writing, make phone calls to set up speaking engagements, and so on. Why can’t I just sit here at home, go for walks, play with the great-grandsons and have fun while my book sells itself and I earn tons of money?

It’s ironic. What I saw in my former husband, I could not see in myself. Now that I do, I need to put that knowledge to work. However, breaking a life time habit is a tough job. While I managed to follow the rules to graduate high school and college, hold a job and raise my children, I found many ways not to give 100% and wondered why I failed.

It might be easy to say, “From now on I’m going to give 100% effort to all I attempt.” But, is that reality? I know I won’t, but I do choose to improve. From now on I’ll say:

Spirit: Thank you for this awareness that I create many of my problems. I’m not pleased that you showed me in such a humiliating manner, but appreciate the lesson. I ask that today and every day that you will guide me to be the best me I can be. And, so it is.

*Warner, Carolyn, Treasury of Women’s Quotations, 1992, Prentice Hall, page 56

** ibid, page 54

© by Sharon D. Dillon, November 1, 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.

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Thoughts to Ponder – September 30, 2016

“You take care of the inches, I’ll take care of the miles.

You just have to go first.”

The Universe*

What an encouraging statement! All we have to do is start our project and the Universe will take care of the rest. That doesn’t mean that we can start a task, then sit down and watch television while the project is completed.

Drat! That’s the way I like to work. I must admit right up front that I’m a world class procrastinator. Don Marquis said,

“Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.”**

How right he was. I’m usually working on yesterday’s task. I much prefer doing something fun than work. But, I know that if I want to accomplish certain things like paying my bills, cleaning my house or writing a New York Times best seller I have to do some work, probably a lot of work.

The Universe isn’t telling us that we don’t have to work. It is telling us that if our deep desire is to accomplish a goal, we should start it even if we don’t see how all the details are going to work out. The Universe will be sure that all that’s needed will be available.

An excellent example is right here in our area. Several years ago a young boy was killed in a traffic accident. Wanting to honor the child’s memory his parents began a program called A Gift from Ben. They went to a local grocery store and asked for a donation of food that was near its expiration date. Since the store management would have to destroy the food anyway, they gave it to the program. The parents then delivered the food to a few people in need and repeated the action each week. As word spread about their charitable project, other stores offered food. Then people who had plenty began offering cash donations. Now the project feeds several low-income neighborhoods and shelters. Some neighborhoods have now set up organized distribution centers. Resident volunteers separate and bag the food so that the other residents can just pick up a bag and return their homes. The parents took the steps of contacting a grocery store and buying an old pick-up truck to deliver the food. The Universe provided the rest.

I know this concept is real. I’ve seen it happen several time in my life. A few examples are: attending college in my 40s and paying the loan debt; buying my first house in my 50s through a low-income program; making repairs/remodeling the house and more recently being given a lovely sweater than wasn’t in my budget. All of us can think of several situations that worked out better than we thought they would.

Most of us have dreams that we don’t expect to come true. That’s our biggest problem. We see the impediments as much larger than the available resources. That feeds our procrastination tendencies. So how do we take care of the “inches”? We go to work, pick up the Windex and rag and sit “butt in chair” and type. Once we do that, we look for the next step and take it. Because we “go first” and “take care of the inches” the Universe will smooth the path to the next step, that is, “take care of the miles.”

Spirit,

Thank you for reminding us that you will always meet our needs and that we need to take the first step. If we do that you will provide the rest.

And, so it is.

* TUT – A note from the Universe, Mike Dooley, September 30, 2016

** Don Marquis, ‘certain maxims of archy’ in “archy and mehitabel”, 1927

© by Sharon D. Dillon, September 30, 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.

And that has made all the difference

Thoughts to Ponder

April 8, 2016

“…Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the road less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

Robert Frost*

As we travel through our days sometimes the road is a smooth, easy, lovely ride. Other times we hit small bumps or potholes that damage our egos and indicate that we are traveling the wrong road and need to make a detour, sooner rather than later. We can keep driving down that road until our car is wrecked and our souls are bleeding.

Why do we continue this disastrous pattern? Often we don’t see another road we cab travel. Or we see an alternate road but are afraid to make the turn because the old road is familiar. We know where the bumpy road will take us. We don’t know what will happen if we change directions.

Those fears are valid. We don’t know where the new road will take us. Often we are taught from childhood that we must follow a certain path, no matter what. Fear of change can be a generational roadblock. Other parents teach their children to go for the prize. A friend once told me that he was taught to shoot for the stars and if he only reached the moon he’d still be further than had he remained Earth bound.

My own upbringing was more along the fearful lines. If I were to step out of my role something terrible would happen. I would live to regret my rash behavior. I believed that for many situations, like speaking up at work, but in others I took chances and am glad I did. I had to change my direction several times. While many decisions had serious repercussions they always came with a gift that made my life better.

Some examples:

  • My first marriage was a disaster, but my three wonderful children made life worthwhile.
  • I left that marriage not knowing what might happen and learned that I was capable of earning a living for my young family.
  • After my children were grown I enrolled in an elite college with only $25 dollars in my pocket. I graduated at age 47 with less student debt than anticipated. That degree led to better jobs.
  • At 55 I chose early retirement and a severely reduced benefit to move across the country to live near my daughters. That move allowed me to watch my grandchildren reach adulthood and give me four great-grandsons that are the delight of my life. And, another baby is on the way.
  • In 2013 my favorite online inspirational writer chose to close her blog. Uncharacteristically, I chose to continue her work with Thoughts to Ponder. While my following is not as large as hers, the number is growing. Most of all I feel satisfaction in doing my part to make the world a more peaceful place.

All that is a long way to say that it is never too late to change directions. I’m now looking for other ways to expand my life and new roads to travel. If I don’t fly among the stars I’m still a lot further than if I’d never started this journey.

I urge you to take a risk and take “the road less travelled.” You may face some unpleasant situations but you will have gained so much more.

Spirit,

Thank you for showing us that we have options. We can change directions as often as necessary to reach our goals. By exploring new roads we learn that we have talents we never expected. Those talents will lead us down more roads and to new adventures. Those choices might not all lead to the stars, but they will certainly get us further on our journey than if we stay focused on the potholes in front of us.

And, so it is.

*Frost, Robert, “The Road not Taken,” in Mountain Interval, 1916.

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me

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

The gift of 70

Thoughts to Ponder – February 22, 2016

 “The hardest years in life are those between 10 and 70.”

Helen Hayes*

That is, indeed, good news, something I needed to hear on dark, cold February morning. A few days ago I turned 70, the culmination of a 69 year roller coaster ride. The past several weeks have been a period of reflection, looking at good times and bad and realizing that they were all just experiences that made me who I am today.

While birthdays brought just a continuation of the year before, decades were a little different. For instance, on my 20th birthday I was married, expecting a baby and looking forward to turning 21 so I could vote. By the time my 40th came along my children had all left home. I was single and starting to think about attending college. Then one day I was 60 and life had changed dramatically. I was retired, but still working and living near my daughters, their husbands and almost adult grandchildren.

Now, at 70 a new chapter is beginning. I’m not sure what that means. I’m still working, enjoying play dates with four great-grandsons and still hoping to write the great American novel. While my current job cushions the limitations of Social Security, more importantly it provides valuable social interaction and is FUN.

When I was younger a job was where I survived eight hours a day to feed the children and later myself. Age brings knowledge that I was the source of most of that discontent. I was much too concerned with what others thought of me. What I thought they thought of me is a more accurate statement.

Another thing I’ve learned is that I now have something important to say and I’m saying it in these occasional blogs. I’ve also learned there are times and places to keep my thoughts to myself. I allow my daughters to take care of me in little ways. They go to doctor appointments with me to take notes and ask questions that I forget. They advise me about this and that and check to be sure my refrigerator is full. Rather than considering that nosiness, I look at it as caring that I’m eating properly.

Who knows what this decade will bring? From this view point I see many more play dates with the great-grandchildren, continuing to work at a fun job and riding my bicycle around the neighborhood. I don’t have the strength and energy I used to have and I miss them. But their lack has been replaced by a life view that is a little more patient with my shortcomings – and those of others. What other people do is not so important anymore.

How I spend my days is much more important. Did I do something fun today? Did I feel grateful? Did I think kind thoughts of someone? Did I eat something just because it tastes good? Did I take a nap because I wanted to? Did I do something useful?

Spirit,

Thank you for seventy years of learning and more years to enjoy what I’ve learned. Thank you for being patient while I struggled to learn what is important. Thank you for a future to practice what has taken me so long to learn.

And, so it is.

*Hayes, Helen, from Treasury of Women’s Quotations by Carolyn Warner, Prentiss Hall

© by Sharon D. Dillon, February 22, 2016

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.