Thoughts to Ponder

“Live today by the Buddha’s words:

‘You could search the whole world and never find anyone as

deserving of your love as yourself.'”

Martha Beck*

We’ve heard similar words in many forms over the years. “Love your enemy as yourself.” “Be good to yourself.” And many more.

Most of us do this occasionally. Many of us go through our day saying to ourselves, “That was a dumb thing to do.” “I can’t do that, I don’t know how.” “I wish my hair was curly, less gray, smoother, longer, shorter….” “My nose it too long, wide, drippy….” We all have our private lists of what is wrong with us.

What if we turned that practice around? “I did a good job dusting. The house looks nicer now.” “I handled that difficult situation well.” Do you think that might change our outlook on life?

I’ve tried it and it works – very well – when I remember to do it. Sometimes I fall into a gloomy pit and everything seems wrong and unchangeable. The longer I’m in the pit the worse everything looks. My hair is wrong. I don’t have enough energy. I make too many mistakes. A good friend brought me food gifts. I thought she just felt sorry for this beaten-down woman who couldn’t afford to own food. This winter and spring I was deep in that pit, and life was a drain on my body and soul.

I’m not sure what caused the turn around. I think I was just tired of being tired. I told myself to look and act on the bright side. I asked Higher Power to nudge me along the right path. Soon, I found myself saying things like: “I did dishes today and the kitchen looks nice.” “I did laundry and the clean clothes feel good.” After a while I could say, “I solved that problem. Good job.” “I handled that situation well and both of us are satisfied.”

I till have a long way to go to be the person I’d like to be. But, I’ve come far enough that the world seems a kinder, safer place. My friends and relatives are more supportive and loving. My friend still brings me food gifts. Now, I realize she is a kind, thoughtful person, and I receive the gifts with joy and gratitude. Yesterday she gave me four green tomatoes. I grinned from ear to ear and cried, “How wonderful! I can enjoy a couple meals of fried green tomatoes. Thank you.!” We both came out of that encounter feeling better.

Spirit: Thank you for nudging me to change my attitude. I know that life will be better from now on. I’ll still have situations to overcome, but they’re not so daunting if I look at them as challenges rather than disasters.”

 

 

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Old Age is not for Sissies

That saying is old and trite, but true. When I was younger I thought old people were funny. I sympathized with their various issues, mostly difficulty in getting around and moaning when they arose from a chair. Little did I realize that was just the tip of the generational iceberg.

When I was a child and a teen, a year seemed like a long time and my energy seemed inexhaustible. When I entered high school, graduation, a mere four years hence, was barely conceivable.

It seems like only yesterday I celebrated my 55th birthday and said farewell to my office job and hello to a new chapter in my life. Even so, I’ve arrived at the point where I’m trying to decide how to celebrate my 72nd birthday. Napping? Getting dressed ad doing something fun with my daughters? Definitely, something fun. I’m not that old yet.

Did I say something about inexhaustible energy? Now I have inexhaustible exhaustion. And, that is just the beginning. Those chili dinners I used to enjoy? Hah! Well, maybe a small bowl – if I stock up on Maalox. Hike all day with one short bathroom break? How about walking a block with five bathroom breaks? Late to bed and early to rise, jump in the shower and head to work? Let’s make that early to bed – late to rise, still in my pajamas, leisurely sipping coffee while reading the newspaper.

All that time in front of the mirror to be sure my hair and make-up are impeccable? Remember those fashionable hair-dos, pillbox hats and little wool or linen suits with matching pumps that were popular in the 60s when we all tried to look like Jackie Kennedy? They’ve been replaced. My once steady hand now applies mascara with a paint brush. I can’t hit the target with anything smaller. Pillbox hates, suits and pumps? Hah! Jeans and a t-shirt are the uniform of the day, completed by a baseball cap and a dirty pair of New Balance walking shoes. That is, if I decide to get dressed.

Then there was yard work, mow the grass, rake the cuttings, weed the flower beds and trim the shrubs. How I step outside and notice a dandelion. Isn’t that bright yellow pretty against the tall, green grass? I say that bending and lifting are best left to younger folks. When I had a family to feel I cooked well-balanced, nutritious, delicious meals. Now there is no one else to feed, so a complete meal consists of eggs and hash browns with a few carrot sticks. And, if that is too much work, a peanut butter-spinach wrap works just as well.

I used to put on a pretty nightgown and brush my hair before retiring for the evening with the love of my life. Now, I jump in bed and cuddle up to my c-pap machine and a good book. There’s a lot to be said for drifting off to a story of someone else’s adventures.

When younger I would go to bed worried about what might happen and how I would cope with the latest emergency. Now, I go to bed and feel grateful that most of my body parts still work in a reasonable facsimile of the way they were designed. Perfection is for young people. Gratitude for a life (mostly) well-lived is for those of us who have been around the block a few times.
Sharon Dillon, January 23, 2018

Thoughts to Ponder

February 28, 2017

“Here are the two best prayers I know:

‘Help me, help me, help me’ and

‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’

Anne Lamott1

“I would maintain that thanks are the best form of thought;

and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

G.K. Chesterton2

Those two quotes sum up the main teachings of any belief practice. Remember those sermons about sin and repentance or rules for correct spiritual practice? As we think of the rules we’ve been taught, we may wonder where this topic is going.

However, if we stop to analyze those lessons we will remember that the two main points our spiritual leader was trying to make were:

  • I’m in trouble and need help.
  • Help received. Thank you.

After considering the main points of those sermons, we may stop to consider events when our situations improved, perhaps unexpectedly. We were happy that it was resolved and wondered how it all happened. Often, we assigned those small or large miracles to mere coincidences. Possibly, if we were spiritually inclined, we might say something like, “God was on my side that time.” That is expressing gratitude or “happiness doubled by wonder.”

While I acknowledge God as the Supreme, Eternal Being, I tend to anthropomorphize that entity and the angels or spirit guides as someone I can talk to like my best friend. I like to start my prayers with gratitude. I wake up in the morning and say good morning and thank you to God for giving me a new day and the gifts of sun, trees…. Then I tell the Higher Power that on this day I choose to be the highest and best me I can be. After that I ask for the guidance and the ability to do what is mine to do. As I end this conversation I express my gratitude again, knowing that all that happens this day will be in my Highest Good.

Those of you who know me personally are probably saying her life does not reflect the words she is writing. That is so true. I tend to take the easy way out in many aspects of my life. Then I wonder why certain miracles are not forthcoming.

Spiritual teacher Doreen Virtue3 advises us that God and the angels will always help but you must first ask. If I follow that advice and ask my Higher Power to assist me as I do what is on my to-do list, each situation is resolved quickly, leaving me to wonder what the big deal was – and grateful.

The point of that confession is to admit that my Eternal Source has not let me down. I cannot blame God for not giving me my heart’s desire. Instead, I must admit that I often do not follow divine prompting and take the action that is mine to take.

Spirit, Thank you for this new day, new beginning. I ask that you will show me what action is mine to take today. I will ask for help when I need it and express gratitude when that help appears. And, so it is.

1Quotables, O the Oprah Magazine, September 2016

2ibid

3Virtue, Doreen, Hay House World Angel Summit, audio, “Real World Angel Experiences”, February 28, 2017

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 Echoes of Your Choices, a motivational book, and 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

Gratitude without platitude

Thoughts to Ponder

 “… When you receive, not only do you affirm your own worthiness

and open the way for more,

but you make possible greater joys for the giver….

*The Universe

So many holidays this time of year can lead to stress or to joy. That choice is entirely up to us. We start the season with Halloween and giving candy to Trick or Treaters. While we’re still eating the leftovers we’re shopping for Thanksgiving. We cook for days and dinner dishes aren’t finished yet when stores begin their Black Friday sales. From then on, preparing for all the winter gift giving opportunities keeps us on our toes, trying to avoid traffic jams at the malls, watching the ads for sales and telling the kids that, “That expensive toy may not be in Santa’s budget this year.”

Each winter we have Hannukah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Years, all gift giving and receiving opportunities. We go to store after store looking for perfect gifts. Some of us actually started craft projects months ago. Either way we are putting a lot of thought and effort into our gifting opportunities.

We should put just as much effort into our receiving opportunities. This is not to say we should heap flatteries over an unwanted item. But we should recognize that the giver made an effort to find something we’d like and acknowledge that. One example of not receiving graciously is my mother who was taught to be a humble receiver. Humble is good, degrading yourself is not.

No matter what I gave her it was too much and/or too expensive. After years of her denigrating herself as well as my gifts, I said, “Mom, you take all the fun out of giving.” To her question of how, I replied that each birthday and Christmas I tried to find the perfect gift. Each time she said it was too much. Her negative comments made me wonder why I tried so hard to please her. After a moment of silence, she responded, “My friend told me last week that I take the blessing out of giving.” I said, “Your friend is correct. Can you just say thank you and stop there?”

Can we, each of us, offer sincere gratitude for gifts received without extraneous commentary? That is unless the gift is really fantastic. In that situation we can bubble over with complimentary adjectives.

I must admit that bit of wisdom did not originate with me. After years of saying that gifts were “too much” a friend gave me that same talk. Fortunately, I listened to her advice and years later my mom listened to mine.

Spirit: You shower us with gifts every day and we express our gratitude by thanking you for the new day, new opportunities, trees, flowers, grass, birds, animals and more. We know that you freely give those gifts that we can never earn. We express our gratitude by enjoying those gifts. We can we do no less in our personal interactions. And, so it is.

*A Note from the Universe, www.tut.com, December 2, 2016

© by Sharon D. Dillon, December 2, 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.

Choices

Thoughts to Ponder

April 18, 2016

 “A major advantage of age is learning to accept people without passing judgment.”

Liz Carpenter*

Most of us have learned to judge people by their age, size, color, wealth, education and many other non-specific criteria that we have stashed away in our minds. Often we judge those who don’t meet our standards harshly. Other times we can dismiss those differences with a “different strokes for different folks” attitude. Being able to accept other people for who they are is an attitude most of us cultivate.

Today, however, I want to discuss a must more difficult challenge – accepting ourselves where we are each and every moment. Most of us have learned to accept ourselves most of the time. Periodically, we still denigrate ourselves with “shoulda, woulda, coulda”. To some extent, that is just human nature. We have a choice. We can live with and nurture our petty complaints or we can look at the big picture. We’re alive. We’re functioning to whatever ability we have and are able to feel empathy for others.

This last was a choice I denied myself yesterday. I woke up feeling deprived, abused, neglected and generally in a sorry mood. I was upset because over the past few years I’ve had some health issues, annoying and inconvenient, but in the larger view, rather petty. I ranted at my God, angels, guides, and whomever else might have been listening. “I’m tired of all these health issues! If I had the energy I could have done this activity. If I hadn’t had to spend so much money on medications, physical therapy and dental work I could have gone on this trip or done that project. I’m angry. I want to spend my time and energy on having fun, not on health issues.” The worst part was that I shared my anger with a kind, young man whose mother can’t eat solid food. I’m sure she wishes that her health issues were as minor as mine.

This morning I awoke with a lesson that I’ve shared here in the past, but had been floating around in my miasma of anger and fear. Yes, fear. If I’m this decrepit now, what will life be like in another 10 years? The truth is I probably have another 10 years or 20 or more to learn what life holds for me.

The most important lesson is that we cannot change who and what we are until we accept who and what we are today, in this very moment. I had to accept that I was angry over relatively easily handled problems. The doctor sent me to physical therapy to relieve what has turned out to be temporary pain. If I didn’t spend money on therapy I may have eventually lost the use of my arm. What would have that cost? My recent bout with breathing issues is healing with prescription medications. What would have been the cost without that option? Expensive dental work provided me with a new tooth. What would have been the long-term cost of not being able to eat crunchy food?

Each of us faces his/her own personal issues to complain about and accept or not accept. We all have our personal heroes who have borne difficulties that we can only imagine, yet triumphed in life. Helen Keller and Steven Hawking are two who come immediately to mind. Keller was deaf and blind, yet blossomed into a woman we often quote for inspiration. Hawking cannot control his body, yet his brain continues to astound us on a regular basis. They continue to inspire us to move forward, no matter what. As long as life is, we have hope.

Spirit,

Thank you for putting our problems in perspective. Thank you for showing us that acceptance and gratitude are the basis for a happy life. Thank you for giving us the ability to see the positive outcomes of our negative experiences. Thank you for giving us another day to live in gratitude.

And, so it is.

*Carpenter, Liz, The Treasury of Women’s Quotations, pg. 20, Carolyn Warner, Prentiss Hall, 1992

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

Treat yourself

Thoughts to Ponder – February 10, 2016

“Every day, give yourself at least three really good treats.
One for every risk you take, and two because you’re you.
No exceptions. No excuses”

Martha Beck*

Oh boy! I can have three desserts every day. I’m heading for the grocery store to buy something yummy. My waistline is grateful that Beck was probably not referring to desserts, though an occasional dessert is good for our souls too. Beck is referring to things that make our souls feel happy.

There are so many ways we can treat ourselves. Treating ourselves regenerates our brains and bodies so we can work more efficiently. Perhaps we could tell ourselves, “Way to go! You did a good job!” We could do a happy dance. (Hopefully, the boss isn’t watching.) We could go for a walk and enjoy the sun warming our bodies. We could give ourselves a few minutes to play ONE game of Solitaire on our Kindles or work ONE crossword puzzle to get our minds off the project. Gratitude for ourselves also makes us aware of reasons to appreciate other people and the many wonderful ways they contribute to our happiness.

Regrettably, our society tends to consider treating ourselves as wasting time. Many of us were taught that to succeed we must “keep our noses to the grindstone.” Perhaps we were told that good grades and hard work are the stepping stones on the path to success. It is, but we owe it to ourselves to take a break, or three, every day. Otherwise, we are not on the path to success, but the road to a heart attack or mental collapse. Many employers offer their employees two 15 minute breaks and a lunch period. In the past I either worked through those breaks and ate at my desk or spent the time complaining about the boss, coworkers and the work load. Spending free time like that can add to the level of anger floating around the world.

Fortunately, my current employer believes in another axiom, “All work and no play make Jack/Jill a dull boy/girl.” For that reason they schedule several team events throughout the year. They may be just for fun, to showcase a new event or to support a good cause. These team events give employees time to relax and get to know their team mates personally. It also reminds them that their company appreciates their efforts and makes this a great place to work.

So take a few minutes to relax and show yourself some appreciation. You deserve it.

Spirit,

Thank you for this reminder to take a few moments several times a day to express gratitude for ourselves and our work. By being thankful for our own efforts we are thanking you for giving us life, love and even things we don’t like very much, but make us better people.

And, so it is.

*Beck, Martha, Daily Inspiration, info@marthabeck.com, February 3, 2016

© by Sharon D. Dillon, February 10, 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.

Thoughts to Ponder – January 15, 2016

“When you heal yourself on the inside,

everything else around you no longer triggers old pain.”

A Window of Wisdom 1007*

 The last few weeks we’ve been talking about releasing old pain and experiencing a lighter, happier life. On December 17 we talked about the harm we cause ourselves by concealing our pain. On January 1 we discussed letting our negative feelings out. Today we’re continuing to think about ways to heal yourself on the inside.

The idea that has been floating around mental therapists and religious teachers for many years is forgiveness. An old saying tells us to “forgive and forget.” It’s easy to say I forgive this person for doing that to me or my loved one. But do we actually forgive? Forgiving means to release the pain and begin to feel kindly toward the person who has injured us. That’s a tough job. From my own experience I’ll say that it’s almost impossible to forget. We may forget what E=mc2 means but we never forget an insult or other situations that cause us pain.

Recently a friend told me about a better way to release old pain. That is to thank the person for the role he or she played in your life because it affected who you are today. That may not be possible or safe to pursue. An easier and safer way is to write that person a letter pouring out your feelings while acknowledging the way that person’s actions made you a better person. How is that possible? Perhaps a person telling you repeatedly that you were stupid made you determined to prove them wrong. Maybe it encouraged you to pursue higher education or get a job requiring excellent mental skills.

I can hear you saying, “I wouldn’t dare send a letter thanking ____ for what he/she did. That would put me in danger or at the least bring their ire raining down on me.” Only mail the letter if you feel 100% safe. You don’t have to mail the letter. Just writing out the facts and feelings is releasing the old “stuff.” You can burn the letter allowing the pain to float to the clouds with the smoke. You can tear the letter to bits and send it to the landfill with the rest of your trash or release it to a river to float out to the sea.

A quicker method my friend suggested is to picture the offending person in your mind and mentally or verbally thank them for making you the person you have become. Either method is incredibly freeing. If you do this choosing to be free of the old pain, you will be.

Spirit,

Thank you for teaching us that we don’t have to carry the weight of old and new pains. We can release ourselves from this burden by thanking the offender for the role they played in our lives. We know that you will transmute the pain to feelings of freedom. We know and trust that this is so for each of us, no matter our situation.

And, so it is.

* A Window of Wisdom 1007, January 6, 2016, https://awindowofwisdom.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/window-1007-hidden-triggers/

© by Sharon D. Dillon, January 15, 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.

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.

Express your gratitude

Thoughts to Ponder – May 17, 2015

“The art of acceptance is the art of making someone who
has done you a small favor wish that he might have done you a greater one.”
Russel Lynes1

Gratitude is not just to be felt, but also to be expressed. Too often we feel grateful for someone who has done something nice for us, but we often do not express our gratitude. We say, “Thanks” or “Ok, nice” and let it go at that. Yet when we do something nice for others, we hope that they will express their thanks in a more effusive manner, such as, “Oh, what a wonderful thing you did. I really appreciate your hard work.”

Often this happens because of the way we were raised. Erma Bombeck once wrote, “I’m going to call my dad to tell him I love him – and listen to him say, ‘This call is costing you a fortune’ and hang up.”2 My parents grew up during the Depression when people had very little money to buy gifts. As a result when they received a gift or kindness, they often questioned the giver’s ability to provide that gift. For example, my mother would usually say something like, “This is pretty, but it costs too much,” not quite as curt as Erma Bombeck’s dad, but the words still hurt.

Six or seven years ago, I felt so frustrated that I said, “Mom, you take all the fun out of giving.”  She responded, “My friend recently told me that I take the blessing out of giving.” I replied that her friend was right. Mom became somewhat more expressive of her gratitude after that.

An excellent example of this happened when I was in high school. My church’s youth group planned a spring break trip to New York City. I saved up as much money as I could and my parents added the rest even though it stretched their budget to the limit. A few days before the trip my geometry teacher asked me to stay after class. My imagination saw all sorts of terrible situations. When class was over I reluctantly made my way to her desk only to learn that she was gifting me with $20 to spend however I wished on the trip. While on the trip, I budgeted carefully, did not spend the $20 and purchased a $1 or $2 souvenir for her to express my gratitude. My parents congratulated me on my frugality.

On my first day back to school I presented the teacher with the trinket and she thanked me. Pleased with her gratitude, I gave her the $20 and told her I didn’t need it. With a sad face, she responded, “I know you didn’t need it, but I wanted you to enjoy yourself a little more than your budget would allow.” I didn’t understand the impact of returning the money until much later. I was an ungrateful receiver of her kindness. My pride had not let me spend her generous gift.

As I look back I realize how much I hurt her feelings and know that I cannot make amends since she has long since left earthly life. The only way I can repay her kindness is to do as Anne Morrow Lindbergh said, “One can never pay in gratitude; one can only pay ‘in kind’ somewhere else in life.”3

I ask my Guides to remind me more often of all that has been lovingly given and to pay it forward as often as I can.
And, so it is.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, May 17, 2015

1 Reader’s Digest 1954, listed in The New Penquin Dictionary of Modern Quotations
2 Treasury of  Women’s Quotations, pg 67, Carolyn Warner, Prentice Hall
Treasury of  Women’s Quotations, pg 144, Carolyn Warner, Prentice Hall

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

Thoughts to Ponder – November 30, 2014

“Losses are only devastating when you think they’re permanent.

They never are.”

Mike Dooley*

Grieving the loss of a loved one can be a short or long process, depending on how you look at the situation. I lost five family members before I allowed myself to grieve and learned the process wasn’t scary. This admittedly strange situation occurred because of the circumstances around their passing. The first four passed when they were suffering severe pain from their illnesses and longing to be free. Each time I celebrated their freedom from pain and misery.

The fifth was my son who had a massive heart attack. Nita, a dear friend, came to my rescue and told me to pull myself together. I had to tell his sisters and prepare for the trip to Minnesota to claim his ashes and close his house. In the meantime she stayed with me, made phone calls, ran errands and encouraged me to keep moving forward.

Everything was accomplished and early the next morning my daughter and I began our three day drive to Minnesota. Because so much had to be done, I pushed grief out of my consciousness. I also knew that people only transition when they are ready, no matter what the circumstances.

The main thing I remember about that day was when the woman from Life Source called to obtain information about harvesting his organs. I answered the questions to the best of my ability, until she came to this question. “When your son travelled to Africa, did he have sex with a black man while there?” After catching my breath, I responded. “That’s not something a man tells his mother.”

Last December the grief of all five losses came to the forefront. I went to work and did what needed to be done, otherwise I allowed myself to feel my loss, but not wallow in it. About four months later life called me back to the present. All these words are an introduction to my story.

Recently I received yet another invitation to travel to Minnesota to a gathering of organ/tissue donor families. I talked it over with my daughters. They said, “Mom, the purpose of this trip is not to relive the loss but to reconnect with Linda (Dan’s partner). You’ve been friends for many years and have not seen her since that awful trip to Minnesota three years ago.”

I flew to Madison, WI where Linda picked me up and hosted me at her home. The next day we celebrated Kathleen’s birthday – a wonderful reunion. We drove around Watertown, where she lived, so I could reacquaint myself with my old stomping grounds and see how that sleepy little town had grown into a small metropolis.

We drove to Chaska, Minnesota and explored that beautiful city. The people were friendly and the food delicious. All the while I was freezing my “you know what” in the near zero temperatures, snow and wind. I had just left 50-60 degree weather.

The reunion was held in the University of Minnesota Arboretum. The keynote speaker, a beautiful young woman, played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes as she entered. She then told us that she was a double lung recipient; Amazing Grace, indeed.

Four hundred people participated. Several shared their stories. I was struck by how many spoke of their family members as being “dead.” A brave little girl (I estimate sixth grade) talked about finding her unresponsive father on the floor only six weeks before. A young woman talked about losing her baby at 11 weeks. She ended by saying, “This shows you can help another whether you are 11 weeks old or 66.” I gasped. Does this mean I’m too old to donate?

We lit candles in memory of our loved ones and took our donor’s candle home. We also received hand-blown glass hearts. Life Source had collected photos of the donors and presented a slide show. By watching the donor faces I learned that I’m not too old to donate any useable parts.

I end with this plea. Please enroll with a donor registry service and carry the card in your wallet. I’m registered with U.S. Living Will Registry. The paperwork was handled by my local hospital.

 Spirit,

 Thank you for this beautiful experience. Each loss gave the gift of life to a suffering person. I thank you for the opportunity to connect with three dear friends. These events reminded me to be more grateful for my family and friends who are still with me. Even the cold and snow reminded me to be grateful for the mild temperatures where I live.

And so it is.

 *This quote is taken from Dooley’s book, The top ten things dead people want to tell YOU, 2014, Hay House USA.

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net and Laugh your way to peace, love and joy at 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