GRATITUDE 

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Today is a day for me to give some special thanks and gratitude to two very special women in my life. Yesterday I had my annual physical here in Michigan and it really pleased both my doctor and me. Better blood pressure, chlorestrol, and a good feeling that I am feeling much better and stronger. For several years Tammy Jager had been encouraging me to get a walker or some such thing because I was having trouble taking long walks. I resisted her mightily for a long time due to my pride and foolishness. But this winter another voice joined the chorus, Debra Rider, and I began to realize that they only had my best interests at heart. So I broke down, bought a red Rollerator, started walking each day, and now I walk 25 minutes at a time.  I met new friends while I was in Florida, and found that there are lots of us who can use a little help.  And I love it because it has brought me freedom. I don’t need it at home, thank goodness.  I heap praise upon my husband, Bob Rider, who always tags along with me.

But it gives me great pleasure to give kudos to Debra and Tammy whom I love, especially because they didn’t give up on me.  I owe them for many special things in my life, but this one deserves a special thank you.

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OUR FRIEND VERNA THORNTON

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hearts_sSometimes  we have to smile  at our memories, be thankful that we had our friends as long as we did, and look for the words that express how we feel about them. Verna Thornton was probably the first friend that I made after I moved to Florida and discovered the Creative Writers Club at Betmar Acres. One of the original founders, she was an enthusiastic member that almost always showed up on Monday morning. As our facilitator she guided us in our writing, suggesting many subjects that she felt we would be interested in. As a poet, she excelled, and she and I felt a kinship from the very first time that I went. I was so impressed by the way her words could always make me see a picture in my mind. She just had a way with descriptive words that could make you laugh or cry or remember something in your own life.

Verna has gone on beyond us this week. She hadn’t been well after a bad fall a month ago, and we had missed her at our group meetings. I talked to her a few days ago and she was very determined to get better so that she could attend again in November. She lived alone, after having taken care of an ailing husband for many years. When I got the phone call I was shocked because I hadn’t expected it.

I found this poem written by Verna in our annual book put out by our group this spring, and am printing it to show you how she felt about moving on from us.

FLYING FLOWERS

I was just a little child

And watched the pansies die.

Grandma tried to comfort me

As I began to cry.

Then she sat me on her lap.

She hugged me close and said,

“Pansies droop and petals fall,

But they’re not really dead.

Notice how the butterflies

Have colors bright and gay.

They are wilted pansies, dear,

The ones that got away.”

Now, my pansy bed is filled

With deep exotic hues,

Yellow, purple, rust and bronze,

Mahogany and blues.

Vibrant colors, trimmed with black,

Their scent is everywhere,

Sunshine yellow on them all,

Their fragrance fills the air.

Rippled by the summer breeze,

They’re nodding in the sun,

A dark and somber little face

Peers out from every one.

Wistfully, they try to speak,

And each one seems to say,

“How much longer will it be

Before I fly away?

I’m bound to earth by stem and roots

My days are passing by.

How much longer must I wait

To be a butterfly?”

Today our Verna is a beautiful, shining butterfly, so watch for her wherever you go.

BACK HOME AGAIN

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IMG_0855One of the first things I look for when we drive into our driveway is  the beautiful forsythia bush.  It is about the first thing that blooms in our yard every spring and it seems to send a welcoming signal that it is glad we arrived home safely.     After a long ride north making the transition from hot weather to cool we are just thankful that we have made it once again.  Walking into the house and checking everything out, I am really glad that I left it looking great, everything put into its place and no heavy housekeeping to do.

Because of course now comes the fun part. Unloading the car, hauling it all in, and now it must all be put away in its place. Just the opposite of when we packed it all down south, now we must do the unpacking. But one thing I have learned,  I don’t have to do it all the very first day. There are plenty of other things to do. The batteries seem to have given out on the television remote. The clocks are all flashing, plus the stove and microwave. I know this means the electric went out, probably in a storm. There is no food in the frig and so I start my big grocery list right away. The water must be turned on and adjustments made to the thermostat.  Of course I must make sure the wi-fi is working.

Going on an extended trip is a wonderful thing. Coming back seems to be even better.  The birds are starting to find the feeder. Looking out at our beautiful green yard we can see the raking ahead of us. But there is no doubt, looking at the waiting bed is starting to look better and better. It has been a very long day.

Ah, it is so good to be back home and looking forward to the holiday with family this year. Tomorrow is another day, or maybe even Monday or Tuesday.

In the fall the cycle will begin again, and we will start the list making and the packing. We will be looking forward to a warm sunny winter with old friends and new.  The time will fly by until the siren call of Michigan beckons us again.  Two wonderful seasons and it is almost impossible to choose one over the other.  We just count our blessings, and name them one by one.

WALKING UNDER A FULL MOON

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imageSilvery full moon shining down upon us

The darkening sky is almost free of clouds

The streets seem more quiet tonight

I feel a great change coming on.

It is cooler tonight than normal

A change in the weather has come upon us.

I see there are fewer cars driving about.

Many of the driveways seem to be empty

The annual trek to the north has begun.

The siren call of warm sunny summers in other homes is upon us.

Altho many people will leave many others will stay.

This is their home.

They relish the quiet which will descend upon the park.

Looking ahead I see a fellow walker coming.

She is pushing a cart just like I am.

But her cart is filled, filled with Buster and Sophia,

Approaching us she brings the little dogs to be petted.

Their little bodies squirming with delight,

Waiting for my friendly hands to give them a rub.

This is what our park is about.

Neighbors greeting neighbors, exchanging their states of origin.

Our friendly walker wishes us safe travels.

We smile and say goodnight

But we know that next fall

Back to our park we will come,

Back to our friends in the south,

Back to our walks every evening

Back to our new friends, Buster and Sophia,

Hoping we will meet again under a silvery full moon.

Bon Voyage.

MAKING AND BREAKING HABITS ALL AT THE SAME TIME

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2007 Panasonic June 020Whenever we look around for a subject that we know almost everyone has a story to tell about, it is easy to find the word “Habits.” Something that we all seem to have in our vocabulary, some good that we want to improve on, and some that we wish we could bury under a rock somewhere, never to be seen again. Habits seem to have a way of sneaking up on us when we have not even realized that they are part of our daily living. We moan and groan about the less desirable ones like smoking, overeating, laziness, and so on, but what about the other ones? You know, the ones that our spouses seem to complain about, like telling all the old stories we’ve heard a hundred times before, and all that stuff. Or maybe we have just gotten into the habit of only going to a certain restaurant, or driving on a certain road no matter how many different ways to drive exist.

In our inner minds there is usually a rumbling of a war going on between the good habits we want to establish, and the others we want to change. Sometimes one side wins, but it seems like the other side just never gives up trying to put their viewpoint into our everyday thoughts.

Right now I am being besieged by a war of my own making, you might say. Because of back and balance issues I finally gave in and bought the bright red walker of my dreams a month ago. I hadn’t been able to walk easily for some time, and so I was determined to break my old habits and start walking with it each day.  Good news. After a month I am now walking half a mile almost every night here in the park and I am really enjoying it. It is getting easier as I go and we have been meeting lots of other walkers also. Now to the other habit. Having decided that I was going to improve my life and my health, I then decided that I was going to break an old habit, the one where I usually had a snack before bedtime, and I have had that habit for more years than I can count. I’m talking major snacks, like ice cream, or maybe a leftover piece of pie, or something of that nature. So I started that about 10 days ago.

Now which do you think is easier? To make the new habit of walking almost every day, or to cut out the old habit of snacks before bedtime? It is too early to tell for sure, I think, since I figure that I must practice both for at least a month before I can tell. The mind is a curious thing, it tells us more than we want to hear, sometimes..

As I do my walking, which is going fine, and as I don’t go near the kitchen at night, which so far is also doing okay, I am left with the age old question.

Is it harder to make a good new habit or easier to succumb to the older one? Time will tell.