Ah, Change!

Change is hard, no getting around it. Oh, how we would love to just stay as we are and not have to face the changes in life! It starts early on, too. When major changes come into our lives as children, they affect us profoundly.

We have a new granddaughter who will soon be four months old. Her big sister, Ava, at five years old, has been a major player in getting things ready for the new baby, helping Mom and Dad, and just generally being in love with the idea of having a sister.

All well and good until the baby came home. While her parents had always made Ava an integral part of the preparations, having an actual baby in the house was perhaps not what she had envisioned. While Ava was (and is) a spectacular big sister, fetching clean diapers, blankets, etc., it was a life-changer for her.

Sometimes she cries, ‘my mom isn’t paying attention to me!’ It is always kindly explained to her that the baby isn’t a big girl like her who can do things for herself. That in fact, when Ava was a baby, she received the same love and attention. But isn’t this like us all?

Don’t we all want all the attention and love there is for us? Don’t we want things to stay the same? And doesn’t it upset us when there is major change? No amount of crying, stamping our feet or howling at the moon will change this fact: Things. Will. Change.

Change is and will always be part of our lives. We don’t have to like it, but it makes life a lot easier when we come to accept it. Often it’s hard to see the good in the change; we are so busy being uncomfortable and irritated by it that it takes us time to accept it and see its benefits.

In looking back over my own life, I can now see that the changes I went through (or suffered through) were in fact for my benefit. I won’t bore you with each and every one of them, but I can say truthfully that each change made me better and set my feet more firmly on a good path, that is; the right path for me.

When I was married to my first husband, I realized quite early that this man was not who I thought he was. The evidence for that had been clear to see right from the beginning, but I was 36 and thought it was ‘time’ I got married. I conveniently overlooked a lot. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say it was not a match made in Heaven.

Ten years later when the divorce went as smoothly as anything of this nature does, I felt like a tossed salad of emotions: angry, sad, hurt, furious, lonely, stupid and scared. I had a great deal of emotional support from my parents and close friends, which started me on a way to recover.

When I finished beating myself up for what I felt was a huge and messy mistake, I forgave myself (eventually). When I started to move on, I began to see my lost marriage for what it had been: the wrong people at the wrong time. Had I stayed in that mess, I wouldn’t be who I am today, or being with the completely right person for me, my much-loved Crankee Yankee.

Change comes at its own time, like it or not. While change can be uncomfortable, it ‘grows’ us in a direction we might not have taken if left on our own. One of my biggest changes to date was losing my mother to cancer last December. One of the sturdy posts holding up my life came crashing down, and I felt off-balance, adrift, and unanchored. It was as if the North Star had suddenly winked out, never to be seen again.

Death, too, is a change. It is a transition from what was to what is. While that dearly loved person is not with us in physical form, you can bet your last dollar that that person is near us in spirit. While we may grieve our own way and in our own time, there is a level to it that tells us that it is ok to go on living.

It’s ok to laugh at a good joke, feel the sun on our faces and smile, have lunch with friends, let in the sheer goodness of our own life and breath. None of this takes away from the one we loved and still do love.

I can hear my mother’s voice as clear as day: “snap it up and move on, already! I’ll see you later on. Move it!” As usual, she is right. Evidently, my mom’s inherent bossiness does NOT change!

Change comes to us all, so embrace it for what it is, move on and keep your eyes and hearts open to miracles. They are all around us.

 

Ever Wonder Why We Have Two Ears and Only One Mouth?

I’m the first to admit that I’m no genius when it comes to technology. Oh, I can get along well enough on my computer and cell phone (a Tracfone flip phone with no Internet access), and I use Word for my writing. I’ve never texted anyone in my life, I don’t do social media, and I couldn’t tell you what in the world a “ping” is.

However, I’d like to think that I am pretty clear when I am buying a specific item for my computer, or, in this case, my camera. I had dropped our 10 year old camera on the floor and killed it. So my dad kindly gave me Mom’s little Canon camera. Great–I love it, it works beautifully and takes great pictures. Dad gave me all the manuals and the charger, but no USB cord (they might have chucked it early on since they never had a computer).

Since I am in the process of resurrecting my Etsy store (once “janesjools4u,” but now “FolieEDeux4u”), I want to take pictures of my new jewelry line and post them on the site. For this, I needed a USB cable that fit the camera. So I went to WallyWorld to buy one.

A young salesgirl asked if she could help me, and I told her what I needed, and showed her the camera. She immediately went into Millennial TechSpeak and told me about a memory stick and how much cheaper and faster they are and explained how to download, etc. I explained that I already knew how to download. Besides, I’m used to USB cables, and know from experience that memory sticks and flash drives can crap out with no warning, and everything you put on there is GONE.

I listened politely, and then asked again where the USB cables were. She sighed heavily (no doubt from having to work with old dodos like me), and showed me the cable AND the memory stick. in a last ditch effort, she said, “You’ll save $5 if you buy the stick instead of the cable; that’s what I would do.”

‘Well,’ I thought, ‘you’re not me, and I want a dang USB cable.’ So I paid the extra $5 and got what I wanted. The girl sighed extravagantly and I thought, ‘oh, honey—I know you think you know it all; I did at your age, too.’

The best way to help someone is to listen. You may not agree with everything they say, but unless they ask for your opinion, it’s best to do this handy exercise while listening: keep your tongue pressed firmly against the roof of your mouth. After all, this alone is why we have two ears and one mouth.

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” ― *Julian of Norwich

How many times have I heard this quote! When I am experiencing trouble or worry, this quote is the refrain I keep in my mind. For me it means that our lives and all we do (or don’t do) in them are all under the loving eye of <insert whatever deity is your own here>; that ultimately, all is well.

When the waves are so high that we cannot see the shore, we have to believe that it is there, and that we will reach it. When there are so many boulders in our path that we can’t see our way over, around or through, there is a passage; we just have to look or it. When all and everyone seems to desert us, we aren’t alone—ever.

If we had the eyes and intelligence of an omnipotent being, we would see the world we live in as another spec of dust in the cosmos. But that omnipotent being still has love and understanding for us, and wants us to be happy. It sees all of us, not as a clump of humanity inhabiting this tiny spec of dust; but a living, breathing, intelligent organism that is precious and valued in its eyes.

These days when there are so many terrible disasters; both from mankind and from nature, we can feel helpless and hopeless. ‘What can I do about any of this?’ we cry. ‘There is too much fear and horror and sadness—how can we help?’

What we can do is to NOT let all of this fester inside us and make us scared, bitter or worried. Unless we are directly involved and can actually do something to help what has happened, here are some things that we can do:

  • If you know any of those directly affected, weep with them, put your arms around them, comfort them and be there for them. If you don’t know them, send them love and prayers.
  • Do not let yourself be overwhelmed in sorrow. When remembering those who have been injured or have died, picture them in your mind, surrounded by never-ending love and comfort.
  • If you yourself become overwhelmed with sorrow and pity, let your tears cleanse your pain; don’t hold back.
  • Do not dwell on what may happen next; it is not given to any of us to know that.
  • Be the best you that you can be. Don’t let these disasters make you bitter or fearful.

I’m sure that this is the corniest statement I’ve made since I began this blog, but I stand by it: don’t give up hope. Don’t give up on all of us living on this little ball of mud. For everything that is bad, there is far more good than we know. For everything that seems hopeless, there is still a lot of hope. For all those things that make us sad and worried, there are scores of people quietly doing good things.

When I am lying in bed, sleepless, my mind full of worry or sadness or fear or doubt, this is the mantra I keep in my head: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” Try it out for yourself. It is surprisingly upbeat and comforting.

*[From justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/154.html]

“The Lady Juliana was born about 1342, and when she was thirty years old, she became gravely ill and was expected to die. Then, on the seventh day, the medical crisis passed, and she had a series of fifteen visions, or “showings,” in which she was led to contemplate the Passion of Christ. These brought her great peace and joy.

She became an anchoress [or anchorite, a religious hermit], living in a small hut near to the church in Norwich, where she devoted the rest of her life to prayer and contemplation of the meaning of her visions. The results of her meditations she wrote in a book called Revelations of Divine Love, available in modern English in a Penguin Paperback edition.

During her lifetime, she became known as a counselor, whose advice combined spiritual insight with common sense, and many persons came to speak with her. Since her death, many more have found help in her writings.

….She describes seeing God holding a tiny thing in his hand, like a small brown nut, which seemed so fragile and insignificant that she wondered why it did not crumble before her eyes. She understood that the thing was the entire created universe, which is as nothing compared to its Creator, and she was told, ‘God made it, God loves it, God keeps it.'”

 

Bumps in the Road

Ever feel as if your life is a smooth, well-paved highway with plenty of room in all lanes for all traffic? Nope, me, either. We can count on many bumps in the road as we make our way through life. Some we can see coming in the distance; others trip us up unaware.

We can be as careful and as conscious of everything around us as possible, but the bumps will come, no matter what. However, I’ve found that every one of those bumps has taught me something. But this isn’t to say that I’ve been thrilled about them—far from it.

When I had a huge tear in my rotater cuff a few years ago, I had to wear a heavy and uncomfortable sling for a few weeks. This was after the neck surgery I had to have prior to the shoulder surgery, requiring me to wear a neck brace.

The pain was bearable afterwards, but the worst part was that I needed help with everything; and I do mean everything. Thank God for the Crankee Yankee. He helped me shower, potty, get dressed and just about everything a person needs when they don’t have the use of their dominant arm.

It drove me up the wall until I realized that I had badly needed this time to heal. More than that, I needed to slow down. When the Universe, God, Spirit, whatever, notices that you are not listening to their gentle hints that you should change your life, well, then—they will slow you down. I finally stopped fighting this particular bump, and life was a lot better. One bump = one lesson learned.

Right now my poor, sweet, dear Crankee Yankee has a bad case of shingles on the right side of his back, side and chest. Long story short, shingles is an painful and itchy rash that presents on one area of the body. You can have it with or without the rash; I had it years ago, located in my left shoulder. While I didn’t get the rash, I certainly had the pain; it felt like someone had stabbed me in the shoulder with an ice pick.

Even with the meds and daily and nightly applications of calamine lotion, he is not a happy camper. My heart breaks for him. It’s hard for him to get comfortable enough to sleep, and all this hot and humid weather we’ve been having here in New Hampshire hasn’t helped. However, the Crankee Yankee is the type of person who prefers to hole up and lay low until the illness has run its course. He is smart enough to realize that he needs to give in to the “bump.”

So it is what it is, and we are dealing with it. As with anything that is uncomfortable, painful, unexpected or inconvenient, we dealing with this new bump as well as we can. Plus the Crankee Yankee is a lot smarter and a lot less stubborn that I was.

Here’s the thing: we never know what’s coming down our particular path in life; good or bad. I’m fond of saying, ‘look for the good in whatever’s happening now,’ but it’s hard to apply that when someone you love is suffering. The best we can do is to just be there, apply whatever balm or sympathy we can give, and just love them through it.

The take-away on this particular bump in the road for me is this: be present, be kind and be aware of any needs not met. Patience helps, too. We have all had times where we can’t function on our own. That’s when our family and friends mean so much to us. Plus, it is a time to learn.

Just remember, those bumps in the road are ultimately for our good. It may not seem so at the time, but believe it; there will be a time when you will see that that bump was a learning experience you had to have in order to get to where you needed to go.

The Jews in their wry and wonderful  wisdom have an all-purpose word in Yiddish that describes this and many other like situations; “Oy!” or “vey iz mir,” which means “woe is to me.”

Oy, indeed….

 

There’s No Wrong Way to Do a Right Thing

I was driving past a church the other day, and the sign outside read, “There is no right way to do a wrong thing.” This got me thinking; that’s true—no amount of justification can make a bad thing good. So isn’t the converse true as well; that there is also no wrong way to do a right thing?

Think about it. Even if we do a good thing clumsily, it’s still a good thing.

When someone does something nice for you, be gracious and thank them–and ACCEPT it. A gift received is a gift to the giver. We may think that we are not worthy to receive it, but that giver thinks we are worthy.

I used to confuse an offer of kindness with a smile and a comment like, ‘oh, thank you so much for offering to pay for my lunch, but you don’t need to.” And there I would be, sitting there with exactly enough change to cover my tuna sandwich and a glass of water and a meager tip—-but by gosh I wasn’t going to let them pay for my lunch!

That’s just pride talking—trust me, I know pride. I used to have way too much of it, which made me blind to the fact that someone liked me and wanted do something nice for me.

That’s so sad and so unnecessary. This is another example of the Universe, the Divine, God, Spirit, the angels (pick whatever deity you choose) trying to give you something “just because.” Don’t take that joy from the giver; just accept the gift graciously and allow yourself to be glad about it. Accept that you ARE worthy of it.

When I am lucky enough to be able to do something for someone, it makes me happy to see them happy. Often we confuse this with the idea that the giver now thinks that they are somehow ‘better’ than us by doing this; a one-up, if you will. I have been a receiver and a giver, and in my opinion, both are great and equally satisfying. But being a giver now and then, able to give someone something with your whole heart, expecting nothing back; is absolutely wonderful.

Try to keep this mind the next time someone offers you a kindness. And while you’re thinking on that, please remember that I am also doing my best to do the same. Hopefully we will all come to realize that there truly is no wrong way to do a right thing.