“Rabbit, Rabbit!”

Whenever the end of the month approached, my mother would always tell me to say “rabbit, rabbit” on the morning of the first day of the month. Why? She claimed it brought good luck all through the month. Ever since, I’ve made it my habit to do this. Sometimes I am up late enough at night so that I can see the new month come in and welcome it with “rabbit, rabbit.” Then I can go to sleep knowing I will have a good 30/31 (or, if it’s leap year, 29) days.

How could it hurt? It’s become such an ingrained habit that I thought I would share it with all of you. Also, I did a bit of research on the subject, and found this:

From http://geyserofawesome.com/, Archie McPhee’s Geyser of Awesome comes this explanation:

“Rabbit rabbit” is a common British superstition. The most common modern version states that a person should say “rabbit, rabbit, white rabbit”, “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit”, “rabbits, rabbits, rabbits”, “rabbit, rabbit” or simply “white rabbits” upon waking on the first day of each new month, and on doing so will receive good luck for the duration of that month.

The exact origin of the superstition is unknown, though it has appeared in print at least as early as 1922:

“Why,” the man in the brown hat laughed at him, “I thought everybody knew ’Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.’ If you say ‘Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit’—three times, just like that—first thing in the morning on the first of the month, even before you say your prayers, you’ll get a present before the end of the month.”

However, some reports place its origins even earlier, into the 1800s. Today it has spread to most of the English-speaking countries of the world, although, like all folklore, determining its exact area of distribution is difficult. This superstition is related to the broader belief in the rabbit or hare being a “lucky” animal, as exhibited in the practice of carrying a rabbit’s foot for luck. Some have also believed it represents jumping into the future and moving ahead with life and happiness.”

Since it costs nothing and brings much, why not do it? Please know that I will be saying this either at midnight tonight or first thing tomorrow morning on August 1. Much good luck to us all!

Bunny, Rabbit, Grass, Green, Brown

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.

Our Share of Faith and Abundance

No, I don’t mean necessarily faith in God or whatever deity you choose; I mean faith that the right things will happen at the right time. This might not be our preference; generally we want what we want, and we want it NOW. I have always tended to get panicked over things I can’t control, but over the years I have learned that this doesn’t make things happen any faster. In fact, panicking can slow everything down to a crawl.

I could name many instances in my life where I have hobbled myself with worry and things turned out fine. I cringe when I think of how much time I wasted in my life so far in worrying and fretting; it does nothing but make you feel terrible.

So, here’s what I’ve learned—the hard way—have some faith that things are working as they should. For me, nothing is scarier than running out of money. Or, shall I say, I used to be scared of running out of money; now I am not. Why? Because I know that the right things will happen at the right time, including having money.

Oh, I don’t mean that money falls from the sky like rain; I mean that doing the right things, staying positive and refusing to worry does bring abundance. It may not come exactly when you want it, but it does come.

Here’s how it works: believe in the best outcome, and it will happen. Believe in the worst outcome; that, too, will happen. Why? Because where thoughts and intent (and worry) goes, energy follows. Energy is a real, proven and present force in and around us, and we are affected by it either negatively or positively.

Here’s my favorite bit from “Outrageous Openness,” by the wonderful Tosha Silver (do yourself a huge favor and buy yourself a copy!):

“So, give some things away.

Pay for some friends’ meals.

Do whatever it takes to feel prosperous

despite current appearances.

And never, ever say you’re broke.

If you dwell in the vibration of fear, doubt, and constriction

that you will undoubtedly attract.

If you insist you never have enough,

the world will heartily agree.

But if you let yourself be

what you think you need,

one way or another,

it will come.”

(I caution you to remember to “never, ever say you’re broke,” too!)

The Universe, God, the Divine, whatever you call may wish to call it, is on all our sides. It wants us to be happy, to be joyous, to be fulfilled, to have everything we need. Picture whatever deity you like holding an enormous laundry basket full of abundance, and plenty of it for us all. As he/she walks along with us or above us, little bits of abundance fall out of the basket and onto us.

These are little ‘gifts’ that come out of seemingly nowhere. That’s why you find a five dollar bill, meet the right person, see that the fabulous teal shoes you crave are now priced at 50% off, find that lost earring you thought was gone forever, etc.—all part of your share of abundance.

But when you ask for abundance, or, better yet—say out loud that you are thankful for the abundance you haven’t even received yet, well—then he/she is tickled to pieces to throw as much of it as possible your way.

Whatever your personal beliefs are, here are mine: we don’t walk alone in this world. We are surrounded by divine love, angels; some who have been with us since before we were born—the spirits of those who have passed on before us and who lovingly and happily help us on our path through our time on Earth. All those loving and benign spirits want us to be happy.

Let’s just talk about lack of anything; time, money, love, friendship, a job, etc. Believe it—everything you want is within your grasp; simply act “as if.” This means if you’re stressed-out crazy busy, keep thinking, ‘I have plenty of time.’ If you’re down to your last dime, keep thinking, ‘I have lots of money.’ If you want to meet the love of your life, keep saying, ‘the right person will appear at the right time.’

These suggestions are to keep you positive and open to what you want—and, best of all, takes your mind away from worry. Certainly we have to work for what we want, not wait for it to drop in our laps. But being positive and relaxed and projecting what you want is the first step. The truest statement I ever heard was ‘you never know what’s around the next corner.’

Can we not believe that there is something good around that corner for us all?

 

 

Teaching and Learning

From the moment I realized that I could read, I wanted to shout to the skies for the whole world to hear: “I can read! I can READ!!” Up until that time, my mother and my grandmother read to me, and, while I still loved that, I longed to read on my own. Books were my passion, and just as soon as she could, Mom got me a library card. From then on, my world expanded.

When I was in grade school and then high school, English classes were my favorites. I wrote stories and poems and haikus; plus I experimented with writing styles from my favorite authors; Stephen Crane, Robert Frost, Edgar Allen Poe and others. Over time I developed my own style of writing.

I decided to go to a teaching college to get my degree. My goal was to teach English and turn the hearts and minds of students to the magnificence of reading, writing, poetry, grammar, perfect sentence structure, style, etc. All I could think about was how much I loved it all and wanted young minds to love it, too.

Back then, if you were going for a teaching degree, you didn’t get to “student teach” until you were in your senior year. Although my focus was on teaching high school students, my student teaching was directed toward junior high (or what they now call ‘middle school’) students.

Well—let’s just say that the most I did during my student teaching was to bore the pants off my students. I also made the classic rookie mistake of trying to be their friend. The only bright spot I remember from it all was the time I asked them to write a Halloween short story. After all the moaning and groaning ended and my student teacher adviser in the back row of the classroom rolled her eyes, they got down to it. I took their stories back to my dorm room to read and correct that evening.

All except one were pretty average, mostly based on horror movies they had seen. But one boy’s story got my attention. This boy barely looked up during my classes, and only rarely contributed a word or two. But his horror story delighted me and made me laugh. He had written about an innocent snow tire in his father’s garage. When the moon was full, it grew studs and tore around the neighborhood, running over people.

To this day, it makes me laugh. I gave the kid an ‘A’ for creativity. I will never forget the surprise and shy delight in his eyes when I handed him back his story.

Student teaching taught me that school was not my favorite place, and that I didn’t enjoy teaching English at all. I found that you can’t always fire up enthusiasm for subjects you personally adore, but others don’t. But my teaching degree opened doors for me for jobs I liked. Gradually, I became a technical writer, and all the things I’d learned in college clicked into place.

Along the way, I took up Tae Kwon Do for exercise, and to my surprise, I found I adored it. For three and a half years, I sweated, kicked, punched and learned holds and moves to counteract attacks. Although this was a ‘non-contact’ school, I still got plenty of bumps and bruises. I finally attained my first black belt, and later on received my second, third and fourth degree black belts.

Two other women and I started a school and instructed together. I discovered that I absolutely loved this kind of teaching. Children and adults paid us to teach them; a far cry from the classrooms where no one appeared to listen or learn—they all wanted to be there. And it wasn’t about the money, either—I learned a teaching style that worked for me. If a student just couldn’t grasp a new move, I had to come up with a way to make them ‘get it.’ In my mind, the student wasn’t at fault; I was. So often I used different methods for different students, and it worked.

I taught Tae Kwon Do for ten years and loved it. I loved my students, and loved their progress. When they received their black belts they thanked me; I would tell them that I only showed them what to do: that they were the ones who actually did all the hard work.

So even though I went to college to obtain a teaching degree, I got much more from it than becoming a school teacher. I learned more about myself and how I operate in the world; most of all, everything I learned I found I could apply to life itself. In teaching, you must learn to be clear, understandable, approachable and most of all, flexible. Even though my student teaching experience was a disaster, I learned from it.

Best of all, I found that teaching benefits both teacher and student. As an added plus, the experience enriched my life in more ways than I can count today. I treasure all the classes I took in college, all the frustration of student teaching, and all the satisfaction of watching a shy child work hard to obtain a new rank in karate.

The truth is, you can be the kind of teacher who teaches the same things in the same way for years and years. Or you can be the kind of teacher who grows and changes, keeps their mind open, learns what works and what doesn’t, and most of all, is flexible.

It’s like the old oak and willow story; you can be as strong and unmoving as an oak tree, or as whippy and flexible as a willow tree. But when the high and damaging winds come, the oak may break and fall. The willow will not because it has learned how to bend.