The Land of Oblivion

When we enter an airport, something happens. Perhaps the “something” has to do with leaving behind a mundane existence to enter into something more exciting or more important. Regardless of what the “something” is or what is behind the “something,” we enter into the land of oblivion.

You know what I’m talking about. Someone disembarks the airplane and stops. Meanwhile all the other passengers bottleneck behind him/her.

Or you’re trying to walk on one of those moving conveyor floors (which I love!), but travelers with big, bulky luggage trap you behind their immobile bodies. Your speedy pace, which you were quite invigorated by, comes to a sudden and frustrating halt––conveyor belt etiquette clearly ignored.

And you can actually be on a photo shoot at Orlando International Airport, directing photos of your subject, when tourists enter into the photo shoot and ask said subject if she can take photos of them. Not just one photo, but multiple photos from multiple angles. Meanwhile, your hired photographer patiently waits his turn.

Oblivion.

Be aware because it attacks when you least expect it, most especially at an airport.

Get the picture?

Orange Candy and A Very Cute Puppy

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I just got back from Kansas City and worked three days with the talented folks at Springboard Creative who are overseeing the graphic design of my book. I had a great time hanging out with Young Kevin (on the left), Miranda with baby Ollie, and Old Kevin (on the right). I can call Old Kevin old because I worked with him in college, which means if he’s old, I’m a little old myself, and therefore we can be old together, although I don’t think either of us acts very old. Anyway, he owns Springboard Creative and manages some really cool projects around the Kansas City area, as well as teaches graphic design across the country. I love his slogan: Continue reading

Small Town Hospitality: Edgerton, MO

So here’s another story I found in my draft archives. Apparently I never posted it for anyone to see. I thought it was worthy enough though, to send out to my little piece of the World Wide Web, considering what happened to me yesterday.

When I graduated from high school back in the ’80s, I was more-than-happy to move from small town America to a bigger small town for college, and eventually onto urban life. Country living was too narrow and well . . . just too small for my big self.

That is until a few years ago.

During my visits back home, I began to notice (and appreciate) a common thread between the rural idiosyncrasies. It was a trait that country folks seem to be born with. One that’s always there––easily and naturally assessable. It’s the quality of extending a helping hand.

I was reminded of this trait two times recently.

The first time was when I called the front desk of the hotel where I was staying during vacation to ask about the restaurant menu. The restaurant was literally part of the lobby space and a few steps from the front desk. So when I was told, “You can come down (my room was on the second floor) and find out for yourself,” you can imagine my shock. What? I thought. Surely I misunderstood him. He really doesn’t mean that I should find out for myself when he can ask the waitress, from where he’s standing, what the soup of the day is. 

The second time happened when a friend, her 70-something mother-in-law, and I were all struggling to move a table down a flight of steps, supporting its weight on the rails, while a very capable man generously stepped aside to watch us. Really!!? we all thought, later verbalizing our thoughts in so many words as we lugged the table to my friend’s pickup truck.

My hometown might not have a lot of things, but what it does have is a bunch of people who watch over my widowed mother, farmers who plow snow-laden driveways for neighbors in the winter, people who gladly give from their gardens in the summer, women who always cook meals for those in need, and plenty who would go out of their way to find out what the soup of the day is, but who would never in a million years step out of the way to watch others struggle down a flight of steps with a table.

This quality of lending a helping hand smacked me in the face yesterday after passing a distressed smoke-filled vehicle. My conscience spoke, “Maybe we should stop, someone could be passed out inside.” Followed by my devil’s advocate, “Surely one of those other cars will stop. They’re passing by on that side.”

We reluctantly turned around. And it’s a good thing we did.

Nobody had stopped.

Shortly after we pulled up, a 16-year-old driver walked back to the vehicle after trying to get help, not realizing that his parents’ SUV was now filled with smoke and catching on fire. I called 9-1-1 while the 16-year-old went to a nearby house where a nice man came out with a fire extinguisher. A few minutes later the local firemen arrived.

I imagined my sons at 16, new drivers, in a distressed vehicle, needing assistance, and was so thankful my small-town roots got the best of me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living with Loons

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Loon photo by my good friend, Susan Kranz. 

Just got back from the Adirondacks in Old Forge, NY. I spent the week at David Hazard’s writing Sojourn. It’s so hard to come back from listening to loons––the lake birds that would wake me with their looney conversations.

I love getting out of my little world. And entering into another. This past week, I spent time with an amazing group of diverse people, all trying to capture stories, all so different, yet somehow connected. Each of us facing hurdles, whether personal and/or professional. Each of us joining together in the name of our common ground: “I am a writer.”

I lived in the trees this past week. Breathed the fall, pumpkin air. And napped on the dock each afternoon, stretched out in that peace that passeth all understanding. I went with specific objectives in mind. I came home surpassing them.

Although I had hoped to launch my book by Fall, and although it won’t launch until early 2017 now, all is still good.

Very very good.

Stay tuned my looney friends as I’m gearing up for 2017.

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The Perils of Going Braless

 

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I don’t get to see my 97-year-old grandmother that often. She lives in Missouri. I live in Florida. When I see her though, she makes me laugh. You might remember a few previous blogs about my beautiful grandma. Here’s another one after my son, Jeffrey, and I spent some time with her. Enjoy.

Apparently my grandma got stuck in her closet recently and put a hole in the wall trying to get out with her motorized wheelchair. That was the least of her problems though. She also got her bra wrapped around her wheel.

Now, I couldn’t help but ask, “Grandma, why weren’t you wearing your bra?”

In which she replied, “I was trying to take it off at the same time I was operating my chair.”

“You know Grandma, multi-tasking isn’t always good,” I said.

To make matters worse, when she pushed her button for help, a young male nurse came to her rescue. OMG, I could not stop laughing. These assisted living homes are never short of stories.

Moral of this story: If you’re trying to come out of the closet make sure you’re wearing a bra.

 

The Center of Self: a place of dignity

Excerpt from the book I’m working on: Momentous Health, shaping a better world through a better self. Due out October 2016. This passage gives a glimpse into my trip to La Paz, Honduras over Thanksgiving 2013, where I visited the Children of Love Foundation.

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A line meandered down the dirt road outside the chapel. Little hands grasped the wrought-iron gate as children’s dirty faces peered through, patiently waiting to get in. The chapel was simple––one large rectangular room, red brick walls, arched windows on each side that allowed light and fresh air to enter. Center front, beneath the peak of the tin roof, more light filtered through a lead-glass cross inserted into the wall. Its t-shaped reflection rested below on the shiny linoleum floor.

As I peeled the little boy’s soiled socks from his feet, I held my breath, focusing on not throwing up. The smell was overbearing, like getting a whiff of an overused Porta Potty on a sweltering day. This might have been the first time this child had had his feet washed in weeks.

I dipped a plastic container in a bucket, retrieved some cool clear water, and slowly poured it over the boy’s feet. The water dripped down his ankles, between toes and ragged nails, and into a second bucket below, the water now as murky as the reasons to why I was in this third-world country. How will shoes help where poverty affects 60 percent of the population? [1] I wondered, as I dipped the container into the fresh water again and again. The boy remained still, his little face unsure of how to respond to this cleansing. After finally washing away the grime, I dried the boy’s feet with a towel, then slipped new socks and proper-fitting shoes upon his now clean feet. He smiled. I smiled. We parted with a hug––language we both understood.

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[1] http://www.ruralpovertyportal.org/country/home/tags/honduras

A Soulful Sojourn

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I recently returned from a writing retreat in Old Forge, NY, in the midst of the Adirondacks. I hadn’t experienced this part of our country before. So serene and so beautiful. Nothing like a good ol’ outdoor sabbatical to get your soul moving. I captured this sunrise after hiking up a small mountain with my new friends Susan and Ray. The white stuff that looks like snow is actually fog lingering above the lake.

We paused on top of a rock, looking out at this splendor. And breathed.

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Speaking of breathing, just as breathtaking were the loons. These amazing birds are excellent swimmers, divers, and even fliers. They typically go on land only to mate and incubate eggs. Later, they carry their babies on their backs to keep them warm. What’s most fascinating I think though, is these duck-like birds communicate across the lake waters with their eerie language. We would sit on the dock at night and catch their conversations. Take a listen and experience a piece of my soulful sojourn. Thank you Susan Kranz for your beautiful loon photography.

How NOT to be a Tourist

“This is the difference between being a tourist and a pilgrim. A tourist has new experiences, but remains the same person. A pilgrim experiences new places and is transformed by them.”

I’m still exploring The Soul of a Pilgrim by Christine Valters Paintner and enjoying every bit, every page, every piece of the journey. According to Paintner in “Invite Wonder,” every day can be a pilgrimage.

What if scrubbing the dishes became an act of single reverence for the gift of being washed clean, and what if the rhythmic percussion of chopping carrots became the drumbeat of your dance?

What if you stepped into the shower each morning only to be baptized anew and sent forth to serve the grocery bagger, the bank teller, and the bus driver through simple kindness?

And what if the things that make your heart dizzy with delight were no longer stuffed into the basement of your being and allowed out to play in the lush and green fields?

There are two ways to live in this world:

As if everything were enchanted or nothing at all.