A Burst Of Life

 

When the world seems drab, and life offers little hope, we need to refocus, look a little closer, a little deeper, and find some color around us.

In less than fortunate circumstances we can choose to look at the bright side of things. We can learn from the lesson before us. We can embrace life and allow love to encourage us.

In autumn when most plants have shriveled and called it a season, the toad lily comes to life. It takes courage to pop out when everyone says it’s over. How can we not help but smile at those speckled blooms of confidence?

We too can offer hope to those in despair. We can be an ear, a shoulder, a hug, or a voice to someone in need. We have the power to step in and the obligation to make the world a better place. We can love without question and show gratitude with acceptance. We can be the toad lily who blooms in the midst of a dying season.

Is Today The Day?

 

There will be days you won’t recognize the road before you.

There will be days you must walk in solitude.

There will be days the road calls your name.

There will be days you will see the letters of your name engraved in the stones.

There will be days when you can’t ignore the call of the road.

Those will be the days you must trust your feet and your heart.

There will be days you must face the world with courage.

There will be days the voice whispers to you.

There will be days the voice refuses silence.

There will be days the voice reveals secrets.

There will be days the voice shouts.

There will be days you must soothe the soul.

There will be days you must trust someone or something other than yourself.

There will be days you must trust yourself.

Those will be the days you must trust the voice.

Is today the day?

Moving Beyond Shallow Waters

From the high perch they view all below. They watch graceful strokes and look out for flailing arms and legs. They differentiate the doggie paddler from the experienced swimmer. They know who should or should not be hanging out in the deep end. They can tell if someone is barely treading water. They can detect a resting float from a drowning bob. They are on alert and tuned in to struggle. They sense danger immediately and attempt to rescue. Lifeguards carry heavy responsibility. They must have keen vision and quick response.

We each need a lifeguard to hold our head to the surface when we are choking. We need someone to lead us to the shore when we’re worn out. We need a reassuring life jacket when we brave the deep waters. We each need someone to be there when we need them. Most of us have a “go to” person. It might be a spouse, parent, or friend. And we often take turns “saving” one another.  The point is, life is much smoother swimming when we share the water with someone else. Who is your lifeguard? Who are the members of your swim team? Together we can learn to manage the waters with both courage and grace.

Charlotte’s First Annual Toy Drive

For those of you who read my post about my goddaughter Charlotte and her desire to brighten the Christmas holidays of children less fortunate, here’s a lovely followup post written about the success of the drive and Charlotte’s giving spirit. This is the link to the original post written by Jeff Toquinto.

ToquiNotes: A Much-Needed Dose of Humanity…Courtesy of a 4-Year-Old

By Jeff Toquinto on November 17, 2012

 

Just when I’m convinced that humanity has gone to heck in a hand basket, something gave me a reprieve. That reprieve, however, came from the most unlikely of sources.
For those who regularly visit Connect-Bridgeport, you probably already know about Charlotte Kirby. If not, you should.
You see, Charlotte is a relatively new resident in the city and decided that she would like to hold a toy drive to assist the homeless. And she did just that on Friday as hundreds of individuals who were homeless, on hard times or simply without enough money to provide gifts for their children at Christmas showed up at The Soup Opera in Fairmont, which provides daily meals for the needy.
Did I mention that Charlotte Kirby is at the ripe old age of four?
Think about if you can recall what you were doing at age four. My memory is pretty solid, but outside of wanting to play all day with my vast collection of Big Jim and G.I. Joe toys, I can honestly say charity and good will were not only at the bottom of my collective thought process, but was nowhere on it at all.
So where on earth would a child so young begin to come up with an idea that showed she cared so much? According to her mother Belynda, who moved here a little more than two years ago from Virginia, it started in the summer and the thought never went away.
“She started talking about it at the beginning of the summer that she wanted to do a toy sale or a yard sale for the homeless and she just kept talking about it over and over,” Belynda said. “We would just listen to her and move on or tell her that it wouldn’t work because the homeless didn’t have money to buy toys.”
The thought, however, didn’t go away. Eventually, mom decided that little Charlotte was very serious and that maybe a toy drive was what her daughter was thinking.
“We met with the Soup Opera and talked about doing this. (Charlotte) dressed up and even told them we were going to serve food,” mom said of the event proposal.
Yesterday, they did, in fact, serve food. Those that waited in the long line at The Soup Opera were treated to a helping of food, gifts and a refreshing helping of youthful humanity.
“It was absolutely the greatest joy to see her caring about others. She knows it’s not about her. I tear up several time times a day thinking about this,” Belynda said. “The big thing is that she’s the one who’s really getting so much from this. To watch her open up the boxes that came in with gifts for others and see her excitement knowing that it was going to someone else is the type of happiness, as a parent, you can’t describe.”
Those packages she opened weren’t just from the local zip codes. There were packages from her former home state of Virginia, as well as gifts arriving from Florida, Washington State, Georgia and even Canada. Many of the gifts that arrived weren’t from individuals the Kirby’s knew. Of course, a lot of the gifts came from drop-off locations throughout the area, including one at the Benedum Civic Center that always seemed to be refilled with gifts.
“I’ve noticed such a sense of community,” mom said. “The support has been tremendous. People have been involved and eager to help once we got this started, but I never believed it would develop into this.”
Kirby said getting the word out on various social media components, including Facebook, may have played a large part in the success. Getting local businesses, including Target, also helped.
The only real problem that came as a result of the toy drive’s success was that there were so many toys that transporting them appeared to be a problem. But, even that had a happy ending. Belynda Kirby said DeMary Brothers Transfer out of Bridgeport was contacted and provided the delivery for the bulk of the toys to Fairmont.
“This has felt about as good as you can expect,” said Belynda. “I hope it provided some help for those who need help with toys during this time of year.”
With 1,000-plus given out Friday, it almost certainly did that. And it’s safe to say it did much more. Charlotte Kirby, in her own diminutive way, provided hope for the future. There may be no bigger gift than that.

For The Love Of A Butterfly

“We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.” –Carl Sagan

 

I am obsessed with keeping this butterfly alive. You see while Dirt Man and I visited our local botanical gardens we watched (and he filmed) some butterflies emerge from their chrysalises. He came home and brought some in from the garden (placed a netting over a parley plant to house them) hoping to film the process again.  He just mentioned the other night how he supposed they must be remaining dormant until the spring.  Last night I caught a flutter through the corner of my eye. A butterfly had emerged and was rooting at the netting. I don’t know how long she had been there, but her wings were already dry and extended. As luck would have it, Dirt man is out of town. I was saddened he wasn’t here to see it but I even more concerned about keeping the butterfly confined.

Thinking it needed freedom and fresh air, I took the butterfly outside. Then I became concerned it was too cold. I didn’t want to inadvertently kill her. Yes, our swallowtail is a girl. She stayed in the same position in the bed of parsley, so my son brought her in and placed her back in the netting. I was still worried about her being cramped so I made her a temporary home. I found a clear plastic container, punched holes throughout it, put in some dirt with a parsley plant, a twig, and a small dish of water.

Fall makes it a difficult time to do the natural thing for the butterfly. My goals are to keep her alive and in an environment suited to the needs of a butterfly. I’m really not quite sure what to do with her. Any suggestions? She moves around, but has not attempted to fly. I’m hoping she will still be here for Dirt Man to see when he gets home.

 

They say if you name something you have to keep it…what do you think of Emily?

Fall In Love With The Tones Of Tidewater’s Autumn

There are days you drink the atmosphere and quench your soul…this was one of those days. I invite you to tag along the trails of Northwest River Park.

Autumn has come to visit Tidewater. Breathe deeply, exhale slowly, and feel the beauty penetrate your being.

“Freedom is the open window through which pours the sunlight of the human spirit and human dignity.” –Herbert Hoover

“There is a muscular energy in sunlight corresponding to the spiritual energy of wind.” –Annie Dillard

“The earth has music for those who listen.” -George Santayana

“A lake is a landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is the earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.” Henry David Thoreau

“Silence. How long it lasted, I couldn’t tell. It might have been five seconds, it might have been a minute. Time wasn’t fixed. It wavered, stretched, shrank. Or was it me that wavered, stretched, and shrank in the silence? I was warped in the folds of time, like a reflection in a fun house mirror.” – Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” –Confucius

“A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy dare live.” –Bertrand Russell

“A stream is music and motion: smooth glides, fast, turbulent rifles and seep pools, each posing a special challenge.” –Nelson Bryant

“Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.” –Winston Churchill

“Beauty is certainly a soft, smooth, slippery thing, and therefore of a nature which easily slips in and permeates our souls.” – Plato, Lysis

Instead of the “wishing tree” I dub this the “fishing tree”…perhaps many wished as they fished and the lures are now mere ornaments of dreams.

“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” –Friedrich Nietzsche (Check out the orbs in this one!)

“Woodpeckers use a rapid drumming on a resonate surface to advertise their territory like other birds sing.” –John Arvin

“The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.” –John Buchan

A Little Girl With A Big Dream

Charlotte, the little girl with a big dream!

I was honored to be friends with a phenomenal lady, Charlotte “Dianne”. She was a loving and generous woman. She was the daughter and granddaughter of Methodist preachers. Dianne spent her life caring for the needs of others. She passed away a few weeks before her daughter married. She was blessed to have witnessed the trickle of giving ministry through her daughter’s efforts in her church and community. She would have been so moved to see it extend to her grandchildren (my god children) as well. These children have been Christmas elves for the past few years, giving gifts and spreading cheer at their local nursing homes and homeless shelters.

Her granddaughter not only carries a portion of my friend’s name, Charlotte, but she has the same twinkle in her brown eyes. She has the same sweet smile and spunky spirit. This year Charlotte had a vision. She wanted all the children in her area to be able to have toys at Christmas. She told her mother she wanted to open a place where their parents could shop for free. Her mother spread the word to her friends and Charlotte’s First Annual Toy Drive was birthed. When parents come to the soup kitchen they will be able to select gifts for their children.

While the toys poured in locally and from other states, the number of shoppers to the drive doubled. Word has gotten around through FaceBook. Charlotte’s cause made her local newspaper and evening news. We have faith all these local children will receive toys this Christmas; we remember Jesus fed the multitudes with five small barley loaves and two small fish.

For more information Charlotte’s First Annual Toy Drive on Facebook

Spin Cycle: Memoriam

I can’t think of a more beautiful legacy for one to leave behind. I know Dianne is smiling.

The School Of Life

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. ~Confucius

 

I’ve always considered myself a student of life rather than a teacher of life. Through many areas of my life I’ve been both, some by choice, others by force or accident. How often we forget we are both. For every word we speak and every step we take, someone is listening and watching us. All the while we are listening and watching all around us. We have so much to share with one another.

We make wise choices. We make mistakes. Through it all we learn, we teach and we grow. Often it takes more than once to learn or teach a lesson, but that’s fine because usually one grows a little in the process even if it doesn’t bring desired results the first time.  Never underestimate the importance of your role in the process. Observe. Be receptive. Grow.

Random Rants And Rumbles

 

 

Now that I voted I can complain all I want! No, I simply did my civic duty, and will refrain from criticizing or promoting candidates or issues. Just like you I have beliefs and opinions but will allow you to make your own decisions.

However, some people want to merely be heard while others want to force their opinions and passions on others. What better way to get the word out than social media? We each exercise our voice. The problem is opinions are like hangnails; everyone has one at one time or another, but we find some more irritating than others. Which ones irritate us? Perhaps it is those in which we disagree.  Why are some more persistent? Perhaps it’s fear of having a lone voice or an effort to promote a cause.

I don’t care if our opinions differ, but I do care if you call me an idiot or another distasteful name because I don’t share your opinion. I don’t care if we fight for different causes, but I do care if you judge me for not joining your cause. I don’t generally comment on these posts anyway, but I find the posts that state a cause and continue to insult potential unlike views distasteful…definitely not a way to turn me to your side!

Then you’ve got the political rants just itching for comments. They claim to enjoy political debate but then bash those who disagree. And there are those who post controversial subjects and step back to watch the action.  I don’t engage in either of those. Why? No one has ever changed my view with such tactics and throwing such negativity back and forth is nonproductive.

Facebook has been as filled with mudslinging as the political campaigns. Today I decided to survey today’s postings. I was surprised and relieved by my findings. Perhaps other FB users have tired of the negativity as well. I counted the first one hundred posts on my wall. My tally: Voting topped subjects with a total of 37 posts. The difference is none of these were derogatory, and only five stressed a candidate or issue: Two stressed Obama, two mentioned God, and one was a link about voting like a yogi. Personal posts came in second (16) with God (12) coming in third. Gratitude and Blog posts tied for fourth at seven each. Public service posts and humor each totaled five while shared quotes were three, and weather and ad links came in at a measly two each! Of course, these statistics might change hourly!

We are daily bombarded with requests to save the trees, cats, dogs, dolphins, boobs, etc. We are told to pray to God, meditate on the universe, look within, or get a life. We are criticized or praised for diets, exercise regimes, habits, education, and religious affiliations. Are we more interested in making a difference or pushing our views on others? Are we wasting our time and efforts by posting when we could be out doing? Of the many ways to express support for a cause, volunteering our time or donating our money top the list.

The question remains: While we have the right to beliefs and opinions, is social media the right forum to express it?

An Autumn Flower

For all the times you shout your authenticity,

we hear your cries of insecurity while we watch you follow the crowd.

Let us see you, not the shadow of those you emulate.

Stop holding hands with who you want to be and hold your own hand.

Let not the opinions of others form your world when you can think for yourself.

Instead of trying so hard to fit in, allow others to find a way to fit in your world.

Reach not for someone to show you the way when you hold the map within you.

You must trust your own voice before trusting others to tell you who you are.

You must grope the dark caverns of your soul before reaching the mountain top.

You must experience the difference between the identity and the breath of life.

Let your heart be a salve and your soul a light as you claim your truth.

No one else can be you; profess your power and storm into this world of yours.

Be the purple standing out among the earthy tones of autumn.

Be the flower who survives the frost.

Most of all, be you.