Archive for the ‘Growing Up’ Category

You can see that I am cleaning house. I have 118 unfinished drafts in the WordPress folder. So this one is a few years old. But important messages don’t change. 

There have been a couple of deaths lately which have me thinking about things. Yes, about the afterlife. But also about the life experience on earth.

If I had that special wand I would make it all just slow down a little bit. I know that is not reality. But I haven’t always been a fan of reality either.

So, I will be writing, I think, on the subject of these deaths.

My sister-in-law’s father died in March. Without going into an old family history thing I need to explain that before the two families became one, Jim had already been a friend to our family. The friendship goes back generations in Ireland. Neighboring farms, ancestral village and all that.

One thing I am a big fan of is family and friends. I was tickled that the children of two old friends would marry each other.

So, I was a little sad at one more member of the old guard passing.

My sister-in-law has been sharing little stories about her Dad. And when I read them I smile. Or my eyes fill.

Here is one. This is important.

After Jim’s funeral we were gathered for a brunch at a nearby hotel.

It was lovely. Patty (my sister-in-law) spoke about her Dad. In a nutshell it goes something like this. She said he always repeated stories that she already knew. So this one time, she asked him to tell her something she didn’t know. It caused a pause.  In a sort of a “What do you mean?” moment. Anyway, he shared a childhood experience. About returning to Ireland as a young boy with his mother. His father saw them off at the harbor in New York.

Okay, my eyes were filling. Again. Like they did in the church. I know. I know. He was nearly ninety. But someone lost their dad. Doesn’t matter how old. I kept thinking happy thoughts to dry up the tears as I didn’t want anyone thinking I was a snuffling, secret love child of this man.

The important thing of the story is this. We tell the same old stories because they’re comfortable. They might be triggered by surroundings, experiences or holidays. We know our partner’s stories. We know our friends’ stories. We know the stories of our children.

But we really don’t know it all. And it is up to us. To ask the right questions. So, it’s not the same old stories.

Read Full Post »

I went to the grocery store the other day. Happened to notice all of the Uncle Ben’s rice boxes were gone. Most shelves were empty.

Mrben

Please don’t fret if you are a big fan of the rice. It will be back! Same taste. Just a bit of rebranding. The company made the announcement that it is removing the image of “Uncle Ben” who is the Black man on the box.

Here is the company’s statement.

“Racism has no place in society. We stand in solidarity with the Black community, our Associates and our partners in the fight for social justice,” Mars said. “We know to make the systemic change needed, it’s going to take a collective effort from all of us — individuals, communities and organizations of all sizes around the world.”

If this really bothers someone or if it matters to them personally-like interfering with a cherished memory of parboiled rice on the kitchen table-I’d ask them just one thing.

“Why?”

As I was strolling down the aisle that day I did happen to notice something else. The shelves weren’t totally empty. Up on the top there were still a few boxes. No, not Uncle Ben’s. Those are totally gone. These were called,”Seeds of Change.”

Mrben

We all have a choice.

Keep things the same. Or be the seeds of change.

Read Full Post »

blmbristol

Black people are telling us they are exhausted. Of racism. Of having to comfort their children. Of schooling them on ways not to get hurt or killed. Of fearing for their safety.

I’m white and I’m already exhausted just after the last month. I can’t imagine what they must feel.

I’m going back and forth with people on social media, in person, etc. and this is what is getting to me. People are so steadfast in their opinion and not budgeable (not sure if that is a word but I like it and it’s staying) in any way.

But wait, Mary, you are also stubborn and have strong views! You’re not really budgeable either!

That’s only partly true. I am prone to a stubbornness on some matters and I am passionate. But I am budgeable.

Every day I am trying to grow. Reflect. Help. Listen to others who are begging to be heard. I read.

I am fifty-five years old and I am trying.

I just don’t understand the inability or lack of desire to engage in thoughtful dialogue. Or to do anything at all.

Our vice-president, when pressed during a meeting, resisted saying, “Black Lives Matter.” He instead said, “All Lives Matter.”

Leaders have an impact.

My cousin in Northern Ireland (a place once riddled with violence, oppression, prejudice and a minority Catholic population) told me that change has to start from the bottom up and not the top down. It has become quite apparent that this is true.

So there is hard work ahead for all of us.

Cousin also told me that it does no good speaking to people who already think like me. Also true.

So there is hard work ahead for all of us.

What can we do? How can we help our fellow citizens?

We can start by doing something very simple.

Listen.

Read Full Post »

Recently, I had an on-line interaction. A Facebook friend had posted a thing about policemen. In support, of course. The tough job they have and all that goes along with it.

I was on a Grand Jury for six weeks and I saw with my own eyes, what the police deal with on a daily basis. Examples might be child abuse, rape, assault, gangs, murders, etc. Can’t go into detail because they are secret proceedings. But seeing and hearing testimony is not like reading it in the newspaper. Trust me on that.

But here is the thing. We have witnessed, on camera/video, the deaths of Black folks (mostly males) at the hands of the American police. Hopefully, with the video footage, justice will eventually be served. Hopefully, we can somehow ensure this never happens again.

People are coming out in droves to support the police. A few bad apples in every bunch. So many good ones out there doing the best they can. Don’t judge them all by a couple of rogue cops.

My point is this-and my comment to the person was along the lines-don’t worry about the police. Rogue or not. They have union support. Media support. Community support. Brotherhood support. I truly believe this. Especially in my state.

They are absolutely fortunate to have that support.

So let them get to work on cleaning up their houses. Revamping policies or/and procedures. I don’t think any police department wants their employees splashed across the media due to abuse or have to experience unrest in their cities. So they are perfectly willing to make changes if they can.

Please stop dragging them into every posting on social media.

I am tired of people stealing someone else’s air time. And making it theirs. The people who are posting the police stories on their social media are not usually posting anything at all about racial injustice. Or they say they support both but never actually post anything individually about the movement for justice in our country.

So, this friend of the friend (a stranger to me) types, “I hope you never need them (the police) and blah, blah, blah.”

We have got to do better. It’s not about choosing one side or the other. It is about supporting those in our society who are screaming and dying for help.

I might need the police one day. And I won’t be afraid to call them. They’re supposed to help me. I trust that they will not hurt me. I, as a white person, trust them wholly. That’s our society. That’s my personal bias. My experience.

So, is it wrong for me to say (and know) that the police are not the marginalized folks here in America today?

This doesn’t make me anti-police. At all.

This makes me honest. Today.

Please know the difference.

Read Full Post »

How can I (or anyone) take action, to help my fellow countrymen/women, in a positive way?

First of all we need to be honest. And that is really, really hard.

Racism is alive and well in the United States. I don’t have to tell you that. Just turn on the television.

Someone asked me, at a socially distanced barbeque, what percentage of Americans I thought are actually racist. I quickly pulled out a 99% and I included myself in that number. The person who asked the question-along with my husband-did not agree with me.

Maybe I should use the word biased and not racist. Everyone has some bias. Not our fault. It’s in our politics. In our growing up years. In our society. Inherently. We don’t even notice it.

There lies the rub. We don’t even notice it.

We need to notice it. In order to create change we need to take notice and start questioning.

Not too long ago there were only white males in power or positions of authority. We (white people) didn’t even think about it. Until we did. And made changes.

I will share a story from my beloved father’s own mouth. He wasn’t telling me out of pride.

My mother, a bright lady, was a Registered Nurse. She skipped a grade in elementary school, graduated high school and was soon in the nursing program at a Rhode Island hospital. She loved her job and her nursing friends. I can still remember one evening, while I was upstairs in bed, hearing them while they laughed and smoked. I think that is probably the first time I also became aware of someone who was gay. One of Mom’s nurse friends.

Mom worked on the first heart/lung machine in Rhode Island. She also taught others. Pretty cool stuff.

My Dad was always so very proud of her. Almost to his dying day, if he was at a Drs. appointment-hers or his, he always mentioned that she was a nurse.

In the 1960s, when my parents married, three kids quickly arrived on the scene.

So, back then, life gets a bit tricky. And my mom was going to have to quit or cut back hours.

Dad told me, that a male Doctor from the hospital actually called him on the telephone. Asking if Mom could still work. Dad nicely and respectfully told the Doctor that they had a growing family.

When I was listening to my Dad tell this story I was sort of shocked. My stomach kind of lurched. I felt terrible for my mom (although she did work as a nurse part-time for years before going full-time again) -that the decision was not really hers.

I appreciated my father sharing that with me across their dining room table. I also appreciated that in the 1950s and 1960s things looked a whole lot different for women.

Did my Dad’s views change as he got older? Of course, they did.

Why?

Because people took notice and things changed for women.

But how many years had passed before someone noticed?

Now is the time for all of us to pay attention and listen.

Most importantly it is time to take notice.

Read Full Post »

Happy New Year to you all! Wishing everyone the very best!

I need to finish up “part two” so I can get it out of my head to make room for more.

So, in the last posting, I wrote about how we (the Hannah and I) happened upon a witches’ tea and a spirit gallery in the Northeast pocket of Vermont. You’ll need to go back and read “Part One” if you haven’t seen it yet. Just to familiarize yourself. Totally random.

We were signed up and ready to participate. It was a group setting. Salicrow, the Medium, would pull five or six names out of the jar and act as a conduit for the visiting spirits. One at a time, of course!

The session, per her numerology love, begins at 3:33pm and ends at 4:44pm.

As I previously mentioned there were a few folks finding comfort in hearing from parents who passed. As well as the very sad case of a spirit whose earthly body left way too soon by ghastly measures.

Salicrow displayed nothing but compassion and care.

She reaches her hand in the jar and whips out another ticket. I check my stub and it’s a match! I’m never a winner. Not saying I’m a loser. Not that. I just don’t usually win things.

So, I have to go and sit in the chair next to Salicrow. My daughter is thrilled. She later tells me she prayed so hard that I would get chosen.

It was mentioned, at the beginning of the session, that some people record the experience because it can be a lot to absorb. We didn’t but I wished that we had.

I’m skeptical. When it comes to me. I am a pretty grounded person with a light-hearted personality. But I am no airy fairy. I’m tolerant of those folks but I am not one of them. It’s just a fact.

Except.

Except when it comes to friends and family who I miss. The welcome mat is always out for any/all signs and visitors.

Salicrow asks who I want to communicate with today. I should have said, “Strongest spirit” to see if this gig is all legit. LOL. But I was a little nervous about being the center of attention in a group.

So I spit out, “My Dad.”

She begins. Says my dad is here. He’s proud of me. She says that he was more involved as a grandfather. That he’s sorry he didn’t play with me. He says he loves me. Said that one of the grandkids was clingy.

Wants to know if the number fifty-six means anything to me. It doesn’t. I’m skeptical (like I said) so I’m thinking she can ascertain ages of people. And does math in her head. I’m fifty-four at the time. But I do try to cooperate because I am a pleaser. It’s tough when you are in the spotlight. All thinking goes out the window.

I offer, “Maybe the year he came to this country?”

But I don’t think that’s it.

Then she is asking if he had an accent (because I said he came to this country?) so I laugh and say, “Yes, he had a heavy Rhode Island accent.”

Everyone chuckled.

And that is true. Even though my Dad was raised in Ireland he died with a Rhode Island accent. But he never let go of the Irish pronunciation of TH. It came out as just T. He’d be yelling for me, “Mary Bet”-my nickname was Mary Beth. In all fairness to dear old Dad I have heard many Rhode Islanders who suffer that same affliction.

To prove that I am not making up this bit. On his eightieth birthday I had a prepared speech (as the self anointed emcee) which included a game, “How well do you know Pat?” This skit included memories and fun facts.

One of those memories was when my kids were little and teasing him. Asking, “Papa, what are the gas prices in Rhode Island?”

They couldn’t wait for his answer, “Tree-tirty-tree.”

Total setup. How they giggled.

One of his six sisters, my Auntie Maureen, immediately came to his defense (even though she wasn’t even there-but that is sister behavior all over the world) and said that the Irish don’t pronounce the TH because the Irish language didn’t have a TH. And I guess never fully converted to the English.

So this party is documented somewhere. And Hannah is the one who later reminded me of that memory.

The session this day began at 3:33pm. Like Papa and the gas price. Tree tirty tree.

Anyway, I didn’t learn anything new from this session. I know, without any doubt in the world, that my father loved me. And I loved him.

True, he didn’t play with us. Except on vacation. Or sometimes throwing baseballs to my brothers in the backyard. But there wasn’t a dad in my neighborhood who I can recall playing with their kids. It was just the time. The seventies.

And Salicrow could have figured that as well.

Anyway, it was all a feel good moment.

When I returned to Rhode Island I was sharing the experience with my older brother. He said, “I’m fifty-six.” Which is also how many years my parents would have been married at that time. Sometimes when you are on the spot you suffer a mental block!

Fifty-six, three-thirty-three and more. A lot of coincidences that day.

Reminds me of Albert Einstein’s words,”Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.

I’d like to think that’s true.

Wishing you all a year of health and happiness.

Read Full Post »

In my last posting I mentioned that I would share some “signs” I’ve received. From my father. Looking back I’d have to say the signs have been pretty amazing. Maybe someone thought I needed “spectacular” to be convinced.

June 14th was a lovely day. I took a drive to the cemetery where my father is now resting. Again, it’s me, myself and I. At least as far as my eye can see.

I pulled up near my Dad’s headstone. Did the usual. Greetings and a prayer.

As I wrapped up with a big amen (okay, it was a little silent amen) I turned from the grave and headed toward the car. I said (aloud because no one was near me and I wanted to hear my own voice), “Okay, Patrick, do your stuff. Give me something.”

So, as I am waiting, I take a few steps across the lane to look at other tombstones. Lots of folks from my growing up community reside in this cemetery. I like to read some of the different names or epitaphs. Sometimes pray for those I know. Maybe a parent or grandparent of an old friend or neighbor. I ambled over to one that had the last name “WORK” on it. Never heard that surname.

Dad used to say, “Hard work always pays off.”

But that’s not the sign.

I don’t think.

Anyway, within two minutes of me asking Dad for some magic, I spot something else! It’s about four graves down from the WORK tombstone. I can see that it is partially hidden by the last grave in the row. And it’s moving!

I should be afraid since I am totally alone. Not a person in sight. Could there be someone out of sight? A murderer? Or possibly a street urchin?

There is some type of fanning motion. Back and forth. What on earth? A geisha in the midst of a fan ceremony?

I start toward the grave to investigate. The thing starts to move away from the tombstone! I am hot on its trail. Not a bit afraid.

turkey1turkey2turkey3tureky4turkey5turkey6

Mystery solved.  Tom the turkey just taking things slow on a sunny afternoon.

The turkey spirit animal is a symbol of abundance. It is an encouragement to celebrate your resources that nourish your physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects. The turkey symbolism brings the message of unlocking the richness of your life so that you can appreciate everything.

Thanks, Dad. Miss and love you.

 

Read Full Post »

I was walking on the bike path a few months ago with a new friend. It was a brisk walk on a chilly day.

In the distance there was a man walking toward us with something on a leash. And it looked like the thing attached to the leash was wearing some sort of clothing.

I chuckle and say, “Oh my, look at that! It’s a big, old wooly sheep coming our way!”

Ginny laughed and said, “You have quite the imagination, don’t you? Have you written a book yet?”

Ummm, I can barely make hair appointments to get my gray roots covered! A book could get in the way of my commitment and time issues. So, the short answer to that is a no.

As we got a bit closer it became quite clear that the man was walking a greyhound (dog) and it was also wearing a jacket.

Totally looked like a wooly sheep to me. 🙂

Reminded me of another Edna St. Vincent Millay quote. The poet once shared with a friend, “I suffer from inflammation of the imagination!”

That’s the absolute best. Everyone should suffer from this ailment. Even just a little bit.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend with inflamed imaginations!

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

I am, by nature, a curious sort. Born that way.

The other day I was looking out the back window at the birds.

I said, aloud, “Wow. So many Blackbirds.”

“Wonder where they’ve all been.”

“Why are they called Red-winged Blackbirds when they sure look orange to me?”

“Wonder why they have that orange on their wings anyway?”

Turned away from the window and my husband was staring and laughing at me.

He asked, “Are you done talking to the window?”

I replied, “Just curious is all.” 🙂

I figured the red (or orange) blaze probably had something to do with males displaying their bad, colorful selves to attract the ladies. I knew, since I was a little kid and learned (much to my dismay) that the pretty red Cardinal was the male, that the boy birds were nothing but a bunch of show-offs.

But my curiosity is not sated by my guessing or figuring. It’s actually stoked. I am so curious that I have to actually go and look this up later. I use the Dewey Decimal system. Okay, I just google it. And then I am satisfied. Sort of.

According to the different sources I checked there is absolutely no mention of orange. Just red! What?? Even if you google “Orange-winged Blackbird” it automatically comes up with “Red-winged Blackbird.” Like it’s a gaming system that’s been “fixed.” I typed orange!!!! I’m just wondering who has money on red! And how much????? LOL

For me, because curiosity is inherent, it just means that the day I am not curious is the day I’m not myself.

Message for the week. Be true to yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

I am feeling the pressure to crank out these babies and I’ll tell you why.

Babies, of course, referring to items on the list. Not actual babies.

“Avoiding doldrums of winter” is the list. Refer to past postings for the other seven.

The reason I am feeling pressure is because the winter is flying. In about eighteen days the clocks in my house will “Spring Ahead!” by an hour. We will blink and there will be crocuses popping out of the ground. It will be Easter and then it will be the Fourth of July.

That sounds like good news. Besides the fact life is going by quickly.

So is my list even necessary?

Probably.

Because some winters are longer than others. Some are colder. Different regions experience different weather.

So here goes.

#8

An eye catcher. 

Usually that’s me. But for the purpose of this list I will stick with inanimate objects.

Have something that brightens up the joint. Something visible that catches your eye. Lifts your mood. Each and every time. Acts like a dopamine drip.

We surround ourselves with furniture and a lifetime of dust collectors. How often do we actually acknowledge them? Even notice that they are there?

Yes, most of us are generally happy with our space. The overall feeling when you walk in the front door. Believe me, some days that feeling of contentment and “I’m in the comfort of my own place” vibe is enough for anyone.

Maybe looking for something more is asking too much?

Nah.

We have to continue working on the “shaking the blues” list! Something more than the same old thing is necessary.

This always works for me.

thumperwatching

But not everyone wants or is able to have a pet and I promised to stick with inanimate.

There are a few things around the house, other than husband and dog, that I really like and always seem to brighten my moments.

I’ll share one today.

painting

This is a small painting by a local Rhode Island artist named Kathy Weber. I have it displayed on a wall in a high traffic area near the front door.

Different things appeal to each of us for a variety of reasons. That is what makes the world go ’round.

When I look at this piece of art I am immediately transported to the town where I was raised. Sure, this could be a winter street scene from any New England working class neighborhood. But it looks exactly like mine. I also love the colors Weber uses in her work.

I found it at Neville Fine Art and Framing in Warren, Rhode Island. I chatted with Donna, the owner, back in the summer while admiring the shop and its nicely displayed pieces.

This little gem caught my eye and then I left without buying it.

I don’t know why. What’s wrong with me? It’s probably because I am a Libra and any decisions I ever need to make practically have to involve a congressional hearing. It’s no joke. So hard for me.

Then I started having these pangs of what I guess could only be described as the opposite of buyer’s remorse. Non-buyer’s remorse.

I knew then I just had to have it.

So a few days later my friend and I headed to the shop. Of course, we showed up after business hours.

The following week I was with another friend and drove to the shop. Had every intention of arriving home with my new bundle of joy. Nope. Didn’t happen. The place was not open on this particular day.

I was about to go down another road. You know the one. It’s called, “Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.”

But I didn’t.

The third time was the charm. Whew!

Okay, I can’t make decisions to save my life. But once something gets stuck in my head it’s going absolutely nowhere until I deal with it. If a person looks up the definition of “dogged” in the dictionary my eye catching face will be staring right back at them. My Dad used to say, “Watch out when she gets a bee in her bonnet.” He wasn’t lying.

Thank God it’s only the small stuff with me.

Imagine how tired I would be if I was going for world peace? Or bringing down the number of mass killings in the U.S.?

As a side note. It won’t take you three times to gain entry into Donna’s shop. That was just me, flying by the seat of my pants, without checking business hours and days of operation before hopping in the car. Expecting the world to revolve around my whims. 

If you are in the area stop by and see Donna. You’ll be glad you did. Tell her I sent you. Just say, “Mary, the lady who loves that your shop smells like Christmas all year round.” She’ll know. 

I bought the painting and I love it. It is a bright spot on a winter’s day.

Obviously, a painting is not going to do it for everyone. But there will be something. You’ll find it.

The eye catcher.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »