Archive for the ‘Positive Thinking’ Category

Last month I came across the obituary of a fellow from a nearby town. He was sixty-four years old and it appeared he died from cancer. I did not know him. But when I was reading the notes of on-line condolences I started wishing I did.

I was inspired by a total stranger who passed away. Because of the things other people said about him. See below for some of those messages of sympathy. The poem is also beautiful.

“Steve and Liz were dear and wonderful neighbors for so many years on the corner of Bay and Governor Bradford Rd…we were all so blessed to have them next door. Mr. Perry, as my kids used to call him, was forever trimming the rose bushes that bloomed on their property. One day, my then eight year old daughter leaned out of the upstairs window and called to Steve as he pruned the rose bushes,

“Mr. Perry,” she asked, “Why are you always smiling and so happy?”

“Because you’re my neighbor, “ he answered with a grin.

That was Steve Perry. One of the nicest people I’ve ever known.”

“My heart is so heavy for your loss. He was such a wonderful man to so many that his leaving will be felt for a very long time but his memory will always remain in the good works and love he left behind. Prayers and sympathy to his parents and siblings, to the kids whom I watched grow up under his wing and to Liz who always made his eyes twinkle.”

“I always enjoyed time spent with Steve away from work, whether it was playing softball for TFC, blue fishing on Barrington Beach, or sledding with the kids at the cemetery. He was just a good guy with a bright and engaging smile.”

“Steve was a wonderful man who cared deeply for the needy and homeless. When we decided to form our ministry he named it Breadlines from the picture his parents displayed in his home when he was a child “The Christ of The Breadline.” Now your request for contributions in his memory continue his wishes to care for those in need. God bless you Steve from all the Breadline volunteers. We will remember you always.”

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze,
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch her until she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says: “There! She’s gone!”
Gone where? Gone from my sight – that is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side,
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the place of her destination.
Her diminished size is in me, and not in her.

And just at the moment
when someone at my side says: “There! She’s gone!”
there are other eyes that are watching for her coming;
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout:
“There she comes!”

“My heart is broken. All my love goes out to my Perry family… Steve was simply the best!”

“I knew Steve as a colleague, neighbor, friend and fellow adult leader of a Boy Scout troop. As the Scouts, say he was always helpful, friendly, curious, and kind. Steve’s gift of empathy was one of the things I admired most in him. He and Liz have raised a wonderful family.”

When I finished reading all of the comments I sat and thought. About a lot of things.

A life well-lived. How Steve sounded so special. Loved his family. Was a kind man. Liked to smile. Good-humored. Engaged. Cared about his community and friends. Fed the hungry. Enjoyed the outdoors. Was a good neighbor. Had empathy.

I pondered all of these things. Then I thought, “Well, why can’t we all be like Steve?”

Is it that difficult to smile? To be kind to others? To volunteer? To spend time with our families? To be engaged? To laugh? To enjoy nature? To be a good friend?

No, none of it is difficult. It’s quite easy. We just need to be mindful.

Steve left us all with a gift.

Inspiration.

 

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Well, hello there! I hope you are all well.

My apologies for being a slug and not writing sooner. Had a very busy summer. Not a moment to think! Don’t get me wrong. It was lovely and fun. Filled with family and friends. As well as new experiences. Just super busy.

I thought when I arrived here (in the U.S.) during the Spring that I would have all the time in the world.

Then I blinked and summer was gone. Just like that. Snap.

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The original plan was to head back to Delhi, India at the end of September, hang out with my husband and begin exploring the country again with my newfound friends.

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But we all know about plans. I suppose we need a constant reminder to always view them as fluid. And go with the flow.

We are happily repatriating after seven years of overseas living.

Do I wish I had more time in India? Yes, I do. I swear a person could spend a lifetime in India and not fully see or appreciate that amazing country. So diverse. Language, terrain, people, food, climate and especially the colors!

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Some folks complain about moving. I get it. Each person and circumstance is different.

Fortunately, I am not one of them. I view our past moves as experiences that continually added depth and a ton of beautiful people to our lives.

I counted thirteen moves in our nearly thirty-two years of marriage. No, of course it’s not always Skittles and beer. Each and every move created indelible memories. Some happy and some sad. Leaving beloved family and friends. The excitement of exploring new places. A clean slate. Missing important family occasions. Adding new friends to the list. Losing people along the way.

Knowing that each move means you’re a little bit older and so is the generation before you. Everything changes and time does not stand still. At all.

I still do not have any regrets or complaints. Not even sure if this is our last move!

Below was the view from our balcony. Enjoying the calm before the packers got busy.

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nextdoor

This last move was going according to plan. The fellas are punctual and ready to get cracking. I oversee the operation. Like they needed my assistance. 🙂

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At the end of this first day we are at the hotel. My husband is visiting with a friend by the pool and telephones me. He is cheerful and says, “Come join us.”

I replied, “Be down in a jiff.”

Two minutes later, I am heading down the stairs and my mobile rings again. I was thinking, “Why on earth is he calling me again? I’m on my way already.”

I could tell something was wrong by the way he said my name. It was. He just got word that his mother had died in Syria. 😦 I think losing your mom has got to be one of the saddest things. Like it’s your mom. The only one you ever get.

That was a Tuesday and we were leaving India on Saturday in the wee hours. Honestly? This move, in a weird way, provided a huge distraction during a very sad time. Because we were in the midst of decisions and a constant state of busyness we were able to get through each day of this week without despair.

So this particular move will always be associated with the death of my mother-in-law. His mom, a beloved grandmother, mother-in-law and someone who has been a part of my own life history for more than thirty years. Still seems a bit surreal. I thought she was going to live forever.

But like all of our moves it is never about just one thing or feeling. There is now also some excitement. Starting a new chapter in my home state. We haven’t lived here since we left in 1994! So while it’s still familiar it has been awhile since we permanently hung our hats here. A lot has changed but it feels like we have sort of come full circle.

We are enjoying this transition back to the U.S. and enjoying the great (and clean) outdoors. Our air shipment (14 moving boxes-clothes, linens and personal items) arrived last Monday. The sea shipment (furniture and rest of it) will follow in the middle of November. I don’t care too much about “things” but I will be glad to have our photo albums, framed pics, art, personal papers and family history back with us.

I feel so very fortunate. It’s like my being has absorbed all of the people and experiences on this twenty-four year journey through Texas, California, Malaysia and India. So that I can always carry these people and places with me. Ensuring that I will never forget any of them.

So that’s my news. This is where I am. You are officially updated.

I look forward to working on this blog with more frequency. Lots of writing to be done.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

 

 

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I loved the parables of Jesus when I was a little kid. Whether it was the nuns sharing with us or curled up with the glossy covered kid’s books reading on our own time.

My husband also heard parables or stories when he was a child but they were not about Jesus. They were about the Prophet Mohammad.

Same appeal.

He loved the childhood stories just as much as I did.

There was one he told me that I enjoyed.

The moral of the story, in my husband’s telling, is very important.

Each day a Jewish neighbor deposited trash on Mohammad’s doorstep. And every day Mohammad would pick it up and bring it to the dump.

Every single day.

Then one day Mohammad found that there was no trash on his doorstep.

Wait. What?

No trash?

Should be a good thing.

But it was unusual for this neighbor not to leave trash on the doorstep.

Mohammad went to check on the neighbor and found that he was ill.

This is a very important story. Religion, in my opinion, doesn’t have anything to do with it. That was just my jumping point. This is about the human connection.

Everyone in the neighborhood where I grew up knew everyone else’s business.

Knew when people pulled up their shades in the morning. The school and work schedules. Meal times. When someone had company. Which Mass families attended. When vacations took place. And when the shades went down at night. Usually after the late news or a bit of  The Late Show.

People know these things without realizing. It was just the usual daily routine.

When one of those things didn’t happen, according to the norm, it was a cause for concern. Something just wasn’t right. People checked on each other.

We all live in different neighborhoods and types of communities. Everyone has neighbors. I always say that one doesn’t need to be best friends with their neighbors (that’s a bonus) but we should care about each other.

Each person has a role in building up a strong community. Knowing your neighbors and caring about them can be the very first step.

 

 

 

 

 

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My dogs come to me.

That’s an expression I have used on occasion.  I picked it up from my friend, Mary Ann, years ago.

It’s meant to convey, with a sort of cocky bent, that one doesn’t go chasing after dogs. They should come to you.

When we use the phrase, though, we are not actually referring to dogs.

I think I have had this attitude toward making new friends in Delhi. Waiting for my dogs to come to me. Not really putting much effort into it. Not chasing anyone.

Sure, I sent a few emails to groups, organizations, etc.

When I didn’t receive any replies I just let it go. I’ll be in and out of Delhi so was sort of thinking exactly how much time/energy do I want to sink into this.

A friend, over dinner, said that maybe I just need to put myself out there a bit more.

Absolutely correct.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my own company. I’m so easy going. LOL

But I realized I do want to put energy into bonding with people while I am living here. I was thinking it sure would be nice to explore Delhi with friends.

So, the dinner, where the sage advice was offered, was on a Friday evening. The following day my husband and I were pulling into our neighborhood after running some errands. I spy a woman on the street strolling along with her little girl.

An expat neighbor perhaps?

I wave from the car. She waved back with a quizzical look.

Glance at my husband as I’m heading out of the car, with a determined expression on my face. Think of “I’m going in…” or “Here goes nothing!”

I actually say, “I am going to talk to that woman.”

And talk I did.

She was sooo lovely.

I fell in love with her right away. You know that feeling. When you immediately hit it off with someone.

Yay!!!!

Lives a couple of houses down from us. Works at the Swiss Embassy. Loves living in Delhi. Husband works for the Foreign Service.

But.

She was moving to the USA in two weeks.

Oh, rats! That is some dumb luck. Can’t be investing too much time there.

Anyway, it was nice to chat with her. She took us over to her house. Met her other kids. Asked if we wanted a drink. Very sweet. We declined but visited for just a little bit and then we went home.

Oh, well, I tried.

When we got back to the house my husband couldn’t find my US sim card. Because I had taken off the phone’s protective cover (where my sims roam happily about) so I could charge the phone with his case in the car. He thought it was in his pocket.

Maybe it was dropped while we were at our neighbor’s house.

So, I am in total Nancy Drew mode with eyes glued on the street. Looking for a needle in a haystack. Because those suckers are small. I retrace our steps back to neighbor’s house. Ask one of the kids to bring me to her mother. She is having tea with a woman named Nathalie who was picking up her child. Makes introductions.

I say, “So very sorry to intrude.”

Don’t find the sim card. On my way out of her home husband calls and says he found it. Great. I bid them a fond adieu and head back home.

I never saw the lovely Swiss lady again.

I continued to walk in the park each day for an hour. Got to keep my girlish figure. Or rather to find it again somewhere under the empty nest, smoking cessation, 0 friend list, twenty pound weight gain.

On one of my walks I saw a lady walking towards me. Figured she was an expat. I smile and say hello.

Side note: I had told my friend, Nancy, that I was going to say hi to every single lady/expat in the park as a way of putting myself out there. Just a little human experiment to pass the time. She was like okay, good luck with that.

The woman returns my smile with a cheerful one of her own. And we continue to walk in opposite directions.

A few days later I am huffing and puffing through the park when I see a woman who looks familiar. I think I know her. Can’t place her. Think she was woman I saw during a previous walk in the park.

She is heading toward me and smiles at me. I return the smile and say, “We should be walking together!!!”

The woman stops, does a turnabout, grabs my arm and we are now walking together in the same direction.

As we are walking, she says, “I thought I knew you!”

How does she know me???

She tells me that she remembered me from the day I was looking for the sim card at the Swiss lady’s home.

This was Nathalie!

Anyway, small world. We walked for an hour together. I heard all about her world. And she heard about mine.

She asks if I heard about this organization called Delhi Network. I told her I don’t think I had and I am a pretty good researcher. If I did, maybe the website wasn’t working when I checked.

She used to attend before she started working and said that expats (mostly women) meet each week for a coffee morning at a hotel. Almost in my own backyard. They have lectures, excursions, educational tours, etc.

Nathalie said I should just show up but she would double check which day the coffee was held.

That evening she texted me with the details.

I attended the next coffee, signed up with the group and started making pals. Went on a city tour, wine tasting in the country, frequented bazaars, etc.

I never saw Nathalie again. She was a teacher at the German school. Maybe she even moved by now.

But I might never have met her if I didn’t put myself out there and forced myself to talk to the young mother strolling on the street.

It was just making the effort.

A step in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A lot of people ask me if I like living in India.

The answer is absolutely.

Well, except for the air quality. 😦 No good.

Also the temps are starting to rise a bit. Today it is 102 degrees (F) or 30 degrees (C).

Despite those two things I do enjoy being here.

I love my neighborhood. Every day I discover something different, new or exciting. I’m totally learning.

We are getting ready to move. Again. LOL. But only a couple of blocks away. Same ‘hood.

Our house is in a lovely area. But the construction next door was/is driving us batty. It is like Chinese water torture. Every. Single. Minute. Drip. Drip. Drip.

We considered moving to a popular expat area across town.

Big skyscrapers in a gorgeous golf course setting. The apartments are ridiculously spacious-like 6000 square feet. The building boasts a movie theater on ground floor. Along with a gym, coffee shop and restaurant. Even a pub.

The outdoor pool would put you in mind of a Caribbean resort. Swimming through a labyrinth that’s shielded by towering palm trees.

Went to dinner there with my husband’s associate and his wife. They reside there and love it. Who wouldn’t? Very nice setup.

Couldn’t punch holes in it if I tried.

The wife of the associate was gracious. Explained how safe it was.

We totally figured that one out.

Had to register with guards to enter the gated community. Told them who we were visiting. Then we were on our way.

Came upon another gate at their actual building. Same drill. Security fellows allowed us entry.

Last line of defense against solar panel guys, Jehovah Witnesses and people like us who slipped past the first two gates? Yes, you guessed it.

One more smiling fellow on the ground floor of the building. Located near the elevators.

I was impressed with all of the amenities that the community offered. The woman told me about yoga classes, golfing, groups, etc.

She continued, “You’d never have to leave here.”

Ahhhh. And there it was. My hole punch.

I tried to hide my “deer in the headlights” look.

I’d never have to leave the grounds of this secure and closed community.

Which is totally fine for a four day stay at an island resort.

Okay, I understand that there are a lot of folks out there that would love this. Never have to worry about a thing. A pristine, sanitized, happy bubble.

I’m not knocking anyone. It’s just not me. At least, not the me I am today.

I know that no one stays in the community all of the time. They do leave the compound. LOL

We don’t drive here in India (company doesn’t allow) so I do a lot of walking. We have a driver but I have him drop me off at a park or I will just roam our neighborhood on foot. I always feel safe and I am careful.

You lose some independence by not driving. So I regain a bit of it by walking and exploring the dusty side streets. Never knowing what I will see. Monkeys, mongoose or sick bat stuck on a fence.

Strolling through the acres of the public parks with the funky birds and different sights.

I told my husband (we were waiting to hear on one last house in our current neighborhood) if the last house didn’t pan out then we needed to do what made the most sense financially, work transportation, etc. If that ended up being this expat spa resort then so be it.

I’d find friends and make the best of it. And leave the compound every now and again. 🙂

 

In the end, the house in our current neighborhood did pan out and we will move there in the next week or so.

Yay!

It really made me realize just how much I enjoy discovering something different, new or exciting. Each and every day in my wonderful host country. In my colorful neighborhood.

I look forward to sharing my discoveries with you.

 

 

 

 

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When I wrote about Kyle, two postings back, it was prompted by a few different things.

Yes, a pal and I were discussing him because one of Kyle’s friends recently passed away.

But there were other reasons that prompted my writing. Soon realized it would result in more than one blog posting.

Here is one of them.

I was reading an article that disturbed me. It was the story of a decorated veteran, like Kyle, who also brought back something from Vietnam.

This hero’s name was Andrew. He came from a Southern military family. His father and brothers served our country. Andrew volunteered for Vietnam.

His position was “Forward Observer.”

The following is a quote from a guy who served with him.

“During the period when Lieutenant Brannan served, the Forward Observer had the shortest life expectancy of any category of soldier in Vietnam.”

Can you imagine what horrors he witnessed? What horrors he might have inflicted?

All accounts show that Lieutenant Brannan returned from Vietnam a changed person. He had experienced warfare. Like Kyle he had been exposed to Agent Orange. Family loss and weakening mental health only added to the trouble that was brewing ahead of him.

It just sounds like he couldn’t get it together after the war. He isolated himself. Couldn’t finish school. Wasn’t successful with his marriage. Was eventually put on meds. Lived in a plywood shack he constructed. Spent lot of time trekking alone in woods.

He was off his medication for a few days when he was pulled over by a young police officer for a traffic violation in 1998.

The end result is that Andrew Brannan killed a Sheriff’s Deputy. There is a video of the actual confrontation and crime. No disputing the video.

The video shows a man (who did not know he was being filmed) exhibiting erratic behavior. Dancing around weirdly. Then he grabs a rifle from his truck. If you notice his stance and movements toward the policeman’s car it would put you in mind of a soldier during the middle of a war scene.

No disputing the man wasn’t right in the head.

This veteran murdered an innocent, young man that day.

A heart-breaking tragedy for the family of the deputy. And so many others.

On January 15, 2015,  Andrew Brannan was executed by lethal injection in the state of Georgia.

His lawyers tried to get his sentence commuted to life without parole. But they lost their appeals. So Lieutenant Brannan, decorated veteran with severe PTSD, ceased to exist.

Just feels kind of rotten to kill someone who served our country by killing for us. So much wrong with that sentence. No pun intended.

In a prepared statement given to his lawyers, he said: ‘I am proud to have been able to walk point for my comrades, and pray that the same thing does not happen to any of them.’

In his official last statement, moments before the injection was administered, Brannan said: ‘I extend my condolences to the Dinkheller family, especially Kyle’s parents and his wife and his two children.’ 

I was discussing the death penalty with my friend, Jenny, on a recent visit to Malaysia.  There are many viewpoints on this very hot topic. We touched upon a few.

There is this one. How about we don’t kill anyone at all?

The guilty could suffer every day. Just like the surviving victims of their crimes. Or become remorseful. Or get help if they are mentally ill.

One “newly available” cell will not make a difference in America’s already over-crowded and over-burdened prisons. The death penalty does not deter.

Evil exists. I have no doubt about that. But not all criminals are evil. That’s another blog posting.

No one is above the law. Whether you served your country or not. Everyone needs to be accountable in a courtroom in they committed a crime.

The punishment, however, is the tricky thing. Especially for the U.S. because we actually have States that still practice the death penalty.

Side note: Along with more than fifty countries in the world. If you look at that guest list you’d reconsider going to the party. Not exactly the finest bedfellows.

So can a person who is or was mentally ill be executed?

Sure.

Usually not mentally retarded folks. But history will show more than a few, with IQs less than 70, got the chair or injection. More than a few.

Mentally ill? Jury is still out on that one.

Is everyone who commits an act of murder mentally ill? Even if it’s temporary?

I do not believe that the late Lieutenant Brannan, Bronze Star recipient, was evil. He was just very ill.

Andrew Brannan was a fresh-faced young man from the South who proudly served his country. He came from a family who all served their country. He was one of the “lucky ones” who came back.

But he brought something back from those jungles and it was called mental illness. In the form of PTSD.

Honestly? I think we killed him twice.

His lawyers might have failed him by not getting the “life without parole” sentence but it sure is tough for folks not to be emotionally moved by a young widow with small children. Especially when it’s the family of a police officer.

But who is really responsible and could this all have been avoided?

We (our nation) are responsible and yes it could have been avoided. If we never sent our boys off to war. If we never exposed them to chemicals and atrocities that would haunt them for the rest of their lives.

But that horse is already out of the barn.

Nothing to be done for Kyle or Andrew. Too late.

What can be done for the many others who are still out there suffering?

Maybe every time we say “Thank you for your service” to a veteran it’s not just a rote “see how patriotic I am” reaction. Instead of that gratefulness recusing any work, charitable or not, on our part why not explore how we can actually support them. What if every “thank you” prompted a knee-jerk act of kindness of compassion? Being an advocate for their needs. Donating time or resources. Reflect on those suffering. Before posting passive-aggressive memes “Helping homeless U.S. Veterans before refugees” without doing anything except moving digits on a keyboard maybe take the time to actually help homeless U.S. Veterans.

So many opportunities to help so many.

In memory of the Kyles and Andrews who sacrificed their minds and their bodies.

For us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My girlfriend and I did some exploring near the newly purchased home. On this particular day it was a lunch at “The Square Peg” in the historic, waterfront town of Warren, Rhode Island. Followed by us checking out some of the local shops.

I’m compiling a list to share of fun places to see/explore in the area for my female friends.  Work in progress. So wait for it.

For now, though.

Lunch was so good. We enjoyed it very much. Had street tacos, I believe. I don’t consider myself a fan of corn tortillas (I am a flour girl) but I really liked these. The place was bustling with activity. Older couples possibly retired. Ladies who lunch. Even a couple of families. Not a tourist among them.

I recommend the restaurant.

Now, onto the shops.

Stopped by a welcoming and brightly decorated storefront and decided to enter. A beacon of warmth on a cold January day.

Whimsies.

We loved the shop. From the minute we walked in and saw a dog standing behind the cash register. LOL.

We got to chatting. I’m always curious about a person’s journey.

Andrea, the owner, was super nice. Her store is filled with the work of local crafters and artisans. Takes in items on consignment also. She had a look at the upcycled furniture pieces my friend had on her Etsy website. Liked them and said she was certainly welcome to bring them into her shop. See if they would sell there.

I asked her, “So you love coming to work every day?”

And she said, “I love it.”

Now, this is not something she has been doing all her life. She raised her people and enjoyed it. Then was sort of in the right place at the right time. And took a risk. Starting and running your own business always includes risk. Along with hard work and a whole lot of faith.

So, Andie, as it states on her website, is not only living her dream but helping local artisans pass along their gifts. How cool is that? Really?

See the site here.

What did I take from the shop that day? By making the decision to cross that threshold?

Besides a couple of framed pieces.

Reinforced that the whole notion of kindness and friendliness should be a rule and not the exception. That we need to lift each other up. Always. Women and local artists. People in general. We should shop local. A realization that the journey is not always easy. And that there are people out there actually living their dream. Who will inspire us.

Andrea also recommended other places to shop like Cerulean. Another lovely place with beautiful, locally made items and a friendly atmosphere. Owned by women. They will also be on my list of “fun places to visit” especially when they expand their shop with the next door property and begin to offer classes.

Whimsie’s also has an active Facebook page. Send a request to Whimsies. She posts new shop pieces and links to other fun stuff going on in the area.

I just noticed a link posted about an apothecary class she took at a place called “The Stitchery.” That looks fun! I had a glance at their site and checked out the different offerings.

Also saw photos Andrea recently shared of a facility in Fall River, Massachusetts where a fellow is focusing on bringing back the lost art of scrimshaw. His pieces will be in her shop. So wonderful!

There are so many fabulous people, places and things out there. Just have to get out there and make an effort to connect with your fellow humans. You’ll take away so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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