Archive for the ‘Positive Thinking’ Category

I have been visiting a nursing home each day in a nearby town. Just before Thanksgiving, in support of the residents, there were tables lined with many theme-styled gift baskets/hampers. Sports, pets, wines, spas, games and lottery were some of the themes. A person could buy tickets and then put their stubs in a tin can associated with the basket. The staff would pull the winning tickets on December 16th.

So, I thought I’d show my support. Bought a string of tickets and plunked them down in the various tins. Baskets that appealed to me.

Well, December 16th rolls around and I am making my daily visit. The receptionist sees me and exclaims, “Mary, you won!”

“TWO baskets!”

Funny, it just happened to be one of those days. God must have thought I needed a little pick-me-up.

One was a “Pot of Gold.”It had fifty scratch-off lottery tickets.

The other was a “Family Games” hamper.

I brought them home and under the Christmas tree they went. Thought it would be fun to have my adult children open them on December 25th.

Christmas morning arrives. After exchanging gifts, we all furiously scratched the fifty tickets. Some small winnings here and there. No big jackpots.

No one seemed interested in the “Family Games” basket so I opened it later in the day.

Table tennis, whiffle balls and more!

Wait, one box contained a juggling kit. Something new to learn! To hell with the on-line Latin course!

Donum cape! Seize the gift!

But what’s wrong with the following photo?

I cannot lie. The word “video” on the box didn’t capture my attention. Too intent on the contents.

I opened the box and noticed a few things not quite right. The leathery balls in bright, primary colors seemed to almost flake in my hands. I quickly put them back in the box before they disintegrated. There are already too many messes to clean in the house.

The other thing was that there was a musty smell coming from the box.

There was also a video. A video??? It’s been ages since we have had a VCR in this home.

So, yes, this particular box in the basket was quite dated.

Was I disappointed? No. I thought it was funny.

I totally understand how this happened. These were all gift baskets donated by friends and families of nursing home residents. While some folks went out and purchased items I am quite certain a few donors looked around their houses, attics and garages to happily contribute/compile a theme basket.

There are some lessons here.

If you are hanging on to something?

Let it go! Let it go! Let it go!

It does not even have to be a material, physical thing.

Give your gifts while they are fresh. Current. Useful. While you are fresh. Current. Useful.

Do not save your gift giving for a rainy day. Or a rainy year. Or a rainy decade.

It might not serve any purpose.

There is no time like the present. A purpose driven present.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year! A purpose driven 2023!

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Hello, there! It’s been awhile since I’ve written. My apologies. Started many times-so much to say! But, oh, that pesky side-tracking business.

Today I must! I will keep it short and simple.

This season and day can be difficult for folks. I know, not exactly a news flash.

Many families are experiencing the loss of a loved one. Some have plans that will not materialize.

Due to finances. Or a sudden bout with Covid. Foul weather. Illnesses. A host of other reasons.

Sometimes things do not work out as planned. And it can be utterly disappointing.

Instead of wishing away the day (because, in fact, by doing this you are wishing a day of YOUR life away) take the time to reflect or begin a new tradition.

Or just peacefully be.

Each and every day is truly a blessing. The older I become the more I realize it.

Don’t squander the gift.

Today, I wish you all a peaceful day.

Catch my hug.

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So, I recently began my fifty-ninth year on the planet. As my birthday approached I pondered on how to auspiciously mark the occasion.

What I did was this. I donated fifty-eight items. Things that I already had in my possession. I know it sounds big but it’s not. For me, anyway. And, going out on a limb here, probably not for you.

I have a lot going on at the moment, so probably putting more pressure on myself via lofty goals/challenges has a tinge of masochism to it. But that is how I roll. Remember when I did the 100 book a year challenge? Yeah, that was sick. That had me reading the last book on New Year’s Eve!!

Routinely, I cull the inventory in the home. I’m pretty good about it. But there is always more. When different charitable organizations (who pick up at your door!) ask for donations, I usually say, “Yes.” Because then I am totally committed. So, when they contacted me just before my birthday, it was a well-timed call.

I like giving. And I don’t like clutter. I also don’t want to leave messes for folks to clean up in my absence.

For my birthday, I gathered books already read, games not being played, supplies not utilized, clothes not being worn, vases, dishes, kitchen items and more. All things that someone else can use and enjoy.

Totally met my number of fifty-eight. Surpassed it actually. Easier than one would think.

Enjoy your weekend. Keep safe and healthy.

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Well, tomorrow is my birthday. And although tomorrow is not promised to any of us, if I wake up to greet another day then I will be fifty-eight years old. I did the math. It’s true. It feels strange to write that. The fifty-eight part.

I actually took a minute thinking about what I want for the special day.

I do not want cake. And I do not need candles to make wishes.

My preferred method of making wishes is blowing on dandelions that have gone to seed.

A month or so ago, I was chatting with the groundskeeper on the front lawn of a local church where I volunteer. Small world. His late Uncle was my English teacher in high school.

In the midst of the conversation I crouched down, plucked a dandelion and made my wishes. And in the process, most likely made this guy’s future work a bit more difficult by spreading more weeds.

He laughed and said, “I just knew you were going to do that.”

Now, I didn’t even know I was going to do that.

But I do it often.

When I visit my father’s grave there is always an errant dandelion.

I could look at it like, “Mary, you need to do a better job of tending this area.”

Or like I actually do, “This is a moment of solitude, conversation with my Dad and a time for wishes.”

Common folklore that has been attached to dandelions. In addition to granting wishes, many people believe that dandelion seeds will carry your thoughts and dreams to loved ones when you blow them into the air.

So, my birthday wish is to send my thoughts and dreams to my loved ones. Wishing only good health and time that is worry free.

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I do get a kick out of reading the local police blotter. It usually provides me with a few moments of levity and a respite from the crazy, big world out there. Of course, I don’t always read things the way others do.

I chuckled when reading about the guy yelling at pedestrians. #WWJD. I also thought maybe it was Jesus who flagged down the six people on the patio area in the first blurb.

Visions of this ethereal figure waving a staff. Breaking up the gathering of partiers. That’s God’s work right there. 🙂

That line though. They didn’t locate him. Comedy gold. Because if it was Jesus? You do the math. #disappeared #catchmeifyoucan

The last bit about the resident having an “issue with a squirrel” made me laugh out loud. I love it when the local newspaper italicizes phrases. I imagine the officer doing “air quotes” when relaying this information. Do we really need the police as mediators for your issue with a squirrel? That truly sounds like a job for social services or a counselor. Or, honestly? Just do your darned best to work it out with the squirrel. I’m sure a compromise can be met if both parties are willing.

Enjoy the day. Give yourself a break from the serious news for a few minutes.

It’s all how you read it.

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Hope everyone is doing well and surviving the heat. I can write this knowing that, wherever you are in the world, your face most likely has a slight sheen to it. Hmph. Global warming isn’t a thing?

Yesterday, I went to the drive-through pharmacy. Thank goodness, America got that one right. I pulled up to the window.

The lady pulls back the plexiglass, “Can I help you?”

I almost said, “Yes, I need directions to the interstate.”

“I need help weeding my garden.”

“I could use a hand with some pesky neighbors.”

“How do I fix my Spotify? The songs keep skipping, every minute or so, in the car.”

But I bite my tongue and reply, “Hi! Here to pick up a prescription.”

Why else would I be at a pharmacy on a Sunday afternoon? But I digress.

She asks, “What’s your name?”

Not, “What’s the name?”

I wasn’t picking up a prescription for myself. It was for my dog. Does she really want my name? To create confusion?

I immediately think, “What’s the right answer to this?”

So I blurt out, “Thumper.”

She just looks at me. I look right back with the utmost seriousness and say, “I know I don’t look like a Thumper.”

It is what it is.

We exchange niceties. She has two more hours on her shift and the day off tomorrow. Seems thrilled.

Transaction winding down.

Do I want the receipt? No. Because I want to save a tree. This particular pharmacy is known (world wide) for their mile long receipts filled with coupons, surveys, etc. No lie. No exaggeration.

As I am leaving she asks, as every pharmacy employee does, “Do you have any questions?”

I looked at her and said, “Yes, I do have a question.”

“What on earth was my Mom thinking when she named me Thumper?”

She chuckled and off I went.

Hope you all have a wonderful start to the week. Remember to be kind to those out there who serve us in so many ways.

And if you can’t be kind?

Be funny. That is a kindness.

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Hope everyone is well and enjoyed their weekend.

I had a busy week. But all good.

Wherever I roam, whether alone or in a pack, I usually pick up a pearl or two of wisdom. Thankfully.

One of those pearls came from a woman who I had the pleasure of lunching with this past week.

A group of us had visited the “Beyond Van Gogh” immersive exhibition. It was wonderful. I’ll share a few photographs in my next posting.

Afterwards, we had reservations at an Italian restaurant. The woman sitting near me was a retired judge and we were chatting about this and that.

During the course of conversation, she recalled, “My mother said, “Make it easy.”

I absolutely loved that.

Don’t complicate things.

Her mother always said this.

It does not mean take it easy. Although that certainly is not bad advice either. It means make it easy.

If you make it easy then maybe you can take it easy.

Isn’t it amazing, even with the vast wisdom and experiences of the world, the best advice many people ever received somehow circles back to their mothers?

So, as we begin another week, my wish is that you all make it easy.

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Dignity

Once a week I volunteer at a food pantry. This is a place where people who suffer from food insecurity can receive fresh eggs (from a nearby farm), protein, pantry staples, bread, sweets, etc. It is quite the operation. There is a ton of donated food. I am always amazed.

NO ONE should go hungry. And if you are in RI and know someone who needs this please send me a message. I’m Irish stock. I still read “Famine” stories and am repulsed. Those who know will understand why I used apostrophes for the word famine. It was never a famine. The thought of someone hungry actually sickens me.

It works like this. Person comes in and maybe they’re registered. So they fill out a form to check off what they need for this day. Soup, pasta, canned tomatoes, rice, olives, peanut butter, etc. Paper turned in and a volunteer is immediately filling the order-alongside a bagger/runner. The recipient moseys along because fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, pork, beef is provided on tables/coolers. When they arrive at the last table their pantry items are delivered, bagged and ready to roll.

My job, although not in the actual description, is to ensure dignity. That’s my own job description. No one should feel bad about asking for help.

So, I engage each person. I blow kisses to babies. I ask everyone how they are doing. I’m almost manic. I want their experience to be positive. Everyone should feel comfortable in this space. I talk about weather, babies, kids, health, recipes, etc.

A month ago there was a young woman. She had a job loss due to a medical condition and met with a resource in a different town to figure out things. They referred her to our pantry for food. Her eyes kept filling up-I don’t know how to describe it. She was sad but also, I think, embarrassed. But she had kids and a mother will do anything to feed her young ones. Yes, I gulped.

My message today is not too many folks want a “hand out.” Sure, there are some. But what I am seeing, every week, are people with disabilities/challenges, job loss, single parents, working poor, etc.

We need to practice and understand what a “hand up” means. And when we extend that hand it should be with utmost dignity.

The utmost dignity.

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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.

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Happy Father’s Day.

My dad died five years ago and I think of him all the time. Many folks are experiencing the first Father’s Day without their Dad. It’s tough. And a lot of us know exactly how you are feeling today. Sending big hugs.

One of the many things I miss about Dad is our frequent conversations about family history and genealogy.

I became obsessed with genealogy more than a decade ago. Mine and anyone else’s family history! I was completely fascinated with so many narratives. Reading old newspapers and veering off into the stories of strangers. As a result I learned. So much. Still learning.

Came across this story during my research.

It’s about a woman named Charity Palmer Southgate who lived in Falmouth, Pendleton County, Kentucky. Not a story you hear every day in the African-American narrative.

Most of the Black population of Falmouth descends from Charity. I was fortunate to correspond with one of her descendants who is an African-American playwright and author.

I copied the following excerpt from a history site.

The story of Charity Southgate is based on information compiled by Pendleton County Circuit Clerk Marvin Sullivan.

The story starts about 1806 or 1807 in Louden County, Va., where a woman named Patsy gave birth to a daughter.

Patsy, whose last name was spelled various ways in legal documents as Parmer, Palmour and Palmer, had been living in the home of her brother-in-law Robert Foster.

The birth was treated as a family disgrace. Not only was the woman apparently not married, but the father of her child was apparently a black, a house servant of Foster.

The family moved the child, named Charity, to Bardstown when the girl was 2 or 3 years old. She lived there with the family of a man named Asher Pullen until about 1822 when Jonathan Reid appeared, armed with a power of attorney papers signed by Philip L. Palmour. The letter authorized Reid to take possession of the girl, which he did. He moved her to Falmouth where she was placed in the custody of Samuel Wilson.

The girl, who apparently had not been treated as slave up to that point, was treated as a slave by Wilson. With the aid of a friend, Joshua Powell, Charity filed suit in 1824 asking the court to declare her a free woman.

That began a 26-year court battle with several legal issues raised.

Among the legal issues was the question of exactly who her parents were. If the accounts of second-hand witnesses were true about the birth to a white woman than the issue was raised as to whether Charity was born a free woman because her mother was white.

It was fairly common at the time for children to be born with a white slave owner as the father and a black slave woman as the mother. In those cases the child was usually considered a slave because the mother was black. But the situation was reversed in Charity’s case.

If Charity was legally a slave, there was the question of testimony that her “owner or guardian” had declared Charity was to be held as a slave only until she reached the age of 28.

While the court battle waged, Charity apparently was sold twice – once to Andrew S. Hughes and then by him to Martin Willett. Records also mention a daughter, Lucy, who was sold as a slave.

Charity apparently had another daughter by a black man and a son by a white man. Then she apparently married a black man named Allen Southgate, with whom she had several children.

Those relationships explain the differences in the way some of her children are listed on a 1850 Pendleton County census.

In that census her oldest daughter living at home, Rebecca, 25, is listed as black; the oldest son, Elsey Hughes, 23, is listed as a mulatto like his mother; while the other children, all with the last name of Southgate, are listed as black like their father, Allen Southgate, who was identified as a 45 year old laborer. Charity at the time was 42 years old.

The Southgate children were listed as Charlotte, 20; Amy, 18; Lucinda, 16; Polley Ann, 14; John A., 12; Abraham, 10; Edmund, 6; and Minerva, 4.

Also listed as living with the Southgate family in 1850 was a white man, John Morgan, who was 70.

The records are confusing but the courts apparently eventually declared Charity a free woman. She died in the spring of 1868.

Next two paragraphs were written by her descendant.

Charity was born a free woman of color (she was sold into slavery (illegally) at the age of 16 by someone representing her white maternal family. (Charity was the daughter of a white woman and a man of color).

Charity (with the help of a white attorney friend) pleaded her “legal free status” for years until she won. She won the case because it was proven she was the daughter of a white woman in Virginia. (Not that she was simply half white). Charity knew that children of color born to white women, by law, were considered free because white women were free. Charity got her freedom back because she was specifically the daughter of a white woman.

Very interesting case.

History matters and while much of it can be painful every one needs to learn it.

Right?

There is, in my state, a curriculum on African-American history that was created by a commission five years ago. Just sitting there waiting.
The curriculum is not just about slavery although that is how the story begins for African-Americans. I have written, as others have, to my Representative in the House, asking for support. It is just a matter of providing legislation to authorize RIDE (Department of Education) to include this. The Representative has already responded and said she has taken the issue up with another House colleague. A woman of color and a Providence teacher. Will keep me posted.

History matters.

It is really difficult to hear so many ugly things being said in this current environment. I am here to tell you (no surprise) that racism is definitely out there. Make no bones about it. Everywhere. North. South. East. West. So there needs to be a change.

But can racist adults change their way of thinking? One person told me there is absolutely no way racists can change. 100% guaranteed me. I don’t know if that’s true but….

If not-then how do we combat this? So people do feel safe. So their children feel safe. So they feel like valued members of their communities.

Maybe, just maybe, teaching every child in our Public School System the history, trials, tribulations and contributions of African-Americans will allow those little people to grow and embrace (not just tolerate) our differences. And be adults who appreciate inclusion and not divisiveness.

Here’s hoping!

It’s definitely worth a shot.

Note: My support of the curriculum was as a result of listening to the voice of someone who was on the commission that created the curriculum.

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