Thursday, February 25, 2010

Getting Psyched For Spring!

Spring is just around the corner. I know you say, "But Diane today we are having a huge blizzard!" Well, I choose to disregard this weather and think Spring!

Today I was reminded of a notable author, whose writing on the human condition, nature and anarchy against big government were prolific. Henry David Thoreau, was from Concord, Massachusetts, the son of a pencil factory entrepreneur. He studied at Harvard, and refused to pay the five dollar fee for his graduation diploma. The diploma was written on sheep skin, and Thoreau commented that he was saving the poor sheep. His friends were fellow writers, such as Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne's son Julian. He strongly opposed slavery, and often spoke out against it. Thoreau was a man of high moral principles, yet remained an admirable individualist.

His love of nature, and the lovely area of Massachusetts that he called home inspired much of his writing. While spending a great deal of time in the woods of Maine in search of primeval America, he learned that a balance between the two; wilderness, and civilization was the most appropriate way for man to live his life.

Today there is a group founded with the purpose of preserving his writing, and educating those who are interested in learning more about this one of a kind human being. Here is a link to The Henry David Thoreau Society:

"I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." Henry David Thoreau from Walden.

It is now the twenty-fifth day of February, with Spring just around the corner, and I am reading Thoreau, and his words of wisdom are psyching me up for a Spring that will be the new beginning of a more active and fulfilling life. I look forward to once again getting out there, amongst the squirrels, chipmunks, and bunnies enjoying the beauty of nature while listening to the cheerful song of the birds as they move lightly and swiftly, darting from tree to tree in my own little piece of the world that I call neighborhood.

"We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake . . . by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor." Henry David Thoreau from Walden.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tranquil Tuesdays

Do you remember my Walp's Wednesdays? Well during the days of Lent I am going to try something new for my blog; Tranquil Tuesdays. I am going to record tranquil scenes from my own neighborhood, and feature them with a few positive affirmations, and Biblical verses.

Today the video that I am featuring is of a hummingbird at my back porch feeder from last summer.

Follow God's example in everything you do just as a much loved child imitates his father. Be full of love for others, following the example of Christ who loved you and gave Himself to God as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, for Christ's love for you was like sweet perfume to Him. Ephesians 5:1-2 The Living Bible

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The bluebird carries the sky on his back.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Children Learn From Our Words

I have had many excellent teachers during my school days in New Jersey. Some of them stand out in my mind as kind, and compassionate. However the little snippets of memories that stand out most in my mind are those produced by the less compassionate teachers. I remember the ridicule in front of my peers by a second grade teacher. I can remember her exact words; "Diane close your mouth, are you catching flies?" I was so traumatized I went home and told my mother, who called the school and told her off. She was the wife of a minister too. My mouth was open, because I spent my entire childhood with sinus infections, making it hard to breathe through my nose. My peers soon began making fun of my snotty nose. It is no wonder why I hated school, and missed allot of days as a child.

Teachers should realize that the way they treat their students will spill over onto how their peers will treat them. Just as parents are under the pressures of day to day living, and earning a living, teachers are only human and fall prey to those short tempered moments when a child pushes all the wrong buttons. Many times it isn't even the child who pushes the buttons that gets the fallout. It is that last raw nerve that becomes so aggravated, that one is at the mercy of complete exasperation.

However if we want to be a good memory of a future adult, then we must be diligent to curb our temperament, and make better choices in how we react in front of the children we influence today.

As a parent we tell our children we love them. We hug them when they are adorable and oh so lovable. Suddenly, they are not co-operating, creating messes, and upsetting the peace we need after a hard day. Now those children are equating love with anger, fowl or demeaning language, and sometimes physical pain. In my memory the lasting hurt came from the words that were spoke to me. My father who I know loved me, said many hurtful things, using words like fat, ugly, and sickening to me. He also hit me with a leather belt. But, the sting of the belt was nothing compared to the words.

His words lead me to search out love and approval from men who were just like him. They were either emotionally unattainable, or hurtful, demeaning alcoholics. My mother was a loving, kind person who was extremely altruistic. However, she was the wife of my father, and often tried to explain his behavior away as a necessary fatherly responsibility. She often apologized to me for his behavior, but condoned it as his inability to grasp proper fatherhood qualities because he was abandoned by his own father.

It has taken me many years of self searching to realize that I fostered a victim mentality for years, and years. I still struggle with that victim mentality. My older brother once confronted me on this issue, and I was dumbfounded, and clueless at that moment. I felt defensive, and hurt at his accusations. Once again I felt like a victim. Poor pitiful me, why do I always end up with the short end of the stick?

The wake up call came in a class facilitated by the Warren County Adult Education Program, and taught by Dr. Gwen Roquemore, entitled Taking It To The Limit. She helped me realize, "If it would be, it is up to me, if I am not for me, who would be?" Another affirmation she taught me was, "Never allow anyone to create feelings in you that are not enlightening, enhancing, or empowering."

Many, many years of my life were spent healing from the words of several of the adults who were supposedly role models in my childhood. So please weigh your words when spoken to, and in front of the children GOD placed in your life...PLEASE!

Monday, February 15, 2010

When The Happy Ending Isn't There

I haven't written in well over a week. Since then I have had friends who have passed on, two from cancer, and one from injuries incurred from an accident that happened one year ago.

Victoria Carro Fiorucci Sanford is the aunt to my life long friends, the Maslonka family which includes my very good friend Cynthia. Vicky lived in our neighborhood, my mother baby sat for her children, and my dad worked with Vicky at Alpha Lehigh Tool. There was also a funny coincidence that over the course of several years long ago, I had lived at three separate addresses in which Vicky had previously resided. She fought a valiant fight against pancreatic cancer. She will remain in my heart as one of the sweetest, most loving, yet strong women in my life.

Barbara Ehrhardt worked with me at the Warren County Welfare Board from April of 1991-April of 1999. From September of 96-99 our desks were back to back and we sat face to face as clerk typists/receptionists for the Food Stamp Office. We had lots of fun times, and Barb was known for adding to our morale by copying the Express Times crossword and Jumble puzzles for us on a daily basis. Each and every Thursday she took our lunch orders for Chinese food, called them in, and greeted the delivery guy at the door. I still kept in touch with her by phone and e-mail these past 10 years. I just deleted her e-mail address last night, and I cried. It was the first time I had to do that because of a death. Her e-mail address so fit her personality, it was "besmile". I will always remember Barbara as having a smile on her face. She loved to make all occasion cards and oil painting. She loved Patrick Swayze. She also loved the movie The Enchanted Cottage. After loosing a lung to cancer, she had gone through years of chemo therapy,with an attitude of acceptance, always leaning on her deep faith in the Lord.

Marty Lantosh, was a neighbor, who was my brother David's age. I can picture him as a child coming in our parent's store, and buying penny candy. His mother Helen pierced my ears when I was eleven, and his sister Helen has been a lifelong friend. Marty was in an accident on February 11, 2009 and received extensive brain injuries, he passed one year to the day of the accident on February 11, 2010. I had so hoped for a miracle for Marty. I really thought he was going to recover.

Today I heard on the news that the body of Brittany Gengel had been recovered from the rubble of the Hotel Montana in Haiti. She and three other students as well as two teachers from Lynn University were still missing since the earthquake on January 12, 2010. They were all there on a mission to help feed the poor. When I saw her parents on the news right after the earthquake they were so positive that she was alive. I have been praying for her safe return, for a miracle.

Sometimes there are no happy endings in life, and it is very hard to try and understand why so much pain and suffering is allowed to happen. We see loving people who love the Lord, and are kind and good go through suffering. We see others who have turned their lives around and have much to live for, loose their will to live, and pass on way too soon. We wonder why God allows this to happen.

There are many answers to the question, Why do bad things happen to good people. I have no answers to this question. I do however believe in the fact that our existence in this physical world is only temporary, short, and a learning experience. Just as a baby comes into this physical realm kicking and screaming, we leave it with sadness. That screaming baby has no idea of what is to come, and thus we need to look at the end of this physical realm as a new beginning. We will have the Lord to greet us and show us a new life with Him.

Someone posted this poem on the online guest book for my dear friend Barbara, and I couldn't have said it better. It was written by Ruth Ann Mahaffey

A Letter From Heaven

To my dearest family, some things I'd like to say...
but first of all, to let you know, that I arrived okay.
I'm writing this from heaven. Here I dwell with God above.
Here, there's no more tears of sadness; here is just eternal love.

Please do not be unhappy just because I'm out of sight.
Remember that I'm with you every morning, noon and night.
That day I had to leave you when my life on earth was through,
God picked me up and hugged me and He said, "I welcome you."

It's good to have you back again; you were missed while you were gone.
As for your dearest family, they'll be here later on.
I need you here badly; you're part of my plan.
There's so much that we have to do, to help our mortal man.

God gave me a list of things, that he wished for me to do.
And foremost on the list, was to watch and care for you.
And when you lie in bed at night, the day's chores put to flight.
God and I are closest to you....in the middle of the night.

When you think of my life on earth, and all those loving years
because you are only human, they are bound to bring you tears.
But do not be afraid to cry; it does relieve the pain.
Remember there would be no flowers, unless there was some rain.

I wish that I could tell you all that God has planned.
But if I were to tell you, you wouldn't understand.
But one thing is for certain, though my life on earth is o'er.
I'm closer to you now, than I ever was before.

There are many rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb;
but together we can do it by taking one day at a time.
It was always my philosophy and I'd like it for you too...
that as you give unto the world, the world will give to you.

If you can help somebody who's in sorrow and pain,
then you can say to God at night......"My day was not in vain."
And now I am contented....that my life has been worthwhile,
knowing as I passed along the way, I made somebody smile.

So if you meet somebody who is sad and feeling low,
just lend a hand to pick him up, as on your way you go.
When you're walking down the street, and you've got me on your mind;
I'm walking in your footsteps only half a step behind.

And when it's time for you to go.... from that body to be free,
remember you're not going.....you're coming here to me.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

When Food Brings Joy

Carnie Wilson is on Dr. Oz, and oh boy can I relate to her and her inner being.She is absolute proof that Bariatric Surgery is not a "cure all" for a person to loose weight. Yes, she did loose weight when she had the surgery,but she did not address her addictions and became an alcoholic. She recovered from the alcohol addiction, and now is back up over 200 lbs since birth of last child. While discussing what Carnie called "Baby Fat" she was reprimanded, as she was putting the blame on her baby, when in reality it was Carnie who ate the wrong food, and possibly too much of it while pregnant.

We need to learn why food brings joy. We need to replace that joy with real joy.

Dr. Oz said to automate your meals each day, and exercise daily, 10,000 steps. Get rid of the enablers in your life. I choose to educate the enablers since they are very important people who I love dearly, and some I have enabled. We need to work together.

An addict alone is in bad company. What great advice. Sometimes we feel alone when we are with someone. I personally need to change my daily routines, and get out of this prison that I have created. I need to get rid of the warden and replace her with a wise counselor.

In being honest, I still have this inner voice that tells me it would be okay to have a cheese steak every once and awhile. Then it says, "But you really do love to eat certain things, and enjoy them greatly." It also tells me that if I loose all that weight at my age I will have hanging skin, and look awful. I need to learn how to stop allowing this inner being that learned that food brings joy. I need to replace that joy with real joy.

God has put at least two people in my life who would be more than willing to help me learn how to eat sensibly. I am going to ask for help. You may remember my favorite quote by Goethe:

The Power of Commitment!

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative ( and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now".

- J. W. von Goethe

Isaiah 40:31 (New International Version)

31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Note: I have not offered how I will actually accomplish this, as I do not yet know, but I do know that I must reach out for help, and take that first step.

That is me in the middle. I want to look like that again, only 43 years older.