Humility

You know, sometimes, just when you think you have life pretty much figured out and know how to take care of all the basics, you find yourself utterly defeated by something completely ridiculous. In my past I’ve found myself challenged by big things like aging parents, angsty teens, mental illness, poverty, sexism, racism, and even sexual harassment. Those things are “normal” in the course of a lifetime I think unless you live on a pink cloud all by yourself where nothing ever happens. With God’s help, I have managed and can manage to face all those things, I think.

So, I’m feeling pretty confident about my life and myself this morning when my husband asks me to go buy gas for the lawnmower. He hands me the little red gas jug and proceeds to start mowing the back yard. No big deal! I’m happy to do it! So Buddy (my 10 year old Chihuahua) and I go to the small gas station a block away and I pull out my little red gas jug. I then proceed to fight with it for at least 5 minutes, trying not to swear at my husband beneath my breath as I do so. “Sugar bear!! Why did he ask me to do this anyway? Just because I’m incapable of mowing the lawn, that’s why! I know I don’t mow in straight lines and can’t turn corners, but this is too much!! Drat that man!” I struggled and I twisted and I pinched and, I couldn’t get it off! I couldn’t tell if I was doing something wrong or if I just wasn’t strong enough to squeeze the appropriate places and twist at the same time. I was about to give up when I noticed a young man pull up behind me to buy gas. He had a little boy in his back seat so I decided he looked safe and humbly went over and asked for help. (Women, as you know, this is something we have to be careful about. Some guys aren’t safe.) The young man said “Sure! No problem!” and then, of course, flipped something, twisted the cap and voila! The cap was off the jug in 2 seconds. I blushed at my lack of ability and humbly thanked him for his assistance. He couldn’t help himself. He grinned wryly at the old lady, i.e. me, and said, “Those things can be complicated until you’ve done it a time or two.” I laughed, he laughed and I went back to my gas pump, filled the jug with gas and the car with the gas and slinked humbly back home.

You know, we never will know everything or have all the answers. There will always be something that we need help with in this life. Whether it be getting a stupid cap off of a gas jug, getting help with our kids, parents, spouses, family at large, or even accepting help from complete strangers when we need it.

There are even those of us who have gone to church all our lives, read the bible all our lives and given ourselves to Jesus, who think we have all the answers down pat and, suddenly something comes up that leaves us questioning our previously held pat answers. I think society at large is in this state right now. So much about our society, social mores and values have changed over the last 20 years. Some of them are really good, some of them aren’t and some of them I don’t know about. Some of them I’m still wrestling with and so, I go to God’s word and try to find the answers. I have decided one thing for sure. Even if I don’t have all the answers, I know God does. I know He knows what the big picture looks like and that if I just submit to His will and “Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him,” (Micah 6:8) it will all work out okay in the end. I’m not God. I don’t have to have all the answers for every question or situation. I do need to act justly, treat people with love, dignity and mercy, and walk humbly with God. I might not agree with everyone else or anyone else, I might not be of the same religious beliefs or non-beliefs, political stripe, the same race, the same socioeconomic bracket, or of the same sexual orientation as someone else. It doesn’t matter. I am still asked, no, required, by God to act justly, treat all people with love, dignity, and mercy, and walk humbly with God. Especially when I can’t even get a stupid cap off of a gas jug, it occurs to me that I’m not in a position to act superior to anyone, ever. Do you?

Peace, blessings, and love for the week ahead to all of you,

Elaine

P.S. I have problems reading crochet and knitting patterns sometimes too. Everyone seems to think I know all there is to know about those hobbies, but let me tell you, they confound me sometimes! Here’s my current project. If I finish it and it actually ends up looking like this, I will let you know. 😀

Middle Aged World Travelers, Day Tour to Cork, Blarney Castle, and Cobh, Chapter 4, Part 1

Talk about a day of varied adventures and emotions! This day included everything from taking a train through the Irish countryside to the southeastern coast of Ireland to me kissing the Blarney stone to the shores of Cobh’ (pronounced Cove) where the Titantic and hundreds of other ships embarked for their trip to the new lands of the Americas. I will try to cover some of these grand adventures, but my pictures will probably tell the best story of all. A picture is worth a thousand words, after all, right?

May 20, 2015: My oldest son’s birthday and he was thousands of miles away in Chicagoland. As Alan and I passed the world-famous Guinness Brewery on the way to the train station early in the morning, I raised an imaginary glass of Guinness to my son in love and tribute for all the joy and love he has brought into my life. I can’t believe I have a son who is 31 years old with a son of his own. The years moved too quickly! The Guinness Brewery is not just a building, it is like a town within a town. Passing by it is really not an accurate description of it. Really it is more like you pass through a town of buildings of the brewery. You can take tours and get a free glass of Guinness at the end of the tour, but we didn’t have time to go.

As we arrived at the train station, wondering exactly where we were to go to meet our tour, I was delighted to find a kiosk with good, strong coffee and pastries too! I was feeling pretty hollow and the cup of coffee and perfect croissant I enjoyed did the trick! Fairly soon a man in a bright yellow slicker appeared and he was our tour guide. He was about 80 years old and has been doing tours all around Ireland ever since he retired from his “real” job many years before. He was like a little yellow-dressed leprechaun, darting from here to there and making sure everyone knew what to expect. He was also very relaxed. It was obvious he has been at this a long time and knew exactly how to help us enjoy the tour, but also to have time to breathe. I loved that.

First we made it to Cork and we transferred to a tour bus at that point. We took a ride through Cork with our guide sharing many important parts of history from that town and then we were at the Blarney Castle grounds. The emphasis is always on the Blarney Stone when you hear of Blarney Castle, but the entire compound is unbelievably beautiful and as you enter into the gardens, you feel like you’ve entered an enchanted garden. It is that magical. I felt like a little girl who had just been dropped into her favorite Disney movie as the princess heroine who was dazzled by all she saw. These are the first photos I made of the gardens. These flowers are show stoppers! I was so entranced by them, that I turned down coffee and food so I’d have time to drink in the pure beauty of these flowers.


I had never seen flowers so rich and pretty. I wish I could remember the name of them! I spoke with two ladies from Canada about these flowers at length and now…the name is gone!

As we continued on the path to Blarney Castle, we encountered this young man playing the old-fashioned lyric harp of Irish legend. You find the Irish lyre everywhere, even on their Euros! It has become the symbol of Ireland. This young man was very, very good playing this old instrument. It all added to the mysterious, almost magical experience of the castle.


We continued walking and would stop every once in a while just to gaze upon the beauty of the Blarney Castle grounds. You know how there are places in the world where you suddenly think that somehow you’ve entered onto holy ground, amidst a sacred place. Blarney Castle gives you that feeling in spades!

  

I mean, come on! Does that not look like a place where a leprechaun or fairy could pop up at any moment? As we neared the castle I suddenly heard an orchestra playing, of all thing, “Night on Bald Mountain,” which is a piece my orchestra played in high school. I confirmed with Alan that there was indeed music coming from somewhere so I knew I hadn’t made up the exciting, highly-skilled orchestra music.

As we reached the castle, the first thing we saw after crossing the algae covered moat was this, the dungeon of the castle and let me tell you; you never want to be in a true medieval dungeon! They’re tiny, dark, dank and slippery with water.


  

As we passed beyond the dungeon and the beautiful lone tower, we saw the orchestra that was playing. They finished playing their pieces and were putting away their instruments. We proceeded to the entrance of the actual castle, bought our tickets to see the Blarney stone and then started up, up deep to the inside of the castle. Two observations on the interior of the castle: 1) Those people were tiny in that day and age or there is no way they could have fit into some of those rooms! 2) The walls were of such thick stone that the temperature inside the castle was at least 5-10 degrees cooler than it was outside!

  
 This was a bed chamber for one of the daughters who lived in this castle.

The way up to the Blarney Stone is a very narrow, stone spiral staircase. The steps are small and shallow, the passageway narrow and without modern lighting, would be very dark indeed. Occasionally one came upon an opening, however, and you could see this bucolic scene below.


I’ve always wanted to say I gazed upon a bucolic scene, but let’s be honest. You don’t see things like this in the United States. At least the parts that I have seen and traveled through. We made friends on the narrow journey to the top of the castle. They were from Minnesota and Canada and had obviously known each other for decades. The gentleman directly in front of me was hilarious! He kept cracking jokes and I kept laughing, my laughter echoing eerily through the castle tower staircase.

  
 The Blarney Stone is actually a bit of a misleading. It isn’t what I imagined at all and the acrobats required to kiss it are quite the challenge! You have to lie down, tilt your head back over a narrow ridge and then kiss the stone within the wall of Blarney Castle. It looks terrifying, but is really quite safe as they have someone there to hold onto you as you kiss the stone. I, of course, had to kiss the famous stone that is supposed to confer upon the kisser magical eloquence or as stated in a poem seen along the wall, “which to the tongue imparts that softening tone.” I thought softening of my tone would definitely be a bonus so I went for it!

It lasted but a moment, but WOW!! A dizzying moment indeed!

After we descended down a backstair even more narrow and dark than the first, we were out in the bright sunshine and walked around the grounds to the market square that surrounds the castle. We found a very quiet pub to eat a quick bite and then went shopping at the famous Old Wool Factory. They’ve turned the old factory into a mall of sorts. Inside the first part are some of the finest and most beautiful woolen items I’ve ever seen, made from Irish wool taken from all the sheep we saw in the countryside along the way. Every item I saw, I wanted to buy and take home to wear forever, but the cost was a bit prohibitive for that! Finely woven and knitted capes, coats, scarves, shawls and jumpers (sweaters) come at a very high penny! Alan and I went our separate ways inside the mall and when we met outside he reverently handed me a little gift. I unwrapped it and it was nothing but a little jar with a clamp sealable top. I was mystified as to why he bought such a simple thing when there was a Waterford crystal outlet inside the mall. Well! Alan knew that one of the things I wanted to do while in Ireland was to get a wee bit of Irish soil to take home and cherish forever. (I have an eccentric habit of taking a bit of soil or stones from places we visit that are very meaningful and soulful to me.) He suggested we get some soil from right there, on the Blarney Castle grounds! I was worried we might be caught and arrested for such a heinous crime, but we made our way to the interior area of the grounds and Alan actually dug up some of the dark, loamy soil and put it in the jar for me. It is now gracing my display shelf of special soils at home. After that, Alan bought me a beautiful pink crystal heart at the Waterford Crystal outlet and I have to admit. It is hard to know which is more beautiful and appreciated; the dark loamy soil inside a simple jar or the crystal heart. Both are evidence, to me at least, that my husband not only understands me, but loves me to distraction.

My soil shelf at home. On the left is my arrangement of red sand from Zion National Park taken on my and Alan’s 15th wedding anniversary, topped by white sand from White Sands National Park collected by my father for me when I was 8 years old. On the right is the dark loamy soil from Ireland. On the far right is an example of the pink marble found all over Colorado.

Alan’s crystal heart, which to me represents his beautiful heart, given to me. (I’m such a mushy romantic, aren’t I?)

I took pictures of beautiful trees while Alan stole some soil for me. 🙂

This is a yew tree and is seen all over Ireland. I had never seen one before.

Well, I’ve covered enough ground for today I think, so I will stop here for now. In my next chapter, I will tell the story of Cobh, where millions of our Irish ancestors embarked for America!

May you have a beautiful day of your own adventures today!

Elaine

Middle Aged World Travelers-Chapter Two Continued

When Alan and left our hotel to go to Trinity College and visit the downtown area, we were both a little apprehensive about such things as getting lost in the big old city, pickpockets, thieves, and also knowing where we were to go the next morning to meet our bus tour group for the Cliffs of Moher tour.  Ok, those are the things was worried about.  Alan was worried that I would get too cold and get sick on our first day out.  So I was constantly flittering about and mothering him to do this, not do that, did he still have his passport, his phone, his ticket, his butt?  He was fathering me with put your hat on, do you need my coat, are you warm, are you cold, don’t push yourself too far.  To put it bluntly, we ended up having our one and only little spat at Trinity College before the tour.  A few minutes later, we both admitted to being a little anxious and decided to loosen up.  We were on vacation for crying out loud!  So what if any of those things happened?  It wouldn’t be the end of the world after all!  We made up with apologies, a vow to quit being such pains in the arse, as they say in Ireland and England, and to have a great time!  It was amazing how much more fun things were after we relaxed.  Imagine that! Ha! If I’m offering advice in these stories of our adventures, the first thing I would advise is to r-e-l-a-x. You’re going to be fine and have a lot more fun if you do!

There are several things I forgot to mention about Trinity College yesterday. First of all, it is a beautiful campus and as old as the hills. Ok, not old as the actual hills, but it was established in 1592 by decree of Queen Elizabeth and was patterned after Oxford and Cambridge, although no further branches were ever added or built. For centuries, it was strictly Protestant. Catholics were not allowed to attend. Neither were women allowed to attend until 1904. Until more recent years, the Provost (head) of the College had to be a Trinity College graduate. The college’s buildings originally followed no true design pattern, but then an attempt was made to design buildings that did follow a neoclassical design in the early 1800’s. Additional buildings have been added in the 1900’s and are more modern in design. Some scenes from the famous Harry Potter movies were filmed at Trinity College in the Old Library.

Here are some more pictures of the Trinity College campus I thought you might enjoy seeing. I’m writing about our Cliffs of Moher trip now so hopefully I will get that post up tomorrow morning! Peace and love, Elaine

Middle-Aged World Travelers, Dublin Exploring, Chapter 2

On Monday, May 18, we woke up much more energetic than we had been the day before.  Our internal clocks had reset themselves from our one day of rest and we weren’t stumbling around tired as we had been when we arrived. We were staying at the Airport Hilton, which is misleading because we really weren’t very close to the airport at all. The hotel itself was spotlessly clean, offered a lovely breakfast bar, and had a very helpful staff. There was only one problem at the hotel and that was what seemed to be gremlins causing problems with anything mechanical or technological. We couldn’t alter the temperature via the thermostat no matter what we did and how well we followed the instructions. It was going to be 21C degrees, come hell or high water.  The wifi was a bit temperamental and the in-room safe was quite safe in that, if you put something in it, only staff could unlock the thing and get it out! 

Nonetheless, on a slightly overcast Monday morning, after finishing a light breakfast, Alan asked the front desk about the best way to get downtown without a taxi. They were quite helpful in telling us the bus route we needed to take, the exact amount of change needed to get on the bus, and even where we might buy a weekly bus pass. I was excited to begin our adventures!

 

Ready to explore!

We were told there was a little shop immediately down the street where we could find a bus map and bus pass for the week.  We stepped outside the hotel and were immediately nearly blown away by the cold winds sweeping around the building. By the time we got to the little shop, we both felt like our heads were frozen and that perhaps we had not prepared adequately for the Irish cold front making its way through Dublin and our spring season clothing. The little store offered no bus maps and no bus cards, but were very nice in giving us change for the bus. I also bought a Coca-Cola, my vice from home, and away we hustled to the bus stop. There are several issues with those simple occurrences. First of all, Coca-Cola anywhere in Western Europe is not the Coca-Cola we all know and love in the U.S. It tastes just a bit “off” for lack of a better explanation. They don’t use corn syrup (yay?), but sugar, and included in the soda are “vegetable additives” which could have been anything. I also discovered that whatever the soda had in it gave me a headache. I finished my first Coca-Cola and threw it in the trash. The second thing with hustling to the bus stop was that it was catty-cornered to our hotel which meant we had to cross two major thoroughfares to get to the stop. This was daunting because everyone drives backwards in Ireland. You know, on the wrong side of the street from the American view. Fortunately, at any crosswalk, there is the button to push to allow access to the crosswalk. Second of all, they have signs painte don the street stating “look right” before crossing or “look left” before crossing so we didn’t get flattened like a pancake by any of the high speed vehicles passing us seemingly randomly. We made it across the big streets! I felt five years old again after I had successfully, alone, crossed Salem Avenue by my home. We waited at the bus stop and as number 13 approached we used my Google Map to see whether we would end up close to Trinity College, which was first on our agenda to see.

The bus came, we gave change (incorrect and they can’t give change so they give you a ticket for a refund if you want to go to all that trouble for basically  35 cents). We stumbled our way to first level seats and felt quite accomplished. It doesn’t take much in a foreign city for two middle-aged Americans to feel accomplished!  Ha! We watched as various passengers got on and off the bus along the way, passed neighborhoods with colorful Irish doors, some prosperous, others not so prosperous, and tried to accustom ourselves to the lovely Irish accent. We became quite familiar with this route over the week. One thing we noticed were signs on nearly every lamppost or electric pole for an upcoming general election on Friday, May 22, whether to legalize gay marriage in Ireland. We were both surprised that in this predominately Catholic country, such an election was taking place.

Finally we reached the stop where everyone had told us we needed to get off the bus. We jumped off and wondered where Trinity College was from where we were.  We were mere footsteps from it! The wind was still blowing bitterly cold and Alan stated, “We need to get some warm hats or we’re never going to survive this and we’ll get sick. I don’t want you sick from day one!” Immediately across the street were two buildings with “Tourist Center and Information” signs on them so we hied across the street to get maps, ask questions and orient ourselves. The next order of business was hats! We found a little Irish souvenir shop right down the street and they had everything you could ever want in the way of hats, wraps, gloves, and other typical touristy things. While Alan looked at hats, I was enchanted by the baby section of the shop where you could buy cute little baby outfits with Irish sayings and things on them. Of course, I picked up two items for my new grandson Milo before I looked at a single hat! One has to have one’s priorities straight after all!

Alan found a hat for himself that I was not super-enthused about. It is a cross between an Elmer Fudd style, a Peruvian style, and an Irish style, knitted in the Irish Aran Isle pattern, lined with fur, and having two yarn braids hanging down the front. Alan loved it! 

Alan’s Irish Hat

I found a hat a little more traditional. As weird as I am, when it comes to hats, I’m rather picky. I want a hat that displays my lovely double chin!

Elaine’s Irish Hat

We went to Trinity College and learned their next tour of the college including a tour of the old library and the Book of Kells Exhibit was in about half an hour so we decided to find something to eat and come back.  We headed down Grafton Street, which is the local street mall in Dublin,  found a McDonald’s of all things, and sat on the second floor by the windows so we could watch the street scenes below. It was the perfect place! If you want a snapshot of modern Dublin life, this window was perfect!

   

Grafton Street

After completing our lunch off to Trinity College we went!  The weather was fickle. One moment you’d be freezing your buns off and the next moment, the sun would peek from behind the clouds and you’d immediately defrost and feel foolish in your woolen hat.

The tour guide at Trinity College was incredible! He had received his undergraduate degree at Trinity College in English and was pursuing a Master’s Degree in historical book and document restoration and translation.  He was in the perfect place to pursue this degree because Trinity College contains a huge collection of ancient books, including the  http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Kells. 
We learned a lot about the history of Trinity College and it’s buildings and then, just as it started to rain pretty hard, we were able to enter Trinity College’s Old Library, which I had wanted to see forever. It was as wonderful as I had imagined. If there had been less people, I could have stayed in there forever. I love the smell of libraries, especially old one. The architecture of this library is incredibly beautiful.

 

Trinity College Old Library
  
  

        

We sat down on the center benches a few times to both rest and sit in awe of the beauty of this library.  We did see the Book of Kells, but only briefly.  There were so many people crowded around its display case that we mostly got a glimpse of the beautiful colors and artwork and moved on to the library itself.

After our trip to the college and the old library, we went in search of food. There is nothing like wandering around in a damp, windy, rainy, sunny day to whet one’s appetite and we found the perfect place!  It was an Irish pub (imagine that!) called O’Briens and featured great Irish grub and suds. Neither Alan nor I are big on beer or ales (I know, shoot us now, because we never had a Guinness while there), but we are big on Irish food. It is wonderful and I think that is so because it is much like the food we grew up eating all the way back in Texas. When I found Irish Stew served on a bed of mashed potatoes, I knew I was home and life was good! We were warm and cozy, eating well, and had met some really nice people at the pub too! You never have to worry about people being unwelcoming or unfriendly in Ireland! 

After eating more than we should have, we realized the day was nearly past and we were exhausted. We hurried over to the bus stop, tried to figure out which route to take back to the hotel, became hopelessly confused, and decided the Star Bucks on the corner was perfect for trying to figure out our way back to our temporary home. What it helped us see most clearly is that right outside its doors was the downtown taxi rank. Hooray! I’d like to say we rode the bus back home that day, but I would be lying. We were too tired to figure it out so we hopped in a taxi and he drove us home as he discussed Irish history, gave us a mini Dublin tour, and even discussed the upcoming election.  

By the time we got back to the hotel, we were done for the day. This middle-aged couple laid down on the bed, turned on the TV, and promptly fell to sleep. After a couple of hours of napping, we got up, Alan went for snacks from the little store down the street and we feasted like kings on fruits and snacks. Then to bed I went, so sleepy I could barely keep my eyes open. 

The next day we were taking a bus tour to the Cliffs of Moher and the area around it. We needed all the strength we could work up for that!  Tomorrow I’ll take you there with us.  ☺️  

Peace and love, always, Elaine

© Elaine Wood-Lane

Foot Washing and Love

Ok, this may sound a little weird, but hang with me for just a little bit. I’ve been away from my home for 16 days, in other countries, having the time of my life. I left behind one of the very best friends I’ve ever had in my life and he only weighs 12 pounds on a heavy day. This little best friend is my pet Chihuahua mix breed dog, Buddy. Buddy is ten years old and I’ve had him for all of but five months of those ten years. I found him freezing cold and starving at a truck stop the day after Christmas, 2005. I ended up not being able to resist picking him up and thought I was taking him to the Humane Society in Colorado Springs, Colorado, but instead took him into my heart. I’ve missed the little guy since we were over in western Europe, but knew he was missing me probably even more. He tends to do that when I’m gone. We’re pretty attached to each other I guess. So, that’s the first part of this story.

The second part of this story is that I have a lot of foot, leg, hip, and back pain when I’m on my feet for very long. (That is part of my fibromyalgia/arthritis issues.) Also, I have very, very dry feet so it’s not uncommon for my feet, especially my heels, to crack and bleed when I’m on them for any length of time. I’ve tried all the cures known to doctors and Pinterest, but without a lot of success. While we were on our trip, we walked and walked and walked and…you get the picture. Considering how much we walked, I did really well until the last two or three days. Somewhere in the Louvre my feet, etc. decided they were done and I started hurting. Last night by the time we got to the hotel in Boston after a full 20 hours of walking in airports and flying across the Atlantic, I took off my shoes and my feet had been bleeding without me even realizing it.

Now comes the third part of the story. Today we finally arrived home and my Buddy went nuts with excitement! He was SO happy to see me that he nearly licked my chin and cheeks right off. (He knows he isn’t allowed to lick me on the mouth, but my chin is fair game! Ha!) Anyway, I was sitting in my chair, going through the mountain of mail I received while we were gone and suddenly I notice that Buddy is licking my foot. I look down and once again my feet had cracked and bled. I tried to stop Buddy from licking my feet, but he looked up at me with such a look of love and devotion, I let him continue. He completely, entirely cleaned up my ugly, swollen, cracked feet. I know this sounds gross, but it was really very reviving. Then he climbed into his favorite position by my side in our chair and fell asleep.

So, where am I going with this? As Buddy fell asleep by my side, I suddenly thought of the following story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet before the last supper they would ever have together:

John 13:3-8
Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.
When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”
Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”

I’ve read this story hundreds of times, heard sermons and bible studies devoted to it, and often wondered how Jesus could wash someone else’s dirty, gross feet when they walked everywhere they went. I especially wondered this in light of the fact that Jesus is God’s son and by all rights should have asked his disciples to wash his feet. He was about to give up his life for them and the world and yet he washed their feet? That always completely blew my mind and baffled me. I’ve always thought he was demonstrating a servant’s attitude to them so they would know how to be with others after he was gone. Jesus said, though, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”

When Buddy was washing my feet earlier and looked up at me with so much love and devotion, I finally got it! I am Buddy’s person. I belong to him. He loves me with a depth of devotion that we don’t see often in this life. Jesus was telling his disciples they are his. They, and we, belong to Jesus. He loves us with a depth of devotion we can’t even begin to fathom.

Yes, Jesus died for us, but he also loves us so much that he would wash our feet just as he washed the disciples’ feet. All of us who’ve read stories or seen movies where the hero dies for his/her soul mate, best friend, fellow soldiers, country or ideals understand that concept. It’s the ultimate sacrifice, right? Ok, how many of those same heroes would wash others’ dirty, smelly, cracked, bleeding feet though? Jesus did and Jesus would.

For the record, I’m not saying Buddy is equal to Jesus, obviously. Dogs do exhibit a lot of love and devotion to their “people,” however, that people don’t sometimes. I think it’s remarkable that the Son of God was/is willing to lower himself to the same level as a little Chihuahua dog, though, to show his love and devotion to us. Jesus is crazy about us and there isn’t anything he won’t do to prove it.

With that, this jet-lagged nut is going to rest for a while.

Peace and love, always, Elaine

Love One Another, Start a Revolution!!

I just watched a video on Facebook that showed a series of clips where people would stop and help another person who obviously needed help, such as a person who had fallen or was having problems crossing a busy street. Several, ok, most people just went around them. In each of the clips there was at least one, if not two or more, people who stopped to help the person. I love seeing things like this because that is what all of us should be doing–helping each other out! See a need and fill it! I will even go further and say that, at the very least, we should acknowledge one another’s existence and treat one another with respect. You never know how much good doing that simple thing can help another.

The other night I had to go to the grocery store pharmacy to pick up a prescription. As I walked up to the pharmacy, I realized there was a queue and looked to see where the end was. I passed two women with a cart holding 3 little cute girls. It was pretty apparent that one woman was the mother of the little girls and the other was the grandmother. As I walked on past, I noticed an older man sitting on a bench, waiting for a prescription as well. He was the last in line. I stood there a moment and said hi and asked how he was doing. He said, “I’m doing just fine! See those little girls over there?” pointing to the basket. “Those are my great-granddaughters, or is it great-great-granddaughters? Hmm, anyway they’re my grandchildren!” he said with obvious great pride. I replied, “They’re beautiful, every one of them! I know you must love them! I just became a grandmother for the first time and I love my little grandson so much it hurts!” He said, “Guess how old I am! I’m 86 years old and I have nine children. Guess how many grandchildren I have!” I was amazed that he had nine children, but wasn’t going to guess on grandchildren numbers and said, “I have no idea.” “I have 61 grandchildren, that includes the greats and great greats and I’m hanging on until I at least have 62 grandchildren!” We both laughed at that and then the pharmacist called for the next person. Since his prescription wasn’t ready, I went up to the counter and collected my prescription.

As I turned around and was about to walk away, the old man said, “Have a good evening!” For some reason I just wanted to hug him. He had the look of someone who needed a hug. No, I didn’t hug him, tempted though I was! I did stop, though, and put out my hand and he took it. I told him, “I just want you to know it has been a real pleasure to meet you! You’re obviously a very good father and grandfather who is proud of his family and rightly so. You’ve done a great job with your family. I hope you have a good evening too!” He beamed with a smile so bright it could have lit up the whole store.

I started on down the aisle and was at the front when I heard someone say, “Miss! Miss! Wait!” I turned around and the old man’s daughter was headed my way. My first thought was, “Uh-oh, she didn’t like me talking to her dad!” (Why do I always think myself in trouble, first thing?) She said, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for talking to my dad and for what you said as you were leaving. It was the exact right thing! How did you know?” I said, “I don’t know what you mean.” She said, through tears in her eyes, “We’ve been so worried about him. He has been so blue lately and thinks he has no purpose. When you talked to him about our family and said he was obviously a good father and grandfather, he cried after you left. He said, ‘Well, I guess I am worth something after all! I need to stick around to watch over you guys, don’t I?’ We’ve been telling him that, but he didn’t believe it. He thought he was just a burden. When you told him almost the exact same thing in the exact same words, it finally got through to him! So, thank you for doing that!” Then she hugged me.

So, am I saying I’m all that and a bag of chips too? No! I’m not at all! Quite the opposite actually because I know how many times I’ve been in a hurry and passed people without even looking at them, much less talk to them. There have been times, however, like that night, when I felt a nudge to engage with a particular person. I never know why, but I have learned to go with the nudge. Very often, after obeying the nudge, I come away feeling so blessed by the encounter and realize most of the time why I was led to that person. It’s usually a sad or desperate look in their eyes, as though they just want to be acknowledged and maybe even loved on a little bit. I can’t tell you how many little old ladies I’ve hugged over the years. I’ve just come to expect it if I’m out and about.

My point is not to pat myself on the back. My point is that we should all be paying more attention to the real people right beside us or that we run across throughout our day. Every so often, all of us need someone to acknowledge us, to treat us with some respect and love. We’ve all been blue, been sick, or grieved, feeling alone in the world. Wouldn’t it be nice if during those times, someone saw us and spoke with us? Doesn’t it help to share a hug or a pat on the back sometimes, even with a stranger? I know a lot of people worry that the person might take offense or get mad if we speak to them or anything, but do you know, I’ve talked to or hugged at least hundreds of people through my life and not ONE of them has been hateful or offensive back? As a matter of fact, most of them have cried or laughed or said something grateful in nature. Even the big, mean looking guys who look like they could eat me for lunch and spit out the bones have been grateful! Actually, they’re usually the ones who need a friendly face more than anyone else. We all need real, live human contact and interaction. We all need love. Share some love today with someone! You might be pleasantly surprised by the response. We might actually start a revolution of love and wouldn’t that be awesome?!

Peace and love, always,

Elaine

John 13:34
“I give you a new command. Love one another. You must love one another, just as I have loved you.”

Let Us Love One Another and Then…Let’s Eat Chocolate!!

This felt like me today for sure! I didn’t fall, but I felt like I had been run over by a mack truck this morning. I hurt, I felt mean, and I was jittery as that squirrel on Hoodwinked with coffee. I took my husband to work because I needed the car for a lunch date and when I got back home, I realized that I hadn’t taken my medicine last night! I don’t know why I do that sometimes! I only take five kinds of medicine, but they’re for fibromyalgia, hypertension, and estrogen replacement. If I don’t take them, even for one night, the repercussions are immediate and painful.

The moment I realized I hadn’t taken my medicine, I went and took the medicines I could that wouldn’t knock me out (I thought), and ate some breakfast. I returned to reading a book. I was supposed to be at my former workplace at 11:00 so I had a couple of hours to get ready and drive over there. I woke up at 11:20!! I hurriedly threw on some clothes and hit the road. At a red light, I texted my friend to let her know I was running late. I was a mess! Trying to wake up, fight anxiety, and get all the way across town. I still was hurting some, but by golly, I wasn’t going to let it get me down!

One of the reasons I visit my former workplace is that I love so many of my former coworkers. I’m not talking about, “hey, I love ya man” love. I’m talking, I really care and love these people deeply. They’re some of my best friends I’ve made here in Colorado Springs. They’re really good people and some of them lately have been going through some really tough challenges of all kinds. I can’t do as much for people as I did in the past because of the weakness, fatigue and pain of fibromyalgia. I hate that aspect of not feeling well. However, God has shown me that I’m not helpless or worthless. I can still pray, encourage and support my friends. I can go to them, listen to them, and hug them. (My specialty is hugs. I know that sounds goofy, but I feel like I can transmit my love best by hugs.) So, I went to lunch with one of my friends and we had a great time, even if I was late! I got to see some of my favorite people, give hugs, share love, and so…today became a good day!

It became even better when I came home and found out that one of my fellow bloggers here on WordPress, https://sailingpenguin.wordpress.com/, had nominated me for the Creative Blogger award!! (Tomorrow I will be nominating some of the blogs I follow and truly appreciate for this award as well!)

I feel so honored that she liked my blog enough to nominate me for this award and to bring more attention to my blog. It made my day! Thanks so much Nicky, for the nomination! I truly appreciate it.

So, now I will hush. I’ve talked too long, a frequent problem I have and for which I apologize. I just wanted to remind all my friends, family and readers that, even if a day starts out really rough, if we hurt physically, emotionally, or mentally, if we pray and keep our faith, spend time with people we love and who love us, and share hugs (even better), our day can improve exponentially! NOW I NEED CHOCOLATE!!

Peace and love, always,

Elaine

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 1 John 4:7-9

Stories…The Fabric of My Life

Stories really are the fabric of my life, both stories told and stories written.  I love to read, listen to, and tell stories.  I think I come by this honestly.  Mother was a natural born storyteller and would tell anyone anything they wanted to know about family history, old or current, including things we didn’t want her to tell!  Imagine my surprise when I realized several years ago that I am just like Mother.  I can talk the socks off of people without even trying, telling stories, giving examples of similar events, or just being excited to meet someone new.  This drives my sons, daughter-in-law, and husband nuts sometimes.  Somehow I’ve gone from being a quiet, shy little girl to a middle-aged woman who never met a stranger.  I’m one of those women who can see an interesting person at the grocery store and just start visiting with them OR, and this has happened a lot too, someone will just start visiting with me!  It’s delightful!  There are so many wonderful, interesting people out there in the world and each and every one of them has a story.  I guess I love listening to their story.  Sometimes they just need to tell their story because no one has ever listened, or they are in a very stressful or sad time in their life, or they are so excited about something new in their life that they just have to tell someone!

In the interest of preserving good relationships with my family and friends by not driving them crazy telling stories, I’ve decided I am going to write them here and share them with you.  On the plus side, the people who have shared their stories with me, just to be heard, will be heard again, anonymously of course, because most of them never even told me their names or I’ve forgotten.  I find it interesting that often I don’t recall names of people who have told me their stories, but I never forget their face or their story.  So, without further ado, later today, I will post my first short story about a woman I met at Walmart many years ago on Christmas Eve.  I hope you come back to read it!

I’m Not As Crazy As I Appear….Really!

We had a social event this evening after work to celebrate the 25th anniversary of a coworker’s time with the company. Ok, it was happy hour. What I find interesting about the term “happy hour” is that most people seem to require alcohol to be happy. Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be, I’m happy and act that way even before alcohol gets involved. Give me one and a half mixed drinks and I’m not only happy, but I’m more likely to be extraverted about my happiness. Thank goodness it only takes 1.5 drinks to be more extroverted. Otherwise, I’m afraid the world couldn’t take it. 🙂

The fact of the matter is that, although most people think I’ve always been extroverted, I have not always been extroverted. I often joke about the fact that the older I get, the crazier and zanier I become. When I was in my 20’s, I was quite responsible, dutiful and quiet. I had to be. I became a mother at the age of 22, which I thought was quite mature, but now realize is very young. After my divorce in 1991, at the age of 29, I watched people and observed who created more happiness in the world and who was most acceptable. I realized that the people who created the most happiness put themselves out there to create happiness. I had already discovered that if I put myself out there, I often made people laugh. They loosened up. They were relaxed and happy. So, I practiced. I put myself out there. I let my zany freak girl out of the box! If there was an awkward social pause, I was your girl. I’d jump in, say something to get the conversational ball rolling, and then sit back and let everyone else talk. Since I was involved with a Christian singles’ group, I was never drinking in these situations. I just had a lot of fun and realized that I was learning much about people and human nature in the process.

Over the years, there have been times when Zany Elaine/Dee came out of hiding to lighten up a mood, relax people, and create a warm environment for others. I never know when she’s going to come out, but when she does, even I can be surprised. So, why am I discussing this tonight? Because Zany Elaine/Dee came out and, as is often the case with people who aren’t naturally extroverted, I tend to analyze myself when the zany girl comes out. I worry that people will think I’m an airhead, that I have no deeper side, no intelligence, no true beliefs or meaning. Nothing could be further from the truth. I love God, I love people, I love life. I’m not a wild and crazy girl 95% of the time. I pray all day long. I talk to God on behalf of other people. I praise Him for all He has done for me, for others, and for all the love He gives me on a moment to moment basis. I study God’s word every day. I write constantly, exploring the big questions of life such as, “Why am I here? What is my purpose? What would Jesus do?” I often beat myself up because I think Jesus wouldn’t act like the nut job that I do. The one thing I have in common with Jesus is that I love God and I love people. How I express that, perhaps, isn’t quite so appropriate. Or maybe it is, for me. I don’t know. I’m 52 years old and I’m still not sure how best to serve God and be like Jesus. All I know is that I’m still trying and still seeking to find the answers. Hopefully I’ll discover soon what it’s all about. If not, Lord help us all when I’m 80! I’ll be hugging strangers at every opportunity and telling inappropriate stories too. I’m sure none of us want that. 🙂

Art Is the Big Yes

Eyes flutter open and poetic lines flitter across the barely wakened surface of my mind:

“Pray for mercy,

Pray for peace,

Pray for freedom’s
sweet release.

Pray for the day,
Pray for the night,

Never give up hope,

Or give up the fight.

Life may be shortened,
Life may be brief,
But most of us live longer,
Than our deepest of griefs.”

©Elaine Wood-Lane 8.5.14

The lines of the poem above did come to me this morning just as I described. I was not awake enough to write them myself. So, where does art come from? Why do we have moments of inspiration that seem to have no origin, but are as real as the air we are breathing? Is art something restricted to only the gifted or talented? Yes, but we’re all gifted or talented in some way!

Marvin Bell said, “Much of our lives involves the word ‘no.’ In school we are mostly told, ‘Don’t do it this way. Do it that way.’ But art is the big yes. In art, you get a chance to make something where there was nothing.”

Marvin Bell was a poet, but I think this applies to many things. Painting, drawing, graphic arts, photography, writing, music, cooking, writing code for software, inventing, homemaking, architecture, design, fashion, crafting, and on and on the list goes. My point is, we all create art in some form or other. Whenever you get out of the box and make something from nothing, you are an artist. You are fully alive. Art is, indeed, the big yes. Make a lifetime of somethings where, before you came to be, there was nothing.

“Wood Lane” by Claude Monet, 1876