Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Blessings and Love

I was raised in a home where, no matter how much or how little we had, blessing others was a given. The belief was if you blessed others, then you'd be caught up in a storm of blessings. I can see the point to that, honestly. After all, I was taught that you never knew when you'd be entertaining unawares.

This is the problem though: so many people are preaching to others about how their religion is the right one, yet so many have forgotten about the blessing without conditions. And when it comes to entertaining angels, have they stopped to think that the homeless man or woman may be that angel, but what about the fact that your child could also be that angel? I know people who become so wrapped up in "serving" the church and community that they forget that they can serve their gods by being dedicated parents, too. The homeless man deserves your respect just as the elderly couple in your church do, but...so do your parents, grandparents, children.

I know people who profess their religion, but don't live it. They gossip ferociously about the woman who shows up to Sunday services in a disheveled state, but they don't see that she has worked the night shift at a job she hates, but still shows up to thank her God for his blessings. These same people will give their time to the community events, but skip their kids' football games because they "don't have the time." They will offer to mow the yards or shovel the driveways of the elderly people in their church, but can't be bothered to do the same for their parents who live a block or two away.

As humans, we need to practice the faith of being good to everyone. After all, who is to say that the angel in your life isn't your mother, your son, your spouse, or your grandparent? Blessing others isn't a hard thing to do. But we are so determined that it is about blessing the people outside our family/friend units. We forget that they need to be blessed, too.

See that is the cool thing about love and blessings: they multiply when you give them away. But it multiplies tenfold when you bless those you love. They don't ask for too much too often. Sometimes it is simply a phone call to see how they are. Or maybe it is a couple of hours cheering them on. Or maybe even taking a plate of baked goods to them and visiting for an hour or so.

Why do we find it so hard to bless the world, but we forget the people in our families who need the blessings as well? What if when you get to the gates of wherever you're going after you die and you discover that the only religion needed to enter that space was one of blessings and love?

Monday, September 19, 2016

The House that Built Me

This song plays and my mind (and heart) go back to my childhood home. In an attempt to gain deeper knowledge about myself, I've been digging into the memories I have from growing up.

The house I was raised in was a family home. My great-grandparents lived there. My grandparents lived there. My parents lived there. There was history there. And not just history...MY history. The rooms I played in, my grandfather played in as well as my mother.

I remember lying in my bed at night and I imagined that I could feel the heartbeat of the house through the walls. Not in a creepy Stephen King way, but a soothing way. So many people talk about a house bursting at the seams. In my mind, our burst at the seams from all the love that had been created in that house.

It wasn't a house that would win awards from HGTV, but to me, it was beautiful. In the front yard stood a HUGE maple tree that, for years, held an old tire swing. One of the roots had grown above the surface and made the perfect step for us kids. There was a lilac hedge that grew the length of the front yard. The breeze would blow through them in the spring and scent the entire house. Tiger lilies grew out by the mailbox. Two large oak trees grew at the end of our driveway and a yellow maple grew in the front yard near the road. The willow in the backyard made an excellent hiding place until Mom trimmed it. *G* I can still see the clothes blowing on the clothesline in the summer breeze. Freshly washed and dried sheets just off the line are always amazing to climb into at night. I miss that feeling.

Inside the house smelled clean and filled with baked goods. It was a rare occurrence that Mom wasn't in the kitchen, baking something. Whether it was pies, cookies, or cake, she always had something in the oven. Then, there were the meals. On the cool fall or cold winter days, ghoulash or chili would simmering away on the stove with homemade bread in the oven. Spring and summer usually brought lighter fare like creamed potatoes with fresh peas.

As much as I cringed over the pink rosebud wallpaper in my room (wasn't quite the girly girl), I loved tracing the pattern as I sat in my bed reading. As I grew up, I added bits and pieces of furniture to make my own living space. I had the perfect little apartment set up. A living area and bedroom plus I used the hallway as a place to set up a desk. I loved having my own space to be alone.

Before we lost the farm, my summer days were filled with all sorts of things. Gardening, picking berries, taking care of the animals, and on those rare days with nothing to do, I'd pack a bag and take off across the pastures to the creek that ran along the back of our property. A couple of hard boiled eggs, a shaker of salt, a glass of lemonade, and a couple of cookies along with a towel and books, I'd set off for the afternoon. Getting lost in my own imagination was the best way for me to while away the hot summer day, dangling my feet in the creek.

I remember Saturday lunches of burgers, homemade fries, and malts while watching television. On occasion, Dad would get out his guitar and play. Summer evenings meant playing ball in the front yard once chores were done. Winter nights meant board games or television. If it were Christmastime, lots of baking. Dad would turn on the music and we would sing and dance while fudge bubbled away on the stovetop and cookies baked in the ovens.

Sure it sounds ideal, right? Let's not forget the arguments...especially when I became a teenager. Mom and I had more than our share of arguments that ended with either one or both of us in tears. Dad would tell me later how he tried hard not to laugh at us because we were often saying the same thing and both were so damned certain we were right. We learned that communication (at least for us) worked better if we wrote out our feelings. Often, I'd come home from school and there would be a note, written on stationary, lying on the stairs to my room. I'd read it, cry, smile and then reply. Then, I'd take my own note and put it on the counter. It's not that we didn't communicate. It was that we expressed our feelings better on paper. (Not a huge surprise that I became a writer after knowing this, right?)

When I left that house, my heart broke. I knew every nook and cranny of that old farmhouse. It was home. I have spent all of my adult life trying to have a home like that and I haven't managed yet. I've lived in many different places in a few different states, but home? Never have achieved that feeling. I'm still trying, but I've learned that it isn't necessarily the actual building, but the people who make a house a home. Of course, after re-reading this for any errors, I can see the truth. The house was just the storage place for all that love. It was the people who made that old farmhouse home. I'm still working on building a home my own to hold all the love that is created.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Roots and Wings

I don't write a lot about where I came from. It isn't a conscious thing. I thought I'd come a long way from that farmer's daughter in southern Michigan. Turns out I haven't.

I was born and raised in rural Michigan. Born to a family of dairy farmers, I was expected to help when I could. Responsibility was a big deal. Everyone had to pitch in where they were able. From shoveling manure and cleaning the barn to feeding calves and baling hay, my hands have been in it all. I remember spending a day or two over one summer caring for a calf that was born and needed some extra attention. I took a bag with snacks and books to the barn to lay with this precious little bundle. It wasn't a hardship. It was something I loved. 

I grew up with a menagerie of animals. Cows, calves, pigs, rabbits, peacocks, a pony, a lamb, chickens, ducks, geese, cats and dogs. And I LOVED it. At the moment, I didn't appreciate it for what it was...a learning experience. I learned that it was my job to take care of these beings if I wanted them to take care of me. Sure we ate the pigs, cows, and rabbits, but it was the cycle of life. I have a deep appreciation for the cycle. Death and birth was a big part of my life. Doesn't mean it's easy for me, it's just an understanding. When I lose one of my dogs, I will go into a deep depression that lasts for days, sometimes months, but I do understand that they don't live forever.

I also had the opportunity to grow up with my original parents. There were no "steps" involved. (That happened later on.) I got to see the love and devotion my parents had for each other. Through the toughest of times, they were there for each other. They fought. They argued. They fussed. But the most important thing: They loved. Each other. Us kids. Life. We were never financially rich, but we were rich in love. My parents laid out an example of love that I have tried to replicate in my life. Unfortunately, not everyone was raised with that sort of love and they don't understand it.

Holidays were spent in the kitchen with my mom. I've always said I am my father's daughter, but I'm just as much my mother's as well. Side by side in the kitchen, we'd cook dinner, bake cookies, clean up after the meals. Most of what I know I learned at my mom's side. But it was more than just cooking or baking. It was life lessons that I carry with me. I learned fractions by doubling recipes. I learned that the most special ingredient you can put in the things you cook is love. And I learned that how you feel as you bake/cook can translate over to the people who eat  your food, so be careful with your emotions.

I remember wearing farmer hats and my grandpa telling me, "You are gonna get cauliflower ears." I literally thought my ears were going to sprout cauliflower. LOL  I was the only granddaughter and being a tomboy was...well, not what was expected. I've always been a jeans and t-shirt sort of girl, but as I've aged, I gained weight. So, I hide it. Wearing hats fell by the wayside. I left the farm and left all of that behind. I turned my back on who that girl was and forgot a lot of who I was.

I got married and moved into town. Never really made it back to the country. However, I've lived in several different places and have spent the majority of my life searching for who I really am. It is funny that I found her on a back road in rural Wisconsin with the radio turned up and the wind blowing through my hair, the scent of cow manure in the air. 

Do you wanna know who I am? I am that barefoot country girl who loves walking through the grass, catching ladybugs, and feeling a breeze ruffle through my hair. I am the ponytailed girl in a camo ball cap climbing into her 4-wheel drive looking for a little mud. I'm the girl who shoots her whiskey straight, likes her steak medium and on an open pit, and will dress up pretty to sit in a church pew on Sunday morning. I am who I have always been...a farmer's daughter.

One final word before I end this. I remember watching "Designing Women" and Suzanne Sugarbaker said something that has stuck with me all of this time: "To you, my child, I bequeath two things. One is roots. The other is wings." I've learned that after all this time, my wings have led me where I needed to go, but my roots run deeper than I ever dreamed.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Funk It

I've been in a bit of a funk the last week. I'm not sure why. I don't feel like writing. I don't feel like doing much of anything. Just that sort of funk I can't shake. I've tried to mediate. I've lit candles and incense. I've prayed. I'm just in a funk.

It may have to do with the fact that everyone is back in classes except me. I made the decision to take the semester off to write and refocus my thoughts, find my direction. I needed to take a break, but I'm regretting it. I miss the people I talked to on a daily basis. (That is a big confession for this introvert.) I miss sitting in the cafe with a cup of coffee and talking to my friends. 

Writing is important to me and I love doing it, but for some reason, something is off in my world. I mean, off to the point of crying because this is my passion. Why am I not feeling it? Why am I having this issue? I put my butt in the chair and I have the keyboard in front of me. No thoughts come to me and I just can't see the point.

I'm not feeling inspired, I guess. Even my cooking and baking is slacking. I'm sticking with the basics and not really trying anything new. A lot of easy meals with no thought process required. Cut the chicken, put it in the pan, cook it, add the veggies and any sauce, let cook. Serve over the rice. (I eat a lot of Asian food.) 

There are people who will tell you that the situation with my rental house is the problem (crappy landlord who refuses to fix things, like the ceiling that is falling in my dining room), and maybe they're right. Everything is in disarray due to the landlord not dealing with the issues that need to be handled. Most of my stuff is packed up, waiting for a place away from this town. I'm just not meant to be a city dweller. Others would tell you that my employer drains me. Now, they're not wrong either. I'm run down on my best of days. I take vitamins to keep my energy level up. I don't eat a lot of junk. Truthfully, I think my depression is cycling again. And all of the things above probably add to it.

I'm trying to make the appropriate changes, but it feels as if the universe is conspiring against me until I learn the lesson I need to learn. So, yellow brick road is keeping me returning to this point.

Somebody sent me this video. Thought I'd share the love with you: