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Sometimes in my quiet moments, I feel God is putting words on my heart. Things I’m sure I already know, but just needed that small reminder.

It’s a gift. It’s to help you. It’s to help others. It’s to help you help others. It’s to help others help you.

These words have come to me in many situations recently.

Thinking about my hinky eye, which I now call my “energy eye.” I can’t see you clearly, but I can still feel your energy. Sometimes I feel I can sense more of what you’re not saying when I don’t look at you with my left eye (which is myopic, but can see you) and use my right eye (legally blind, but can still feel you.)

Thinking about my brain, which my neurologist tells me has areas of white lesions. I’ve come to realize that my brain is a train, and it can only ride on one track at a time. When new information is introduced, it takes a minute to sink in. Often, I find I have to back up the train to get to that connecting track. It means I sometimes make mistakes or forget things.

Thinking about my life in general. I don’t seem to be one of those people who sets the world on fire with great accomplishments and new ideas. But maybe people like me, who may only have a kind word to any child of God I meet on the road of life (i.e., everybody), are the ones who form the connective tissue of the universe. We hold things together just by being there and being kind.

What may seem like impediments are sometimes gifts in disguise. I may not quite understand it, but I’ve learned to trust God and always listen to my heart.


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In years past, when I had extra, I found many creative ways to spend it… on things I didn’t even want or enjoy. I’ve been on three cruises in my life. Yet. I don’t swim, I can’t be in the heat due to my medical issues, and I hate crowds. Complained the whole time. Spent a boatload (see what I did there?) of money. Didn’t like it one bit. Well, the food was good. Overall? I could have, and probably should have, stayed home and socked that money away for a rainy day.

Tell you what’s true: it’s been raining lately. Money’s been tight, but we persevere, and wait/pray for better days to come. We all need certain staples to live on, but sometimes, there’s just not enough to buy some of the basics.

When “enough” returned, I actually said out loud to my son, “This is the best slice of toast I have ever had in my life!” Toast. Just made me do a happy dance. Although I did have other food in the house, I was out of bread and there just wasn’t enough in the budget as medical co-pays and deductibles came up early in the year. When a simple piece of buttered toast finally came back to my plate, I was over the moon!

Tell you what’s true: when I had too much I used too much; still, I wasn’t satisfied. Now when I have just enough, it’s manna. I’m content, though eager (if Someone upstairs is on the line listening) for the next batch of bread from heaven! I feel God’s saying, Do what you can. It gets better, and there’s more than “enough” on the way. Grace is always right on time, and that’s good enough for me.

I’ve wondered on occasion if I’m really just a cat in God’s garden. I mean it. I’m not a go-getter like SueBE, or a sacred poet like Lori, but I feel I contribute in my small way to our little eco-system. If I can add a light note of levity or spin a yarn about my KitKat, I feel that I’m adding leavening to the loaf of bread that we bake together.

When I noticed that I’d started to give myself a hard time one day as I looked at SueBE’s goals for her writing day (her to-do list is chock full of action items) and mine (find the right word for that one poem I might submit to some unspecified market at a distant time in the nebulous future) I had to pause. Hold on. Her point is to share her process, and the goal is to help other writers as they find their own way. Not to say, I can do it all! Why can’t you?!?

Still, I thought it would be nice to have a little of the zhoosh she has to get it all done. I wondered how to go about this, and sure enough, she answered my question without realizing when she started posting her “5 minutes a day” series. That’s how you do it. A piece at a time.

Then I wondered why I stopped writing prayer-poems for our blog, and I realized it was partially due to the fact that it seems to come so easily for our Lori and she does it so well. For me, it takes a whole week of revisions, total re-writes and second-guessing before posting.

Neither one of them had judged me and said, why can’t you be like me? It was my own Negative Naysayer steering me away from what my friends do so well.

So I called in my Yes-you-can Yaysayer (opposite of Naysayer) and she said: We’re not supposed to all be the same. Do what you can, with what you have, right where you are.

As for me, it’s time to stretch, yawn and take a catnap. Later, I’ll find the right word for my poem. It’s a small goal, mind you, but it’s a start!

God has been so good to me.

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People always seem surprised to hear me say that. I’ve got progressive MS, walk with a cane and I’m partially blind. A surgery intended to correct a macular hole did exactly the opposite and left me without usable vision in my right eye.

Afterwards, when I asked the surgeon’s partner if I’d ever see again in that eye, he shrugged. I persisted, asking why my eye wasn’t healing. The doctor literally, actually, honest-to-God said this:

“Bad luck?”

As if it was a question. I pondered: could it be that when they were offering “bedside manner” class in medical school, he’d called in sick that day?

For years, I stewed about that surgery, imagining what it would be like to sue the pants off of the doctors in that practice. To take ownership of their Bentleys, their Labradoodles, their Rolexes.

I wished ill on them for a long time, until I realized that if the doctor had made a mistake, there’s nothing I could do to reverse it. By that point, it had been years and the statute of limitations had passed. Both legally and spiritually.

The surgery had taken its toll on my eye. The aftermath of anger took its toll on my psyche.

It wasn’t until recently that I was able to let go of my anger.

I have to re-phrase that.

Let go of my unforgiveness.

This is even more toxic than anger.

When you get angry, it’s usually a temporary state. Almost a form of insanity. You snap, you yell, you throw the remote. You get over it. You come back to your senses.

But with unforgiveness, you’ve set your anger into stone.

Wishing ill on someone who’s done you wrong is like saying, “Smite them, Lord! Break out that lightning bolt! At the same time, give me a life sentence of misery, obsessed with vengeance when I could have had joy. Kay. Thanks. Bye!”

That hole in my eye had led to a hole in my soul.

You can’t say “bless me” and “curse you” at the same time.

What’s different now? Well, I still live with physical limitations. The vision in my eye never returned. The most important thing that changed was my focus. The lens through which I see the world, if you’ll pardon the pun. I’ve learned to keep my eyes on the good in life and never look back.

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I really wish I were one of those people who dreamed at night of traveling to Tuscany, or of dancing on Broadway. Perhaps skydiving into the Grand Canyon. When I dream, it’s fairly jejune (love that word. It’s so fancy, for meaning something so dull!) although I do often receive what I consider to be words from Providence.

Just little reminders of what I already know but haven’t really taken to heart.

Here’s what I read last night:

You don’t plant weeds in your garden on purpose.

You don’t drink poison from a glass.

If you could pour regret into a glass and see it, you’d realize it was poison. You wouldn’t voluntarily drink it if it smelled noxious and tasted worse.

As I thought of something painful from the past just this morning, I realized that my stomach was in a knot. That’s when it occurred to me. Maybe that spare tire we all carry around our midriffs is really something else: Regret Storage. Poisonous pain we were meant to let go of, but held on to, and as a result, it seeped into our souls.

When I realized that thinking of painful things from the past was causing pain in my gut as I was standing there in the kitchen, I stopped thinking about those things. The pain went away. Right away. If only it were always that easy!

But at least I can remind myself that it’s more important to feel good and live well now than to deconstruct the past. I can’t change what happened, but I can decide that I won’t give away my joy to someone or something that has already hurt me once.

That’s why they call the present a gift. You can unwrap it afresh every day.

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This morning, I found myself thinking of the things in need of repair in my house. Clogged sink. Broken fence. Electrical issues. That led me to ponder all the things I’ve yet to accomplish in my life.

It occurred to me that dwelling on things I don’t have is counterproductive. The weight of absence and lack takes up space in your soul, leaving no room for good things yet to come. And those you already have.

Counting your current blessings is recruitment for future blessings.

My favorite popcorn movies were on t.v. today. The Day After Tomorrow, followed by Kate and Leopold. These might seem like small things to count as blessings, but they came at the exact moment they were needed.

Every problem can be broken down into two parts: The burden and the blessing.

It’s bitterly cold outside. That’s the burden. We’re inside with the heat on, wearing comfy sweaters. That’s the blessing.

There are things in need of repair in my house. That’s the burden. They’re not so urgent that we can’t wait to get them fixed. That’s the blessing.

One of my pairs of shoes has worn down and they have no arch support. That’s the burden. But as I said, one of my pairs of shoes… I have other shoes. That’s the blessing.

Every problem in life contains those two parts. The burden and the blessing. Sometimes shifting focus toward the good in life is just a matter of degree.

Let’s see. What did I do this weekend?

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Well, I built a soapbox for the annoying schmoe in my life, so he can really annoy me in style.

Next, I created a showcase for the pesky things that bother me, so as to really accentuate them.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

By pouring all of our energies into the things we stand against or get irritated by or just can’t even!, without realizing it, we’re tacitly saying: I don’t want this thing in my life, so I’m going to take a selfie with it and put it into a picture frame.

Stuff happens.

Don’t give it life.

Don’t say, this is my problem or my circumstance that can’t be overcome or my Achilles’ Heel.

Don’t put that pronoun on it. It’s not yours. It’s just a thing that happened.

Don’t invest in it in that way, because when you do, you’re crowdfunding the crud.

If gum gets stuck to your shoe, you don’t build it a shrine. You scrape it off.

Here’s what it really is: A moment in time. A thing that was. A speed bump on the road.

Of course, that’s not to diminish the trauma of things that really do set into the psyche and echo, even decades later. But not everything is of that magnitude. Sometimes it’s a matter of not getting out the Dymo Label maker (dating myself there!) and putting a name tag on it.

Letting go of all of that pain clears the way for what doesn’t cause pain. For the good stuff ready to come your way.

So, unplug from that source of “disempower” and get back to your good life. Dear readers, that’s a good place to park your pronoun.

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The other day, I watched a church service live-stream on Facebook. It occurred to me that I was seeing the exact moment of the lie taking place – yet no one was lying on purpose. The pastor asked if anyone wanted to accept Christ, and many came forward to pray. At the end, he said, “Congratulations! Now you’re born again! All things are made new!”

The lie is in the mood music they’re playing. The warm, welcoming church workers guiding people into their religion. The parishioners nodding as if you’re doing a great thing, this is a big step, your life is about to completely transform!

But that’s the lie of it. That’s the production. The musical number of it.

We expect all vestiges of our former life to just fall away. For all of our insecurities and problems to disappear. Poof! For this encouraging crowd of fellow believers to be there for us always, patting us on the back and giving us a high-five.

Not that anybody’s lying about what faith can do for you. It truly can change your life completely. But that’s the heart-work. That’s work you and God do together, and it happens over time, like a scroll unfurling. No one else can do it for you, and there is no magic prayer to make it happen instantly.

When I took the altar call years ago, in my mind it was more like the “alter call,” as if it would completely change my life instantly. What I came to conclude is that you walk the path with God and maybe alchemizes into of course. Is that you, God? solidifies into a firm foundation of faith.

It’s like that “Just Say No to Drugs” commercial from years ago, that showed an egg frying in a pan, with the voiceover, “this is your brain on drugs.”

In our version, we’ll show the sun rising, flowers blooming, and the earth turning. Massive, mystical, magical happenings – the only common denominator is the One holding it all together.

Good people, This is your soul on God.

Everybody’s trying to be heard. They’re making a point, even if nothing’s being said.

Like the way my cat stalks elegantly into the kitchen, gliding over to his bowl and waiting, back foot out, tail up, as if he’s still in motion. He’s conveying, I’m moving toward this bowl, and as you can see, for some inexplicable reason, it’s not filled to overflowing. It’s only half full. Is there… some…reason for this, hooman?

When I fold laundry, I have to remember that in KitKat’s language, a folded towel reminds him of his early days when he was still getting used to being in a house for the first time. I’d fold an old towel, put it onto the floor, then the couch, then the bed, so he’d realize he could sit anywhere he liked. He was welcome here.

So one time I was folding towels near where KitKat was resting on the bed. I put one down, ready to fold the next one. He immediately got up and came over to the towel, carefully putting one foot on it, looking at me as if to say, Is this okay? Cuz I’m going to sit on this towel you put here for me. Gingerly, the next foot went on, and he looked at me, then the next, until he was sitting in a circle, purring. So nice of you to fold this fresh, clean towel for me! It’s soft and comfy. Even warm! Guess I’ll take an eighteen-hour nap now!

He looked so comfortable there that I just patted his head and went on with the laundry. In his language, he’d heard me say, Sit here, beloved feline friend. It really was a nice gesture. I wish I’d thought of it!

Sometimes I find myself getting frustrated when I pray and it seems no answer is forthcoming. But I look around and realize we’ve got a roof over our heads, food on the table, and a peaceful place to call home.

Just like a slow-blink from my KitKat. Seems to me that God sends his love without even saying a word.

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Despite my beloved mother’s best efforts (God rest) and the hours she put in playing Bach on the piano, I’m still nowhere near as cultured and refined as she was. She’d quote Chaucer for me, in middle English. She’d school me on the origin of words.

Still, I’m just an easily-distracted, uncultured, good-natured gal from New Jersey.

Doesn’t matter if I’m looking right at you as you tell me your long-winded spiel. In my mind, I’ve gone to Carolina.

Watching this video of Hilary Hahn, I was reminded of my mother playing Bach on the piano.

I’m amazed at how beautiful even one note can sound in the right hands. At the same time, I’m also utterly distracted by the fact that her producer looks like a combination of Fred Mertz (of I Love Lucy) and Cheech Marin (of Cheech and Chong).

Then I realized that her conductor looks like Art Garfunkel (of Simon and Garfunkel). 😎

So whilst (little faux fanciness for ya) I try to be good at culcha, alls I can really do is appreciate it in my own New Jersey way. I’ll never have tea with the queen, p’raps, but I like to spin a yarn and have a good laugh.

I noticed that when Hahn plays, her whole body moves in a particular choreography. It’s as if she knows that she can’t reach the notes with her hands unless her feet move in a certain way at the same time.

Her whole body is her instrument.

In the same way, your whole life is your testament.

Most of the people you meet would never stand still and let you convert them to your beliefs.

All of the people you meet are seeing, hearing and feeling your beliefs every time you speak.

With all that’s going on in the world, all I can do is offer you this cozy corner where you’ll always be welcomed like a friend and we can share our stories. I don’t care who you are or where you’re from, kind people. You’re okay with me.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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