Tag Archives: Life lessons

What I Didn’t Know I Knew

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This is a guest blog I wrote for Matt Estes’ blog three years ago, but I can’t find that I ever posted it on my own blog, so here it is.  If you remember reading it here, I stand to be corrected:

When I was asked to write a guest blog about finding happiness in life, I wondered what I could say that wouldn’t appear to be trite. Then I decided that all truths of life are in their essence trite—because at heart they are what everyone eventually discovers if they choose to examine life as it occurs. They are also at the heart of most writing. It is only the words chosen to convey them that change from teller to teller. Here are some truths I have discovered as I get older.

I think I like writing because it teaches me what I’ve learned but might otherwise forget.

I guess we can’t really own beauty, but I’m enjoying it while it is possible!!!

I don’t really know what I think until I write about it.

Dogs adore us and expect things from us but probably don’t appreciate us that much. I think it is one doggie treat and then on to the next. Out of jaws, out of mind!!!

We have to be glad for what happens in our lives, not sad about what ceases to happen.

Life experiences are often like presents under a tree. Although we have not chosen them and though they are not what we expected, if we choose to unwrap them, we might find some wonderful surprises.

Even the terrible things in life have the seeds of some happiness in them. Many times this is our only consolation; and if you refuse to believe this, life is likely to be a terrible disappointment.

There are many friends who will seek to tell us the truth about ourselves, but a truly good friend will make us laugh in the telling.

In my friends, I seek my copies and my opposites. One reassures me that I am not alone in this world. The other shows me alternative possibilities.

Although I am not religious, I can’t deny that there is a huge creative force in the universe. The way I have discovered this is through finding it within myself.

I have a limited amount of patience for a limitless number of children. In a way this is the opposite of motherhood, although I think it makes for a very good schoolteacher.

My 4-year-old stepson called me his “wicker stepmother.” In spite of the fact that I had a huge basket collection, I don’t think he saw the pun; although I’m sure he saw the humor as he grinned wickedly every time he said it.

I was made strong by the most terrible things that happened to me in my life. I was rewarded by the good ones. I don’t think there is a scorekeeper evening out the game. I think we ourselves choose to find the rewards in what is offered to us. One man’s prize may be another man’s punishment. Point of view is everything.

It is much easier to spout philosophy of life from comfort than from pain. I know this and acknowledge that in any crisis situations I was not thinking about the significance of the experience. Flight or fight is one thing. Reflection about fight or flight is another.

About Me (revised to reflect current age and years of residence in Mexico): I am a 70-year-old woman who has lived on the shores of Lake Chapala in Mexico for the past 17 years. I grew up in South Dakota, received my Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction and Creative Writing at the U. of Wyoming and immediately emigrated to Australia. After teaching there for a year and a half, I traveled through Timor, Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Kenya before coming to roost in Ethiopia, where I lived for another year and a half and taught school. When the revolution that deposed Selassie made it necessary to leave Ethiopia, I taught high school English in Cheyenne, Wyoming for seven years before a very persuasive dream caused me to resign my job, sell my house and move to California to write full time. I studied screenwriting and film production at U.C.L.A. and apprenticed at a Hollywood agency, then worked for a TV production company for three years before marrying and moving to Northern California where I studied metalsmithing and papermaking and sold my jewelry as well as art lamps made in collaboration with my husband at arts and crafts shows across the nation. I was also the curator of the Santa Cruz Mountains Art Center for three years. In 2001, I moved to Mexico where I have continued to create mixed media assemblages and retablos, to publish four books and to write for several online and print magazines.

 

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This post was recognized by Matt, of Normal Happenings, for the “heliotrope magenta” Nice Job Badge!  Thanks, Matt!

(You can see Matt’s blog HERE.)

Daring-do

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Daring-do

Once from our comfort we are torn—
from the first moment we are born—
we’re put into this world to do,
to suckle, gurgle, bill and coo,
then to stand and tie a shoe.
To participate, and not just view.

From a broomstick with horse’s head,
we go on to bust a bronc instead.
Playing drums or clarinets,
clicking heels or castinets,
from paper airplanes to flying jets,
doing’s as good as living gets.

We start out small and then get bigger.
Vine pod boats grow sails and rigger
to sail the world and tell the tales
of seas like glass, whirlpools and gales.
Each time you try out something new,
it brings more world inside of you.

Some things work out, others we rue,
but still it’s better to try and do
than put ourselves up on our shelves
and simply analyze ourselves.
Daring-do beats daring-don’t,
for life consists of “will,” not “won’t.”

 

The prompt word today was “Daring.”

Young at Heart

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Young at Heart

If I walk always looking back,
I only see what I now lack;
but if I look in front of me,
I’m aware of all that I might be.

Staying young? A matter of eye, not heart.
Remembering at the day’s fresh start
to train my eye on what’s to be
and never ever in back of me.

That excitement of the unexpected––
that future formerly undetected––
is what keeps life fresh and new.
Who will deliver your next clue?

Your script in life has not been written.
Life is an apple still unbitten.
Each bite or line is yours to make.
Each day  a freshly uncut cake.

Dawn is a gift that’s given us
to start anew with lesser fuss
and more acceptance of what’s there
awaiting us in the open air.

The world unfolds to all who seek,
banishing old and stale and meek.
To spend each day in a world that’s new
is how to keep your youth with you.

The Prompt: What are your thoughts on aging? How will you stay young at heart as you get older?https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/young-at-heart/

Airborne

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Airborne

Way back in our salad years,
our endings were all sealed with tears
as each successive love affair
popped like a bubble into air.

Now that we’ve earned our seasoning,
more endings end in reasoning.
We understand that all things end
as lover, father, daughter, friend

begins to go the way of all
who stumble, falter, fade and fall.
It is the fate that’s given us,
with all our stories ending thus.

Accomplishments, possessions, love
are like the fingers of a glove
that, when all our work is done
peel off each finger, one by one.

Empty-handed, we leave this life–––
its pleasures, loving, stress and strife––
to join the welcoming arms of air.
To discover what awaits us there.

This morning, I awoke to the line, “Way back in our salad years,” running through my mind.  The next lines occurred as I let the dogs out and stumbled back to bed. I completed the poem before I looked at the daily prompt, and although it doesn’t meet the exact prompt, it seems to go along with the title of “Builds Character,” so here it is! https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/it-builds-character/

From Grief to Life

From Grief to Life

Today’s prompt asks us to explain our blog’s title.  If you don’t already know how the name of my blog came to be Lifelessons while my blog address is Grieflessons, go HERE

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/all-about-me/

Bob’s Rope

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                                                                        Bob’s Rope

A week ago, I drove to the Santa Cruz, CA area to visit old friends. It has been fourteen years since I left there to move to Mexico, and when I spent the night with my friends Linda and Steve, they invited my other good friends Dan (pictured above) and Laurie to come for dinner. When we fell to comparing our present physical ills, as old farts like us are prone to do, I admitted that over the past year I have experienced a number of anxiety attacks when I go to bed, mainly centered around fears that I will soon stop being able to breathe. When I told Dan about these attacks, he said that he, too, had been having them for a long time but that he’d found a cure–that cure being Bob’s rope. The story goes like this.

About twenty years before, Dan and Laurie had decided to drive down to Baja and asked my husband Bob and me to accompany them. We took two cars because they had to come back before us as Laurie didn’t want to leave her elderly aunt for too long. Dan said he had felt terrible anxiety before the trip. What if their car broke down? With no big towns in Baja, what would they do? Nonetheless, we went, and on our second day of driving, we fell behind them a mile or two. We were nearing the crest of a big hill when we suddenly saw a big engine part lying in the road. We swerved around it and as we passed over the summit, we spied Dan and Laurie’s car down below at the bottom of the hill. We thought they were waiting for us to catch up, but then saw Dan get out of the car and wave us down.

Part of the engine had fallen out of their van! We went back to pick it up and discovered that it was the universal joint or some part of the engine that contained the universal joint, which is a vital part of the engine, or so I was told. Dan was sputtering a bit, but Bob just went to the back of our Blazer and pulled out this colossal hemp rope…maybe twenty feet long and about two or three inches thick. This he tied to our trailer hitch and to the chassis of Dan and Laurie’s van. We then towed them about 20 miles until we found a tiny “town” consisting of a small gas station. We pulled in and Dan, who knew more Spanish than we did at the time, (we knew none) asked the station man where the next garage might be. There were a sum total of three little houses in the town that we could see, and the man pointed to one across the road and said we should go see Jose.

Jose had about 5 old cars parked in his yard and when he inspected the part we’d retrieved from the center of the road, he said he’d see what he could do. He scrounged around in the various cars and came up with a part which he promptly dropped in the dirt, at which point all the bearings dropped out onto the ground, rolling every which way and burying themselves under powdery dirt and sparse grass clumps. He laboriously scavenged, picking bearings out and cleaning them off on his shirt before dropping them into wherever bearings go. He worked for a half hour or so–maybe longer.

This part of the story I didn’t witness as Laurie and I were across the street in the shade of the service station eating the best tamales I’ve ever had in my life. We’d purchased them from a little woman who had a stand by the side of the road. They were incredible in that every single bite tasted different from every other bite. She had put everything into them: pork, pineapple, cheese, mild chilis. Each bite was a totally new tamale experience and the masa was moist and light and wonderful. I was thinking that it was worth Dan’s U-joint just to get to eat these tamales! We thought we should buy some for Dan and Bob, but as time wore on, we ended up eating theirs as well. Only so much can be expected of girls marooned in the heat with only the shade of a forlorn little gas station for comfort.

At any rate, I’m sure we bought more tamales for the male members of our expedition and eventually, they drove up in Dan’s van. As they (probably) ate their tamales, Dan spoke in wonder of the fact that Jose had somehow been able to gerrymander the part from the pieces of the different cars–none of which were vans or even the make of his van. And, when he asked how much he owed them, they said, “Oh, 150 pesos!!!” This at the time was about $15. He said he would have paid more but alas, that happened to be all the cash he had on him and I’d spent all our money on tamales and gas.

So it was that we went on to a few more days’ adventures before they headed north again and we continued to Mulege and points south, took the ferry over to Guaymas on the mainland of Mexico and drove up the coast and back home. Later, Dan reported to us that he’d stopped by to see Jose on the way back up to California and left him with a couple of cases of beer and a bit more money, which he felt he had certainly earned, even though he had not commanded a higher price.

A happy Dan drove his van home and for 6 months it performed perfectly; but he started worrying about it and thinking it was bound to eventually give him problems, so he went to the authorized garage of whatever make his van was and had them order the correct U-joint and install it. Afterwards, he had had nothing but trouble with the van and they ended up trading it in. He admitted then that he never should have meddled with the perfection of Jose’s repair job.

Now, he said, every time he felt anxiety, he thought of Bob’s rope and it would calm his fears and remind him that things worked out because they had to and that there was really nothing to be so anxious about that it kept him from doing what he wanted to do. When Bob died and I moved to Mexico, I asked them what they would like to have from our house to remember us by and Dan quickly requested the rope! He’s had it ever since. They now split their time between their house in Boulder Creek, CA and a house near the southern tip of Baja and every trip they’ve taken down, they have carried that rope in the trunk of their car. Dan still suffers night anxiety attacks as I do but he said when he does he thinks of Bob’s rope coiled in the trunk of his car and that calms him.

That is the story of Bob’s rope–how it came to have such importance in Dan’s life and how it has come to have a potential for comfort in my life as well.

DSC09974                                                     Laurie seems to have life whipped.

The  Prompt: Tell us about a journey you have taken, either physically or emotionally.
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/journey/