Tag Archives: positive changes

To Plan or Not To Plan

This is a Blast from my Past. I still think it holds true even today. I hope you enjoy it. Previously posted on March 11, 2018.

A friend of mine made a comment the other day that I have been pondering ever since I heard it. He said that ‘a bad plan was better than no plan’.  Now he is a military man so perhaps in that context it might be true.   An intelligent person can always modify a plan on the fly. Thereby changing a bad plan into a good plan.  But using the same rationale: couldn’t one create a plan, on the move, to suit the circumstances of the moment?

My first reaction was that I don’t have a plan. Or rather I make things up as I go along. I like spontaneity and the titillation of not knowing what’s coming next. But then isn’t that idea just a very loose plan?  I’ve been talking myself in circles. On one hand having no plan can leave one floundering with no idea, no concept of how to move forward. On the other hand having no plan could mean that you’re open to create the circumstances you wish while not being constrained by any artificial restraints of your ‘plan’.  Are you confused yet? I am.

Some people enjoy the regimentation of everything being planned to the minutia. Others, myself included, love the instability and challenges that can creep up when you’re not too tightly organized. When I was traveling I made sure I had a plan for getting to my destination and I was aware of my options once I was there but I liked to make any decisions when I opened my eyes in the morning. I liked to be able to change my plans at a second’s notice. I liked the challenge of not knowing what’s around the corner and then reacting to it.

Now isn’t that what life is all about? I am sure my parents had plans for me as a child and worked towards my being a competent adult. I think they did their job well. I of course may be biased in that! But I am a thinking adult. I make my own decisions and I’m capable of reacting to the world around me. I enjoy that aspect. Someone once said that everyone should do one thing a day that terrifies them. I like that idea. I might not do it everyday but I do not shy away from that which frightens me. Except for snakes. Oh my good heavens I am so shying away!!!

Whatever kind of person you are, planner, non-planner or a combination of the two, I think we all have the same goal:  to enjoy life, you’ve only got one!

 

Deep Reflections

“If you look deep into your enemies’ eyes you may indeed see yourself.”

I don’t know where this quote comes from. Wikipedia failed me. It may have been a line in a movie or a book and it just stuck in my head. But when you think about it, it is true.  If you are looking at your enemy, then your enemy is probably doing exactly the same thing to you and thinking the same thing. It’s all about perspective.

In this fast-paced world we look, we see, we judge and act on that judgment. It isn’t necessarily true or fair but it’s what most people do. We don’t have the time to spend shaking hands and looking into the eyes of a stranger and getting to know them. And that is a shame and it is a travesty because we miss so much beauty and wealth that it makes us poorer.

We live in a technological world where everything we want to know is at our fingertips. There is so little sharing of information between two people talking, examining feelings and aspirations. All that seems to have been shunted to one side in favour of knowing the latest trend and the most popular celebrity. I enjoyed my ‘getting to know you’ dates. I enjoyed learning, the hard way sometimes. But it was a joy and an experience. Now everything is at my fingertips and I don’t even have to go to the library to check out a reference book. I wonder if someday we will be no longer need to interact at all with another human being. It will all be done by computer bits and bytes.

I am going out for lunch with a friend in a few days and I am feeling a little anxious. It’s not like I haven’t done this hundreds of times but I’m afraid I will have forgotten the niceties. It’s been a year and a half and I have grown comfortable in my reclusiveness, perhaps too comfortable. Hence the necessity for going out to a restaurant.

When we look deep into the eyes of another, we do see ourselves or the version of ourselves we believe. Each of us feels love, despair, hurt and an endless harmony of emotions. No one is alone in their feelings. Human beings are social animals, we need each other. We need to see each other and to physically connect even if it is just a simple hug. Times don’t allow for all of that right now but they will, in time and while I hate to say it: we must be patient or we could lose it all.

 

A Messenger of God

The woman raced up the steps, she had reached the door but it was locked.  Locked!  There had to be another door, another entrance. Yes, another door, another locked entrance!  She had to get inside, she had to be inside.  One more door.  Success! She pulled the heavy oak door just wide enough for her to slip inside. She could barely see, it was dim. It was near dusk and the only light came through the stained-glass windows on the other side of the empty church.

The woman found her way to a pew and collapsed; her face buried in her silk scarf.  Here she could let go, let go of the pain, the anger, the hatred.  She started to cry, softly at first. All too soon her pain bubbled to the surface and she began to weep. She hunched over and released all her pent-up emotions in quiet sobs of despair.

Father Mitchell was making his rounds of the church.  His first church.  It may not look like much, or be well attended but it was his first official assignment and he felt honoured.  Yes, it was an old church, falling down in some places and it was poor, financially and in attendance. But it was peaceful, and he needed the peace.  Here he could deal with his crisis of faith. Did he really want to continue to be a priest? Could he continue? In this place he felt the answer must be yes. There was a generosity of spirit here.  He could feel it.  He could feel God here.  Almost.

As he turned a corner, he heard a noise. Someone was in the church.  What he saw next, touched his heart.  A woman was crying, deeply.  She was alone.  He watched her for a moment. The secretary was gone for the day.  He was the only one who could offer this stranger comfort.  This was the one part of his ministry that he was unsure of.  It was one thing to lend a shoulder to a withered old widow, but to a young and attractive woman? Father Mitchell shook his head, he was here to help.  She needed his help. Still, he hesitated at the door, uncertain of the shadows.  He knew he would offer her the comfort of his faith even though he questioned it personally.  As he approached her, he could see the pain deeply etched in her still lovely face.  He placed one hand on her shoulder and paused.

“God will come to your aid my child, if you let Him.”

The words sounded hollow, even in his ears. Why?

“I want to help.  Will you tell me what is wrong?”

The woman raised her head.  Her eyes were sad, but there was something more. She was a mere slip of a woman, no more than twenty-five or so.  But her eyes were that of someone who has seen too much misery.  Father Mitchell mentally shook his head, his confidence was slipping.

“Father, I need to speak to you, I must explain.” Her voice quivered as her eyes pleaded with him for understanding.

Without hesitation the young priest motioned for the troubled woman to follow him to his office.  He gently seated her on a wing-backed chair across from his desk and handed her a box of tissues.  He was unsure of where to sit himself so he stood for a moment.

“Please Father, sit down.  This could take some time.”

Her voice wasn’t quivering anymore.  She seemed more sure of herself.  Bewildered, Father Mitchell felt . . . confused, so he did as was suggested:  he sat down.  As he moved behind his desk, he felt that at least here he had the trappings of his office surrounding him and that gave him some control of the situation.  He thought.

Visually the woman sitting across from him had not changed.  Visually she was still young and attractive, but now she appeared to be more, more self-possessed perhaps.  With her gain in confidence, Father Mitchell felt the opposite.  He almost felt fear, a mindless, formless disquiet entered his mind and he felt totally alone.

“Father Mitchell, you told me that if I let God into my heart my pain would go away. You are wrong.  God cannot make my pain go away.  He can only show me how to cope with the pain and only if I let Him. You have it all wrong. God does not reside here in this church.  He resides in each and every one of us.  I don’t mean that we are godlike, just that we never have to be alone. He is always with us.  The religions of the world are not an act of God but of mankind.  Religion was made by man to control, to teach, to force back the shadows that frighten everyone.  The Bible was written by men.  Not God.  The Good Book, as you call it, is a series of stories that tells of another time, a history. And history is modified by time.  Whatever argument you have, you can use the Bible to agree with your particular stand.  Actually, you can find confirmation of both sides of any argument if you look for it.  It is all in the interpretation. The only part of the Bible that was written by God is the Ten Commandments. People pervert the meaning of the Bible by using it as a confirmation of their own private beliefs.  God has become a means to an end. People do not come to God on bended knee but rather with outstretched hands.  They want something in return for their devotion to the trappings of Religion.  God did not created religion, men did.  Faith is the belief in God, religion is the belief in the trimmings. People are confused and, in their confusion, they choose dangerous paths.”

The priest sat motionless.  He did not know how to respond.  He desperately needed guidance and he knew he was without anyone to help. Fear entered his heart. He thought of himself.  He thought of all the good deeds he was going to perform, the people he was going to help.  He was going to show the world the wonders of God. Was that now in jeopardy?  Was it a manifestation of Satan sitting across from him? One does not question what has been the norm for two thousand years. He was so young, with so much promise. He felt his own mortality near, perhaps it was his time.  It was unfair if he was to die here, now.  The world would never know how precious his life could have been. But perhaps, perhaps his death had a purpose. Maybe his death would result in others being saved. If so, then he would face death willing.

“Wrong again priest!”  The voice that emanated from this beautiful woman changed again.  There was a menacing quality that had not been there before.

Father Mitchell felt real fear.  It seemed to encase him, squeeze him tight.  He couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe.  The figure in front of him grew in size. It hovered over his frozen body.

“You are insignificant.  Your value is less than trifling.  Your aspirations of grandeur demean your beliefs.  You cannot win; you can only provide me with entertainment.  Accept your fate.  Submit.”

With those words Father Mitchell felt a small spot beneath his heart start to burn.  A small flicker of pain seemed to grow, to expand until it filled his chest.  A single tear escaped his tightly closed eyes.  He wanted to raise his fists and scream, he only sat and cried. He cried for himself, but mostly he cried for others.  He wanted to share what he had learned.  God was not a separate entity who resided in a distant location behind pearly gates.  God was here, in the ditches, in the bars, in the hearts of all those who believed.  God does not judge you based on your skin colour, your religion, or your life style.  God judges you on the things that matter in this life.  Do you love others as well as yourself?  Do you try to help those in need?  Are you true to those around you and to the world you live in? Do you give without the expectation of reward?

He knew that he was going to die, but it was all right.  His faith was stronger than it had ever been.  He understood, and that understanding gave him the strength he needed.  His crisis was resolved.  He sighed once, and allowed himself to let go.

***************

“Father, Father Mitchell, good heavens. I canna understand these young’uns.  They work to all hours and then fall asleep at their desks.  It is not seemly. .“

Father Mitchell heard his name called out repeatedly and realized that he had not in fact died.  What he was hearing was his secretary Mrs. Carruthers berating him for sleeping at his desk.  Sleeping.  Was it all a dream?  The woman, the fear?  Father Mitchell opened his eyes and stared at his office.  His.  Everything looked normal.  Almost everything. There was a red silk scarf carelessly dropped behind the wing-back chair.

Later that day Father Mitchell took a few minutes to reflect.  He knew that physically everything was the same as yesterday, but he was not.  Whatever had happened last night had given him the strength to see what was not in front of him, not tangible: his faith.  Earlier he had been confused, unsure.  Now he knew the role he was expected to play.

 

 

the end

 

Turtle Eyes

There’s a turtle sitting on my desk,

He staring right at me!

He makes me start to wonder,

Of a life that is carefree.

 

My little turtle is not real,

He’s made of stone you see.

But he reminds me of the ocean,

And of life there being free.

 

To race the waves without care,

To play beneath the kelp.

Prey and predator have a place,

They really need no help.

 

If only we could understand,

The synchronicity of life.

Then perhaps we’d have a chance,

To mend our world of strife.

 

To live in peace would be the dream.

When all would be as one.

Reach your hand out to another,

And then my work is done.

 

There’s a turtle sitting on my desk,

He staring right at me!

I think he likes what I have said,

I’m sure he does agree.

 

I Met a Word

I met a word the other day,

It popped up with no notice.

It seemed it had a beef with me,

Something about a lotus?

 

There was a symbol I had missed,

It had to do with flowers.

I promise truly I have no thoughts,

Perhaps those are my powers.

 

It is a symbol in many cultures,

Of enlightenment and rebirth.

I will not lay a claim to either,

Unless you mean my girth!

 

That silly word is having fun,

I think at my expense.

Perhaps it’s time for moving on,

At least that is my sense.

 

So many words do float about,

They are looking for a place.

Somewhere safe to stay a while,

I think that is the case.

 

So for now I’ll let it go,

But keep it close in mind.

I never know when I might need,

A word so well defined.

Failure is the only option.

Failure. To fail. To not succeed. To not accomplish a task. To not complete your objective. It has seriously negative connotations and yet it is simply one part of the learning curve.

I know parents want to shield their children from the evils that exist in the world. We all do.  It is a natural reaction. But I think children need to be exposed to a little more that is less than perfect. If they only experience rainbows and unicorns when they are young, they won’t be able to understand life when they are adults.  Failure is a part of life, a big part. It is one of the best educational tools we have. And if we don’t take advantage of it, the cost down the line can be catastrophic.

We love to regale others with our successes, our shining wins.  No one ever likes to talk about a loss, our mistakes, our failures. Somehow, we think it will make us seem less worthy. Whereas I believe the opposite is true. How you deal with your failures, strengthens your character and will provide you with a template for future situations.

An example:  I was 16 and all excited about getting my Driver’s License. The freedom to go where I wanted, when I wanted was intoxicating. I failed my first driving test. I was devastated. I didn’t understand why I had failed but I had. I wallowed for a while in a ‘pity me’ haze. And then my parents pointed out to me that the first test was a trial run. I needed to study more, practice more and I would nail it on the next try. They were right. When I first took the test all I could see was what I would be free to do, I didn’t think at all about my responsibilities with that Driver’s License. There are laws, rules that I had to follow and to respect. I did the second time around. Failure was good for me.

When I was a youth, I belonged to The Girl Guides of Canada. It was a wonderful organization; it probably still is. I was taught how to put up a tent properly, how to appreciate the outdoors, how to work in a team. I was also taught how to make a fire without a match. The first 50 times I failed. I failed again and again and again. What I didn’t do was stop trying. And eventually I became one of the best at making fire using two sticks and a little sweat equity. It was such a moment of achievement for me because of my previous failures. I learned to never give up. It was a life lesson I never forgot.

The only way you will truly fail, is to never try.

 

 

Thought Processes

Have you ever stopped and wondered why you think the way you do? I know that’s an odd question but where does your mind wander to when you’re not focussed on anything. I will be quite honest, I try very hard to keep my mind engaged because when it is allowed to stray, well, things can get interesting.

It was in one of those moments of mindless meanderings when I remembered the many times I’ve had to deal with unprofessional sales clerks. There was the one who could not get past the wheelchair or the one who was smacking her gum, twirling her hair and talking to a friend about a boy.  The fact that I wanted to buy something simply did not enter into her mind even though she was looking right at me. That was probably 20 years ago but I wonder what she’s doing now. Has she gone on to blow expectations and become a PhD chemistry professor? Call me mean but I think not.

Back in the good old days (a year ago) I used to love to listen as people walked by. You never got the entire conversation but it was fascinating to think where it could take you. Like the time I followed a couple after overhearing that he was “…killing them”. Oh, I was intrigued! It’s OK he was just killing his plants. But out of that brief conversation I came up with a story about some actual killing. Yes, there is an evil side to my character and every now and then I embrace it.

When I am standing in front of a dog with a cookie in my hand, I know exactly what he is thinking. The drool is a dead giveaway. But when I’m standing looking at complete strangers it’s impossible to have any idea of what’s going on in their mind. Are they wondering if they locked the door or turned off the porch light? Are they thinking about gifts for a dear friend? Or perhaps how they plan to kill that annoying next-door neighbour? There is just no way to know.

That is fascinating to me. I have, in the past, created stories on the spot to describe what I could see. It had no basis in fact, it was pure fantasy but it was fun to give these people a life and a future directly out of my addled brain.

I once gave a man a wife, a mistress and a sexy secretary all because he was standing waiting for the Train with a smile on his face. It was a nice face but it looked like he had a secret. Those are the best ones to play with. And the upside to this game is nothing is ever written down because I can’t remember them and no one is besmirched. This is what I do when my mind is allowed to ramble and my thought processes are given free rein.  Be afraid, be very afraid…

Are you offended yet?

Read on,  I’m sure I will find a way to offend somebody. Or at least those who are always looking for something to offend them. Maybe I got all the good readers who are offended in the same way I am, by people who are easily offended.

Why do we judge the past based on the sensibilities of the 21st century? Are people not aware that the time was different back then? Was it right? People thought it  was for that time. How exactly are we going to be judged in 100 years, in 50 years? Are people going to be offended by our idiocy? I cannot answer that. But I can tell you that we will be judged. If it was wrong in the past, let us change it now and for the future. That should be how we are judged.

We are offended when people don’t agree with us. We are offended when we infer their words to different meanings other than was intended. We are offended when we don’t get what we want . And yet why aren’t we offended by racism and hatred and bullying? These are issues that should get our blood boiling the way we let loose when we are offended. And yet we don’t. Hatred is something we will never truly get rid of but we can find out why we hate. I hate some foods . (Which I will not mention here because there are people that actually like these things and I don’t wish to offend.) But how can I hate a person when I don’t know them? How can I hate a country that I’ve never been to? How can I hate an idea when I don’t even know what it is?

And yet people hate for the most obscure reasons. ‘Her eyes are blue.’ ‘He doesn’t like cats.’ ‘I don’t understand what they are saying.’ I wonder what would happen if  we took the time to look past the things we don’t like? I wonder if we would find someone that we might actually care for?  I wonder if someone looked at me and decided to hate because they didn’t like the colour of my hair?  When will we stop hating the unknown?

Children are not born hating. Bullies do not spring up out of nowhere. These are learned behaviours and they are taught by adults. The entire world has a responsibility to its children to put a stop to the negativities they grow up around. I know this is a simplistic idea and certainly the whole world cannot be fixed by the snap of my fingers but just because it can’t all be fixed at one time, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start.

The Last Christmas Gift

Elsie looked around the room. There was carnage everywhere. A tornado passing through would have left less damage. Bodies were strewn throughout the mayhem. She chuckled. Just another Christmas morning with children.

One of the bodies stirred. A little fist came up from beneath the wrapping paper it had been curled up under. A pile of boxes sneezed. Another child was stirring. Elsie thought perhaps there were a few more to come. But she knew the fresh smell of coffee would probably wake all the adults up. Sure enough, the love of her life wandered into the room, his hands wrapped around a hot steamy mug. With no hesitation he handed it to Elsie and returned from whence he came to get another.

A few more adults showed up with coffee at hand and a tray of hot chocolate for the children. It was Christmas morning. It was after the frenzy of opening gifts. After breakfast. Everyone had been up so early for the main event that the naps became inevitable. The children slept curled around their newfound bounty while the adults found more comfortable settings. Elsie didn’t need a nap. She wanted to watch her charges. There is nothing more spiritual then the breath of sleeping children, safe and secure in their surroundings.

There was a different feeling in the room as everyone gathered once again. They all knew what was coming. Except for one. Malcolm was new to the group, to the family. He was still getting used to the Western dynamic. He had been born into soul crushing poverty in another country. His family had been killed in a local war that no one understood.  He was alone. But he had been found by people who cared and so began his journey to this moment.

“Malcolm,” send Elsie, “There is one more Christmas gift for the family. That includes you. But you don’t know the history so I’m going to tell you how this all started.”

Malcolm set up straighter, he was interested to know how things worked here and he was curious about his new family. So, he listened very carefully.

Elsie continued: “When my Great, Great, Great Grandfather came to this country he was very poor. But his parents believed they could find a better life, a better future in the New World. They risked everything. The first few years were hard but they were a hard-working family. That first Christmas looked like it was going to be pretty bleak. There was barely enough money for food let alone presents. But there was a wise patriarch and he refused to be sad. He said the goose had wandered across the street and died. His beloved wife said nothing as she picked the buck shot out of the breast of their Christmas goose.

They said grace and gave thanks for their bounty. The light was dim and the curtains were thin but they knew that others were worse off so they gave thanks. And that’s when my ancestor brought out the Last Christmas Gift.”

Elsie sat back in her chair and smiled.  She looked at the faces around her beaming with anticipation. She loved this part of Christmas.

“Ever since then we have honoured the tradition that was started so many years ago.”

As if by magic a small beautifully wrapped package appeared in her lap. There were many ooohs and aaaahs from her audience. And not just the children!

With studied patience Elsie peeled back the wrapping paper. And then with a flick of her wrist a small wooden carving appeared in the palm of her hand. It was a little drummer boy.

Elsie smiled. “Would anyone like to tell me what gift this is?”

Malcolm looked confused. He didn’t know the story of the Little Drummer Boy. And then something miraculous happened. A little tow-hair girl stood up and walked to Malcolm. She wrapped her little arms around him and said:

“His gift is to us all. He was a little drummer boy who had no presents to give the newborn King, Jesus Christ so he played his drum. He gave all he had in his heart and it was the most precious gift of all. That’s what we all need to do. And it will be precious.”

 

The end

 

 

 

 

Cannoli

Now I have heard a tale,

Of some pretty mighty folk.

Who one day tried to band together,

Searching for a joke.

 

They searched the wilds far up north,

Then east and west they went.

Lakes and oceans, fields and hills,

But still they did lament.

 

Then someone had a simple thought,

A cult might just be right.

They could live pure and free,

Without some nasty fight.

 

There would of course be rules,

They’d really have to follow.

But some of them were cool,

And none were mean or hollow.

 

Food and drink would be the norm,

Laughter the song of choice.

Friendship for all together,

And all would have a voice.

 

What a perfect place to live,

Far away we all would be.

No hate or strife belongs with us,

I think you would agree.

 

Now I think I’ll rest my head,

And dream of big blue skies.

Perhaps I’ll eat cannoli,

If that cult would be my prize.