TELL ME A STORY…about you!

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The greatest art in the world is the art of storytelling. ~ Cecil B. DeMille

When I encourage people to write down their stories the usual replies are:

  • My life is nothing special
  • I haven’t done anything worth writing about
  • No one would be interested, who would read them?

In 1874 a young man kept a day planner. In it he recorded the weather and something he did that day, like picking cotton, going to the cotton gin, or sitting up with a sick friend. He wrote about going to church or eating supper with family. If someone had told him his scribblings would one day be treasured, he would have thought that person was nuts. When 1875 rolled around, he threw his the 1874 planner in the drawer. Over the years the little planner was passed on until it landed in the hands of his great-granddaughter in 2010. She opened it and ran her finger over his writing while reverently reading what he had to say. This was her touching point, her connection, with a long-dead relative. To her, it wasn’t day-to-day ramblings. It was a treasure.

That great-granddaughter is me.

Writer Page Lambert once said, “We cannot change the pain of our past, but we can give health to the future.” We can do this through writing. The difference between what my great-grandfather did and what I do is writing with purpose. Writing to give health to the future. And good news! You don’t have to be a writer to do this. Just tell your stories.

Write about:

  • Mistakes you made, what you learned from them, and how you overcame.
  • Influential people in your life, why they are influential, how they have inspired you
  • Your observations and epiphanies from the historic events that have taken place in your lifetime. Things that have changed or influenced the way we live in the USA, or even the world. Natural disasters, the social media explosion, or modern inventions.
  • Memories made or lessons that can be taken from your hobbies.

You may not think anyone will be interested. But from experience let me say, yes, your stories will be treasured. They are threads in the fabric of humanity.

Your stories matter.

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THE BEST GIFT OF ALL

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When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back.Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time. ~ Rick Warren

When I think back over my life, I remember moments more than things. Do you? Things gather dust, grow outdated, break, get lost, sometimes sold in garage sales, or are given away. But when I give my time, moments are created. Those we keep for a lifetime. Giving time gives me rewards, like laughing with my dad. Or the fun I have taking my mom to Mississippi to visit her sister. (My beautiful mom is on my right side in this pic. Her sister is on my left). We talk, we laugh, and solve the worlds problems during that ten-hour journey.

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Watching my children grow into adults and having children of their own are like daily diamonds—a lot of pressure while they are forming, but are sparkling jewels in my memories. Remember that Amanda! Elizabeth is a diamond in the rough!

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And let’s not forget friends. When my soul-tank is empty, they fill it back up. I always want to make time to do the same for them.

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I gladly give the gift of my time to others. because the rewards received back are rich moments that will remain with me throughout my life and grow more valuable with each passing year.

Stuff is stuff. Poof! It’s gone. But moments? They are everlasting. And in the giving is the receiving.

THE LITTLE THINGS

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. ~ Robert Brault

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I remember visiting my grandmother, Cladie Mae Leslie, in Durant, Mississippi. She taught me how to shell purple hull peas and speckled butter beans. What a thrill it gave my child’s heart to discover purple splotches on the creamy white flesh of the beans. How I loved sitting with her on the porch swing on warm summer evenings, swaying back and forth while listening to the rise and fall of cicada and tree frog song. Magnolia blooms perfumed the humid night air. It was a little thing.

In Jackson, Mississippi, the first thing my grandmother, Molly Belle Lowe, would do when I arrived for a visit was to bundle me up and take me to the grocery store. There I could buy anything I wanted to eat during my stay. She taught me to love flowers and trees. I helped her water her gardens. My favorite was her mint patch because the refreshing tang of mint exploded when the spray hit it. I helped her pick figs and after supper we’d enjoy them with sugar and cream. It was a little thing.

At least two weekends a month we visited Granny and Grandaddy Diehl’s farm in Vilonia, AR. Granny let me pet her chickens and gather eggs. Grandaddy encouraged me to help him in his garden, only truth be known? I probably made more work for him. At five in the morning I followed him to the barn to milk the cows. He wore striped overalls and heavy work boots. I wore shorts and flip-flops. I can still feel the cold, dew-covered goose grass slapping my bare legs on the way to the barn. While he milked I hunted for nests of kittens in the hayloft. It was a little thing.

Now that I’m in my early sixties, I look back and realize these experiences were actually big things because they made me who I am today. When I pick up my grandchildren we visit the grocery for treats during their stay. We sit on my porch in the evenings, petting my cats and listening to the frog and night bug’s song. We shell peas or speckled butter beans together and they excitedly exclaim when they find a purple splotched one. They pick fruit from my garden and make cobbler with their grandfather. We visit my hens and after giving them a good petting, the grands gather eggs.

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These are small moments in their lives. Time spent together. Little things. But when they are in their sixties, they will realize, just as I did, how big they actually were.

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WHAT DID YOU SAY????

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The message sent is not always the message received.
Virginia Satir

Years ago I visited a friend in Honduras for a couple of weeks. Their Internet service was sparse at best, so I could only contact my husband, Neal, every other day or so, via email. The night before I was to fly home I received a message from him that said something like, I’ve looked over our budget. We need to make some changes. Vacuumed the entire house. Changes need to be made there too. See you soon.

Well, I don’t mind telling you I was pretty darned miffed. All night I fumed. So, he thinks I spend too much money does he? Well, one look in my closet where only six dresses hang and three pair of shoes sit on the floor, will prove I don’t. So, I don’t clean house good enough for him? Well, if he wants to take over the cleaning, more power to him.

At the airport in Tulsa, I had plenty of time to marinate in my anger. When I saw him, I could have frozen him with my stare. Clearly confused, he followed me as I sped to the luggage pick-up, all the while asking me what was wrong. Believe you me, I let him have it.

Neal was so shocked by my inference of his email, he had to sit down. “Linda, I meant that our budget had to be changed to provide you with more money. I saw your closet when I vacuumed it and realized you clearly needed more clothes. And after using that vacuum, I realized we need a new one. I would have bought one already, but I wanted you to get what you wanted.

By the time he finished I was looking for something to crawl under. Since that day, when one of us says something that nettles the other, we answer, “This is what I hear you saying,” which gives the other the opportunity to clarify.

Emails, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets are fertile seedbeds for misrepresentation, anger, negativity, and misunderstanding. Let us be careful. Yes, we are entitled to our opinion on our own page. Personally, I try to avoid controversial opinions even there. On another’s page, however, unless invited to do so, it is best to keep our opinions to ourselves.

That said, I violated this advice myself just a couple of days ago. A dear friend posted something that I had strong feelings about and I wrote a comment. Then I deleted it and wrote it again, edited and then posted. This violated my core value of peace and the nagging followed me like a whiney child. So I deleted it—again. What bothered me the most was the possible message she might have received from my comment. I would never want her to think that I thought of her as anything less than wonderful.

In my opinion it is best to send undeniable messages of peace, understanding, and love. AND yes, I was a teenager in the 70’s.

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THEN BREAKS THE DAWN

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No sun outlasts its sunset, but will rise again and bring the dawn.
~ Maya Angelou

The last few weeks have been tough, haven’t they? The violence, hate, anger, bitterness, and murder has been relentless, making us wonder, will it ever end? Is there an answer?

I liken these events that keep popping up to a game my kids used to play called Whack a Mole. The object was to whack the mole on the head with a stick each time one of them popped up. The problem was knowing when and where they’d appear. It was a hard game. This is a hard, new, reality of our lives. One we will not outlast, but . . .

We can bring the dawn in our corner of our world. What do you want in life? Peace? Compassion? Love? Then be that on Facebook, in your blogs, on Twitter. I’m not saying put your head in the sand, BUT I am saying that we have a choice: be a part of the problem or part of the solution.

Face it, no one listens to our opinions on Facebook except for those who agree with us. And those who don’t get angrier and angrier. So, let it go. No one is going to change their mind by our negative posts or tweets or blogs.

Be a part of the solution. Be what you want to see. Bring the dawn.

SQUALLS & STORMS

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It takes a real storm in the average person’s life to make him realize how much worrying he has done over the squalls. ~ Bruce Barton

When my children were small I used to harp on them about picking their things up, make their beds, do this, do that. And so I should have because it taught them responsibility. But what shouldn’t have happened is where my feelings of frustration took me. After a hard day, something as simple as tripping over a pair of ragged athletic shoes would make me want to yell.

However, Christmas Day, 1997, the owner of those shoes, my son William, was flown to Arkansas Children’s Hospital. He suffered a brain empyema caused from a sinus infection where the pressure had pushed the infection past the blood/brain barrier. He was only thirteen at the time. The doctors said he had a 50/50 chance of survival.

While he was in surgery I thought about those shoes and how I would gladly trip over them every day if only William would survive. Thankfully he did.

Squalls and storms. I learned the difference that day. Not to say I haven’t fretted over a squall since then, but it only takes this memory to help me adjust my attitude.

I’M FINISHED WITH IT!

You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, “I forgive. I’m finished with it.” ~ Maya Angelou

The reason I love this quote is because it both embodies what love truly is and the real benefactor from forgiveness.

Ms. Angelou got it right. Love isn’t sentimentality or mushy feelings. It is respecting, valuing, and honoring. It is doing the right thing even if it is hard or goes unnoticed.

Dovetail that with forgiveness. I used to think forgiveness was to benefit the offender. This understanding of forgiveness made it hard  for me to forgive because I didn’t feel that person deserved to be forgiven. I felt like I was giving that person a pass. It was the same to me as saying, “What you did was okay, you are not to blame.”

However, now I realize forgiveness is for me. It is for me to be free. I needed to respect, value, and honor, myself! And I couldn’t do that while holding a grudge, wanting justice, and wanting that person to suffer as I had. Just as Maya Angelou said, I had to say, I forgive. I’m letting it go from myself. I’M FINISHED WITH IT! And I did.

That said, for a couple of years the person and the offense replayed in my mind and I had to remind myself, I’m finished with it. After a while, it no longer played in my mind.

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