From the Author

Friday, November 20, 2015

gifts of the heart

It's almost time for Christmas and the thought of gifts come to mind.  I have often felt the joy of gifts from the heart that have no monetary value but enormous emotional benefits.  We can get so hung up with "buying" gifts that we forget that the best gifts don't have price tags.  I have received gifts that were created by family or friends that I have saved for many years.  They have "sentimental" value because the person thought about me and personalized a special gift just for me.

I had to laugh at myself because I gave my sister two portraits of her and her husband made from the same photograph.  I forgot I had done the first painting years ago.  Fortunately it was the thought that counted!  She didn't make too much of my obviously bad memory and will have to suppress her laughter for many years to come.

Some gifts are hugs, telephone calls to check in or silly cards to make me laugh.  Sometimes it is a meal or leftovers so that I don't have to cook for one.  I know some folks give flowers or candy for every gift-giving opportunity. They are very wonderful for the person who enjoys flowers but not as appropriate for someone who loves a gift of time visiting, someone who takes time to fix something in the house or car, someone who is available when you need a friend to listen.  True gifts are voluntary and come from the heart.  Otherwise it is just "stuff".  I'm trying to downsize gifts that are not tailored to the needs of the recipient and make them more "user friendly".

If you don't have money for gifts, there are plenty of other ways to provide a unique and lovely gift of the heart!  Happy Thanksgiving!  Remember to gift the cooks for Thanksgiving with the clean-up crew!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A tribute to Evie

My granddaughter is 10 years old.  Her best friend Evie loved life, swim team, music, her family and her friends.  Evie also enjoyed overnights with her best friend and tackled life each day with fun and excitement.  Evie was with her family for 10 years and then she was gone.  She died suddenly with no warning or reason.  Evie was blessed with a deep faith, compassion for others, the love of a large family and many friends.  Although her life was short, she accomplished many things and affected many people. She had a huge impact on the world for someone so young.  I know that she will remain in the hearts of many people as they try to answer the question "Why?" I love my granddaughter and I am so sad that she has to deal with the death of her best friend, another child, at age 10.  Life is not predictable.  It is precious.  It is brief.  We have such a short time to have impact on those we love.

We don't always have tomorrow to say "I'm sorry" or "I love you".  We do have this moment in time to have positive, life-changing interactions with every person we come in contact with.  We can make a difference today as tomorrow is not promised.  The people in our lives are only lent to us by God and there are no guarantees how long we will have them.  It is enough that we have them now.  Don't wait to say "I love you" or "You are special to me" or "Thank you" or "I forgive you" or "You have made a difference in my life".  If someone dies, it is important to be able to have a good memory rather than that of an angry confrontation.  I think it would be wonderful if we remembered to forgive and move forward in a positive way as we all try to cope with the struggles in our lives.  No one is immune from life setbacks.  Everyone needs others for understanding, encouragement and help. We all need to have faith in God and each other.

Quote:  Fear is a pair of handcuffs on your soul.  Actress Fay Dunaway

I think there are many decisions governed first by fear and then eventually, hopefully, by common sense.  Fear is a natural response to a real threat to our lives, homes, jobs, and anything important to us. Fear can literally save our life or the life of our family or friends.  It can force us to leap forward to confront the impending disaster and find an escape route to minimize the threat or find a way to cope. It is nature's way to increase adrenaline to protect ourselves.

Fear can also be a response to an unknown, unidentified and terrifying specter of a perceived disastrous, impending doom.  The issue is that we are afraid of a concept that that is not real.  It takes common sense to investigate the fear and break it down into manageable facets that we can begin to determine if our initial response is based on reality.  Is it something we can deal with if we plan a coordinated systematic approach to minimize the impact of the possible disaster?  Is it, in fact, not a threat at all?  Is the adrenaline rush wasted and a detriment to our bodies and health?

Individuals can become overwhelmed with fears, real or imagined and become "paralyzed with fear" and have difficulty coping with daily life decisions.  Nations can become "paralyzed with fear" also and have difficulty coping with decision-making that can affect millions of people and multiple countries. 

We can become so fearful that we retreat from making decisions and allow the non-decision become the decision to let life make decisions for us.  We lose the control of our own destiny because we allow fear to keep us from trust and positive interactions.  Fear takes away our power to move forward and make awesome changes to make our personal world and THE world a better, more compassionate place.  

Fear can become the handcuffs on our collective souls.  Not if we don't let it.  Not if we trust God.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


I recently was involved in a decision to have elective surgery for a hereditary condition.  It was difficult to think about having surgery at all. Surgery can have a negative or positive outcome depending on the circumstances.  Individuals may have reactions to anesthetic, develop infections, have significant pain, difficult recovery  and unknown issues that can even cause death.  However, it was a decision made to go forward without regret that included prayer and confidence in the physician.  I was blessed that the procedure and recovery are going well.  Facing surgery brings many emotions to the surface, fear, courage, despair, hope, vulnerability and faith in others, dependence on others and interdependence on internal strengths, inability to predict ability or inability to deal with pain.
I think of others who face many obstacles including multiple surgeries or uncomfortable medical interventions and I applaud their ongoing courage that occurs on a daily basis.  They are unsung heroes along with their devoted caregivers.  Life is never easy.  It can be totally overwhelming when we try to face challenges by ourselves.  Faith, Family and Friends are three of the greatest gifts that God gives us.  It is important that we look outside ourselves and notice the suffering of others.  I remember when I was a parent and I had four young children with chicken pox.  I happened to call a friend and she related her struggles when her six children had chicken pox.  I thought "If she could survive it, I could too".  No matter how difficult our lives are, there are others who are having a rougher time.  We can then put our issues in perspective and realize how blessed we are.  I am so appreciative of the help and support I have received.  I hope that in the future I can be available to help others.
For those experiencing grief especially during the holidays, you have my prayers and encouragement. I know that as God helps us in our daily lives, I know he is looking out for our deceased loved ones who are not physically here with us but remain buried deeply in our hearts and memories.
For service members away from family during the holidays, I thank you for your sacrifices and for your family and friends who share you with your country.