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Breaking the Rules

Bright Lines

     I have friends from many different faiths.  Some of my friends and even strangers have asked me how I can be in what they deem such a “rigid” faith.  So many rules…so many restrictions.  But I believe that rules bring freedom.  Enter in:  Bright Lines.

Line in the Sand

     The proof is in the pudding…or jail.  Yes, jail.  Very simply put, there are rules set in place that if you break, you go to jail.  In jail all of your freedoms are taken from you.  Now, someone else is in charge of what used to be your decisions.  They decide what you get to eat, to wear, and where you can and cannot go. You no longer have control over your life because you broke the rules.
     Just recently I was introduced to the concept of Bright Lines.  I looked it up on Google and here is what they had to say:  “A bright-line rule is a clearly defined rule or standard, composed of objective factors, which leaves little or no room for varying interpretation. The purpose of a bright-line rule is to produce predictable and consistent results in its application.”
     Let me give you a few examples of Bright Lines in my life so you can see that you have Bright Lines already established in your life as well.  I have a Bright Line that I have drawn about never consuming alcohol or doing drugs.  I will not eat any animal products or watch R-rated movies.  I even have one for never driving over 37 mph in our neighborhood because the cops are always perched somewhere and I don’t want a ticket!  These particular Bright Lines keep my body happy and cheerful physically, my brain happy and cheerful mentally, and my bank account happy and cheerful for not getting that speeding ticket!
     There have been times in my life that even though those Bright Lines were established in what I thought to be in stone, I broke.  I’m not talking about coming up and putting my toe right against the line.  I’m talking about wiping the line away, jumping completely on the other side, feeling a moment of exhilaration for having broken the rules, and then eventually feeling guilt over my decision and the inevitable consequences.

Consequences Ahead

     You have every freedom in making your decisions, but you are not in charge of the consequences.  Good or bad, you do not have control over the consequences of your decisions.
     The reason I am introducing this Bright Line concept to you today is that no matter what your past has been and the rules that we have all broken, we can begin today to set up new Bright Lines for ourselves.  Maybe it is something as simple as developing a habit to brush your teeth in the evening and not just in the morning.  (My dad is a dentist and I’m still working on this one!)  Maybe it is to not say something critical to anyone today, especially your loved ones.  Maybe it is not to have critical thoughts towards yourself.  Maybe it’s a bigger goal that you have in mind.
     Whatever your goal is, draw a Bright Line and as my friend and mentor, Susan Pierce Thompson says, “Simply Resume”.  Don’t beat yourself up over having crossed the line.  Just draw another one and resume.  I wish you good luck with your Bright Lines!  Sending love to you wherever you are in your journey.

Be Cheerful!

Be Cheerful!
Time Traveling, Smiling, Connecting
     My purpose in writing today is to help you establish some guidelines in your life that will bring you peace, enjoyment and cheerfulness.  I love the phrase, “Be Cheerful!”.  When I picture being cheerful, I picture myself smiling and enjoying the moment I’m in right there.  No time traveling to the day or months or even years before or focusing on the days, months, or years ahead.  Just being cheerful in the moment.  Right now.
     I’d like to make three simple suggestions that if you commit to today will bring you happiness and cheerfulness into your life.
     1)  No more time traveling.  Unless you get a crazy, awesome DeLorean like in Back to the Future, time traveling is not a good idea.  I’m not even sure it’s a good idea in Back to the Future, but definitely not good for your thoughts and feelings of today.  Yesterday is gone.  The mistakes are gone.  Tomorrow will never get here so all you can focus on is today.  The old adage of One Day at a Time is truly relevant for everyone, not just for those in 12-step programs.

Back to the Future

     2)  Smile.  Make a conscience effort to smile, even if no one can see you.  About a million and a half years ago I had a job as a telemarketer that lasted for about half a second.  Part of the training was to smile during your call.  Why?  No one could see me!  That was just silly and ridiculous to me.  But it worked!  If you don’t believe me, try talking on the phone without smiling and then smiling.  Your countenance just changes…for the better.  Don’t take my word for it…try it.

Smile Increases your Face Value

     3)  Commit to human connection.  And no, sitting in front of your television watching other humans does not count.  Interacting with other human beings simply boosts your spirits, even if the connection is you having to call and whine to your best friend, or cry on the shoulder of that friend during a visit, make the connection.  When I have been truly down in the dumps my gut reaction is to hole up and disappear like a hermit crab in it’s shell.  I block out everyone and everything until I feel better.  Not healthy to say the least.  I still have that tendency, but have beautiful friends who can break my shell and have me standing upright soon enough.

Girlfriends

     I want to write more suggestions, but don’t want to overwhelm you either.  If you have a problem with negativity, sadness, feelings of being a failure, take a minute to acknowledge that moment and ask yourself how you can be cheerful about something else.  I’m not saying it’s easy, but it can be done if you focus on these three things.  Commit to yourself today.  Be in the moment, smile, link arms with your best friend and have a beautiful day!

A Letter to My Gram

A Letter to My Gram
Being Sad and Mad
     Our name for her was “Gram”.  She was my mother’s mother who was born September 3rd, 1926 and adopted from an orphanage in Los Angeles when she was 5 years old.  Her adoption records are sealed and so we might never know who her birth parents were, but the couple that adopted her were ever so kind and she grew up with loving parents in a beautiful home with lots of opportunities.
Gram with Cute Dog
     She married, had four children, two girls and then two boys with a big gap between the girls and boys.  For example, my uncle was in kindergarten when I was born and he had to bring something to class that started with the letter ‘B’.  He brought me because I was a baby!   She had a love for horses, dogs, and cats and made the best snickerdoodles you ever tasted.  She always had cars that were fast and usually red even though she didn’t drive them fast.   She didn’t have a lot to say, but I loved it when she laughed.
Gram Dog Lover
     Her house was always neat as a pin.  We visited her more often as children and she always came to our house for Christmas bringing McDonald’s gift certificates for all of us.  I have pictures of her at a few special occasions such as my 8th grade graduation and when I was first married.  I remember meeting her for lunch at the Smorgy or The Depot in Oroville, CA for lunch.
     She was not what I would call a playful grandma like my mother is now for her grandchildren.  In truth, it is because my Gram was not very involved that I believe my mother has been so determined to be in her grandchildren’s lives and is doing an incredible job…she makes me exhausted!  Being a new Gram myself, I appreciate her efforts even more.
     This last Sunday morning I received news that my Gram had passed away.  I was surprised that I was sad.  I was more surprised that I was mad.  Over the last 15 or so years, my Gram had alienated every single one of her family members and any friends she may have had.
     I am mostly sad over the years that were already lost.  I am mad that she let this happen.  I am confused because I simply don’t understand it all.  I’ve sent birthday cards every year, emailing her on her birthday as well.  I sent Christmas cards, all with no response.
     There will not be a funeral, no one would come.  She pre-paid to be cremated and have her ashes spread over the fields where some wild horses roam around the place she last lived.
     In the wake of her passing the last few days, I have thought much about the circumstances that brought her to such a sad place.  How awful it must have been to lead such a small and selfish life.  It also got me thinking about all the good she brought into this world.
     She was an excellent mother to her children.  She sewed beautiful dresses for my mom and aunt.  She took them on camping trips and supported them in all they did.  My aunt had excellent advice to remember her how she was and not who she became.  On that note, I add a story she wrote to her granddaughters when I was 12 years old.  It shows how much she cared in those days to be a wonderful Gram.
Gram, Mom, Lauri, Kids
     She was my last living grandparent.  I am her first grandchild and oldest granddaughter.  I am here because she lived.  I am grateful for her love of life in her younger years.  I am grateful for her quiet moments.  I am grateful for the afghan she crocheted for me.  I am grateful for a couple pieces of jewelry she thought to give me about 20 years ago.  I am grateful for her talent in the kitchen and what I hope I have inherited of her talent for storytelling.
     Thank you for being patient as I write this on my blog this week.  I promise to have some more uplifting thoughts next week, but such as in life, there are ups and downs.  Please take a moment after reading my Gram’s little story, The Day My Dolls Danced, and get in touch with someone you haven’t talked to in much too long.  You know who it is…please do it.  Leave a mark…no, leave a legacy.
May 13, 1983
To my sweet granddaughters:  Lauri, Holly, Heather & Sarah.
In this, the Springtime of your lives, may you still enjoy a fairytale.
Much love from your “Gram”

THE DAY MY DOLLS DANCED

It had been a long and busy day but the house sparkled and the clothes were washed and put away.  There was an apple pie fresh from the oven, warm and spicy, for special dessert that evening.  There was some time left before I needed to start dinner so I decided to take a little rest.  I went into my bedroom, took off my shoes, closed the drapes and lay down on the bed.
As I always do before closing my eyes, I looked at each of my little dolls, 14 in all, that stood on the shelf above my vanity.  There was another larger doll that stood on the vanity.  They were all dressed elegantly in long gowns of pink, blue, green, yellow, and lavender and I had given each of them a name;  Jasmine from Japan, Heidi from Holland, my Irish girl Colleen, Cherie from France, Ann from Israel.  Joining them were Leah, Honey, April, Sarah, Shirley, Lauri, Heather, Sunshine, Holly and my tall Southern Belle – Elaine.  They were my little girls, dainty and sweet and beautiful.
My eyelids grew heavy and just as I was drifting off to sleep I heard faint tapping sounds coming from where my dolls stood on the shelf.  To my astonishment, the tiny ladies had come to life and are taking off their shoes!  I wondered if perhaps I were dreaming but I lay very still and waited to see what would happen next.
After each girl had removed her shoes she placed them side-by-side in the exact place that she stood on the shelf.  Then one-by-one they tiptoed to the ends of the shelf and let themselves down the turned posts on either side of the mirror to the vanity below.  Each girl in turn went to a small cart of silk flowers that stood on the table, selected a flower that matched the color of her gown, and laid it at the feet of Elaine, as though she were their queen.  Elaine smiled and nodded to each lady in acceptance of their tributes.
After their acknowledgement to their queen, the girls became carefree and playful, darting among the bottles of perfume and playing hide-and-seek with one another.  While they were occupied with their games, I very quietly turned on my radio to music that seemed to match their bright spirits.  They were startled and seemed almost fearful at the sound.  Then, quite suddenly, my vanity became their stage and I was about to become an audience of one at a Ballet of the Dolls!
Their tiny bodies moved with charm and grace and their joy at dancing was reflected in the sweetness of their faces.  I was completely absorbed in the performance when suddenly, outside, a dog barked rudely.  The dancing ended abruptly and the little ladies glanced my way, but I stayed very still.  I was hoping they would decide it was safe to continue to dance, but the spell was broken.  They scurried to put everything back into proper order.  One-by-one, they returned to their Queen Elaine, curtsied and picked up the flowers and put them back in the cart, then made their way up the turned posts to the shelf.  Each girl returned to her own pair of shoes, slipped them on, smoothed her gown and hair, smiled sweetly at their queen, then became motionless once again.
Quietly I turned off the radio and marveled at the sight I had just been privileged to see, and hope that sometime I will see them come to life and play and dance on my vanity once again.  Perhaps I had just dreamed the whole interlude.  It would be quite fantastic to see dolls come to life and dance on the vanity.  It must have been my imagination working overtime.
Several days passed and one evening as I prepared for bed, I noticed a tiny object lying on my vanity.  I picked it up and discovered that it was a shoe!  I was very excited because I realized that I hadn’t been dreaming and it wasn’t my imagination and that my little ladies did really come to life after all!  I laid the tiny shoe carefully on the shelf above, turned off the light and went to bed.  I wondered if, perhaps, they would dance this night.
The next day was house-cleaning time and as I reached up to dust the shelf where my girls stood, the little shoe was not there!  I carefully picked up each doll and to my amazement, their shoes were all on their feet!  They had indeed come to life and danced again while I slept.  I felt a little sad that I hadn’t seem them.  However, my ladies had known that once I had watched them dance and play, for as I turned to dust my radio, there, lying on the top was a lovely silk flower, a gift from my little girls!
The Gift
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