Friday, November 09, 2012

Recipes for Life

As part of the memoir writing workshop assignment for the Big Read 2012, we have been asked to write about our moms and tying our experiences with our mothers to a recipe. Not one recipe will do with my mom since she is a multifaceted woman who has represented different flavors to my life.
And I am not writing about the hot dog today for that is too ordinary and does not represent the creativity and resourcefulness  of my dear mom.


Growing up I found my mom in the kitchen cooking the nightly meals faithfully from 4:30 on after she took a brief nap from which she rested from her long day of making sure the house was kept nice and clean, plants watered and clothes washed.  And the cupboards and refrigerator and freezer and pantry stocked with enough for the coming week.
My mom loves to find bargains and growing up, I always saw her carefully cutting out the coupons and sorting them in her envelopes: each one with a different category.  One for frozen foods, one for dairy, one for produce, one for canned goods and so forth. And we heard about these bargains when Dad, Mom and I would eat our evening meals sometimes in the dining room.
 This came from her growing up as a babe and a child when our country was faced with the Great Depression and World War II.  When my mom grew up at home, her dad and mom would discuss the progress of our nation during World War II and kept charts on how the allies and axis powers were moving in the world.  And she listened with the family the fireside chats with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
For she probably heard many stories growing up during that time of how her mom and dad carefully saved and made it through this life.  Of how her mom's relatives came from Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.  And being first generation Americans meant a lot to my grandmother and grandfather.
Of being able to build on their lives from having started with virtually nothing.

For when I came along to this earth, my mom was already prepared for handling crises in life for she had practice handling them while growing up at home.  When her mom went to the hospital to give birth, she thought one child was going to be brought home. Yet, when she walked through the door, two kids emerged onto the scene.  Mom's mom gave birth to two-not one. They were my Uncle Dick and my Uncle Bill.  My mom and her sister, Jean, took care of them and helped to raise them.  Providing her with good guidance and insight later on how to raise her two children later on.

Prior to my arrival, my mom was planning on studying for a masters in library science for she always loved books. Growing up, she used to go with her mom and dad to the public library and browse the stacks and sit by them and read her books. And she brought home a full sack of about 10 books of which she completely read them when she returned them to the library the following week.
This was a definite reason-a voracious appetite for the written word- for her volunteering at my junior high and high school libraries. It was always comforting to see my mom at the front desk as she helped to check out the student's books or provide some advice on what a good book to read would be.
And even now in her retirement community, she has served on the library board and helping check out and return books to the shelves and even weed out the unread books and remove the cards from the card catalog.

And when I arrived a little over 49 years ago, the ordinary path that a child takes was not present. A few weeds were present and had to be cleared away.  My mom and dad served as detectives with the counselors and doctors that they gathered around them: to figure out how to bring me to full life.  To take the broken synapses in my mind and find a way to form them a new. To build the correct bridges from which thoughts could cling and grow upon.  Once that foundation was formed after many intense hours on the floor helping me to crawl and stand up and walk.  Of forming those first guttural sounds, to those first syllables, to the first words, to the first sentences and then the first paragraphs and off I went.  And my dad built a closet of shelves in our family room in which I stored the toy giraffe that I got around with as I held onto it and walked behind it.  And how I loved playing with the wooden puzzles with 6 pieces as I moved the shapes around to fit the carved out spaces on the block of wood.

And my mom often served as a harbor which calmed my days from being out on the ocean of the world with some rather tall waves splashing against me. It was good to just sit in a chair and tell her my tales of what I went through so that I could be calm and study and be better prepared when I went out to the ocean of this life.  As I listened to her at her brown chair underneath the thriving green plant over it.  My own personal fireside chats of my own. At a time when my personal nation was forming in the middle of a very big storm of life!!!

And her resourcefulness carried forth as I was preparing to graduate, she learned of an excellent condominium complex, Cartright Towers, that was on the bus line.  And when an apartment in this building opened up, mom and dad arranged for me to have it and got it ready  for me so when I graduated from college, I would have a place of my own. And be a stable place where I could grow and not worry about many of the things other kids have to worry about.

In a way what I have described of my mom's growing up and maturing into an outstanding woman for our world and my maturing as a strong adult son, it has a lot to do with our recipe box.  This box is a plain tan wooden box which had a hinge.  In the box, it was divided into several categories: meat dishes, fish dishes, pasta dishes, pastries, fruit mixes, and etc.  On each of the recipe cards, the recipe was neatly printed by my mom and then after we tried it for the first time, we rated them.  We had a star system which ran from 5 star to 7 star.  If the recipe did not pass muster the first time, it got a 5 star and probably was not served again. Maybe once to see if it could have been improved.  Then there was the 5 plus star which meant it was satisfactory. Then we had the 6 star which meant above average, a 6 plus meant it was excellent and the 7 star meant it was outstanding and had to be served often in our family.  Some of these recipes came from the New York Times, The Garden City Register, from the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook, or some magazines that she read at home.
My mom wrote with fine felt tip colored pens and when looking through the cards in the box, I could see the marks on the cards=from the times that some of the colors may have run from the flicking of some inadvertant water on the cards.  

Some of our favorite recipes growing up were the spaghetti and meatballs, the liver and onions, the chicken stir fry recipes , the spaghetti pie and ultimately the meat loaf recipe which many friends and family have tried to duplicate-but ultimately failed to do so.
This meat loaf recipe has twelve simple ingredients in it.  It has a bread crumb mixture with the bread crumbs and milk.  And there is the mixture of meat and eggs and spices and onions that get mixed together in the colored mixing bowl. And then there is that special sauce of the catsup, brown sugar, nutmeg and mustard which sits upon the top of the meatloaf-crowning it with glory. As I said, 12 simple ingredients and 4 easy steps.  Many times, conversations between my Uncles and Aunts or my grandmother or even my brother would say, "we have tried your recipe, and it just did not come out the way that we remembered having it when you served it."  My mom would often say, "did you let it sit for those extra 15 minutes before carving into it. Did you let the juices on top settle down and sizzle less?  Maybe that is why."  But my hidden thought is that it is my mother's love that knows how to make that special dish=that sizzled and hardened up in that hour of heat in the oven and came out golden brown and perfectly packed. And that special yellow meat loaf pan with the glass lid. Many secret ingredients not in that original list of 12.  It is that 13th ingredient=a mother's love-that makes a dish like that so special. Something one can  not find on a recipe card no matter how hard one can try. But which was worn as it was made. As each ingredient was placed into that pan, pot, mixing bowl or cutting board.  And stirred into a delicious loaf. Something talked about to this day.  As long as you let it sit.  That real thirteenth ingredient is patience.  Of letting life settle down before digging into it further.

And then it was dished with the peas and the boiled or baked potatoes and Dad and I would take our plates into the dining room to eat and my mom would follow us in.  And often after having a brief chase with  a pea that did not make it into the pan and escaped. Pea finder to the rescue.

Now I have to get out my cutting board, bowls and meat loaf pan and do the very same thing. And to remember to let it sit for the extra 15 minutes. And not cringe when the meat goes between my finger tips as I   go forth and make my first meat loaf.  For I crave a good sizzling piece of meat loaf-having enjoyed it for almost 2 decades growing up.

And that box with its neat divisions and its cards well worn with care.  And the memories each of these dishes brings. Of the flavors that come to mind. Of the great aromas that filled the house and the kitchen.

Thanks Mom for your tender loving care- with each kneed of the dough or meat. With each kneed of time on your knees or on the phone or a counselor or doctor's office-making sure that I had the best of resources that only the best librarian could find. And you are always there still doing the same.


And even now, when I go home to visit, I don't have the privilege of that home cooked meal since my mom is in a retirement community and one of the meals is provided for.  But I still enjoy the tuna salad or egg salad sandwich that can be whipped up in the kitchen or a can of pink monkey soup served for lunch.  But many times when I was starting out in the world of work and periodically mom and dad came home to check on how I was doing, I would find my cupboard filled up and a meal stirring on the kitchen stove when I walked through the door: which I found comforting after I came home from a long day at work.  I miss those times but now that I am older, I still reflect back and am glad that I have had them and they are part of my life still.  For I am thankful for them!!!

And I even have had the opportunity to be that role model to the Kennedy Center where I assisted in the evening meal and even sat at their dining room table and shared special moments in our lives.  Modeling exactly what my mom taught me throughout my life as well.

For those times of reflection, protection and provision.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Fire and Water

This week has been an unprecedented week on the East Coast with hurricane Sandy that packed quite a punch to the shore and surrounding towns.
One of my friends, Jim, said that his grandmother gave good wisdom that the fire and water can be two of our greatest enemies.

That got me to thinking about how those two things can be good also. In the faith journey of a Christian, the Holy Spirit has been characterized by fire and was witnessed by many back then when the Spirit descended at Pentecost like tongues of fire.  And the movement of the Spirit has the capacity to spread far and wide as well.

Then there is the connection of the water being God's Word that can cleanse people's lives.  And that water can purify the soul as well.

So elements such as water and fire can have several components -some that help and some that harm.


Thanks Jim for providing that nugget of insight from your 100 year old grandma that lived her life on purpose up to the age she determined she would. Let all of our family do just the same!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Being Chased!!!

How many of you have felt chased in your life.
This thought came about as I was chatting with a friend and I remembered the story of King David being chased by Saul.   A great series of passages in the life of two families facing a change in power. Not too far distant from our world. For the Biblical families were slightly dysfunctional.
SO we don't have to lose hope when it comes to having fruitful lives. We are going to face dangers and hardships.

The passages from 1 Samuel 18-21 also feature the great battle that David has to fight with Goliath.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Exploration

T.S. Elliott had a marvelous quote that my cousin John quoted and I wanted to share it with you. 
"We shall not cease from exploration , and at the end of our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."  This really describes the journey of life.  We tend to go in circles sometimes.  This is a cycle.  Of taking the time to return to center and gain much more understanding of what we did not know and to find out how much we still need to learn about.

This aptly describes the NASA space program in which they sent up over 100 shuttles to space and brought them back to earth each time.  Those journeys yielded answers to the questions that they posed but also raised questions at the same time.  And there are those times that the Challenger shuttle did not complete one of their missions successfully when it exploded in mid air 73 seconds into flight and the time Columbia disintegrated upon its landing from one of her missions. But even amid the failure of these two missions, learning went on of how to prevent future disasters and grow, expand and build a base of knowledge.
And it demonstrates that any exploration involves a degree of risk.
Even from disaster, the Challenger has birthed approximately 7 Challenger Learning centers that have taught kids and adults to work in teams and on projects

Our memoir class at the Bridgeport Public Library has been a place where we have been able to talk about memories of where we grew up when we were young.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The hurt and the pain

Life brings some tragic blows on many in this world.
I heard that there was another shooting in Bridgeport this past evening and affected a city Pastor's relative.

This week I attended a healing poetry workshop where we wrote about healing through the power of poetry.  I reacted to several poems and walked around the City Lights Gallery in Bridgeport where there were about 70 artworks from collages to paintings that depicted the violence that people were affected by.

Then I reflect back to when Jesus was on the cross and how he got insults hurled at him and was beaten beyond recognition.  And how he showed courage and love towards his oppressors.  
And I thought of what Jesus must have felt and of how after being with his disciples and followers and the religious establishment in Jerusalem.  For some of them did not get what he was all about.  After all that he had done for them and of how His father created the world and had markers along the way that pointed to Him.

And I fast forward that to today. And of how our society does not always get or understand what we are all about. Yet the miracle is that the Gospel of Jesus still goes out to the world and is changing many lives.

So my challenge to this audience is to reach out and identify with one hurt and pained individual and offer them hope with your words. Just like Jesus did on the cross. And along the dusty roads of Bethlehem.  Without taxi or bus or car.  But on foot and donkey mainly.
It can be done by cold cups of water or just sitting at another's feet or hugging them offering the solace and balm for the soul.  Of Gilead.

God's peace and shalom.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

The Journey Home

Mark 8:3 "If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, for some of them have come a long distance." Back in Biblical times, the people did not have Ipods or Macs or PCs to get the scoop on eternal life.
They HAD to walk to hear of the increasing fame and power and love of Jesus.
Jesus wanted to feed them for that long journey back and in Mark 8:8, "the people ate and were satisfied.
" All from those 7 loaves and 5 fish that were given to them.
My challenge tonight is for us to realize that the journey home is ongoing. For we are all seeking something to give us rest, comfort and encouragement through this world.
That is offered through Christ on the journey towards Heaven.
May you find rest and encouragement through that journey of life.

Blessings through the many potholes along the way.

The Temptation Narrative

One of the major themes throughout Scriptures is the temptation narrative.  We have in the book of Genesis the devil coming in the form of the serpent to Adam and Eve questioning them about God.
For God wanted them to rely on Him and not the serpent. It was just Adam and Eve and God vs. the Serpent.
Today the same battle exists for our souls. For the enemy and God are in a wrestling match over who will control us.  For we must surrender to God for the positive outcome.
We have many encouraging Scriptures. One is found in James: Submit to God and the enemy will flee from you.

Before Jesus began his public ministry, He faced the test of the devil.  The devil tried to trick Jesus by offering him the whole world then if he would take the bait of his trickery.  Yet, the enemy did not win for Jesus went to the Scriptures and said often, It is written.  For Jesus was entrusted with the world and did not need to be given it.

And we are offered in the letter to the Corninthians the promise that no temptation has seized us except what is common to man.  And a way out is offered.
So weaved throughout this narrative is the common theme of redemption if we only will take that proper route so we can find peace and joy in the process!!!

Peace be to God for His power is greater than any physical or psychological or metaphysical force put against us!!!!


Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The lessons of Empowerment

I heard a shocking statement when I listened to the second part of the documentary on PBS, "Half the Sky."  The statement was that talent is universal and opportunity is limited. It is the same in the economic world.  The world has these limited resources but there has to be a way to make these resources available to many through ingenuity and imagination.  It is shocking since these problems have been going on for a long time but the results of progress have been very slow.
In the program, Gloria Steinham provided a quote, "there is progress in the imagination of equality."
It can happen through the involvement of people in their dreams. 

Think back through history of how many pioneers struggled through their challenges to make a difference for the blacks to gain suffrage/voting rights.
The benefit of empowering women is to provide them with a chance to provide for their children to go to school and to have their own business and live in a decent house.

Writing about this is a challenge for me since I don't experience the issues of women since I can not go undercover as one. But as I watched and learned from those going through struggles and saw how progress was being made, I learned more about what empowerment was. I typed much on empowerment but now I have a clearer understanding of what that really is.

So I encourage people to enter into the global dialogue as we help to make the problems fade away.  Then there can be a complete clear blue sky that we can all live underneath.

I welcome a dialogue from readers and writers so we can make lessen the depths of these problems.

Thanks and blessings.

Monday, October 01, 2012

The Hidden Beauty

Today the sky was very beautiful and inviting. I looked out my bedroom window and saw the blue sky with the white puffy clouds.  I went outside and almost could kiss the sky. Yet, its horizon was far off. It was that desire to be able to do that though.

About a month ago, I attended a leadership summit hosted by Willow Creek Community Church.  Its goal is to provide leadership solutions and dialogue to a world that is struggling with economic poverty, justice concerns, education and social change.  Tough issues to solve in one simple solution.
One saying that I heard this morning is that there is no silver bullet to any situation.
Yet to challenge the status quo is extremely important.

That is what Nicholas D. Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn have done.  They chronicled the lives of women in the world that have suffered from traficking, rape and abuse. Words that I normally don't use. Words that are not in my vocabulary.  But words that are in many of the lives of women in this world.
Their story and mission are on PBS on a two day documentary on channel 13 and also at www.pbs.org/halfthesky

This brings me to the thought and teaching of Jesus as he approached the children.  He said in Matthew 19:14, "let these little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."  I can only think back to the documentaries of that underworld of suffering that I see and hear about at mission updates or see on a Unicef commercial.  Not usually a lengthy dialogue of the suffering.

I only wish the world could open its arms the way Jesus did and welcomed the children to himself.  For they deserve that kingdom of God.  And the beauty is that Jesus left His original kingdom and dwelt among us.  And that Word was with God in the beginning too.

So I am at a loss of words of how I can physically change their world. A spreading of awareness, a special prayer maybe.  Or the shedding of a few tears as well.
And maybe just a smile to a girl or woman struggling at school, at home, or in the marketplace.
A place where we can be a world that has all the opportunities to live successful lives.

So when you look outside at the sky, remember to kiss it on your journey. And also remember the other half of the sky, that half-the women- who are fighting for a chance to succeed in this world.

Thank you!
Blessings.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Cooking up a cheerful pot

Good day today.  It rained a lot today causing flooding and the closure of the Milford Post Mall.
I stayed where it was nice and dry. In my room.
I could have left my room but stayed inside instead.

Then I realized I needed to make a recipe to make me feel a little better. Now this did not require 6 bags of groceries to make this recipe.

Ingredients:
Music
Food
Light
Laughter

Now these 4 ingredients qualify for what many cookbooks qualify: How to cook 100 dishes in under 30 minutes with just four ingredients!!!

The first one is music. Often overlooked in my life as I seem to await until I am in the shower with the soap and water running and eyes closed. Then the needle goes to the record and starts playing whatever comes to the surface of the record that has been placed upon the turnstile.

Food. Often sometimes forgotten when one gets in a duldrum of life. Yet, I realize that it is very important to have a good mix of food for one's soul to be extremely happy and contented.

The light which glows from within us is important and also important is the light that shines from outside and from the bulbs that are in our lamp stands and ceiling fixtures.

Laughter is always good and especially with a CD from Bill Cosby can make you laugh at the obvious as it is presented in a whole new light. Especially with 4 year olds learning about the birds and the bees without a formal lesson. You have to listen to the "Wally, Wally" routine to appreciate this humor.


Now crossing over into the spiritual dimension and realm, these four ingredients can apply to our walk in faith.
Our soul appreciates good music and can help us comprehend and carry the important truths that are found in the Scriptures.  It helps sooth any of our hurts and satisfy our longings as we listen to the truths that have had meaning throughout the centuries of time.

Food is what Jesus used often to illustrate his provision and his kingdom.  Jesus fed five thousand with 5 loaves of bread and two fish. Now these were tunas that were caught but small fish.  And fish have many bone in them.  So to make two fish minus all those bones feed 5,000 and still have some left over, that is definitely a MIRACLE.
And food is what Jesus used to display and represent himself. He often called himself the bread of life. And at the last supper, he cemented that image as he celebrated with his 12 disciples that meal, even with one that would betray him at the very end.
And Jesus used a cup of wine, from grapes that get squeezed under pressure and are aged.  To be served when the time is right.

Light is so important for it helps us out of our darkness. It shows the path of how one is to live their lives.  It dispels the darkness and for believers, Scripture states that lightness and darkness can not dwell together.

And then there is laughter. Jesus loved to laugh and I am sure as he told his parables, laughter must have happened sometimes.  I will leave that to your imagination.

So I thank God for this simple 4 ingredient recipe that can be done in 30 minutes or less.
Warning: It may take a little longer sometime.  And it may need to be taken repeatedly as well.

Blessings as you live out your lives!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Giving joy to the journey of life!!!

Good evening travelers of the journey!!!
What an interesting day today was.
I had an early morning meeting with men of the Journey reconvening after a summer off. To talk on a life of praise and to be thankful of how God held many of us together during health and employment trials.

A good quote from our speaker, Bill Jolly, was to make sure that we have our buckets full of praise of the events from THAT day. This is especially true since we can only carry gratitude forward for one day!!!  And he challenged us what if  that was the only thing we can carry with us.

I went through the Business Expo and showcase for Fairfield County and got to eat a great Quesadela and had birthday cake to celebrate the Better Business Bureau's 100th year anniversary and had my blood pressure checked and won a small bag of popcorn.

I am thankful for the many seminars I attended from Dale Carnegie to Selling for the non sales professional to a talk on how to give award winning presentations from Debbie Fay whom I have seen several times and always get value from hearing her again and again.

I met several people in my network from a furniture salesman to a graphics printer to a painter friend and an event planner while walking throughout the venue. That same venue where I was 5 days earlier to see Carrie Underwood and Hunter Hayes rock the place with the best Country music that there is.

I could celebrate at the end by being a pen popping professional for the big helium balloons on display. One woman standing nearby rescued one of those balloons!!  So at least I did some productive work there!!

As I was trying to find my way through the maze to get to one of the talks that I wanted to attend, it dawned on me the two words that are intricately linked to my activities for the past 26 months: Networking. It  can be split into Net and work.  The whole goal for those in transition and those seeking to fill their bucket with work is to think of the fishing analogy.  We are supposed to NET our Work.  Very simple yet very profound.  I have been learning the techniques of how that is done.
Now only to make that happen.  And also part of that is the fact that we are worthy of our work as well.  A definite net worth.

And I finally was able to get a call beamed down to me, Scotty, from my job coach. He was in the booth in between the ├ůmerican and Canadian flags supervising one of his cleaning crew.  We chatted for 8 minutes and I was reminded to ask for opportunities to net some work and he wanted a close up view of what was going on the ground.

So I challenge those who read this to be thankful for a few things and wake up in the morning with that thankfulness to kick start our day and then add to that thankful list even more things. To keep carrying it forward through our lives.  To set up a memorial for us!!

So I close in being thankful for my time at the concert on Saturday that released a little more creativity and passion to my work and to my Toastmasters club that allows me to lead and speak. For those nuggets that get planted and now nourished and sculpted into a work of beauty.

And now to find some work in this famine .  To bring into a feast. Yet, I am thankful for the bounty that surrounds my plate.
Of those faces and lives that I get to interact with each in every day.  Wherever I wander and go.
In times of tornado warning winds to times of searching for that next lecture and to those times when I run into the table and cause a minor tear to the jacket arm.  Times of trouble maybe but times to trust and know that all is going to work out in the end.

So I thank Todd and others who place value on my work and my renewed passion to get it back out into the world to make a difference no matter what or to where I go!!!!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

the value of fear

Fear is the fuel of success.  And it also has a role in how creative we can become. In the past four talks on this theme of creativity, I have examined four elements.  The first was how education is the cauldron of creativity.  The second element that I focused on was the importance of play in our lives. We saw that demonstrated in the olympics. Remember that smellovision of what it would be like to actually smell what was going on from the perspective of the TV.  The third element that I focused on was the importance of having a system when one sells something.  The last element that was focused on was the development of the creative spark within us.  This time we are embarking on the role that fear can play to move us forward and out of our comfort zone to make some truly amazing discoveries.
We all start out fearing something in our lives.  




A great panacea for fear is to just get out there and take the first few steps of a journey.
Especially when you have absolutely no idea of what is in front of you.
This has happened a few times to me in my life.  Let me tell you about a few of them.
One evening, I ventured out on my own by the bus to get off at Trumbull Mall and then walk a block or two to a pot luck dinner for several small churches.
I got off the bus that evening and started walking and approached a bridge.  I had only 880 house numbers to go until I reached my destination.   I thought that by crossing over the bridge I could easily collect 300 of those numbers as a bonus.  But no. I only knocked off 30 of the numbers. Only 850 to go.
About 30 minutes into my endless walk I raised my hand in the air and a blue van approached. It slowed down and I crossed the street and  said I need 5000 Road but I am only at 4400.  Fred of Black Rock agreed and I hopped  in for the 9 minute drive to the house I needed to be at.  Fred's wife, Nancy, was surprised that he picked up a hitchhiker but Fred said, "I know that guy, he has been to our bible study and retreat before!"
Then there is the time when I went off to Washington DC on a bus for a rally for Pro life one year. I went with the local catholic organization.  When I got there, I recognized one of the individuals who went to my church.  I asked if I could hang out with him for the day; he said sure.
I ended up getting lost for part of the afternoon when I headed over to the Minnesota booth and had trouble finding the opening where I was. So I wandered for a bit while I listened to the various speakers that afternoon. After about an hour, I got brought back into the fold.

Yesterday. I headed out to the Barnum Museum for a presentation on mummies and the preservation of them and the significance to their cultures. What an excellent presentation.  What I found out from it was unique and how they are preserved to help the living communicate with them face to face.
But the significance of my venturing out was going out in a time with pending severe weather warnings.  It seemed fine for a while but as I approached the plaza where the Barnum was, a HUGE wind swept near me. I was near the big pink column of the square that I could cling to. I knelt down on my knees and hug that thing for all it was worth.  I motioned over to two cleaning crew of the bank and they brought me to the bank's lobby so I could wait out the storm.  Then I walked into the Barnum Museum which two years ago got  hit by the big bad 2010 tornado.  I was not going to let it get caught again!!!
Maybe these ventures can be called fool's errands.  But what they do teach about fear is sometimes going out in uncertain times will lead us to a greater appreciation of ourselves.  And when there is no calendar of planned events for the getting there, it involves some sense of trust.  And the need to realize a calculated effort.  But the greatest discoveries have come when there is no clear end in sight. Just a goal to reach. Whether that goal was to reach the moon by the end of 1969 per President Kennedy, or Rev. Martin Luther King's desire to end the civil unrest.

Now, let us take a few moments to discuss amongst each other some of the times in our lives where the circumstances of not knowing the outcome has led us to go on a path which has taught us something about ourselves.

Fear can be described using an acronym FEAR.  Frightened Eager Awareness Reaction
A solution can be termed: Facing each action realistically.
IT is all about how we react to what we are facing.  As I mentioned earlier, it involves a coping mechanism whether it is raising one's hand on a long walk, or looking for our friends on a journey or just kneeling down on the floor until help arrives.

Many in the sporting world have to overcome fear.  Take baseball players for example.  Each time that they get up to bat, they have to be aware of when that small ball approaches them at the plate. They could land on the base in the wrong way or bump into another player or could be hit in the face by the ball. Yet players take on an attitude of facing any of their fears face on and don't let anything get in their way.

And then there are the times when we go out all prepared with life jackets and oars, and an oar lock can break and once has to find his way home with some Yankee ingenuity.


When I was younger, I had many anxieties that caused me to act out in class and take up valuable teacher's time.    I took the time of this fear to constantly learn.  It took a long time to loosen that mantle of fear around my neck.  And sometimes I still carry it around my neck.

I even had fear of how I would react leaving my high school years and approach the larger collegiate world. I had counseling of what fears I faced and how I would handle them. Not much happened then from the counseling.
Now I face a fear of when I am going to get a job and be successful full time again. But I have gained markers along the way where others have granted me the chance to succeed. This happened when Tom Auray as President of Greater Bridgeport Toastmasters saw within me a potential to lead as I was appointed Seargant at Arms to get the room set up and torn down.
Throughout the year, I encouraged the club and advanced through the ranks of speaking and leadership. Then Tom asked me to take on the mantle of the Presidency for the year. I accepted.
This is a time to constantly learn, especially of how to govern a club that is often unpredictable of what to expect at each meeting. But I have been recognized with the ToastStar award at some of our meetings for leadership and motivation.

Fear has been described in the Scriptures as the beginning of wisdom.  Now how can you describe the beginning of wisdom. That sure is something.

Then President Franklin Delanor Roosevelt quoted, "There is nothing to fear but fear itself."  This sure teaches us not to fear. It seems kind of silly to fear.  It brings up an interesting riddle that we can discuss amongst ourselves now and that is: Why do we fear at all in the first place?  And how can that fear bring us further along in our paths of personal growth?



     

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Let our imagination Soar.

Imagination!!!
Looking at that word, there are many ways that one can walk and approach that path.  At the end of the word is the word NATION.  For a nation to function, one needs a lot of images and brainstorms of people.
I just came from a Carrie Underwood/Hunter Hayes Concert in downtown Bridgeport that was packed with about 8,000 screaming fans of all ages.
On the screen there were constant videos flashing around a three dimensional cut-out and screen.  The images were of storms, of butterflies, of fights and of cherished moments with children.  Sort of how life is.

Today I had a small fight.  When my alarm fell on the ground, the morning greeting still went off, it went off louder. I saw my second hand needle was stuck and did not move.
I banged the alarm several times and it did not complain.
Then I decided to try placing three new double a batteries in her after setting up three other alarms. And that second hand started up again.
A little lesson from my small battle: always replace the energy supply when one of the hands slows down or stops.
Especially when it comes to loved ones. Alarm clocks can take a beating but people can not.

The beauty of original music is it transcends time and when combined with the depth of images, it is a thing of absolute beauty.  Think to those basketball games and the listening of the cheerleaders.

Now more tomorrow on the aspect of the role of imagination as I close off on my series of talks on creativity this Wednesday as I earn my Advanced communicator Bronze from Toastmasters International!!!!




Saturday, August 18, 2012

Happy Birthday Naomi!

Good day to all. This would have been Naomi Grace Tyrell's 10th birthday.  It was a day to pay it forward with random acts of kindness.
Naomi was such a special child and now can soar and walk through the gardens of God without any pain or limitation.

May we each  live our days on earth giving back to others and showing grace to our fellow man.

Peace and again Happy Birthday to Naomi and all who appreciate and love life to the fullest and even to our enemies and those that have fallen away from our hearts.

I wrote this poem several years back and it is worth a revisit since it captures Naomi so well.


Upon the eternal sky of heaven, God has woven into place stars and planets and made the moon and earth.
Upon the earth, mankind has been placed amongst the animals and each other.
Throughout life, God is at his loom weaving.
Weaving stories of people's lives and people's dreams.

Looking out a window, we see a broken dream at first. To have and to nourish a healthy daughter.
Dreams dashed to the rocks.
an interruption to the continuance of peace.

Yet a look closer to this picture, we see a family drawn closer to prayer and to the Word of God and His people.
A witness to the world=
A shining Beacon of hope to those with Neiman Picks.
A welcome mat for Christ to stand upon.
To gather His flock in dependence upon Him.

Being in the midst of this world is not easy. It is hard to see those who lack since I am one of those too.
But it is great to see how God provides. God sustains. Nourishes Souls.

The potter spins this clay upon the wheel. Making a pattern for Naomi and her family. Best suited for their use and ours as well.

May God bless us all as we look at her. Seeing her hands and feet and her soul and all her organs that God has knit together.
Not one little stitch out of place.

And now God has called her home.  A place to dwell on those streets of Gold so that His world will be more complete.

Let her butterfly spirit invade our world to bring it peace and joy and love. May His presence and her love dwell in each one of us today and forever more.

And today we celebrate what would have been her 10th birthday and the world is a better place because you visited it, Naomi Grace Tyrell.
The world misses you!!  
Keep dancing on those streets of gold.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Kindred souls

I watched the documentary, Nim, on the attempt to communicate with chimpanzees. It is difficult to communicate between the two species.  Even though chimps and humans may have similar emotions.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Let's have that sizzle: a primer on sales.

Sales. It is that dreaded word sometimes. Yet after these few moments, I hope to have you think otherwise.

Rewind the clock of time and go back to your childhood, that time when you were a student and had multiple opportunities to sell.
Remember that case of chocolate bars that you received or that case of light bulbs or catalog of magazines or seeds to sell.
Your assignment was to go door to door and to friends and family and sell these treasures.  What I enjoyed during those moments was waiting at the door and seeing the reaction of those who would open the door and be able to do something totally different than my everyday school life. I got to be a semi professional salesman early on in my life.

When I was in the midst of this early sales career of my life, what drove me was the incentives of selling so many boxes of candy or lightbulbs.  Then I could come home with a nice watch or plaque.

When my niece was visiting us in Maine, we went to the Portland Childrens Museum and there was a general store. Abby went in there and stood at the cash register and rang items through the scanner.
Several of our family stood there as she rang up our order and gave us our total.
What this incident taught me is that sales is a little bit about play and taking on a role early on in our lives.

Growing up requires that you monitor all of the senses that go through your mind.  Ever stand in front of that cereal aisle and see the vast array of choices of products to buy. It can be overwhelming at times.
Boxes upon boxes of cereal.. differentiated by the slightest of margins. Whether it is the design on the box of a cover, the prize that may be inside that box or the terrific taste that one experiences each time one eats it.
My favorite cereal is the Frosted Mini Wheats.  I love the small bite size consistency and when covered with milk, it has a good crunch with just the right amount of sweetness.  And it can be tempting to bite into throughout the day straight from the box itself.

Even as a child, sales is a lot about play.  It involves chasing down the business owners and often being told that they are not at home during the moment.  It involves a little bit of that hide and seek as you try to not spill the entire contents of your bean bag until you are right in front of them.
It can be also like that game of twister and as the dial is spun, one can get into some rather uncomfortable positions.
Or that dreaded game of the towers of Jenga where one has to be careful not to pull out that key block of support.

General Electric had a popular slogan of "We bring things to life."
In essence, what this is is the use of our imaginations.

Much of the world is understanding our perceptions and needs.  A lot of what a salesperson does is unveiling what our true needs are at the time.  It is like going to a show and seeing magic performed.
We can not always tell at the amount what is going to happen but it often involves pulling something out of the hat and seeing the rabbit emerge from who knows where.


When I was young, I saw an advertisement for a gum that burst with flavor when it was bit into. I went to the store later on during the week and purchased the packet of gum. When I got home and unwrapped the package, I bit into the gum and no burst occurred. I tried during the next 5 bites and no massive burst happened.

There is a famous saying in sales and that is "don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle."  A lot of this can be reflected in the features and benefits of the products which we sell.  A feature is an aspect of the product that we sell and the benefit is what happens when the product hits the hands of the consumer and it becomes their own.

When I kept debating back and forth with my friends on which computer should I buy, it all centered on whether I would get an Apple or a Dell. Then I had to decide on the memory I would need, the accessories that i would want. Then during the Easter of 2003, a friend of mine, Paul Crisci, had an old HP computer that he did not need. It got me into the modern era with the internet. It was almost like an Edsel, a lemon. A very old clunker of a machine. It crashed every few hours and took a little while to get back up to speed. I did a lot of work on that machine from my blog and learning how to use the internet.  Then one day, I had enough. I browsed through the web pages for Apple and one day while at the Fitness Edge, I looked at the Apple Page and I saw just what I wanted. A 24 inch refurbished I Mac Machine!!! Just the ticket to modernization!!!  It was at that split second I knew what I wanted.

From taking a look at some of these motives and slogans, we can see that



During my career, I have been indirectly involved in sales.  When I worked at Schrier Brothers, my first interaction with sales was when Mark Schissler had me take down one of his orders. He gave me about 40 items of products from White and Brown bags to boxes and pallets of foil and Solo cups.
I was new at the time and just knew their names. As the years passed, I got to touch some of the products and see where there were on the pallets in the warehouse.

Many times I dove under the desk or into the filing cabinet and located the products that needed to be sold.
One of our star salesmen, Stew Reitzfeld, consistently earned top performing honors with his sales. Often in the office, I overheard our staff of Susan and Michelle and Kathy stating, "We are helping Stew look good. Through my conversations with them, it took their knowing the customer's needs as well and working with our buyers and vendors to make sure that the delivery process went well.

Sales often has to deal with the process of having the right fit.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Creating ripples in a parched land

Take the plot of land that is out there.
Look at its weedy condition.
Its lack of moisture.
Its lack of warmth.
Build upon it.

Not houses of stone.
But houses of the heart.

In this land, we have experienced a rift
  A rift of hate
  A rift of violence.

Only the LORD can heal that rift, that divide
  that has kept sides apart to long!!

Take that watering can.
  Let the older generation teach the younger generation,
    as my dad did once in Arizona for his granddaughter.

Of how to be gentle and loving
   and caring.

It takes one person at a time to make those small
  differences.

Only one pebble to be thrown into the pond,
   to fill the pool with so many ripples,
   waves and pellets of water dancing to
    the music of ones touch.

May the Lord bless our nation and our world with His enduring love.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Finding Our Place in The World

Have you ever wandered through life and wondered where you are going?  I have spoken to some people lately and that is the question that they have asked me.  And it is the same one that I have  asked myself.

I see the trees and the view of all the trees is a little daunting.  It is hard to know how to proceed through the forest without tripping on the roots that pop out of the ground.

The search for the next chapter in one's life, whether it is a job or relationship or something else, is a lot like Finding Nemo.  Just as Nemo's family searched all over the ocean to find him, looking to the world is the same way. It is vast just as the sea is vast.  So many places to go, yet each place can seem just like the last bit of blue water that swirls around you.

Yet it is important to remember the distinct coral reef that Nemo may see and hear the sounds of the fish nearby. We need to do that as networkers to take a look at the connections that we have and make meaninful interactions with them. 

It has been a while since I have placed words to a screen for taking some of that time to think is hard.
I went to a workshop yesterday, Write Yourself Free, to learn how to write without having a critical mind at first. To place words on a page and then figure out how to structure them better.

Maybe that is the solution to finding work in the real world and figuring out what we are going to do when we grow up!!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Faithful Servants


This poem was created and read by me at our farewell retirement party for Paul and Karen Butterfield and their 35 years of service to the Lord at Trinity Baptist Church on June 10th, 2012. 


Paul and Karen as the Anchors of the Lord’s Work
     Rocks not easily shaken.

Not a day has gone by at Trinty Baptist where the work of Karen and Paul has not been seen.

From the times of washing the windows
To the removal of coffee stains from the floor.
To the movement of chairs across the sanctuary
To the Tables of communion
To the times of worship
  From a far and up close.
Of countless chats with God to keep us in line and in tow
For His great plan.

From the prayers in the quiet of your temple
   To the unseen hurts and seen praise.

And for your time at the game night and  potluck
  Of your unknown Zenga skill
  Which knocked down my elaborate towers
   That skill which continues to build the kingdom and
    Challenge me to live a better life.
     Now for the rematch!
    But from which you have a steady hand.
    Guiding His people into the truth and the life.

From the right hand corner of the choir .
   The gentle voice of your love for Jesus.

And now you will be able to rest at night
   Without the call of “Hey Paul, a leaky valve”
 
Karen for your gentleness
  To repair the lives of broken women
   To shepherd them and to guide them in the way everlasting.
     And for your Courage as you faced your frailty and let God bring you back to life.
      And you being a lighthouse to us and to Fairfield Grace
      Of your beacon that never died or given up.

   May your words and your meditations be pleasing in His sight
   May you grow the kingdom of God in South Carolina
   May it echo and reverberate up North.
    And to the South and the East and the West.

As the sun begins to set on your time up North.





 May the Lord bless you this year into your new season.
   May you see your family grow deep in the love of the Lord.
Establishing deep roots in the Almighty!!

May you hear our call of the Kingdom for wherever you go!!


And may you continue to keep us in your prayers.
For our God is an awesome God!!!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Let's brew up the broth of education

Think back to your days as a student at that square desk with the metal shelf for all of your papers, pens, and books.  Those lockers lining the hallways and the changing of the classes at the 10:10 bell.  Of the rotated schedules of periods, requiring the knowledge of EXCEL even before it was invented.
Tests and lectures and the like.

Creating  communities of learning is one of the main tasks of our educational system. And it is formed on the basis of forming a foundation during the first three years while at home and then putting up a frame from the time of preschool to kindergarten and then the next 12 years are spent filling that frame out and then during post high school years, putting the frosting and flavor to that cake.  Very expensive morangue but important nonetheless.

Mayor Corey Booker of Newark, New Jersey, shared with Oprah Winfrey that "education is the cauldron  of creativity that serves to meet the common goals of our communities."
That is an apt description of what education is and when we take a journey from the cavemen to the techno geeks of the 21st century, we will see how that it is the case.

When we go back in time to the cave men, fire served as a central way for men and women to gather at the end of a long day of hunting and gathering. No cell phones or Ipads existed back then. What existed was the woods and the fields and the ingenuity which was required with their hands to make  an existence.  Wholesome values were taught to the children growing up and there was a need to cooperate with one another.

Fire brings forth light and warmth and can create the cauldrons that are forged for the olympic games held every two years.  Those cauldrons are displayed in the middle of the stadium for the opening ceremony and the location of it and the torch's path are sometimes kept in the dark.
Once the runners finish the relay of thousands  of miles and the spark reaches the cauldron, the flame bursts and stays lit throughout the competition of the games.

Education is a lot like the relay to the stadium. There must be a steady effort to keep the flame lit and it requires teams of thousands to keep the light lit throughout the travels in the rain, in the snow and sleet and up the long paths that it travels.  Sometimes disappointments result and there can be failures along the way.

In some parts of the educational world, the spark may be rather faint and especially in the inner city where there is a widespread epic of drop-outs and delinquencies.  The teachers there have to work with innovative models.  Some of those models have worked and been made into motion pictures and books.  Look to the Freedom Writers, to the Dead Poet's Society of how these authors reached into the imagination of children, sparking them on paths to make a difference for society.

In my life, I had such teachers.
I remember when I left the private school classroom at The Henry Viscardi School and went into public school with the metal desks and the classroom with the blue cinder block walls.  I had a special teacher, Miss Gorton, who paid attention  to me, a frail student, who needed propping up a bit to succeed. For I was not like the other kids in my class.  But I had that spark and its ember needing tending every few moments for it to be successful.  For she encouraged me and helped me relate to my peers and included my mom and dad on some field trips to historic sites in Connecticut.

 I remember in the 8th grade in my algebra class, Mr. Scrofani had us play math baseball in which our class was divided into two teams.  Each team would come up to bat and answer questions from concepts that we were studying: whether it was the quadratic formula, or the multiplication tables or solving a complex equation, it served as a way to keep us as students on our feet. Or back to the dug out if we struck out and got the answer wrong.  I always looked forward to these moments.  I wish I could have some of them back.

In high school, when I took Spanish for three years, I had Miss Goggin and she taught me how to translate and speak Spanish and I had opportunities to create small dialogues and compositions and papers in Spanish. I remember standing at the kitchen counter overlooking the backyard and writing my first paragraph that I recited during our class assignment. Mine was something like: Camino por el parque y vivo.  I had a few more lines but the rest eludes me at the moment.

Those kinds of details are not important but what is important are the connections that get forged early on and the ways that we solve problems that pass along our paths.

These are a few of the baton relays that kept my educational flame burning.
In the world, there are these vast pockets that are not burning brightly. Places where that cauldron was not lit early in the hearth of the home. 
That is why it is so important for the spark to be lit.

That is why this conference on creativity is being given. It is that place where we can learn once again to play in the sandbox and to walk up to the chalkboard and draw or take a swing at a math problem that seems to be daunting.  It is all a matter of breaking down of life into small teachable moments, to be digested one at a time.
Remember that wise saying of how to eat an elephant.  Definitely the best way to eat it is one bite at a time.  And extremely well done.  Now how to cook one is another story.


Poetry often has that connection where we can learn from the greats of our past and what they thought and from they dreamed.

What brings back some of these thoughts to me is that in four days, I will be back on campus at my alma Mater, Fairfield University, to reconnect with the students that I once studied and shared life with- life in the moment and also life that is eternal.  A long time has passed since I left Bellarmine Gardens in May of 1987 with the diploma in hand under the hot sun.  But I have those friendships that have been rekindled with that flame of love and encouragement over the years as griefs get shared and as moments of life will be remembered.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Get outside of our boxes

Thinking outside of the box.
That is what I have been told often in the world of the networking groups. I have been told of its importance.

That means having to get a box in the first place.
Or maybe we have already lived in the box.  That box may be a little crowded.
Or it can be a little dark and dank in there.

Oftentimes in the news, there are reports of cardboard cities that emerge.  Those shelters and homes which the poor live within. And sometimes students on campuses erect them to raise an awareness of an issue such as hunger.

Maybe such a city should exist in the networking world.  Places where the job seekers can go and be in these little sanctuaries of advice and well being.  They are places that I have benefited from getting advice and suggestions for improvement. Not always easy being told to have that better appearance or trim the nails a bit.  Advice received in the past but somehow blown out of my box and needing to come back within it.

So off to the world to face it with courage.  Something that even me with my optimism lack.
Fearing that knocking on a door may lead to change. But maybe change for the better.

And if I run into that box, I sure hope it comes with clearly identifiable instructions or else I will be totally befuddled as to what to do next!!!  And as I said, I have to think outside of that box.

Clearly a cunundrum but something that life in general requires.

Peace and a Happy Memorial Day Weekend to all who read this!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The world wrapped around your mind

One phrase that keeps popping up in my reading is the idea of the world wrapped around your mind.  For that to occur, the physical characteristics of the world would have to be broken.  Yes, I do agree that both the world and the head are round and spherical in shape. Yet both are very solid and both have a liquidity to them.
Yet one is able to wrap the intangibles around each other. Both the world, those in it, and the mind are shaped by ideas.  Those indeed can be wrapped around and into the individuals shaping them and impacting the world as a result.

The one thing  I can physically grasp is the creating of the wrap sandwich that one orders at a deli. The chef lays out the tortilla wrap on the counter and lays chicken, onions, cheese, tomatoes, olives and pickles and whatever else one wants to place in it.  Then he  folds it over and presses it in the grill and cuts it evenly into two halves.  Then one is able to sit down and eat the soothing texture of the vegetables, meat, bread and cheese.
Now that definitely wrapped physical elements while putting pressure on them and then gets digested into smaller pieces once eaten. Those same pieces that went into the creation of the sandwich.

So our thinking is a lot like that of making a wrap and getting it into our mind and wrapped within it is the process of digestion or understanding.

One will never look at a wrap in the same way again!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Shedding our mortal skins!!

Shedding our skins.
Think of the potato skin that some discard but then there is the careful washing of the skins.  And the tastiness of the skin against the teeth and how it clings to the nicely baked potato within.
That is the good aspect of the skin.  And skin is always good on fruit and vegetables for it has added nutrients and value.

Now with us humans, skin has a little different value.
It definitely protects against the elements and has been termed as the largest organ in the body.
Now that is something to trump against the brain and against the heart. Those organs must be real envious that they have been demoted from the number one position.

Yet what skin does is it helps me to reflect on how snakes get to shed their skins and leave them behind in the dirt. Almost like what happens when one has a bruise or cut and new skin forms on top.  Once when that happened to me, I was amazed at the intricate weaving of new skin over that very spot of rupture.

Now for us as mere mortals, we are going to be shed our bodies which the Bible calls tents and we are going to be able to receive new incorruptible bodies from the Lord.

And it is fitting that the Holy Scriptures remind us to put off the old self and put on the new self.

And all this reflection came from the simple thought of how great it will be to shed our old self as we become more comfortable in our own skins.  And that confidence will create a nice glistening shine as we go out into the world and is something that the cosmetics industry will not be able to compete with!!

Peace to all my readers aspiring to live lives of a number 10 status~~ towards that of glory~~~

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Jumping back into the writer's pool


Here I am in the blogging world.
Welcome to those who have not seen or heard of me yet. I have not always appeared on a regular basis.

I am great with inspiring others towards greatness in achieving their writing or speaking goals.

Enjoy the transition between the seasons of spring and summer coming soon with the spring about to be released.

There is still much blooming to do this late in the spring season. For creativity is eternal!!!

http://youareawriter.com/contest/

Scott R. Davis

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Awakening the Microcosm of the Universe.

You make my heart sing. Beat a new breath.
Or you make my heart smile.

Today, as I traveled through the rain soaked horizon and the rain beat down pretty hard, I looked into myself and sometimes dozed off into attempted slumber... to pass those moments of time. Letting them tick by without being involved in the game somehow.

This evening on poetry, I read that poets often took the ordinary items from life, that of a cup or a sweater or sweet kiss and elaborated on these elements in their work. As I did my dishes, I saw the piling up of the orange peel and the inedible celery stalk and heard the clanging of the dishes as I placed them in the drainer. The rush of the water going into the sink and the counter becoming order again from the pile of chaos prior.

Remembering me of one of my favorite words of this week, microcosm. That little world that we wrap around ourselves to be our only reality. For our sense of comfort.
Or To feel so out of touch with the outside world sometimes, like being within an inpenetrable bubble. Wanting to get out and get some fresh air but also liking the comfort of the world that we create inside that cocoon.

Almost the same way of sometimes feeling like a square peg trying to fit into a wrong hole. Especially trying to find that place to belong at again to find sustanence and value after being so long out of work.

But also a sense of freedom to listen and find value in what offer as I did today in a focus group on Diversity Works, a new program in Bridgeport to find work for those with handicaps and other problems. Able to give my input and agreement as to other shared problems. Making me feel valued and valuable.

This is all possible because of you, Jesus, who went and walked that path before me. Putting up with the problems of the world and offering the value to me and others.

And thanks to being able to look at and laugh at some photos of friends such as Phil and of the writings and musings of Christine and her family. And for pondering the life and times of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the Maine Poet, who shaped America as she came out of a turbulent adolescence into her adulthood.

For life is good, even if surrounded by some sleepless nights. Trying to find ones way back into the current of life where my heart can once again sing. And I can beat the new breath and my heart will smile at the world once again.

Here is my toast to life, friends, the journey ahead and to God's glory!!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Ultimate Mother's Day


Mother's Day is a time for us to step back and thank our mom's for their sacrifices that they have made for our lives. As mothers have raised their children, they build into them a sense of community and sharing. Moms teach their children responsibility and how their children are to get along with others.

It is often a slow and steady process of sacrifice. Long nights and days spent in correcting the paths of their children.

Proverbs 31 paints for us a beautiful picture of how integral mothers are for their families. In Proverbs 31:15 it states, "She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants." In verse 21, she provides clothes for her children.

Others in her household look to her in respect as she teaches her family and watches what goes on in her household.

From a few of these examples from Proverbs 31, I view moms as central hubs in the family that guide and direct the lives of her offspring and her husband. Then they will carry out and spread this instruction and values learned to the community.

When I look at the example of Jesus in the world, the importance that He brought to His ministry was the result of the teachings and values that Mary and Joseph instilled in Him while He gained in wisdom and stature at home.

When I look in the Scriptures, an excellent example of motherhood is found in Mary. She took on many challenges that she faced from the moment she heard of the good news that she would be bearing and raising Jesus who would take away the sins of the world.

Mary was there from the moment the angel announced her selection as the Blessed Mother to the formative years of Jesus and through the ministry years of Jesus to the time she watched Him during His trial and crucifixion. And she was present on the first Easter Sunday when He was not found at the tomb.

What amazes me about Mary is that she was steadfast and courageous in her love despite the tough circumstances that faced her son, Jesus, throughout their lives.




Saturday, April 14, 2012

Reminiscing on the beauty of Maine

There is the saying of "Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother's house we go." While not that of Grandma, it can definitely be the description of the entry point for my inaugural summer years in the state of Maine.

The Pratt's Island bridge was made of old planks of wood that were closely placed together and when our car rattled along it, the sound of the tire tracks became very clear. We felt the car buckle up and down. Black metal railings were alongside the bridge. When we got off of the bridge, we followed a dusty wooden path to a fork in the island road. Our cottage road was straight ahead with only a few cottages on our section of Pratt's Island. The cottage was painted grey and was nestled from the driveway and was 75 feet from the ocean shore. That was in the days when the zoning allowed dwellings to be built so close to shore.



Nestled in the woods of the off country sits a small cottage with a grand entrance. The cottage has primitive indoor plumbing and pipes that creak at the slightest sound. The water comes from the above ground plastic and corroding metal pipes. It has a brackish flavor and is mostly good for washing ones body. The daily water is drawn from the Beeth Springs Well outside of Boothbay Harbor. When my dad and I and Mom went to town for the water, we carried our 2 gallon plastic jugs and our 20 gallon green containers which we would fill up.

The paneling on the walls is rough-hewn and the rockers on the porch are somewhat uncomfortable with cushions dating back to the 1960's. As I sit in the rocker, it moves gingerly back and forth and it is tough to comfortably grab on to the bar of the rocker since it is so long. These rockers are not for taking a long comfortable nap on the shore.

The fireplace in front of the living room is made of stone cemented into place. One can see the caulking that goes along the blocks of stone.

The floor is of old pinewood and occasionally has an uneven bent to it. It definitely adds character to the room. Above us is the open ceiling with the beams of wood going across.
Old floor lamps lit the room.



I often spent a summer afternoon on that Pratt's Island bridge going fishing. I left the cottage with my yellow Plano tackle box and fishing pole in hand. I never caught fish but mostly caught these green crabs. They tugged at my line often and danced on the edge of the fishing pole as I reeled them to the edge of the bridge and released them down below. As I crabbed, I saw the sailboats leaving Cozy Harbor and moving through to the Sheepscot River. Often when I came home from my expedition, I commented to my Mom and Dad, "Hey, I caught about 15 crabs this afternoon!" Mom commented, "Those crabs must have been awfully hungry. Are you sure that they were not the same crab each time!" I commented, "Probably, but it was still fun catching and releasing them. I only wish that I could have brought you and Dad some dinner tonight."

On another one of those forks at the end of the bridge was the pathway that went down to the dock where we kept our rowboat to get out to our 16 foot motorboat. This was a path that we took often to go cruising along the Sheepscot River. Oh for those days to happen again where I could get away and spend some fresh time in the Maine air and breathe freshness and salt.
Approaching the local landing dock, one walked along a narrow 10 foot passage approaching the ramp to our small dock that held about 6 skiffs and rowboats. Ours was tied up and we put our gear on board and headed out to our boat. Many stories can be told of our romps in the fog and our times heading into the open waters with Uncle Lenny almost getting washed out to sea.

It was at this dock that I made my famous solo adventure in the Cozy Harbor "Pond". For my adventure, I did not seek to travel treks of 2000 miles across the country but in small distances on pathways of inland seas.

What really characterizes the memories of Maine is the openness of the land itself. There is not a lot of development to encroach on its beauty in spots. Just being able to sit out in the open air and watch as the birds pass by on their commute to their gull rocks from their long day at sea to the times being able to lean against the edge of the boat to see a series of passing lighthouses and lobsterboats passing by.

I loved looking at those spetacular sunsets and the rarest of evenings with the Northern Lights. Those evenings reflect me forward to this Thursday evening when I traveled around the city of Shelton and witnessed my first double rainbow=not intruded by anything and being surrounded by the open space. I kept looking for where that pot of gold may be placed. I just could not find it!!!


I yearn for those times to be quiet and to be an innocent teenager growing up. Trying to find and navigate the course of my life in the clarity of the moment and the times of foggy confusion that sometimes existed. I wish at times I was small enough to nestle beneath my mom's warm arms and know that all would be fine and I would not have to worry.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tall Tales of the City

The tall tales. Buildings are often neglected in the world and can be passed by without an intimate conversation about it. These structures are often poked and prodded as they get built. The construction workers pound on the structure and the soot of the city saturates the buildings and can make it unclear for the building to see correctly. This is where the visit to the eye doctor would come in very handy. But it would require there to be a VERY BIG eye doctor to examine these buildings. Kind of tough to get a visit with it. Imagine a coworker coming into work one day and finding a big gaping hole in the concrete since his or her building was being worked on. And that opthomologist would need a very massive building with very BIG coworkers who would be able to service such a building. Schools would have to be especially designed for these buildings.

Friday, March 30, 2012

eyes are the windows to the soul

Many times we hear the phrase, windows are the eyes to the soul.
Or eyes are the windows to the soul.
Imagine a window washer looking into us.
Therapists on ladders
Friends there too,
Trying to grab on and hold on for their very life!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Spring is almost here

Spring is almost here. We have had an unusual winter to say the least.
Going through a job search is a lot like the seasons. Sometimes one hits the season with a great deal of accuracy and sometimes the seasons come out false like this one. A hodgepodge of several seasons within one. Within a week, we will officially be planted in the season of Spring!!

This time is all about transformation, of us becoming better people, of being more beautiful buds on a tree.

May all be blessed as you live out the adventure and the gift of life that God has bestowed upon us.

Peace.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The comnmunal Bridge!!

A communal Bridge for Christ.
As I am listening to a friend , Nick Alexander, talking on the faith from a catholic perspective, I got the idea that there is a communal bridge for the faiths. That is the one of the great truths of the Holy Scriptures and the truth tradition. At Pentecost, there was not supposed to be a division of the faith but a unity of the faith. For the language of the people was understood by God.
It was not a scattering of the languages as was the case with the tower of Babel.

More later.

Happy Leap Day to all. Leap on the bandwagon of faith. It is a great journey and ride to be on!!!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Courageous

The word courageous has many meanings behind it.

Last month, in our memoir class, Mary gave us a sheet with the Poli and Majestic Theatres and asked us to write about something that intrigues us of the picture.

There is a sign showing Captains Courageous on the Marquis of the Poli and Majestic Theatre that is boldly above the theatre.
This theatre resembles the Radio City Music Hall which has their shows listed on the marquis . I remember when I went to the Radio City Music Hall to see the Christmas shows and the sign of the theatre ran up and down the building with red and blue lights. One particular showing of a Christmas spectacular was interesting that we went to .
I was 12 or 13 at the time and our family saw the Rockettes in their performance before a movie was to be shown. I was so fascinated with the performance. I asked Mom and Dad, "Can we stay for another showing of the Rockettes and their ensemble." Mom replied, "Yes, Scott, this is a great idea." We sat through this performance and enjoyed it thoroughly. We heard the music coming from the orchestra in the pit that rose up and down during their times of playing their pieces. Then we left the theater.
Nowadays, they only have the performance of the Rockettes and team in a fuller production. But it was great back in the 1980's to get both the show and the movie for the same price. I found that out when I went to a show with my Sunday school class one Friday night. The dancing was still spetacular but it would have been nice to see an old classic afterwards on the silver screen.

When I look at the building of the Majestic and Poli, it looks like the Grand Central station with its ornate architecture. In the picture, there are some windows that are open and some people are in front of the theatre. Probably the security guards or some shoppers that are awaiting the return of the bus. The scene of the empty sidewalk beckons for viewers to come to see the movie.

When I was an adult, I had the opportunity to have a tour through the Majestic and Poli theatres. They had high vaulted ceilings and chairs that were decorated in royal reds. There were viewing boxes along the sides. The theatre had a lot of damage to it but it brought to mind how New York City saved the Grand Central Station from its demise. Now if only, Bridgeport could get some life back around this majestic theatre building before it gets knocked down. It could be a great central part of life and build many memories for kids and families as my time at Radio City Music did one Christmas a long time ago.

Yet, things change and they never remain the same. Exactly the way it is with the shows one sees. No matter what movie one goes to, there is always the next one to be viewed.

This summer, I went to a movie with my church friends to see the movie , Courageous. I looked forward to it for quite a while. It was well done with amateur talent but directed so that the viewer could identify with the characters and setting.
The movie dealt with officers at a police academy and challenges that they faced in their families and on the job. There was humor in some spots of the movie. As I learned throughout the movie, it is okay to laugh during key points of our lives for some very funny things come up as one goes about living ones life.
Afterwards, we gathered around our round white tables in our gathering hall at church and ate bowls of icecream with the scrumptuous toppings of strawberries, sprinkles, nuts and and syrup. A great way to end a very good evening with friends on the opening night of this independent movie in the second week of September. This was the last movie of the summer for me of which I got to see about 4 other good movies with my friend Nanci and it can always be a good time for a laugh as one whispers how a particular scene affects oneself. Especially when Nanci burst out laughing of how the character said, "my mom is going to kick me out" which resonated with her somehow.



Last night when I went to the exhibition at the Read's Art gallery for their open house, I saw a sheet of words that were added in different colors. I asked the artist, "how did your exhibit come about?" She said, "the exhibit came about by my including the word, evolving, on the four sheets of paper hung to the wall and I included some other words and let others add a word to the list." So I grabbed a green magic marker and wrote in smaller print the word, "Courageous" at the bottom of the 7 lines of text that were above it. Only realizing that it is the same word of a feature film by Spencer Tracy and Barrymore.
Today, the signs for movies are not on billboards outside the theatre but are inside the theatre as posters that line the walls as one rides the escalator up and down for the showings.

So indeed, life is a journey that requires one to be courageous indeed. One has to be the captain of his ship to make every moment of life count. It is great to have these visual reminders of massive architecture to show what can occur.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

Be Still..and know that I am God.

I have always loved the verse," Be still and know that I am God." from Psalm 46:10. I have forgotten the context of that verse coming at the end of some rather tumultuous events. In the midst of those events that are ever changing such as wars and rumors of wars and the storms of life, God is there to calm those storms. Reminding me back to the Gospel of Mark 4:39 when Jesus said, "Quiet and be still" to the howling wind and waves.

In our lifetime, we are bound to face a rocky ride along the shore. There are going to be those storms that come against us.
Let us remember to take those times and to be still. It is almost like being in a boisterous crowd that takes a long time to be quieted down. But we need to remember to slow down and listen to the whisper of that Holy Spirit within us.

Only then, will we really begin to know who God is-beyond the general stories and the flannelgraph lessons from sunday school.
To know that mystery of Jesus=becoming man and still having divinity. Something that I can not unwrap fully. I wish I could.

I sure like to wander in thought and deed and find it hard to pay full attention. Remember it is Jesus and God whom we are going to spending eternity with. Wouldn't it be great to slow down and know Him well. To tell others about that great love as well.

Go in peace,
Grace as always.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Let freedom ring

It is hard to believe that Martin Luther King gave his "I have a dream" speech almost 50 years ago:a half of a century. Looking from his vantage point until now, things have changed some but the heart of the world still has a ways to go to become stabilized and off of life support. I identify with the time of his speech for that was the year when I was born. In the age of our rush to the moon and in our quest to find world peace. In an age when not much was known of the brain and how science was learning of its importance.

It was great that he had that boldness to declare that dream to the world.

His phrase of "not to be judged by the color of one's skin but by the content of one's character" is one of brilliance.
Looking back on my life of almost a half a century, I have seen the attitudes of some people change towards those like myself who get judged by my outward appearance. So it is not just color that we are judged. We are judged by perceptions on the outside of ourselves.

When I think on the word "content" I think upon the idea of a volume of work in one's life. It is almost like how we are forming our memoirs on these Saturday mornings and giving each other glimpses into our lives. How we sit at these blank pieces of paper and blank computer screens and blank minds and we begin carving where these words are going to come from.

That content is not always written. At times, it is spoken and at times it gets seen in our lives. I was reminded at a gathering this week, that our lives are written letters to each other. Our lives are our witnesses and that is what I think of activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. That collective body of people standing up for what they believe in. For even my friends have demonstrated that in getting arrested for what they believe in: freedom and being able to worship.

They really come from our souls and our collective consciences where we are able to share and be vulnerable and help reorient ourselves along the path of life if we have gotten sidetracked sometimes.

I was reminded by a new friend, Janet, who said that we need to have a clear path. She said that we need to crush the boulders into rocks, crush the rocks into pebbles and move the pebbles out of the way. For we all need smooth roads to travel across. I find it hard to walk along a path when my foot gets caught up in a pebble or stone. It just makes me move off balance and sometimes on my rear. They look great on a beach but not always on the roads or parking lots.

Just as we face the rawness of each day. That raw eroticism of the naked land-devoid of life and snow. Just bare. Of awaiting a rebirth. A rebirth of life to blossom in the springtime with the lush flowers on the countryside. A showing of life-a potential bloom in the making. That brush with life and tenderness as one looks upon the bud forming and the soft petal emerging. Of the birds gathered and the songs from the warbler's beaks. A chorus.


For Martin Luther King Jr. represented a tidal wave from the vast ocean. One of those rare waves that a surfer will get caught up in and ride the twirls and crests of the waves and hear and feel the crushing sounds of greatness crash upon each other. And balance in that controlled chaos which will end up as a gentle spume of surf on the shore.

So let us continue to develop that content: written and observed. And become the grandeur of the waves and the rebirth in land. And let freedom ring and continue to dream for his sake.
Peace.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Jumping out of the Box!!!!

Today is a day that I got a ten pack of boxes to consolidate records and make order out of chaos.
When we think of the cliche, we need to get out of the box, it is rather true. I am comfortable in its dark quarters where noone can see at times. But it can get rather cramped in those quarters also.
We are told to think outside of the box. I am aware of other walls that are out there. My question for dialogue to those who are reading is : How are we able to find and discern the boundaries that bind us and where is that courage to bounce out of the walls and jump to new territory given to us.

I was blessed to listen to a talk on Success 2.0 that Zig Ziglar and his son Tom run. It was given by Don Yaegar and talked on discovering greatness.
Michael Jordan failed to make his school's basketball league one year because someone else was chosen over him but he practiced and became one of the greatest basketball players even on the NBA court.

So let us jump out of our boxes to embrace more of what life has to offer and hit the 3 point shots and the magic swishes through the air into the net. For victories and huddles at mid court and times to wrap towels around our faces at the deep moments of defeat.

May all of us be blessed in the game of life!!!!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Cathartic Crumbs of Comfort

On Pierre Morgan's show, he had the parents of Christina Taylor Green who died on the Saturday in Tucson on the day that Gabrielle Giffords was shot.
It is a sad story but one of hope in that Christina donated her organs to several children and how the foundation has been able to help several schools update their technology.
I like the phrase that was used of "cathartic crumbs of comfort" for that is what comes out of tragic situations sometimes.
For all of our lives do have some element of that and for some peace to come out of situations is amazing.

They gave the website of www.christinataylorgreen.org for supporting her cause.