It is Wishcasting Wednesday and at Jamie Ridler's Studios Jamie asked, "What do you wish to accomplish?" There are lots of things I would like to accomplish but what I want to start working on now (right now) is taking better pictures and adding them to my blog to make it more interesting. I love reading all of your wonderful blogs and looking at all of your beautiful pictures. So this week I will begin to bring my camera with me wherever I go and take pictures and next week I will add them to my blog. Since I have set my goal and told everyone publicly what I am going to do and you are helping me with your wishes, I feel that I can accomplish anything. I just looked out the window and the sun is out (which hasn't happened lately) so I have a great day to begin snapping away.
My writing assignment was to write about a stranger we observed or met. This story is about a young father I met who was facing a hard decision.
Each year I visit my sister who lives very close to the ocean. There is a particularly beautiful town that we always visit. The front of the magnificent houses face the ocean but the back of the houses are as beautiful as the front. There are wonderful gardens full of gorgoeus and colorful flowers. It has always been a magical place for me to visit each year. This year we went for a walk on Labor Day. Many of the families were packing up to go home. Parents and children were loading up the car in one driveway while next door grandparents were waving goodbye to their family as they drove down the street. It was like we were part of an ongoing scene in an old fashioned move. Only we didn't know much about the characters or what had taken place behind the scenes we were watching.
When we got to the end of the street we sat on a small bench overlooking the ocean. It was a beautiful day and we were enjoying our visit. A young man approached us with a baby carriage. He sat down next to us and after a few seconds asked if we would like to see the most beautiful baby in the world. In a time when most strangers don't look at each other much less make conversation, we were a little surprised but of course we were anxious to look at the baby. He was as beautiful as his proud father said he was. For some reason this young father had an incredible need to talk and to tell us all about himself. He told us that having a ten week old son made him look at the world differently and he was having to make some very hard decisions. He worked in a job that he liked in a nonprofit organization. Although he felt he was good at working with handicapped adults, he was not making enough money so that his wife could stay home with the baby. They were living in a small house across from a park with ducks and they were very happy and satisfied with it. But it took both of their salaries to make the house payment if he continued working in the job he loved. He wanted his son to have the best of everything which in his mind didn't mean the most or the biggest. It meant being able to spend time with both of his parents and sharing the beauty that nature had to offer. He didn't ask for advice but we could tell he was reaching out for it. We told him about several programs that we knew of that would allow him to still serve people but possibly allow him to earn more money. We told him of college programs that might lead to new fields that would not mean giving up who he was. And we told him how lucky his wife and baby were to have someone who cared so much.
Walking back to the car the big houses looked a little different. We thought more about who lived in them and what sacrifices they had to make in order to get and keep their house. Was it worth it? Did it bring the family the happiness they wanted? For each family the answer would be different. But hopefully, as they made their decisions years earlier, they had given as much thought to what they were going to do as the young father with the baby with the red hair and blue eyes was giving to the decisions he was making for his family on that day.
Knowing who you are and what you believe in makes it easier to make the tough decisions. What would you do if you were in this family's situation?
It's time to reflect upon the week and determine what stands out as making me happy. I try to do this on a daily basis and then post about my thoughts on Friday as part of the discussion that revolves around The Happy Book. This week I want to thank everyone that responded to my post on Wednesday. Your comments were upbeat and encouraging and just the words I needed to get busy on my good food/healthy eating vision board. This morning I gathered all my materials and began cutting and pasting all of my pictures of bright, colorful, and healthy fruits and vegetables. I want to add more pictures of fish, and whole grains, and nuts so that when I go to open the refrigerator or cupboards I am reminded of the things that actually taste good as well as make me feel good. I have been thinking about doing this for some time but I just never seemed to get around to it. I have a vision board in my office that reminds me to relax in elegance and I love looking at it each day so I don't know why I put off making a board for my kitchen. But everyone's enthusiastic comments were just what I needed to stop thinking and start taking action. My colorful vibrant board is on the refrigerator and that along with everyone's great comments makes me very happy today. Thank you so much for your help and support. It's just what I needed.
It is Wednesday which means it is time to answer Jamie Ridler's Wishcasting question. Today Jamie asked, "What do you wish to take a break from?" After I read the prompt, I went to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee and when I opened the refrigerator door I knew my answer. I wish to stop eating food that is not good for me and begin to eat whole fresh foods that not only taste good but make me feel better. This means I will have to start thinking again about what I buy and what I prepare. In order to keep me focused on my goal, I am going to make a vision board to display in the kitchen as a reminder of what I want to accomplish. Thank you Jamie for today's prompt. This is something important I want to do for myself and your prompt was just the reminder I needed to get started.
This week my writing assignment was to pick two words out of a bag and from those two words create a story. The words I picked were Lexus and was.
She walked slowly towards the two cars that were parked next to each other. Her car keys were in her hand and she knew she had to make a decision before reaching the cars. Her hands began to shake and she felt more anxious than she ever had in her life. Last night it was almost midnight when the phone rang. At first she thought it was some teenagers playing a joke but the more she listened the more she realized that the person on the other end was serious not playing a game or joking. The woman seemed to know so much about her; actually it seemed the woman knew more about her than she knew about herself. For whatever reason, she was not afraid of the person on the other line. She knew that she was not going to do anything that would hurt her; she was just offering her an opportunity that she could have made for herself but had not. She was offering her an unusual but simple way to change her life. Riley talked about making a change often, she planned for making changes, but she never did. It was easier to do the same things over and over because it was comfortable. She had the same job for ten years, lived in a small but comfortable condo for eight, and drove the same nondescript reliable car forever. Every once in awhile an opportunity to change jobs, to move, or to buy a new car presented itself but she never took any of them. She convinced herself that she was smart to be stable, to enjoy what she had and to never want more. Look at all those people who ventured far away from what they knew and what happened to them. Sure there were lots of people who were successful but there were just as many who never made it. And since she was somewhere in the middle why take a chance? Then last night out of the blue came that crazy phone call. The caller told her when she walked out of her office building into the parking lot there would be a brand new car parked next to her old brown station wagon. The car that was parked in the spot next to hers was bright and shiny. The beautiful sparkly white Lexus was the exact car she had ridden in last week. It was the car of her dreams but as she always did she decided now was not the right time to buy a new car. Last night the caller told her that the car could be hers for a year if she agreed to do certain things. She would have to change jobs, move, and become more adventurous. She would have to take a chance and move to the city, town, or village of her dreams, buy the house she could afford, and begin to show the beautiful paintings she had created but stored in her dark and dusty basement. She would have to become the person she always wanted to be but was too afraid to take a chance on. The woman promised her that if after a year she wanted to return to her old job, house, and car they would be waiting for her exactly the way she left them. Her family and friends could know where she was and what she was doing but the decisions she made would have to be ones she made on her own.
Riley didn’t sleep at all that night but she did pack a small bag to take with her just in case she decided to take the crazy step of opening the car door to the Lexus and actually getting in. Where would she go? She knew exactly the quaint village where she wanted to live, had already looked so many times at the small cottage next to the lake with the studio for painting and had even talked to the gallery owners about her work. But time after time she was afraid to move forward and to take that step. Now, she couldn’t fail -or could she? She took the final step towards the two very different cars, still not sure which one to pick. Then with conviction she placed her hand on one of the car doors. She had made her decision when out of nowhere an alarm went off!
What would you do?
"What made me happy today?" is a question I asked myself each night. My answers did not vary a lot this week. My family made me happy. Watching my grandsons share a party with their friends made me happy. Watching the two year old help his one year old friend climb the step made me happy. Knowing that he already cares about and is so gentle with his friends made very happy for him and all the relationships that he will have over the years. The knowledge that this exercise in recognizing happiness is having an effect on how I think and feel makes me happy. Realizing that I am very content in what I am doing now makes me happy each day. So it was a good week filled with ordinary days, quiet moments, and time to spend with family and friends all which for me equals happiness and contentment.
It's Wednesday and time for Jamie Ridler's wishcasting question of the week, "What do you wish to pay attention to?" This question seems easy at first but I had to really think about it. There are so many things that need my attention and all of them seem important. And then I thought the best way to sum it up for me would be to say I want to give attention to the present moment, to the opportunities that are being presented or that I make, to the wonderful people that I am meeting and to all that I am experiencing right now. It has been interesting to see how my vision board keeps changing as I move through the year. In January my board was strong, with sparkle, and fireworks. It reminded me to want and experience more. Now it is becoming soft and springlike with pictures of flowers and words such as relax, style and creative intuition. So I want to pay attention to the present and enjoy where and who I am each day. We all change and grow no matter how young or old we are and I want to pay attention to and appreciate each twist and turn I take down this road of life.
The assignment in my writing class was to write something that we remembered that was actually part of history. The first part of my story would have no meaning to anyone but me but the second part was about the race riots in the 60s. I have not shared many of my stories but thought I would start with this one.
I was the first of my friends to get a driver’s license. This was in 1963 where although we thought we were safe I am sure there were just as many crazy people around as there are now. But my driver’s license and my father’s car meant freedom and fun to us. Our first outing was to Don’s drive in. Don’s was located at the top of a very windy steep long highway. I thought nothing of taking those twists and turns as the music blared. I didn’t get nervous until we got to Don’s. Don’s was an important location not for the food but for the boys and the possibility of meeting someone new. Half of the fun was finding a place to park your car. You had to drive around and around looking for a space; actually you were looking for a great car filled with great guys to park next to. As we entered the circle of moving cars, I was busy scanning for the perfect parking opportunity when I bumped into a large building. This was what everyone was waiting for - a new driver. Well, to make sure that I didn’t feel bad and that I knew that everyone at Don’s now knew I had just gotten my license, the horns began to blow and the cheering started. You could have heard the commotion a mile away. We all started to laugh and then to make matters worse; without looking I quickly put my car into reverse and bumped into the car behind me. I am sure he must have been too close but he probably would have had a different story. Now the horns really started to blow and the laughter could be heard for miles. Not mine of course, I was too worried about the possible damage I had done to my Dad’s car, the building and the car behind me. Luckily for me, the new driver angel was sitting on my shoulder and there was no damage to anything. I guess even though I thought I was driving fast and cool I was probably going as slow as a car could possible go. This was just the beginning of our adventures in my father’s car. We had many fun and sometimes scary times in the old gray Ford Falcon.
We took another ride in my Dad’s car several years later. This time the adventure could have had serious results. I was very fortunate to live in a small but pretty house in the suburbs. Only 45 minutes away was Newark an entirely different type of city. While our town had pretty houses, lovely trees, good schools and great playgrounds for kids to visit, Newark had tenement buildings, poverty and growing anger and rage. One hot summer night a taxi cab driver was arrested for driving around a double parked police car. He was also beaten by the police and then taken to the precinct station which was located across the street from a low income high rise apartment house. Word quickly spread about the arrest and beating and a large crowd formed in front of the police station. Rumors started that the cab driver was dead when in reality he was no longer in the police station but had been taken out the back door to a local hospital. Bricks were thrown and a riot began. Forty-eight hours later the National Guard was called in and six days of rioting resulted in 23 people dying, 725 people injured and 150 people arrested. It was into this hotbed of anger and danger that three silly girls decided to take a ride to see first hand what was happening. As we got closer and closer to the city, the first thing we noticed was either clusters of people or nothing. You could feel the anxiousness of the people but since nothing like this had ever happened people did not at first realize the seriousness of what was taking place in their city. Mother’s still sent their sons to take out the garbage which resulted in death. People still stood by windows or peeked from behind curtains to see what was happening causing them to be shot in their own homes. And three young very innocent girls thought that tonight would just be another adventure like so many they had before. As we got closer, we saw the very young and extremely nervous National Guardsman standing at attention with their rifles. Luckily for us, they did not shoot and ask questions later. When they saw who was in the car they told us to go home and not to come back. This was not a game and people were being killed and injured at a rapid rate. So we turned around and did not look back for a long time. That is until we noticed a strange black car which seemed to be following us. When I remember that night I wondered if it was really following us or if it was also just in a hurry to get away from Newark as quickly as possible. When we turned, it turned, when we went fast, it went fast, when we slowed down, it slowed down and then it began to blow its horn and flash its lights. Usually, there were people out on the streets or stores open for business but tonight there was no one. The sky was dark and the streets were empty. We saw one gas station that looked like someone might be hiding in the office. We pulled in and blew our horn. No one came. We blew it again and again and finally a middle aged man ran outside, listened to our story and told us there was nothing he could do, no police would come and to lock our doors and go home as quickly as possible. By this time the black car had seemed to disappear and so quickly and very quietly the gray Ford Falcon sped up the highway. Although we got home safely, it is a memory that comes back every so often. I think about how young and silly we were and I think about how lucky we were that nothing happened to us especially after reading the statistics about how many people were killed riding in a car. One ten year old boy innocently riding with his family to get a hamburger for dinner was shot and killed by the National Guard. I think about how poverty and prejudice and anger can create such a horrific series of events and I wonder why people have not learned as much as I think they should have from the history of our nation. As I watch and listen to the debates that go in our country, luckily there have not been any riots but there still is polarization. There still is fear and there still is anger. As someone who is not young and not silly anymore, I have to ask, “Why? "Why can’t we learn from the past, why can’t we care about each other and why can’t we change?” I often think about that car ride but after writing this, I think it affected who I am and how I think much more than I ever realized.
Today I was thinking about how many of my friends have such wonderful talents and yet they are completely unaware of the gifts they possess. I have friends who can make a room look different just by changing the angle of a chair or adding a vase to a table. I know others who can play musical instruments or visualize and create a wonderful piece of jewelry. Others are so in tune with their bodies that they make incredibly difficult yoga moves look easy. And yet when taking part in a conversation about creativity, they say, "Oh, I'm not creative." I think it is so important to be able to recognize and celebrate our own uniqueness and creativity. In school, this part of the brain is often ignored or actually shut down. It is important as creative people to be proud of who we are and what we create each day. It can be a beautiful dinner, an inspired conversation, a wonderful painting, or an unusual way to organize your closet. I would love to hear more about how other people express and celebrate their creativity. How were you creative today?
For the past three years, I have been on a journey to discover what to do with the next part of my life. After I retired, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do next. I knew I wanted to stay very busy and learn new things but I wasn't sure what new things. And then I started meeting new people and joining new activities and I began to learn new things about myself. And it has been this journey of self-discovery that has really made me happy. At first it was frustrating because I had a lot more questions than answers but as the answers started to fall into place and things started to make sense it was such a great feeling. So this week I am very thankful that I have had the time to make this journey. I am very thankful for the people who have been kind enough to share themselves and the things they love with me. I am very thankful for the people who have been very patient as I have learned new things that were difficult for me but so easy for them. I am very thankful for the questions that Jamie asks each week on Wishcasting Wednesday and for the comments you make on my blog or the thought provoking things you write on your blogs. It has been interesting to think back on the journey, where I was, and where I am now. Although three years ago I could not have predicted where I would be today, I am so happy that it has turned out the way it has and l look forward to seeing what the future holds for me next. So the answer to the question, "What made me happy this week?" is thinking about all of the interesting, helpful, caring, and wonderful people I have met in the past three years. Meeting each and everyone of these people has made my journey very, very special. So to everyone who has been a part of this in any way I want to say, "Thank you!"
I just watched Jamie's video so I thought I would answer her question. I think there are two themes that run through most of my posts on being happy and that is connecting with people and nature. I have always realized that connecting with people is important to me but how nature affects my feelings has been an eye opener. So my self-discovery journey continues, which is great!