Random Ideas are the Best

Today was awesome. Like totally. I took a chance on something random and what I got in return was priceless.

The trail has been calling me for weeks. It calls me when I drive by woods. It calls me when I watch You Tube videos of other people’s long distance hikes. It calls me when I research gear for my own long distance hike. It calls me when I dream of doing my first long distance hike. It calls me in the sun. It calls me in the rain. It calls me when the sun rises. It calls me when it snows. It’s always there. It asks me to check out and come into the woods. I’ve heard the calls but I couldn’t answer them. I couldn’t go to the trail. Instead I’d look out the window at the trees in the valley behind our house and just sigh. I had plenty of excuses. All valid yet torturous. Too many activities in one weekend. Bad weather. Run down. Take your pick.

As of last night, the plan for today was to get up before sunrise and hike my favorite trail with my husband at the state park near our house. We’d come home and I, the Sicilian mother would make a pot of “sauce” per my son’s request. Scratch the plan. The Universe had better things in store for us. Late last evening, my daughter received a call from her best friend who’d moved away in December. Her friend was in town for only one night and had a random change of plans. She wanted to spend the night with us. That random change of plans set things in motion to change my plans.

Plan B: get up, make the family breakfast, hike, come home and cook sauce. My daughter’s friend was going to be picked up at 0745. I wanted to make the kid a nice breakfast because my daughter misses her so much. Before I got out of bed, I scanned my email and found an invitation for a “meet up” hike.

A few months ago, I’d signed up on this “meet up” website. I’d hope to get into a hiking group to explore other trails in my area. Unfortunately I’ve had schedule conflicts and haven’t been able to attend any of them. On a whim, I took a random chance, and decided to try a meet up hike, thus changing my plans again.

Plan C: I cooked my sauce while I was making my family Belgian Waffles and then my husband and I met this hiking group at 12 noon at a different state park than we usually hike. This meet up was called, “Meditation Coffee Hike”. Well now those buzz word certainly sparked my interest! What more could I ask for in a hike?

There were seven of us, including the organizer. The organizer was a wellness coach of some sort. We all made our introductions and we were on our way. He was in shape but I quickly learned that he was not the hard core hiker that I want to be when I grow up. The purpose of this hike was walking meditation. The hike itself was exactly what the doctor ordered for me. Physical and spiritual. Plenty of uphills, downhills, streams to cross and logs to jump over. The scenery was gorgeous and the conversation stimulating. At the halfway mark we stopped at a waterfall, sat and meditated for ten minutes. It was the perfect place to “be”. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience today.

The quieter you become, the more you can hear. “-Ram Dass

 

 

 

30 Day Writing Challenge Day 2

Okay cool, the blogger I follow who’s doing a 30 Day Writing Challenge has posted Day 2’s question: Write something that someone told you about yourself that you have never forgotten.

Here we go. Circa 1997 I was a few years out of nursing school and working on a coronary progressive care unit. I was taking care of a little lady who I’d taken care of frequently. I enjoyed taking care of her. Her condition caused her to tire easily and she always needed help with her ADL’s-Activities of Daily Living. Helping patients with their ADL’s was always a perfect time to talk to them, get to know them and tidy up their rooms. So I helped her bathe and afterwards I helped her walk to a chair so she could sit while I made her bed. As I helped her back into bed she looked me in the eyes and said, “I was talking to Jesus about you the other day. We agreed that you have a gift, you don’t know you have. You need to figure it out”.  My little newly wed 27 year old self told her that my husband and I were hoping to soon start a family, maybe the gift was me being a good mother. She said, “you’ll be a mother soon but that’s not it. Think about it”. I couldn’t wait to talk to her about it more but I got busy the rest of the day and I didn’t see her after that. I later learned that she’d passed away at home.

Those moments with that patient and that conversation will live in my memory forever. I remember what the hospital room looked like and I remember what room and bed she was in during that admission. I remember her face. The image of me bathing her, making her bed and talking to her is still there. The image of her looking into my eyes to tell me about my gift still there. For awhile I racked my brains trying to figure out what the gift is. I know in due time it will present itself. If the gift is being a writer, I’ll dedicate my first book to her.

30 Day Writing Challenge Day 1

Tonight while scrolling through the blogs I follow, I came across someone who was doing a 30 day writing challenge. I’ve never done one of these before. I have no idea where he got this from but hey what the heck let’s try it out. Hopefully he’ll do one everyday because I don’t know where to find this.

Make a list of 10 things that make you really happy.

These are not in any specific order.

  1. Morning Coffee
  2. My dog
  3. Reading a good book
  4. Laughing so hard I can’t breath
  5. Hiking
  6. Family and Friends
  7. Driving a stick shift
  8. Comfort food
  9. Listening to the rain when I have no where to go
  10. Music. Music on the radio, music my children play.
  11. Blog followers

41 Books and More

A few years ago I downloaded the Goodreads application onto my iPhone. Goodreads allows readers to track and rate books with other readers. I used it for a few months but found it tedious to to try to remember all the books I’ve read in my lifetime of reading, search for them and put them on my list of read books. Eventually I got bored with it and stopped using it. I had considered deleting the application from my phone but I never did.

On New Years Day I noticed on Facebook that a Goodreads friend and coworker of mine had joined the 2017 Reading Challenge. “Hmm, why not”, I thought so I joined the challenge and committed to reading 41 books this year. Two days ago I finished my first book of the 2017 reading challenge.

The book, “The Secret Keeper” by Kate Morton was selected for my book club’s January meeting. If you like books with secrets from the past, this is a book for you. Like every good book I read, I found myself thinking about the book during my work day and looking forward to evening reading time. I savored every chapter and the way the author kept me guessing until the very end. As I always do at the end of a good book, I felt a sense emptiness because I had completed the book. Ironically, I’d been thinking about reading this book for a few years but never really committed myself to it because the summary kind of interested me but didn’t dazzle me until someone in my book club suggested it. That’s the benefit being part of a book club. My book club has nine personalities. Eventually you’ll read books you may not have thought about reading but are really happy you did.

The second book of my 2017 Reading Challenge is “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shutterly. I went to see the movie last weekend at a historic movie theater in my city which was the perfect place for this movie. Ordinarily I’d prefer to read the book before seeing the movie but when my husband found out the movie would be at this really cool old theater, we jumped at the chance to go. Once the movie began I knew immediately that I wanted to read this book. One of my book club friends joined us at the movie that night. A few days later we were both owners of the book.

I’ve owned a Barnes and Noble Nook for over four years now. I’ve enjoyed the convenience of carrying multiple books on one device when I go on vacation and instantly, sometimes impulsively downloading a book the minute I decided I want to read it. Some people fly by the seats of their pants. I read by the seat of my pants. When I want to read a book, I want to read it right now, not when the library or bookstore has it available and not when I can find time to get there to go pick it up. Sometimes I miss holding a book though. Holding a book, studyng the cover and touching the pages feels more personal to me. So lately I’ve been going to the library or buying the actual book instead of downloading it.

Hidden Figures is sitting to the left of me on my desk as I write this. It is in paperback and I enjoy moving my fingertips over the smooth surface of the cover. The colors appeal to me. I hate to judge a book by it’s cover but sometimes it’s the cover of the book that draws me to the book when I am in a bookstore. I look at the faces of the women on the cover of the book. These actresses did such a wonderful job portraying the women this movie is about. I look forward to opening the book, reading the words, putting myself into the time period of this book and losing myself.

For all you lifetime readers out there, which book will you read next?

My Hill to Die On

This morning I had an argument with my daughter before we left for church. She wanted to wear her converse high tops to church. I told her absolutely not. She said, “Everyone dresses down in church. I’m the only one that is dressier”. I said, “We are going to worship God in his house and you will dress accordingly”. Even my husband said my grandmothers would be going crazy in this conversation. I went a little further to post a funny Facebook status about my early morning battle of the wills with my daughter. My cousin commented, “Gosh, That’s your hill to die on?”.

I didn’t understand the meaning of what my cousin said so I had to google what “is that your hill to die on” really means. I found things like pick your battles, do you really want to insist on your point of view on this, you are making your stand, etc. After giving it more thought, the comment bugged me.

So here it is. Here’s my “Hill to die on” on the topic of church.

I frequently attended church with my grandmothers during my childhood, through my teenage years and into my early twenties. My grandmothers were devout Catholics. They attended church regularly, observed all of the Holy Days, recited prayers in Italian and English and knew the purpose of every saint. I always admired them for that. As a little girl when I would enter the church with one of them and get settled into the pew, they’d softly whisper in my ear, “This is God’s house and we have to behave in here”.  I did what I was told. I sat quietly and didn’t dare to act up because I was in God’s house.

As far as I am concerned, my grandmother’s were geniuses. Their lessons were simple, to the point and appropriate. Here’s what they said about being in church:

1.Dress respectfully. Remember you are in God’s house.

Lately I’ve noticed that people are really beginning to dress down in church. I’ve noticed athletic shoes, sports jerseys and sweat pants. Once I sat behind a man who’s cloths stunk as if he’d been out late, slept in his cloths and got up and went to church in the same cloths. Yucky! I realize that God probably doesn’t care what people wear to church as long as they go but what happened to Sunday Best? What happened looking your best for God?

2. Arrive on time.

I’ve seen some people arrive as late as the reading of the Gospel, which is about the half way point in an hour long Catholic Mass. I’d be ashamed beyond belief to walk in church that late. Walking into church late pulls the attention away from the person on the alter who is speaking, praying or reading.  It’s disruptive to the people who had the decency to arrive on time because now the on time people have to shift their attention from the Mass to whether the usher is going to ask them to move over to make room for the tardy ones. Traffic delays beyond our control do occur but if the delay is bad enough to make me 15 minutes late, out of respect for others, if I found myself that delayed on my way to church, I’d turn around and go home.

3. Don’t be disruptive to others.

Today I sat on the left side of the church at the isle in the back. There were multiple families that arrived late. Too many to count really. Well into the first reading this young family arrived and sat in my pew. The mother fumbled around in her bag crinkling plastic to open a snack and a find a toy for her toddler child. To make matters worse, they reeked of fried food. The toddler began to talk to his mother as if they were in a room alone and it was okay to be loud. The mother shhh’d him periodically but it was ineffective. It slowly began to wear on my nerves. I literally had to put my finger on my right ear so that I could tune this child out and focus on what the Priest was saying. The fact that I even had to do that made me angry. Thankfully his mother finally removed him.

Today’s mass was about getting epiphanies and revelations of God’s presence in our lives. I cherished every word of the Priest’s homily especially when he told us of a personal experience of his own. I felt God’s presence today, yet I struggled. I struggled to accept that people are going to arrive late and I have not control over it. I struggled to tolerate the noise of this family next to me. I struggled not to judge the people who couldn’t leave their football jerseys and sweat pants home until after church.

After church my husband and I took our daughter out for lunch and I explained to her why we don’t wear converse high tops to church. I told her the three basic principles of church etiquette that my grandmothers taught me. As she prepares for her Sacrament of Confirmation in May, I want her to keep these things in mind. She understood.

So what’s wrong with me? Am I turning into a fuddy duddy because I believe people should dress and behave a certain way in church? Have I lost my ability to accept others as they are even if they are late, improperly dressed and disruptive in a place of worship? There’s nothing wrong with me. It’s called having a set of beliefs. It’s only one of many hills that I will climb to die on during my lifetime. I’ll stand behind this one for the rest of my life. My grandmothers taught me well and I know they’d be proud to see me on this hill.