Childhood Friendships

I was away from home for a long time. After growing up in a small town, I graduated from high school and college early and left before I was twenty-one years old. I left emotionally long before that, after a traumatic event in my life caused me to withdraw from my school and friends. At little more than seventeen, I was already gone from those childhood friends to whom I had been closest. Even though I finished school in my hometown, I had little or no contact with them. The physical and emotional trauma didn’t involve them, but due to embarrassment and shock, I cut them off.

As soon as possible, I left my hometown and never looked back for over ten years. I had little contact with my childhood friends. I had gone to a very small private school through twelve grades, a laboratory model school on the local university campus. Each class was only 30 students. We knew each other well and were much like siblings. We were all extraordinarily sheltered. In order to survive after I left, I put them out of my mind for longer than I’d like to remember.

I eventually settled in a nearby city and through my job, my husband, and my efforts to seek an advanced education, I developed new friends. Good friends. Many of whom I still call my friends. Some my best friends. Except for a few, my childhood friends were lost to me by choice. In my rear view mirror. When I saw them, I saw the trauma I’d experienced.

As it happened, my parents still lived in my hometown and after my father passed away, my mother and other relatives were there alone. I returned there to work, but I didn’t live there. I commuted from the city. I didn’t seek out any of my childhood friends. I didn’t attend class get-togethers such as reunions. I went to work, cared for my relatives, and commuted back to the city. My career blossomed at the university in my hometown. Off and on, I would run into a friend from my past, but I still didn’t seek them out.

Through some accidents of fate, I ended up having to move back to my hometown to finish up the last third of my career. I built a house a few miles out of town, went to work, and still had my social life in the city. I traveled widely and knew people all over the world. I still did not attend class reunions, talked only rarely to childhood friends, and continued my life without them, except one or two. The trauma I had experienced was so bad that, even after decades, I could not see my childhood friends without remembering it.

Then, two years ago, a childhood friend sought me out when there was a reunion that was supposed to happen. She convinced me to attend. The reunion didn’t happen, but we continued our renewed friendship and that put me in contact with other friends. I began talking a little more to these friends. I was still not really comfortable, but I was trying. Recently, one of my classmate’s mother passed away. She was one of the mothers who I particularly loved when I was growing up and I loved her daughter as well. I decided after much reflection, to attend her funeral, knowing I would see a number of my childhood friends. I very much wanted to be there for her daughter.

I finally put my embarrassment over the trauma I’d experienced aside and went to the funeral. Not only did I see a number of my childhood friends but the funeral was in my childhood church. I was very glad I attended for my classmate whose mother had died, but it was also wonderful to see my friends. They were sweet and accepting even though I had been gone so long. It was also nice to see some of the townspeople I had long avoided and to be in my hometown church.

I’m very sad for my friend, Carla, and will miss knowing that her mother is in this world. But, I’m glad that I went to say my goodbyes to her mother and pay my final respects. It was the vehicle I needed, something I couldn’t miss, to reconnect with those people who helped make me who I am today. I’ve missed them.

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Journal: My Respite – Wildlife Sightings

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This island is a wild and beautiful place. It’s also a place where one has to be careful because it is home to interesting wildlife. A virtual  zoo. Some live only in the tropics. Some live out on this island because they feel safe and, for the most part, they are. Since we share the island with them, we have to be sure we are safe as well. We also have to make sure our pets are safe. I would guess that the majority of people who live on the island have a dog and so do the majority of tourists. People who come to my island and who live here have to remember that we are, indeed, in the tropics.

During the last few days, there have been wildlife sightings, not just on the island but in the development where I live. Very close to my home. In the case of the dangerous wildlife, like alligators, the management tries to keep them out. Alligators are a part of life this far south in Florida. We have three small lakes, perhaps ponds, Today, an alligator was sighted in one of them, slithering into the water. Even though I’ve always known alligators are here, I’ve never seen one on the island. There’s a first time for everything!

This island is a nesting spot for the bald eagle. I love to watch them nesting in the fall to have their babies in the early spring. One has to remember that they can be dangerous. If you are walking a small dog, they have no problem swooping down and picking it up. There is a nesting pair in a tall evergreen tree in my yard. I’ll be guarding Hanna, my small dog of about 25 pounds, when we go for walks.

In the last few days, a bobcat has been spotted at night in the back of the development. I’m used to bobcats since my home is in the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky and I’ve heard them scream in the trees in my backyard. But, I don’t particularly want to encounter one when I’m walking Hanna at night. To complicate matters, the management of the development says that coyotes are encroaching on our development. Suddenly, island wildlife has decided to live right here with me.

Life is never boring on this beautiful island. Any ideas on how to walk Hanna after dark? 🙂

 

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

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Do you believe in magic in love? That is what “smoke” refers to in the old Platters song, actually recorded in 1933. There is discussion about that interpretation, of course. But, smoke getting in your eyes, in a love song, seems pretty clear to me. Let’s dig a little deeper.

First, my own bias. I do believe in magic in love – still. I think it’s rare. I don’t think most of us will ever find it. I think those of us who do find it better hold on to it tightly as we likely will not ever find it again. I think it is the reason that romance novels and romantic erotica is the most popular genre of fiction. We seek to read about people, even fictional people, who either have found that magic or who are seeking it. Look at the book series beginning with 50 Shades of Gray. That book is actually in the genre of romantic erotica as there is love present. It is not pornography. I’m not a fan of 50 Shades because I don’t think it is well-written but it has certainly shown what our society is looking for.

We are looking for the magic in love. We want to find that perfect relationship where you have love between two people – compatibility in love – but you also have to have compatibility in sex. Novels like 50 Shades have shown us that if nothing else. Perfect compatibility in love and in sex is incredibly hard to find. Unless you do find this magic, you are going to be unhappy in some aspects of your relationship.

Here are the lyrics of the Platters song, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes:”

They asked me how I knew
My true love was true
I of course replied
Something here inside cannot be denied
They said “someday you’ll find all who love are blind”
When your heart’s on fire,
You must realize, smoke gets in your eyes

So I chaffed them and I gaily laughed
To think they could doubt my love
Yet today my love has flown away,
I am without my love (without my love)

Now laughing friends deride
Tears I cannot hide
So I smile and say
When a lovely flame dies, smoke gets in your eyes

(Smoke gets in your eyes, smoke gets in your eyes)

Smoke gets in your eyes

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In the first stanza of the song, one line says that all who love are blind. That may be true for very young people but as you mature, I think you can love and see the faults of your true love. Two mature people can work on problems in their relationship but there is one thing they cannot work on. The magic. The magic, the chemistry, between two people is either there or it’s not. If it’s not, there isn’t anything you can do to make it happen. In this writer’s opinion, the magic causes the smoke to get in your eyes, but it does not completely blind you. The magic includes both sexual chemistry and the chemistry you feel from deep, emotional love. You can’t have a complete relationship without both.

The next stanza of the song refers to smoke in a different way. The true love has gone, left, deserted the other person. But, that does not necessarily mean that the love has died. It is a very sad situation for the person left behind and then, smoke gets in your eyes because you cannot hide your tears. The smoke causes you to cry because your true love is no longer with you. Perhaps there were circumstances that caused your true love to leave. I am of the opinion that if you find the magic, the true chemistry I have mentioned, it never goes away, whether you are together or not.

Don’t let the smoke blind you to something wonderful. Try to learn to recognize what is real and magical and what is not. #romance #lovesongs #love #dailyprompt #amwriting #amblogging #writing

20th Century Masters – The Millennium Series: The Best of The Platters (Remastered) by The Platters
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Remembering: My Friend and Jamaica’s Fern Valley

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Around 15 years ago, I did a lot of traveling with a good friend. We saw so many wonderful places. I feel like we went around the world together and I feel a lot of nostalgia about these trips. I remember each and every one. We spent much time on the island of Jamaica as my friend had business there. His home base for business was Kingston, the capital of Jamaica. Kingston is not exactly a tourist spot. That is probably an understatement. But, we used it as a jumping off point for some wonderful adventures on that beautiful island. Allow me to tell you about one of those adventures.

Above Kingston lies Jamaica’s Blue Mountains. You can look down from them and see Kingston. You can drive from Kingston, where you endure sweltering heat, to the relative cool of the Blue Mountains, though the humidity is high. The city of Kingston has temperatures, even in the fall of the year, in the 80s and 90s, as Jamaica really has no seasons. Then, you drive up one of the steepest gradients to be found to get up the Blue Mountains where the day time temperatures drop to the low 70s and 50s at night. Their peaks rise and fall for about 24 miles.

In the fall of the year, when I was often in Jamaica with my friend, there was rain in the Blue Mountains – from 9 – 15 inches per month. A tropical climate.

We took many drives in the Blue Mountains but there is one in particular that I’m feeling particularly nostalgic about. We drove from Kingston over the Blue Mountains and eventually arrived at Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

The Blue Mountains are something to see all by themselves and my friend was a wonderful tour guide as he had spent much time in Jamaica. The Blue Mountains are full of coffee plantations, something I had never seen and which fascinated me. But, what was most thrilling were the tall trees that made the road almost dark. Speaking of the road, it was just almost a road. The road over the Blue Mountains is notoriously bad. Every sort of tropical tree imaginable was in the forest and banana trees lined the road along with vendors selling all sorts of delicious tropical fruit. There are over 500 species of plant life on the Blue Mountains.

Then we came to the most beautiful site of all. Jamaica’s Fern Valley. The ferns were so prolific it was like they were piled on top of each other for miles. It made for a very romantic setting! Driving through Fern Valley is something you never forget. I wanted to stay there forever.

We then arrived in Ocho Rios and decided to do a touristy thing which was climb Dunns River Falls. It is a natural waterfall with naturally terraced steps. At this spot, the Battle of Las Chorreras was fought in 1657 when the English defeated the Spanish Expeditionary Force from Cuba.

In modern times, Dunns River Falls has been used in the 1988 film, Cocktail, starring Tom Cruise, and the first James Bond movie in 1962, Dr. No, starring Sean Connery.

After that climb, we were hungry and ate dinner at the most wonderful Indian restaurant in Ocho Rios. When we do Nostalgia again, I will tell you about the trip back to Kingston over the Blue Mountains – at night! #amwriting #amblogging #writing #Jamaica #DunnsRiverFalls #BlueMountains #nostalgia

Trust in a Relationship

 

Do you have trust in your relationships? In all of your relationships – with your partner, your family, your friends, your colleagues? Trust is the foundation of any relationship. In fact, without trust, your relationship is unfinished. Without trust, you have no relationship. Perhaps the most important trust relationship is that with your partner, whoever that partner may be. A spouse, a partner, a lover. If you can’t trust that most important person in your life, there is not only no relationship, you need to re-evaluate whatever it is that you think you have. Yes, I realize that is a hard line. I have reasons to take a hard line on this issue. Now let’s talk about trust.

When trust is mentioned between partners, faithfulness immediately comes to mind. Faithfulness, believe it or not, is not the most important trust issue. There is a more fundamental trust that should exist between partners that comes before faithfulness. If partners have that much more fundamental trust, faithfulness ceases to be an issue.  What am I talking about?

What does the term “true intentions” mean? True intentions mean the real, heartfelt feelings of each partner in the relationship. Those true intentions should be shared between the two partners. If the partners are “in love,” those are true intentions whether or not the relationship ever comes to fruition in the form of marriage or long-term commitment. If the partners intend to carry on with their relationship for the long-term in any form and communicate that to each other, those are true intentions. If the partners intend to be open and honest with each other in the relationship, those are true intentions.

This is where trust comes in. Partners have to trust each other’s true intentions. If they feel, based on each other’s behavior, that they can trust each other, the relationship has a chance to become satisfying and fulfilling to both partners.

Unfortunately, life isn’t always this simple and people certainly are not. What if one partner has intentions that are not so true and well-meaning? What if one partner has an “agenda” that the other partner has no way of knowing? The other partner may develop trust in the offending partner because they do not have full information. Not only does the non-offending partner develop trust in the other partner, but that partner is also trustworthy and the offending partner can, indeed, trust them. What, then, will happen to the relationship?

In effect, the offending partner is lying to the other partner and the relationship has no chance of becoming fulfilling and satisfying for either partner. It could flourish in the short-term, as long as the offending partner can maintain the fiction.

Here is another possible scenario. Perhaps one partner gets involved in a relationship and, somewhere along the way, that partner changes their true intentions. Those intentions become less than true, even totally false. They become something else and then that partner develops an agenda during an already established relationship. Chances are, the other partner is involved even deeper in the love relationship and is even more trusting at that point. It may be harder than ever for the other partner to discern whether or not the offending partner is still true in their intentions. What will happen in this case?

Either the first or second scenarios are not good. There is one partner lying to the other about their true intentions. The other partner, trusting the first one, is very vulnerable in both scenarios to being hurt and terribly disappointed. It won’t take very long in either scenario for cracks to appear in the relationship as the trusting partner starts to pick up clues that all is not well. They will realize that there are inconsistencies and lies popping up in the relationship. It will become a very painful thing for the trusting partner.

When the true intentions of the offending partner finally become apparent and they are not what was originally related to the trusting partner, the relationship will likely break apart. Can relationships like this be saved? In my opinion, probably not. If the offending partner had been willing to establish open communication with the other partner early on, then the relationship would never have gotten to this point. But, the trust has been broken and it is incredibly hard to get back. The offending partner may have fulfilled their agenda and may not even want to continue on with the relationship. The trusting partner will feel like everything was a lie and also may not want the relationship.

The most beautiful and success relationships between partners are those where there is open communication and each partner knows and accepts the other’s true intentions. True intentions lead to trust. Open communication and complete, uninhibited trust is the recipe for a successful love relationship. Those things don’t come easy and both partners have to be totally honest with the other and really work at it. In this writer’s opinion, this is the only way to have a satisfying and fulfilling love relationship. #amwriting #amblogging #writing #AllAboutRomance

 

2016 Presidential Election

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I hate the U.S. news media. I’m not sure it would be better in any other nation, but in the U.S., you only hear what the powers that be at the major news organizations want you to hear. I did not intend to watch the Democrat and Republican party’s conventions last week and this, but, like so many others, I got sucked in. I’ve been horrified at the Republican nominee for President of the U.S.  I thought Donald Trump gave one of the worst acceptance speeches I’ve ever heard. I can remember back to the acceptance speech given by John F. Kennedy, though it’s vague as I was a tiny girl.

This post is not about Donald Trump. It is about the failure of the U.S. news media to inform the American public. The Democratic National Convention is coming to a close with Hillary Clinton the nominee for President. As I have watched the convention, I have become aware that the news media has been virtually unstoppable at                eviscerating Clinton, focusing on her mistakes and none of her considerable accomplishments.

I have not been a Clinton fan. I have been a real detractor of Donald Trump. For the first time ever, I’ve considered not voting in this very important election. Listening to the convention speakers last night, without the filter of the news media, I did not exactly become a Clinton fan but I became convinced she is, far and away, the best candidate of the two running for President.

Has the news media ever shared Clinton’s accomplishments with us? They are too busy repeating the mistakes she has made – over and over. By listening to the speakers last night and ignoring the talking heads of the media, I got to hear of Clinton’s accomplishments and they are legion. As first lady of both Arkansas and the United States, Senator from New York, and Secretary of State, she has touched our policies in many ways, most of them quite positive. She has touched the hearts and minds of children all over the world, her mission as First Lady. She tends to have a personal touch with people. The type of thing not newsworthy enough for the news media to bother with it. The average American who has contact with Clinton on the street loves her and sings her praises. Her Democratic colleagues, at least, sing her praises.

Hillary Clinton is not good at singing her own praises or advancing her own causes. She is not a braggart like our friend, the Republican nominee. I was impressed with what I heard from those who know her best, personally and professionally.

Most of all, her colleagues discussed her vast knowledge of the U.S. Government and its innermost workings. Does Donald Trump have this knowledge? No. I’ve decided that I’m with Hillary, warts and all. Of course, it helps that she has shattered that largest of glass ceilings, but that isn’t the reason. She knows more than he knows. Down deep, where it counts, she is a better person than he is. That has won me over in the end. #amwriting #blogging #writing #PresidentialUSA #dailyprompt

 

My Mother’s German Clock

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My mother was a hard, cold woman. There is no need to sugar coat it, though I hate to say it. That was, quite simply. her personality. That doesn’t mean I didn’t love her. I did. I just didn’t like her very much most of the time. I spent my life, or perhaps her life, trying to please her. I don’t need all my ten fingers to count the times I heard her laugh in the 48 years she lived while I was alive. I don’t remember what her face looked like when she smiled. She smiled so seldom.

My mother was depressed. Perhaps clinically depressed but, back then, those diagnoses were seldom made so who really knows what was wrong. But, her problems are only tangential to this story. The story of my mother’s German clock.

My mother loved her brothers and sisters almost desperately. She never really separated from that family and embraced my dad and I. One brother, my Uncle Tincy, was particularly special. They were close in age and grew up together. I think separating from him when he left home to join the Air Force broke her heart.

My mother and my uncle always stayed in close touch. His family, including his three children – my cousins, were always close to me. When they would come “home” from being stationed at one Air Force Base and before moving to another, they would often stay with us during the move. My mother cherished every day she got to spend with her brother and with his family. It was during those times that she seemed happiest.

Uncle Tincy was stationed, at one point, in Germany. Before he left Germany, he sent just about all of his siblings a beautiful German clock. I was grown up by then and had left home, but I will never forget when I came for a visit and my mother had received her clock from her brother. For once in her life, she was glowing as she showed me her clock, hanging in a place of honor on the wall. To her, it was not only beautiful, but a symbol of her brother’s love.

Later in both of our lives, my dad passed away and my mother had to live with me because she was very ill. Of course, the German clock from my Uncle Tincy came with her and hung in a place of honor on a wall of my home. Every day, my mother dusted and polished it. She made sure it was wound properly, right up until a couple of days before she died. It made her happy as almost nothing did.

Today, sixteen years after my mother’s death, the German clock still hangs in a place of honor in my home. It has been taken to the clockmaker, cleaned, repaired, and runs  like new. Mom would be proud. I’ve taken over the task of cleaning and polishing it. It keeps perfect time. When I look at it, I think of my mother, with whom I had a strained relationship and who was so unhappy most of the time. I think of my wonderful Uncle Tincy who could perform some sort of magic to make her happy. I remember how she smiled when she looked at that clock. Now, I smile, with a tear in my eye, as I remember what a beautiful German clock did for my mother all those years ago. #amwriting #writing #blogging #depression #dailyprompt

#weekendcoffeeshare 7/16/16

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My friend, Jenn, with whom I usually have my #weekendcoffeeshare, is on vacation this week. So, I want to talk about what I think she and I might discuss if she were here.

If we were having coffee, I would share with you my musings about what it means to be over 60. It’s not so old, but we are entering the last quarter of our lives. It gives one pause. It makes one re-evaluate one’s life. It makes you realize that you have only one life and question whether you are doing what you want to do with it. Are you happy? Truly happy? Do you want to keep on with your life as it is? Is your life fulfilling at its core being?

Now for the big question. Are you living your life out of obligation to others? Is there room in your in your life for you? Life in our 60s can be unpredictable. We tend to have  built up a number of obligations over the years. We feel like we have to respond to the needs of those obligations, whether they are adult children, grandchildren,  elderly parents, or work. Maybe you don’t have as many obligations now. Could be your children have moved away. Your parents are gone now. You’ve retired. You suddenly have time on your hands for the first time in maybe 30 yeas. Do you feel lost?

By 60, you may have even suffered one or more major losses in your life — family members, perhaps a spouse. Life after 60 can have its share of health issues and this can be unpredictable. Do you get checkups and practice preventive medicine so you can live your longest, best life?

I keep coming back to the same question. Are you living your life for others or is there room in it for you? Life after 60 feels different than life before 60. Look around at the people between the ages of 30-60. They are rushing around, in a hurry. They have jobs, small children, many obligations to meet in any one day. After 60, it all slows down. Even if you have obligations, you can take more time in meeting them. You can sort out the obligations you want to keep and those you can dispose of. Most people, after 60, have more time for themselves, or should.

If you are around 60, you are part of the Baby Boomer generation. Almost 10,000 Boomers are retiring per day now. You are not alone. But, now is the time to rediscover your passions. What are your hobbies? What were they before you got so busy with life? Photography? Sketching? Travel? Writing? Give one of your passions a try. See if you catch fire again. If not, think about what you are passionate about now, then go for it. It is never too late.

Whatever you do, it can’t be another chore. It has to be a joy. It has to make your core being feel happiness. Remember that you are in your last quarter of your life. It’s time not to care about what the world thinks anymore. I don’t! It’s time to please YOU. We pass this way only once. Find your passion and do it!

There is a book you might enjoy. It’s called “The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Mid-Life” by Marc Freedman. You can find it at amazon.com. #weekendcoffeeshare #dailyprompt #amwriting #writing #blogging

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