Monday, September 30, 2019

Kids Deserve The Truth

As parents we want our children to grow up to be strong, accomplished men and women of good character who someday will contribute to the positive development of our society. We make sure they are fed, clothed, educated, and morally grounded in childhood so that they will have the necessary tools to do just that. We strive to be excellent role models for them, teaching acceptance, tolerance, forgiveness, and, above all, love for one another. 

However we seldom if ever talk to our kids about the mistakes we've made along our journey, shy away from exposing our inadequacies, and absolutely refuse to share the many failures we've endured over the years. Thinking such discussions would be detrimental to their development, we bury them deep within our psyche never, ever to see the light of day. 

Unfortunately these are the very experiences our children need to hear from us, but we are afraid to expose the ugly truth. God forbid they should realize their parents have made mistakes throughout life, have been less than perfect, and have FAILED to achieve goals many, many times. They need to see that we are human, that our lives have been fraught with error and disappointment.  

Muster up the courage to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of your life's story, it will do more for your children's sound growth and development than any tale of success. Start out slowly and gradually you'll shed those parental fears and be the role models your kids deserve!

'Each Story Told' is one of the poems included in my first-ever published poetry anthology, "Soul-Powered Poetry: From the Gates of Heaven to the Depths of Hell" Although I write under my pen name, Lindy Starr, every word in every stanza in every verse are the thoughts derived from listening to the whisperings of my Soul. Hopefully when reading it aloud, you'll understand what today's post is trying to convey.  Blessings and Peace

             EACH STORY TOLD

               Each story told                                                
              Of a life lived                                                   
              Is valued more than gold. 
              Every milestone reached
              Is meant to teach
              Time to break the mold.                                                                       

              Be candid then
              Of course, you should,
             ‘To thine own self be true.’
             Yes, tell the good,
             In what you speak,
             But share the ugly, too.

             Please be real
             In how you feel,
             Have courage to commit.

             By doing so,
             They will know
             To err is human, admit.

             Always striving,      
             Not merely surviving                
             Yet failures do ensue.              

             Revealing the worst,
             For the world to see
             Takes raw humility. 
             Expose your sins,
             Tout your wins                                            
             Perfection is but a myth.
            Pressures set                                           
            Causing regret,                           
            Magically disappear,  
             Guilt erased,    
            Freedom they’ll taste 
            Nothing more to fear.

            Thanks will be yours
             In being so bold
            To share… EACH STORY TOLD


Monday, September 23, 2019

Sronger Than The Mighty Oak

Eight years ago we planted a mini dogwood tree in our front yard. Not paying close attention to the spot we picked, as the tiny sprout grew it began to block the walkway leading to the front door. Except for the mailman and the UPS driver, everybody we know comes to the side door which leads to the family room and the kitchen. That's where we'll usually be...watching TV or stuffing our faces!

At the end of July, after hearing my hubby complain about being smacked in the face by the dogwood's lovely outstretched branches for the umpteenth time, I grabbed the pruner and hacked away! When I was finished, all that remained was the skinny trunk and a few amputated arms. I felt horrible. I have never destroyed anything I'd planted before, heck I even catch the stink bugs in the house and throw them outside instead of drowning them in the toilet. The only living things in Nature that I will kill are flies...I hate flies!

Every morning when I would open the blinds, the ugly truth of what I'd done was staring me in the face...the skinny trunk with a few amputated arms. My self-loathing was unbearable.  How could I have snuffed out the life of one of God's most beautiful creations? Hell, there's even a poem immortalized in 1913 by Joyce Kilmer, a famous poet, that raises the statute of a tree's elegance to heavenly heights. In case you've never heard of Kilmer who happened to have been a man, or his exquisite poem, I've taken the liberty to include it here:

 "Trees" (1913)
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.[2][3][19][n. 2]

Twelve lines that would haunt me until my dying day, I feared!
Then, lo and behold, one day as I was pulling weeds out front, I noticed a small leaf had erupted from one of the severed arms. I rubbed my eyes and looked again just to make sure I wasn't delusional. Sure enough the leaf was real! And although it was tiny, it elevated my spirits immensely because it symbolized the incredible strength of the mini dogwood, stronger than the mighty oak in this situation,which had somehow managed to sustain the brutal attack I had inflicted upon it and was still ALIVE! Praise the Lord!
Each day more and more leaves appeared, brilliant in color, beautiful in design! When I called my hubby's attention to the fact that the tree was growing once again, I couldn't believe his response, 'I felt bad about what you did,' he murmured, ' I really liked that tree!' If I wasn't afraid of going to jail for life without the possibility of parole, I think he might have been my next victim! WHAT I DID? HE WAS THE ONE WHO GOADED ME INTO COMMITTING THIS UNSPEAKABLE CRIME FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE! MEN!
Every morning now, I can't wait to open the blinds to see the progress of the mini dogwood. I marvel at how intent she is to regain her strength and grow upward and outward despite what she was forced to endure. This tree in our front yard is a constant reminder to me that no matter how much pain and desperation life throws at us, the will to live is the strongest motivation in the human spirit...we need only to tap into our Soul which is stronger than the mighty oak and certainly as strong as this mini dogwood to not only survive but to thrive!
Blessings and Peace!

Monday, September 16, 2019

'The Raven'...EVERMORE!

Sorry I'm so late with my Monday post, but our new pup, Raven Sky Bleu, takes up a considerable amount of my morning; going out to relieve herself, running thru the grass like a tornado, spying on the birds, chasing the fleeting leaves, etc. Then it's time to come in, have a breakfast treat or six, play tug-o-war for at least 15 minutes, greet Pappy, play more catch and fetch, and before you know it, it's lunchtime. And so on and so on and so on!

We were extremely lucky to get our Lab-Pointer mix from the Yukon Humane Society on Wednesday of last week. After much thought and lots of trial names, we decided upon, Raven...of course she's silky black with three white-tipped paws and one completely black. She has a white star on her chest. Raven is remarkably smart, she is almost completely housebroken and is aware of the outside yard boundaries in less than a week. This pup is crated at around 9:30 p.m. and without a whimper, is asleep until 7:00 a.m. the next morning. I kid you not!

Barry and I were sure we'd never, ever again have a dog, losing Shadow was devastating for both of us. It's only been 10 weeks since she's been gone, but it seems like forever. Yet I feel Shadow led me to Petland that day to find a pup, not to replace her, but to give us the joy we needed once more in our home. We know Shadow approves of our choice.

Having chosen the name, Raven, we never thought that Edgar Allen Poe's poem, 'The Raven' would have such a clarifying impact on us regarding the loss of Shadow and the grief that still lives in our hearts. We also never believed that the joy she gave us for almost 17 wonderful years would return. Thankfully, in the form of an independent, happy-go-lucky, inquisitive pup we aptly call, Raven, it has!

Here are two stanzas of the poem that Poe wrote in 1845 with an analysis for each of them. I've highlighted the parts that are most meaningful to the adoption of Raven.

Seventh Stanza

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
He makes an effort to fling open the window, and with a little commotion, in comes a raven. The narrator describes the raven as one who looked rather royal, and like it belonged in the righteous or impressive times of the past. The raven does not even acknowledge the speaker, and he simply flies in with the airs of an aristocrat, and rests on the statue above the chamber door of “Pallas” (also known as Athena the goddess of wisdom). Then, it just sits there doing “nothing more”.
When the character embraces the realization of the cause of his insecurity (opens the window), The raven comes flying in. The raven is the most important symbol in this poem, which explains the title. This raven is signifying the loss that the character has suffered. Through the window of realization, his loss comes flying in to face him. The raven is described to be grand in its demeanor, much like the loss of Lenore that intimidates him. He is quite fascinated by it and glorifies it. The interesting thing to note here is that the raven takes a seat on the statue of Pallas (Athena goddess of wisdom) which discloses to the reader that this feeling of loss and grief that the character is feeling is literally sitting on his wisdom. It has overpowered his rational thought.

Eighth Stanza

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
The entrance of this raven actually puts a smile on the face of the narrator. The bird was so out of place in his chamber but it still “wore” a serious expression as it sat there. The speaker then turns to treat the raven as a noble individual and asks him what his name is in a very dramatic manner. The raven simply replies with ‘nevermore’.
When given the chance to face his loss and grief so directly, it seems amusing to the character. So he speaks to the bird. He asks it’s (the bird/his grief) name, as it looked so grand and uncowardly even though it came from the world of suffering (the dark night). The raven spoke and said “nevermore”. His feelings of grief and loss (the raven) are reminding him of his greatest pain : nevermore. The raven speaks to him clearly and relays to him that what he had the deepest desire for in this life of his, is now strictly nevermore.
When I first saw Raven, I felt a tightness in my chest, she reminded me so much of Shadow. I actually walked past the cage, telling myself I should look for a dog who had no resemblance to our girl. But something made me turn around and come face to face with my grief. I know it was Shadow who had already chosen this pup for us. Instantly a smile spread across my lips as those dark brown eyes jumped up to meet me. I could see that being pent up as a shelter animal with little chance to run and play was making her sad, but she was 'grand and uncowardly.' Her energy was electrifying, her spirit, captivating! Raven was in search of someone to give her wings... 
'Nevermore' would Raven be homeless, not for one more single solitary moment...we are her forever family. 

'Nevermore' has been replaced with 'Evermore' or at least until our time together is done.
Blessings and Peace

Monday, September 9, 2019

At Least 25 More!

Today is my birthday, I turn seventy-five, and after reading this post, you'll have a pretty good idea why I'm aiming for at least 25 more years!

I received a beautiful card from my hubby on Friday because he has never been able to wait until the actual day, September 9, to give it to me. The words on the outside read:


When I look at you
on your birthday,
I see a woman who deserves
to be celebrated
and to know
how much she means
to family and friends.

Truly I have never thought of myself as one deserving to be celebrated, but knowing that Barry thinks that I should be is heartwarming. Together we've created a family that fervently embraces caring and respect for each other. 'Family' is treasured by our three adult children and their spouses who, in turn, have instilled this precious value in their own kiddos. Their words and actions make it very easy for me to see how much I mean to all of them.

I've been blessed with five authentic friends in my lifetime, two of which are now with the angels. The remaining three are golden. All of us have known each other for well over 25 years, have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, and still are proud to call one another, 'friend'! They mean the world to me!

The inside of the card reads:

I see a woman
who's my rock,
my best friend, 
the one I love
sharing my life with.
Most of all, when I look at you
on your birthday, 
I see love.

We have been there for each other in happy and sad times, in easy and difficult times, in uplifting and desperate times...I am his rock, he is mine!

Okay, so now you know who one of my best friends is..he never could keep a secret!

Sharing life together has been an adventure to say the least, and not all of it smooth sailing. Of course we've had amazing experiences, far too many to name. But we've had a lot of disagreements over the years, and flat out arguments that resulted in bruised feelings and silent treatments that seemed to last forever. Through it all though, we both have honored our vows, remained committed to one another, and accepted who we are as we are!

Finally when my hubby looks at me, even with curlers in my hair, he sees love. These last words bring tears to my eyes because I know who I am. Yes, I am a sweet, smiling girl with a great sense of humor who will do anything for times. I'm also a feisty, ornery, self-righteous know-it-all who stubbornly refuses to go with the flo..w, more times than one can count. Most folks would call me an extrovert, but Barry knows oftentimes I will slip into my shell and stay secluded until I'm ready to come out...and no amount of coaxing can hasten the process.

And yet he sees love every day we're together, especially on my birthday.  If you are confused by this post, read it a few more times and hopefully you will begin to realize just what love is, it's all of these, friends, caring, respect, humor, authenticity, commitment, and above all, allowing each other to be who they are.

My beautiful card is signed:

Have a great day! Lots of Love, Barry

No wonder I'm aiming for at least 25 more, who wouldn't!

It's my birthday...and it will be an even greater day if vanilla ice cream is included with all that love!

Happy birthday to me!

Monday, September 2, 2019

Excuse My Ignorance

Recently I decided to write a poem to educate teens on the horrific effects of smoking cigarettes (printed at the bottom of this post). I was immediately chastised for my blatant ignorance regarding e-cigarettes and vaping, the latest craze to come along. Seems as though I was the one in need of an education.

So I reached out to members of the Priceless Poetry group I founded last month, and received a number of sites focused on teen vaping and its proliferation. Although I've read all of them, I have chosen to use the stats found in the article from the Chicago's Daily Herald, 'Why teen vaping is an epidemic that needs urgent attention?'

Additionally, when retrieving the Sunday paper, yes I still read the newspaper, lo and behold, on the front page of the Tribune-Review, Westmoreland Edition, 'Doctors fear new dangers from vaping,' by Emily Balser hit me square in the face!  I was now able to provide stats from Pennsylvania as well. Divine intervention never ceases to amaze me!

According to health experts, teen vaping is outpacing substances that were formerly preferred: alcohol, marijuana, and prescribed opioids.  Nationally,  between 42% - 80% of middle school and high school students are under the false impression that nicotine is absent in vaping products and therefore much safer to smoke. However it has been shown that anywhere from zero to the equivalent of 5 cigarette packs of nicotine could be in vape pods. Because of the appealing flavors, coolness factor, and easy online accessibility, kids have adopted a false sense of security, believing vaping poses little threat to their physical well-being.

Although the short-term and long-term side effects of vaping are still being studied,  due to the extensive amount of chemicals and nicotine mixed into the e-liquids, the most common side effects include:
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • High fever
  • Headache and throat irritations
  • Inability to sleep/tiredness
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dryness of mouth, eyes and lips
  • Sensitive and bleeding gums
It has been reported that illegal drugs and e-liquids laced with THC, the substance that produces marijuana's high are being vaped, resulting in the possibility of suffering seizures, hallucinations, and compromised motor skills.

The number of teens being hospitalized nationally with respiratory ailments due to vaping is concerning. This year alone by the end of June, 94 cases of lung illnesses were being investigated by both State and Federal health agencies suspecting vaping to be the culprit. The CDC is investigating 215 possible cases of severe lung illnesses associated with e-cigarette use across 25 states, including PA, between June 28 and August 27.

There is so much more to learn about e-cigarettes and what harm vaping does to the body and brain of our young people. Unfortunately it will take time and serious effort to prove the reality of any negative consequences associated with it. Sadly teens are again being lured into suffering lifelong addiction and worse by companies such as JUUL Labs, who are lining their 'profit pockets' and black marketers who sell e-cigarettes of questionable content.

Oh, here is the poem I promised at the top of this post. Supplant 'vaping' and 'e-cig' for their respective counterparts and perhaps there is a nugget of truth to be learned.

Blessings and Peace!

                                                                                         NEVER THE FOOL?
Been smokin’ hard
Since I was ten,
Learned how
From the townie men!

I was real cool,
Never the fool.
Picked up, lit up.
Took a drag, a pull.

Became a teen,  
Oh, what a trip!
Lookin’ hip
With a cig from my lip.

The older I got,
The more I smoked.
Tried to stop,
That was a joke!

My breath smelled foul,
My clothes reeked bad,
The pallor of my skin
Turned motley sad.

Went to the dentist,
My mouth ached a lot,
My teeth were stained,
Decayed with rot.

All needed pulling,
None could be kept,
Had to wear dentures
I ranted and wept.
Still I puffed more,
Couldn’t stop if I tried,
Was addicted for life
Would smoke till I died.

As years went by
Wrinkles crossed my face,
Walking five steps
Was a marathon race!

Now I labor for air
Can’t breathe a lick,
Making me sick.

Was rushed to ER
With cutting distress,
Heart attack struck,
So showed the tests.

At age forty-five
I look eighty no doubt,
Because at ten
I took the wrong route.

Don’t smoke I say,
Not one single cig,
Doesn’t make sense,
Your own grave to dig.

I confess to you now
I was never so cool,
As you can surmise,
Always The Fool!