If I may suggest …

… take some time today to review the “Extremes” from your life experiences.

Think about those “somethings” those extreme’s in life, that have happened to you that you’ve tucked away inside and then left them there. Things you didn’t want to deal with or face, at various times in your past.

We carry these around with us, unexamined and only occasionally do we think to look at them … take them out in the bright light of day, dust off the cobwebs, and sometimes realize that we can finally put them down, let them go. They can’t hurt us anymore. Because our perspective on what happened has changed.

Perhaps it’s time for you!

Maybe today is a good day to put some of your extremes into perspective and …

move on!

The Beauty of Nature and Letting Go

There’s a whole big world out there, just waiting for you to come and explore, waiting, because

“Sometimes a change in perspective
makes all the difference in the world
– in your world!”

Penny L Howe, 2013

Have an excellent week ahead,

~ Penny

The human vessel ~ the contents within

004

~

We are human beings, carrying so many things inside ourselves as we travel along the various pathways of our lives. Each of us is a vessel. Filled with all manner of thoughts, wishes, hopes, dreams, experiences, memories. The essence that will shape us and those around us during our travels.

file000820302464

Each vessel has a unique shape. Yet, it is only an outer shape formed to hold the contents within. And while the outer shape of this, our human vessel, may change with the years, it is the contents of the vessel that are of importance.

file000383384628

Experience teaches us many things. What we decide as a result of our personal experiences will determine the nature of the contents inside – what we ultimately decide to fill our own vessels with: Courage, Empathy, Good Will, Love, Joy, Hope or Duplicity, Disappointment, Resignation, Hate, Fear, Despair, hopelessness.

While we are on this planet and alive, our vessels become a reflection of our vessel’s contents.

file000516161782

Most of us begin our live’s with Joy and Love. Not all, but most. I’ve found it interesting however that those who face adversity squarely in the face and emerge triumphant, bone weary often, but still a survivor, do tend to fill up their human vessel with so much love and courage that they spend much of the rest of their lives sharing these contents with others.

005

And I’ve found it to be inversely true. Those who have suffered disappointments but chose not to rise above their individual misfortunes, tend to go through life with their vessels harboring ill will, blame, and discontent for their own perceived shortcomings. They feel the need to bring people down to a hurtful level as indeed they themselves are feeling from the contents they’ve chosen to fill their vessels with. The appearance of their vessel may appear lovely but the contents are not.

file000412270397

The contents of our human vessels are so very precious. They decide our level of happiness, the joy we are capable of receiving and giving in any given day.

Be very careful how you fill your own vessel.

It’s contents are the most important thing in your life. And to the lives of those you love and who love you.

file0001760849208

Not the appearance of the vessel that matters but what’s inside!

~ Penny

plh

Alastairs Photo Fiction: The silver lining of life

There are days when heavy overcast clouds become so depressing, a blue sky can be difficult to imagine, the want of  comforting sun so envelops our need. Yet within the those thick clouds a ray of sun can break through, the edges glowing with hues of gold and a silvery cast.

And in that moment, you take heart that perhaps the clouds will soon disperse bringing a new and bright shiny day! I find that some days Nature simulates human life.

Alastair’s photo prompt for this week illustrates the point well! My offering for Alastairs Photo Fiction Challenge:

07-05-may-12th-2013

The silver lining of life

~*~

He stood transfixed by the sight of the clouds, as grey and dark as his heart. He was poised on the edge of emptiness, Searching for a way to ease the unrelenting pain in his soul, something, anything to give him a reason to go on. His wife had died so suddenly and he was lost, hopelessly lost without her.

Why, why should he go on? Nothing mattered anymore! No reason without her. Abruptly, dropping to his knees he let his head fall into his hands, sobbing in sorrow. Ironic how the weather was matching his mood. Tears seared his face as he waited for the rain to fall – companionable compliance this gloomy day.

Instead … there was a break in the clouds, a ray of sun touched his face at the same time he felt a small hand brush away the tears from his eyes.

Although the sun’s warming ray couldn’t reach his heart, the soft sweet voice could, “Don’t cry daddy,” she said. Her tiny arms encircling him as best she could, “I’m still here, you still have me to love.”

~

“Even on the darkest day there is always a reason to keep going,
we must open our hearts so we can see the silver lining when the sun begins to shine through.” 

~

Thanks for stopping by, for more information and to be a part of Alastair’s Photo Fiction writing challenge, click on the link above.

~ Penny

plh

A Special Day of Remembrance

I honor every single man and woman who has and continues to serve for their countries.

They, each of them, are heroes for all of us.

Too often they give the greatest commodity there is to give “their lives”. In the world where the rate of exchange (the value for something) is predicated on a monetary value there must be a falseness to this value. In truth there is nothing that has a greater value than life itself! Nothing even comes close!

~

I do believe in peace. I think most everyone does. And most of us have strong opinions on this.

~

But none of these beliefs should take away or diminish the fact that all those who serve “on our countries behalf” (on our behalf) in times of conflict and war can be considered nothing short of heroes…

~

…Because they are.

Many pay the ultimate price and should be honored accordingly. They are average people just like you or I doing an amazingly not average thing. Protecting our way of life. Today is a special day of remembering those who have fallen.

~

War is a sadness because it always diminishes the most important thing on this planet – Life and it’s pure value! All life, the innocent and those who defend and protect them and those left behind to pick up the pieces and carry on.

~

Imagine, if you will, someone coming to this planet who knows only love and then is introduced to War and the effects and aftermath. Imagine that this person believed that life is the greatest commodity and that love of all life is the most precious thing there is. This video (from the movie 5th Element) is a short 55 seconds of how a person such as this would react.

~

~

War a sadness, loss of life a sadness.

Honoring those who give their lives for what they believe in, who protect and defend is important, right and just.

In this case – Love of those who gave/give their lives for us – is as important as Love of Life itself!

And that is a sadness for all of us!

~ Penny L Howe, 2012

…and then she waited.

Sometimes words aren’t enough but I am going to try. I do have a way with words. I know this, but when you’re discussing something so intensely personal and real, it can become hard to put the right words where you want them.

I call this post …and then she waited. It is a long post, something I don’t normally do. But to me this is the most important post I will ever write, So for those of you who have enjoyed some of my other posts I would ask of you as a favor to take the time to read this all the way through – The message I share is for all families out there. Thank you!

This is a post about my daughter Christina! The mother of Jordan, Jack, and Emma (my beloved grandchildren) whom many of you have already met in my other posts! This is a post of several things. Love lost, hardship endured and overcoming adversity against all odds!

This story begins 2 ½ years ago. Christina came down with H1N1 (with severe added complications) and almost died, several times. It was a slow and agonizing recovery – complicated by previous and ongoing chronic pain which she doesn’t let interfere with her life.

Within a few months of recovery she was up and about, her and her husband were busy cleaning the house getting ready for their son Jack’s 10th Birthday celebration. Her husband, was called away mid-day to assist another and never returned. He was struck and killed in a vehicular accident, within an hour he was gone. While this is overwhelmingly sad in and of itself, this is actually where my story begins. After the H1N1, after this families loss.

Something happened to Duane’s (her deceased husband) parents. I don’t know if it was an accumulation of previous events in their life ending with the death of their only son, I just don’t know, but this highly Christian couple turned on both Christina and the children.

It was slow and insidious at first, but it kept creeping in, Innuendo’s to the children about what mom wasn’t doing for them. Being harsh when with them, both in deeds and actions. Two months after their father’s death telling these little ones to grow up, move on. On the night of his death (we didn’t know this till later) showing these 8 and 10 year old children a photograph that had been taken of their father’s body at the hospital to prove he was gone!

I was getting angry, but their mom, a gentle loving soul said to give his parents time. They were being inappropriate because they were grieving and so Christina’s personal grieving had to wait while she did damage control regarding the grandparent’s inappropriate comments and behavior.

She called in psychologists/counselors known to the grandparents, and then the pastor of her/their church for help. These people met and spoke with them several times. Duane’s parents became more bitter in response while cloaking their actions with loving words (“it’s for the best” they would say to others). After a particularly bad incident, the psychologists recommended the children not be allowed to spend time alone with their grandparents.

And so she waited, her own personal grief continuing to be held at bay while she protected and problem solved for her family. At Christmas, that first year without him, the neighborhood, other family and friends and her church were wonderful and amazing. So Christina went and visited them, Duane’s parents and asked for a coming together at this time of year. She came back and I could see she had been crying. Christina does not easily cry.

Their response: She was told they had monetary (their income is double my daughters) concerns and with Duane no longer there to help them, they would have to sell Christina’s house (A home to this family for 12 years that was supposed to have become theirs, the house payment that she had continued to faithfully make payments – on time – after Duane’s death, plus maintenance plus for the last several months she had been paying one of their credit card payments to ease the load – which she could not afford to do. An additional $500 per month!)

Because of work done on the house over the years by Duane and his dad, the value of the house had doubled. They, his parents had decided to sell the house from under this family for the increased equity value. When Christina mentioned the promise his parents had made to the two of them 12 years before when his parents had purchased this house (fixer/upper at that time) to help the young couple, she was told that the promise had been made to Duane not her.

And so again she waited to mourn and geared herself up to fight the battle of her life, saving her family’s home and those special memories so dear to them all. The cruelties to the children are hard to describe. I will name but a few: Them waking up one day to a FOR SALE sign on the lawn (no warning) of the only home the two youngest had ever known. Emma would sit by the sign and look up at it trying to understand and cry. Jack would kick the sign and they would both ask me why. The neighbors were angry and several times removed the sign only to have us ask them (the neighbors) to return the sign or there would be more problems.

It became my habit to take several showers a day. I could cry in the showers and the water cascading down my face would wipe away the traces of my tears so that my daughter and her children couldn’t see them. (In those previous few years I had not worked much, being there for my dad, caregiving my mother and finally my husband – all gone now, so I did not have the money needed to help.) The children had so many nightmares to cope with, as did my daughter. They were all waiting to grieve but the fear of what might happen to their home and those most precious memories of their dad were stronger.

It just kept continuing, this onslaught of insensitivity while Christina attempted to come up with either a legal recourse or the additional financing she needed to purchase the house as a single provider, the church helped as best it could, there just wasn’t enough available funds for what Duane’s parents were asking.

And Christina kept waiting to grieve while trying to come up with solutions. She asked them for time to raise the additional funds needed. She said if they worked together they could work it out. And she continued to faithfully make all payments on time and then came that fateful Sunday in April of this year when after the grandparents attended church they showed up and with official documents served eviction notices to not only her daughter-in-law but also THE CHILDREN. With a smile on her face she handed to each of them a sealed envelope that they took to be a treat.

No word of what was inside, just a sweet loving smile and said they’d see everyone later and they left. It was unbelievable when we saw the legal eviction notices folded up inside.

The unspeakable look on their mom’s face, (it was too late to stop the children from opening the envelopes with excitement) watching the children’s faces, change to confusion by what was inside. Yes, this is absolutely true. Christina did see an attorney regarding the legalities, and while the attorney was horrified and called upon several attorney friends, nothing Duane’s parents had done was illegal – cruel – but not illegal!

So bravely Christina told the children they would be moving. They asked why, she explained what the words on the paper addressed to them meant; they asked why would their grandparents do this? Not wanting to scar the children further, she said the grandparents had become confused since the loss of their son. Jack did say, “I don’t think Daddy would be very happy with them.” And then he too was quiet!

While Christina waited for her time to be able to grieve her private loss of her husband, she became very proactive – she met with Duane’s mother and told her what she thought (finally) of their actions in creative and colorful words that I didn’t even know she knew. She of such a loving, forgiving and gentle nature.

We began to pack and then just a few days before we would have moved, her brother who lives on the other end of the country and had not been fully versed with the activities happening here (his sister, Christina had kept silent about so much because she did not want to be a bother) called her and said: “We (His wife and himself) can’t let Duane’s parents do this to you. Her brother Nick and her sister-in-law, Julie reached out and made the needed financial difference.

As of the beginning of June my daughter owns her own home. She had protected her family and kept the home she and Duane built, not the house but those oh so precious memories and finally she and they could begin to heal in safety.

Finally no more waiting for any of them. The confusion still remains to the youngest as they try to understand what happened to the grandparents, Duane’s parents, whom they still love. Luckily for all in this house, the grandparents will have moved to another state by September 1st, and as for my beautiful incredible amazing daughter Christina…

Well…She discovered blogging. And she discovered all of you. Prior to starting her blog she had never written a poem in her entire life, but if you go there to her blog you will see for yourself a blossoming person who is finally releasing long held emotions and healing from the inside out.

Thank you for greeting her so lovingly, for making her feel cared for, loved and accepted. Just the other day she wrote a post called “You Said…” about her enduring love for Duane. Every word she writes is true and the response from her fellow bloggers was/is amazing. reconstructingchristina

I was sitting nearby and watched. She stared at the computer for the longest time. I watched her repeatedly cry (she who doesn’t show emotions) as she read all the lovely responses she was receiving from each of you.

Speaking personally here as her mother to all of your love and support… I-CANNOT-THANK-YOU-ENOUGH…So if anyone should ask me what I feel about blogging and bloggers this should clarify that. Christina is my daughter and Nick is my son, his wife Julie my wonderful daughter-in-law. I have 5 beautiful grandchildren between them and I am the luckiest person I know because now I also have all of you, my fellow bloggers. I am greatly blessed.

Thank you for reading this chapter of mine and my family’s life. Please take the time right now to hug your partner in life, your parents, your sons and your daughters, your grandsons, your granddaughters. All that you hold most dear and take for granted can be gone or change in a heartbeat.

Penny L. Howe, August 10th 2012

The Dying Place or a Loving Responsibility

There are those (many) that begin to need assistance as their age advances.Some time ago I was hired to produce a resource guide that would be a state publication. Its purpose, to assist family members in finding the information and resources needed to care for an aging member.

As a part of the project I went to many different establishments involved in the care of senior citizens.

The one I remember most was my visit to an assisted living residence. As I sat waiting to interview the manager there, seated near me was an older gentleman in a wheelchair, he had on a cowboy hat, wore cowboy boots, and had a rough weathered face. He looked to be quite a character.

I pleasantly said “Hello”. And he responded back. We began to talk. He told me he’d been a cowboy and had worked on a ranch for many years until he got his “bum leg” Which he tapped for me to see. He asked me if I was visiting someone there. I said no and explained why I had come to see the manager, to gather information about amenities and the services available.

He laughed. But it was a hollow sort of laugh and then he said softly in the loveliest low timber of voice, “Oh I can tell you everything you need to know”. He went on “This here’s the waiting place.”

“A waiting place” I asked? Curious as to his meaning. “Yup,” He replied, “it’s where you come to wait.” I wanted to understand what he meant by that so I said, “The waiting place?” And he answered. “Well, as I’ve got it figured out,” He paused a moment and then continued, “this is the place you come to wait until it’s time to go to the dying place.”

I knew where this was going but I couldn’t help myself so I said “The dying place?”

And he answered, looking directly into my eyes while he spoke. “Yes, the dying place, with rows of beds and nurses who come and go and you’re left alone to slowly die.

I did not make this up. This is a true story. He had accepted his lonely fate as he did not want to be a burden to his family. A BURDEN TO HIS FAMILY. If you haven’t visited any “residences”, care facilities, or nursing homes recently, I suggest you do so. It is a sad commentary on what has not only become permissible but is now considered to be the right thing to do in the enlightened country of the USA.

When we are young, most of us, are nurtured by the adults of our family, cared for and supplied with much of what we need to grow up and become responsible loving adults. Why is it then that those who did the caring when we were young do not receive the same love and care from their family when they become old? Why is caring for our elderly considered a “burden” when caring for our children is a “loving responsibility? …Why?Addendum:

I published this post last night, North American time, around midnight. I have received some very caring, concerned and loving comments responding to this post today. This afternoon, one comment in particular stood out from the rest, so compelling that I felt the need to add it here for all to see. Please read:

Christina ~

July 20, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I read some very powerful words a long time ago…wish I could remember where. The point — We send our little ones off to daycare and our elders off to nursing homes….we are a generation that lives perpetually in the present…no future (little ones) and no past (elders). It is a sad heartbreaking truth.

I (a new single mom) understand that having little ones and the need to care for elders can be more than challenging…but even a thoughtful gesture towards those that paved the way before us…visiting them, playing a game, reading…talking and learning…feeling loved and appreciated and most importantly feeling “needed”.

Every one of us has a unique story…and it breaks my heart that some stories are put away to be forever forgotten instead of valued, shared, cherished, and added to not only this but also future generations.

Yes, a tough situation…but if we each did a very small act, even once in a while…what a difference that would make!