Warm, rather than Frigid

cold-winter

My morning reading was all about the golden rule.  You know, “…do to others as you want others to do to you.”

I ask, “Why is such a simple concept, so hard to achieve?”

If I had to guess as to why this can be such a difficult task, I would credit the blame to greed and selfishness.  This world it seems is fueled by greed and selfishness, and sad to say, America does her part well.  We have a leader who is all about greed and selfishness.  His very logo, “Make America Great Again,” reeks of selfishness.  And when it comes to greed I dare say, his whole life and empire has been built upon it.

As a nation, this is not who God calls us to be.

A nation is made up of individuals…you and me, and for it to change, we must change.  This is why Jesus stresses the concept of loving your neighbor.

Who is your neighbor?

I dare say, it is the person closest to you.  It’s the cashier who takes your money at Kroger…the mail person who brings your bills…the police officer who pulls you over for speeding…the homeless person with their hand out…the person driving the car that just swerved into your lane…the one who hands you an ice cream cone on a hot summer day…it’s the bill collector knocking at your door…the telemarketer on the phone…the next door neighbor who drives you crazy…the other next door neighbor who brings you pie…the person across the street who lets their dogs run rampant…the elderly lady down the road who never fails to smile when you meet…the old man down the road who curses you on sight…and on and on and on….  My point is, most of the time, we cannot choose our neighbor, and we certainly cannot choose what they will say or do.

We can, however, choose what we say or do.

People mistakenly think love to be a feeling, when it fact it is an action.  Feelings are fickle, and change with the wind, but love weathers the wind, and continues to act accordingly in spite of discomfort.

Corinne and I celebrated our 12th anniversary on April 2.  I remember our “commitment ceremony” well.  (I say “commitment ceremony” because gay marriage was illegal at that time)  We decided to come up with our own vows to one another, and I fashioned mine from I Corinthians chapter 13…

“Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  Love does not demand its own way.  Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.  It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.  Love will last forever…”

In the past 12 years, I can’t say I’ve totally lived up the this statute, but it is, and always will be what I strive toward.  Love is a verb…it is what we do.

Instead of saying “I love you,” show “I love you.”

Major change begins with one small act of kindness, and kindness is contagious.

Let’s do our part to spread it.

 

***

Daily Post: Frigid

Now-my-heart-matches-the-frigid-weather

Accept, Celebrate, And Pamper Your Body

me and rm  glassesBlushing is no stranger to me.  It has been my companion since as far back as I can remember.  Sometimes I think I am the queen of blushing.  In school I was always the awkward kid who blushed far too easily.  I even blushed about blushing.  It became a vicious cycle, and being shy and introverted only added to the pain.

Shame became a part of my life early on.  I remember the very first time I felt shame.  Perhaps, around the age of 3, give or take a year, I found myself lying on a table looking up at the big man standing over me.  The big man, our family doctor, opened my legs and examined my “private” area.  As he pulled apart every tiny fold, I was consumed with guilt, shame and humiliation.  Of course, my mom was in the room, but for some reason her presence caused me even greater embarrassment.  In that moment my life-long battle with body-shaming began…and sometimes the battle rages on.

I’ve wasted years of my life thinking myself too ugly, too fat, and never-ever good enough.  It has taken most of my life to get to the point  to where I love my body.  Through a lot of mental health work, I’ve finally arrived at this stage in my life where I accept, celebrate, and enjoy pampering my body.

I’ve accepted I’ll never have a barbie-doll appearance.  Who the hell does anyway?  Look around…not many.  There may be a lucky few, but, more often than not, the desired appearance is reached only through abuse and starvation.  I make a point to daily accept my body where it is at this moment in my life’s journey.

I’ve learned to celebrate my body, after all, it is amazingly and wonderfully made.  Our bodies are nothing less than walking miracles upon the earth.  They are complex, and each intricate part does its own special task to move, breath, and exist as a whole.  Even God celebrates our bodies, and who are we to argue with God?   The Genesis’s record sums His appraisal of us, “…God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself…Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was excellent in every way.”  Learn to celebrate your body, because your creator does in spades!

I pamper my body everyday.  I’ve stopped dieting, and instead I eat more of the foods that keep my body healthy.  I learned to taste and enjoy new foods…new recipes.  I exercise more, and add new activities to my regime to keep it interesting.  I’ve found the more active I am, the more my body craves activity, and so I pamper it with fun things to do.  While in the shower I make a point to pause and to really feel the warm water, and the frothy lather from a bar of Dove soap.  I’ve tried and discovered new lotions and perfumes for my body.  I’ve found that if I love my body, it will love me back.

I encourage you…make a decision to accept, celebrate, and pamper your body.  At times the old shame will rear it’s ugly head, and when it does love your body all the more.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made!

***

     I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
                                                      And my soul knows it very well.                                                       (Psalm 139:14)

***

Daily Prompt:  Blush

You Were Our Anchor

(I should apologize for the following blog as it is raw and unedited… as are my emotions.  Therefore it seemed ridiculous to go through and make corrections…this is how feel unedited and raw…) (forgive me)

I was floored this morning from a text.

Just as usual I got up to get my coffee going.  I looked at my phone fully charged on the kitchen counter, and saw I had a text.  Curious, of course, I picked it up and touched the green logo with the white cloud.

Someone who had helped me through one of the most difficult times of my life had been murdered.

My heart sank, and I think I went into a mode of disbelief.  I didn’t cry, but I felt so sick to my stomach.  I felt like a zombie as I pulled up information from the internet of this dear lady’s last moments of life.  Corinne, my wife, got up and walked down the hallway, peeped her head in the doorway, and asked me what I was working on.

I told her the horrible news, and she cried like a baby.

What the hell was wrong with me????

I couldn’t cry.

I felt like a clueless zombie…I sat like an idiot, and watched my wife cry.

All day I sat, and my mind couldn’t stop thinking of the horrific news.  The news sat and incubated within my mind.  I just could not believe it.

Finally at about 5 pm it smacked me between the eyes…and I cried…

Dear Dr Alford, I’m so sorry for what you went through.  I wish I could take it back…I wish I could kill the son-of-a-bitches that did this to you, before hand.  If I had only known I would have, it would have felt so damn good.

I guess it’s foolish to think in such terms.  No one can turn back the hands of time.

If only I could.

Thank you, dear lady for helping Corinne and I during one of the most horrific times of our lives.  When the community wanted chase us out of town…when I had death threats upon my life…when Corinne lost the practice she loved dearly…you were our anchor.

You opened your arms, and gave us a safe place to be.  You opened your arms and you celebrated the love Corinne and I had for each other, when everyone else despised it.

I’m not sure if I told you just how much your counsel meant, but dear lady…it was everything…it kept me from committing suicide…as well as Corinne.

I love you, Dr Alford.

I hope you are at rest with Jesus.

I look forward to the day when I can tell you, how much you mean to me… face to face.

***

Incubate 

It’s Only Wrinkles

“You are growing old, and much land remains to be conquered.”                    [God to Joshua]

 

It seems I see a new wrinkle each day.  Ok…maybe I’m dramatizing a bit, but isn’t that a writer’s prerogative…?

But, seriously, now that I’m over 50 I’m seeing things in my face that certainly were not there yesterday…  Well, it seems like yesterday…

I look at people my age and say of them, “Damn…you’re getting old.”  Of course I don’t say this aloud, but nonetheless, it plays within my head throughout the course of my day.

I see other people’s wrinkles, but fail to acknowledge mine, until I look into a mirror, and see my mother.  For a brief second, I’m filled with joy at the sight of her, and then, I realize it’s only me.

Once, God told Joshua, “You are growing old…,” BUT… He didn’t stop with those four words, He continues with “and much land remains to be conquered!”

Now as a writer, I paraphrase God (remember…writer’s prerogative…) to be saying…

“So whaaaaaaaat, you’re getting old.  What’s the big deal?  Get over it, there’s still a lot to do!”

Hopefully, the next time I look in the mirror, and see a new wrinkle, I’ll hear God saying, “So whaaaaaat…it’s only a wrinkle, and there’s still a lot of doing to do!”

 Then I think He’ll remind me of all the things that need doing:  (God is cool that way)

Gardening…

Painting…

Reading new things…

Walking and Running…

Sipping wine…

Tasting craft beers…

Spending time with friends, and tasting craft beers…

Playing with dogs…

Petting cats…

AND

Eating pizza…can’t forget the pizza!

Every time I ponder all these, my favorite things, my heart is comforted.

So, my friends (who look older than me), take heart!

Enjoy life…there is much left to do!

***

Even in old age they will still produce fruit, they will remain vital and green.  Psalms 92:14

 

Daily Post:  Wrinkle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photography Challenge: Variations on a Theme

This week, show the same thing — an object, place, or person — presented in several different ways.

Earlier this month I was fortunate enough to escape my normal, daily routine, and take a road trip to Orlando, Florida.  The place, Bonnet Creek, was absolutely breathtaking!  Right outside my door was this lake filled with amazing water dwellers…alligators, water fowl, and Koi fish, to name a few.   A half mile trail skirted the lake, upon which I was able to get in my daily 4 mile run/walk.  These beautiful Koi beckoned as I passed by, and I couldn’t help but stop to enjoy their many colors.  A couple of female Mallards paddled by to check out the excitement.  I look at these photos, and I feel peace.

some more fish
Koi fish from Orlando Florida.
m fish
Koi fish in Orlando Florida. “Let’s go this way.” “No…no, let’s go this way!”
IMG_E4522
More koi of different colors in Orlando Florida.
IMG_E4523
Female Mallard duck, avoiding the Koi.
IMG_E4544
Mallard duck…taken in Orlando Florida.
IMG_E4545
Female Mallard duck taken at Orlando Florida.

 

Photo Challenge:  Variations of a Theme.  

The Cabin in the Woods

Today’s two word-prompt combination:

[WordPress:  Candid]  +  [Writer’s Block:  Virus]  =

The Cabin in the Woods

bJUWhqp

***

The cabin appeared innocent enough, but to be candid, it too was infested by the same demonic virus that ran rampant in the woods.

What’s the old idiom..  “…looks can be deceiving…” ?  

Yes, that was the one.

The cabin was just like any other cabin with its walls, doors, windows and rooms, but that’s where the similarity ended.  This cabin was old…ancient, and it held many secrets…many bad secrets…

No one could attest to the cabin’s origin.

The old mountain folk claimed it had always been…there.  There had never been a time before the cabin.  The horror of the cabin seemed to be inborn within each child birthed into the area.  There was never a need to say, “…stay away…”  No, somehow they…well, somehow they just…knew.

Of course many ghost stories were spun, down through the years.  They were told by the light of a campfire, and always…always told barely above a whisper.  They feared the trees around them would steal their voice and carry it upon the winds of the haunted forest and deliver it to the cabin.

One such story whispered in the night, tells of a father who is filled with grief  over his son who has caught “the fever.”  Knowing there was no cure, the father plans to take his dying son to an old hag that slept in the cave located on the other side of the mountain.

The old woman of the cave, spent her days foraging for plants, that others tossed into the fire, to be burned as weeds.  The sanctimonious, and “good people” of the village shunned the old woman.  They called her a witch by day, but at night, in the cover of darkness, the very same took their sick, and begged old Molly to heal them with her powers.

The father held his son close to his chest, and began his journey to see the old woman. The path led to the outer reaches of  the cabin, and when the father realized this he stopped abruptly.  He could go around the cabin and its god-awful forest,  but there was no time as his son was near to death.

It is said the father fell to his knees and cried  for old mad Molly to come and save his dying son.  His cries echoed long into the night.  No one knew if mad Molly had heard his cries, but everyone knew the hag never came to help.

The father looked down at the son he cradled in his arms, and listened to a tiny voice plead…

“…papa…please…I don’t want to…to die.” 

But the father was too afraid to go any further, and so he held, and rocked his boy until the cries for help ceased.   Like a zombie, the father rose, and took his son’s lifeless body home.

He laid the pale form down upon some old cloth.  The boy’s eyes were open in death, and they stared at his father as he was rolled into a sarcophagus of burlap.

Then he laid him inside the earth, and began to cover him with the freshly dug dirt.  With each shovel full, the father thought he heard his son’s pitiful cry…

…papa…papa please…it’s cold …papa…papa please…” 

When the last shovel of dirt was emptied, the father went home and hung himself.

Now, the old folk, claim that sometimes at night, when the air is just so… the cries of the boy can be heard riding the upon the winds of the haunted forest….  “…papa…papa…please…I don’t want to die…”

***

Today, the cabin was hungry.  It had been long since it had eaten the bones, and drank the blood of a fresh kill.  The hardwood floor, dry and cracked like the sands of a desert, ached of thirst.

The cabin…like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, was in desperate need of its own Renfied.   Renfield had been the vampire’s insane but loyal servant, who guarded the coffins at day, and at night was ever faithful to prepare for his master tasty meals.

The cabin was confident it had finally found its Renfied within the body of Thomas Cain.

Thomas, also the loyal servant, had worked hard to prepare the cabin.  Today he completed the finishing touches, by polishing a bag of silver “tools” and laying them neatly beside the chair he had bolted to the floor.  The leather straps at the chair’s arms and legs were crisp and new.  They were stiff, Thomas thought…they needed “breaking-in.”  He thought of Amy, and smiled.

He walked slowly to the bathroom, and looked at his reflection in the mirror.  Thomas pulled the mask over his face.  He watched, as the sinews of burlap snaked their way over, and around the contours of his face, taking care to etch out the jagged openings needed for his eyes, nose and mouth.  The burlap was old, and so it stitched its tattered places with the hide of a pig that had been slaughtered many years ago.

Thomas smiled, again.  He was happy with his new face.

Another pair of eyes, hidden behind dusty rafters, had watched the transformation.  It blinked, and refocused its black eyes upon Thomas, and then a rotted smile split its face.

Soon, the fun would begin.

***

 

Photography Challenge: Silence

Silence
Rustic Cabin in the Shenandoah National Park

This week’s photo challenge is simply…Silence.

I took the photograph above on one of my silent get-a-ways.

Forever an introvert, I am drawn to silence.

These are just a few of my favorite sounds of silence…

Quiet mornings with coffee in hand…

In my hammock, all is silent, save the cicada and birds overhead…

Lying down under a blanket of stars…summer’s breath upon my skin…

A long Winter’s walk…brown leaves scattering…

My feet in sand and the ocean nearby…

and so much more…

 

 

Silently…it dies…

woods

 

A loophole…peace…hope to gain…
A place to hide…to escape the pain?

Yes, this has happened…and that has too…
Regret…of all these things I do.

Where is this place…of which I search?
Standing…bleeding…covered in dirt,

My face ashamed…I am a disgrace.
I guess this loophole…an imagined place….?

I look…your eyes…and find it not there…
Just anger…judgment…devoid of care.

My head in my hands…I beg of your face…
Show some concern…if only a trace…

Afraid…I look…but only once more…
Your back fades…you close the door.

Wretched…alone…this heart cries…
The hope within…silently dies…

***

This poem is in response to today’s word prompt, loophole.

The Face Behind A Broken Window

So, I continue my quest to combine two prompts, one from WordPress (WP), and the other from The Writer’s Block (WB).  The intent is to create an interesting challenge that will entertain the minds of my readers.

This is the equation of today’s combination:

 

[WP = Brilliant] + [WB = Write a story about the images on a roll of film] =

The Face Behind a Broken Window

flips1
Photo from Grim Stitch Factory. Handmade and hand-painted by Cameron Scholes.

 

Amy’s heart beat loud against her chest, and her hands trembled as she handed the clerk a twenty dollar bill.  The clerk noticed, and looked questioningly at Amy, but said nothing during the exchange.

Mindlessly, Amy thanked the clerk, and grabbed the envelope which contained the photos developed from the roll of 35 mm film, she had submitted earlier.  Automatic doors opened, and she stepped into the howling of winter’s wind.  She was oblivious to the cold, for her mind could think of nothing but what she held within her hand.

Amy opened the door of of car, and slid into the driver’s seat.  Not willing to wait until she got home, she ripped open the envelope and begin to rifle through the photos.  There were many pictures of Sky and Rudy, and on any other day, she would have paused to gush over the images of the two loves of her life; however, today was different…

Today she searched for the face of her stalker.

Finally, she came to the photos of the old abandoned farm house and barn.  Amy, an artist at heart, had taken these with the intent of putting them to canvas.

She had been alone the day she took the pictures.  With Sky at work, and Rudy at the groomers, she had, had time to kill, so, she grabbed her camera, and drove deep into the loneliness of rural Virginia.

She had spent over half an hour snapping shots, of the abandoned structure.    Wondering what it had been like in it’s heyday,  Amy felt nostalgic, and her hand itched to hold a paintbrush.

Later that night her phone rang.  She picked it up and put it to her ear.

Amy listened to the silence from the other side of the connection.  Finally, she heard her stalker’s breath waxing and waning in an almost poetic rhythm.

Amy felt her knees buckle, and she reached for the counter to keep from falling to the floor.   Abruptly, the breathing from the other side stopped, and after a long pause a raspy voice whispered…

“…I watched you today.  Paint for me…paint for me, Amy…”  He held her name for a long while, and then the line went dead.

Now, as she sat in her car, she searched the photos of the dilapidated barn, and could find nothing out of the ordinary, until she rested her eyes on the small broken window, surrounded by planks of rotted wood.

From the window a face stared back at her.

She quickly put on her glasses, hoping for a better view, but the exposure of the photograph was too dark.  She looked at the next photo, to find it bathed with brilliant rays of sun, that had escaped the grays of the clouds overhead.

There was just enough light to capture a perfect image of the face looking at her.

The face was cloaked in burlap, and could pass for any scarecrow strung up to frighten birds of the field.  The mask was stitched with what looked like leather twine, and its cutout eyes were black.

Amy stared at the face behind the broken window, and her blood ran cold.