Wednesday, June 29, 2011


There are two types of people: those who come into a room and say, "Well, here I am," and those who come into a room and say, "Ah, there you are" - so says Frederick L. Collins.

While I don't know Mr. Collins and my online investigation of him came up with nothing, I agree with his observation. A person entering a room may not be aware of the impression he or she is making. Others may draw lasting conclusions by a first meeting. I have jumped to conclusions based on an initial reaction and held onto it for unreasonable lengths of time; often in spite of subsequent interactions which could have altered that first impression; I stuck to it like a bug to flypaper. Certainly the opposite is true as well. I recall being positively impressed with a newcomer and allowing that person great leeway before seeing the meanness and selfishness which outweighed my first impression.

It is difficult to see oneself as the newcomer. What is the first impression I make on others? I may not want that impression, good or bad, to have long-lasting effects. Here is my dilemma: I am both the "Well, here I am" person as well as the "Ah, there you are" personality. I don't always know which one will take over as I cross a threshold. Like a tightrope walker, I seem to be balancing a split personality. Some days my Auntie Mame self steps forward and announces "Here I am." On some occasions my confidently reserved Eleanor Roosevelt persona grants"Ah, there you are." Some days entering a room is like a spin of the Roulette wheel; will it land on red or black? And the grand entrance is totally out of my hands!

Even having a checklist to confirm I am a good person, have a good sense of humor, am reasonably intelligent, clean in thought word and deed, thoughtful, helpful, kind and loving, I can be irritating, angry, snarling and feeling sorry for myself, too. Becuase the positive group of behaviors is more comfortable to live with than the negative, I choose comfort. I try not to rock someone else's boat - unintentionally, and I try to make a good 'first' impression.

I see myself as an ordinary person, doing ordinary things. I hope to make a long-lasting positive impression everywhere I go. I am surprised, however, when somebody takes time to offer special kindnesses. Isn't that funny? I consciously offer kindnesses and kudos to others because I know just how important these tokens of appreciation are to all us mortals. We teach children to say please and thank you, yet we forget to do the same as adults. In the olden days, friendships were maintained with letters and considerations and thank you notes. It is still important to maintain relationships and friendships with consideration, and it is easier to compose thank you notes in this fast-paced age. The old-fashioned pen and paper is still personal and more appreciated but e-mail is the fast-paced answer. A few simple words can mean a great deal: So glad you liked it. Thank you for the ride (cookies, recipe, info...), I look forward to your Saturday morning telephone calls.... Thank you for checking up on me during the ice storm..... Let's get together for tea Wednesday 1 pm. (I had to put that in because it is a highlight of my day, week, month, friendship to enjoy the company of a particular friend at teatime.)

Be clean, look presentable, put a smile on your face before stepping into the room and ... whether you say "Here I am" or "There you are," be respectful, have fun, take the good feelings home with you and leave the rest where you found them. Split personality or not, keep your balance!

I'm so glad I heard of Frederick L. Collins's quotation. It got me to appreciating good thoughts about me and about you. What did you think of Collins's quotation? Tell me. I'd like to know.

Monday, June 20, 2011


"Let there be light" ... so reads Genesis 1:3 in King James Bible. Light is a good thing. Sky and earth, air and water, birds and fish, animals and vegetation are good things, too. But, how does one grab a fistful of light and hold on to it?

I need light because I don't do well in prolonged darkness. A lot of human beings need light to function at their best - or at all in some instances. Darkness may be important for its contrast: day and night, good and evil, knowledge and ignorance but, how can one keep light from fading to black - as they say in the film industry?

Tomorrow the summer Solstice begins as the longest day of 2011 - in actual daylight minutes. It would be delightful to catch some light and a few extra moments in a Mason jar - to be opened and enjoyed next February or March. What a boon of a trick that could be. One reads that 'life is light' in every genre. The topic is discussed and debated by priests and scientists, geniuses and bourgeoisie, thinkers and dunces. The question remains; how can one capture and preserve light and time?

According to Albert Einstein, light is part of his E=mc2 theory or in terms of quantum theory. The Eastern religion, Diwali, celebrates with a festival of lights as the victory of light over darkness; their Eastern mantra urges God "from darkness, lead us into light." It is not so much that people are afraid of temporary darkness but that their wellbeing requires light. It has been scientifically proven that darkness and light effect mood, life, health, success and relationships. Light stimulates happiness and energy; it is more uplifting than pep pills.

The joy of light is seeing a rainbow, the aurora borealis, sparkling waters or a butterfly on a hibiscus bloom. These delights are contrasts in the spectrum of light - images illuminated and captured so easily with modern technology: solar lights, computers, television.... Now I get it!

Well, I thank you for caring enough about light to stick with me. Because you were here during my dilemma, I found answers to my questions. It is an easy solution and - I am embarrassed - because it was in front of me all the while. My digital camera captures light and color, life and nature. I clicked twenty images of birds and blooms, life and joy, nature and beauty as the sun came up this beautiful June morning. I'm going to enjoy those images again on cold, dark days in the early months of 2012 - like opening a Mason jar and releasing Sunbeams.

If you need some light in your life, try a digital camera; see if the images you collect add light to your dark days. As a Hindu prayer of worship says, "...from the darkness, lead us unto light...." That's where it led me.... Tell me how that works for you. I'd like to know.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I marvel at all the beauty in the month of June. Don't you? Have you noticed that June is filled with "B" words: birds, butterflies, brides, blossoms, beaches, bonnets, bunnies, boats and bumblebees ....

The days grow longer till June 21st; the first day of Summer. With this bonus of minutes and hours, there is no excuse to put off doing enjoyable things for yourself and for others. Isn't it delicious to wake hearing birds chirping; to step outside and water the garden in the early hours. Dawn seems to be a time of peace and serenity. Not just a new day but - a new beginning on my plot of land perched above Pigeon creek and surrounded by a thousand shades of green leaves. Fishermen's boats purr quietly on the creek even before the sun peeks over the horizon. While I'm not a religious person, tending the gardens or strolling under a sun bonnet in the early morning is comparable to 'a closer walk with Thee.' This is that time of day when the tawny rabbit or striped ground squirrel appears from nowhere - unaware of human presence. A colorful variety of feathered friends stop in for a sip or a dip at the freshly filled bird bath and feeders. ...So much beauty in my own back yard.

I moved outdoors with a cup of coffee and note pad to sit at the patio table and write a letter to a friend living 'across the pond' in Wales. A dozen beautiful butterflies floated in to visit the hibiscus blooming nearby. I watched them for a few minutes before I crept away to get my camera. By the time I returned, just one butterfly remained. Was he a loner, the clean-up crew or just a latecomer to the flittery feast? Whichever, he is the only butterfly whose impressive image is now preserved for posterity.

Early hours aren't pretty everywhere in Tornado Alley. Residents of Joplin MO aren't waking to familiar comforts and contentments. It has been several weeks since a tornado shredded their homes and community - a devastation and loss I can only empathize with. Almost immediately, Joplin residents expressed gratitude to have survived and hope in the face of tremendous losses. It is heartening to know of the immediate and ongoing help by individuals and organizations to provide whatever assistance and suppport they can give. Each morning, my thoughts, admiration and prayers are with our Joplin neighbors.

Do you find your appreciation of beauty and serenity grows following dilemmas or disaters? I do. Tell me your experience with it. I'd like to know.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Okay. Everyone knows walking is important. The first significant benchmark in little Johnnie's life is his first step. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Tim Conway showed us the 'old man shuffle' in his memorable Carol Burnett Show skits. There are too many steps between little Johnnie and Tim Conway to count.

Children bound, teenagers strut and soldiers march. I could not help but notice the erect body posture and flat foot placement of Arabs walking on sandy deserts. I noticed, too, that big, clunky gym shoes worn by westerners give the wearer a lumbering caveman walk.

Groups of people, by class, occupation, gender or geography seem to employ different ways of walking, swaggering or striding. Even on land, sailors appear to walk as though they were aboard a ship on the rolling sea. Music influences the way some people walk, like the New Orleans funeral procession with an exaggerated swaying to the meter of familiar Bayou blues. Our 'westward' pioneers often accomplished their journey by walking great distances from Missouri and California. Who knows how many steps an infantryman took during the Crusades of 1076, or a soldier during the Revolutionary War of 1776. Natives and visitors in Australia are known to go on a "walkabout" that can take days, weeks or months while natives and visitors in Japan gain respect and status by walking 'up' Mount Fuji carrying a stick that can be branded with victorious Kanji at the summit. All this walking is serious, honorable and respectable yet, there is nothing sillier-looking than fashion models ostrich-stepping down the runway.

Perhaps I should not be a judge. I do as little walking as possible. Following health recommendations, I do try to include a half hour of walking each day - if trudging up the driveway to retrieve the morning newspaper is included, if trips to the bathroom and refrigerator count, if touring WalMart to find coffee filters or light bulbs is walking, and if moseying from table to table playing MahJongg has merit - then I do meet the minimum daily requirements for walking.

I received an email from a neighbor, a man who I rarely ever see 'walk' because he is always on his mower or golf cart, addressing 'The Importance of Walking" like this:
Walking can add minutes to your life.
This enables you at 85 years old to spend
An additional 5 months in a nursing home
At $7,000 per month.

He says:
My grandpa started walking

Five miles a day when he was 60.
Now he's 97 years old and we
Don't know where the hell he is.

The advantage of walking every day

Is so when you die, they'll say,
'...Well, she looks good doesn't she."

Every time I hear those dirty words,

"Walking is good for you," I wash my
mouth out with chocolate.

I'd like to thank whomever designed this 'walking' email; it totally erased my guilt.