A Lesson Tethered to a Bad Memory

A sunny spring day and all the kids were across the street playing. I decided to take Buffy outside with me without a leash, something I never did – not even as a ten-year-old.

We went across the street to the Mandy’s to  play with the other neighborhood kids. Buffy was so happy to be the center of attention. But she didn’t know the limits like we did.

I saw her run towards the street. I saw a car going to fast coming down the street. I yelled for her to come back but she didn’t. She ran in front of a parked car. The speeding Mr. Jolly didn’t have the chance to see her.

I heard the thudding sound under the car. I heard the screech of the tires. I heard the screaming inside my head and the bursting of my heart.

Me, the one who treated even my stuffed animals with care and tenderness. And I would have to live with this new feeling of intense guilt.

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I know. Not such a “jolly” memory for today’s prompt. Nevertheless, a true story that changed my life. Life is full of lessons tethered to both good and bad memories.  Over the years, I have loved many dogs and I do my very best to keep them out of harm’s way.

via Jolly

Dance Anyway

I just had a birthday

but they say it’s been a year

so I am here

standing strong

a thumbs up and a cheer.

 

Fifteen years ago, I wrote an entry in my journal about turning 45. Soon afterward, I copied the pages and turned it into a piece of art. I painted a journal (the image is flat) then made it three-dimensional by coating a separate piece of card stock with gesso. I glued it so it would protrude from the canvas.

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In the original journal, I wrote how, inside, I was the same person who played guitar at sunsets, had intimate conversations with perfect strangers, and questioned everything about life.

Today, I have more answers. But I will always question.

 

What I positively know to be true is this–a line from a song:

 

“To love another person is to see the face of God.”

I have seen His/Her face many times.

And for that, I am forever grateful.

 

And, as my 28 year-old son once said at the age of two,

“It’s not time to go home. It’s time to dance!”

And he said this when no music was playing. A lesson to live by.

 

Try “Playing” Along even if it’s not on a keyboard

First Movement : I started taking piano lessons when my kids were young. It was, you know, one of those things you want to try. As it turned out, although I truly enjoyed making sounds on the piano, I never could manage to really play.

Second Movement: Before Ludwig Von Beethoven was completely deaf, he composed “Quasi una fantasia,” roughly translated as “almost a fantasy” but better known as Moonlight Sonata.

Third Movement: Around this time, I was also taking art lessons. I wanted to draw something other than stick figures. So, I tucked a bunch of art classes under my belt.

Fourth Movement: I watched a a movie about the great composer who left his estate to his “Immortal Beloved” – also the name of the film. I love this movie! Especially 2 particular scenes – the one at the end (you’ll have to watch), and the one where Beethoven, in his later years, plays Moonlight Sonata with his head rested on the piano so he can “feel” the notes.

Wrapping up this Composition:

So, I took a screen shot of that particular scene. (A great idea for practicing artists)

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And made my own interpretation.

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As I assumed all along, we can’t all be Beethoven’s.

But in our own ways, we can play along.

(Even if it’s a play on words)

Playin Hard to Get

 

 

Life Lessons from the Ring – Questions to ask yourself

I was too young to remember the times my dad came home with blood on his clothes. It was my older sister who told me how our non-violent mother would cringe at the sight.

Interesting that, even though I was two at the time, my father’s evening work would influence my life and expand my awareness.

The blood wasn’t my dad’s. Not then. His own blood was spilled years before when he boxed for the army.

The blood on my father’s clothes were from young men who, like my father, tried to prove something, make something of themselves in the boxing ring  “at a time when boxing mattered.” (Quote by Mark Brown, my first and continuing boxing coach)

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(My dad’s in the middle)

But hitting bags and pads matters to me.

Not only because of the fitness aspect, but to serve as a reminder of those who “toughened up” enough to be a better person in Life’s ring.

Participants of this sport or not, think of the lessons learned in boxing metaphors.

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(I keep these 1950’s baby rattles in my boxing bag as a reminder)

 

Ask yourselves these questions:

 

— Do you feel trapped? Cornered? Are you UP AGAINST THE ROPES. 

Try maneuvering to the center of the ring.                                      

— Do you keep yourself from getting hurt, literally or figuratively? PROTECT YOURSELF AT ALL TIMES.                                    

Do this because, as my dad used to say, “You are your own best friend.”

Do you care about others? Then you are IN THEIR CORNER.

Make sure you find someone who will be in yours.

— Think you’ve hit bottom? Then you are DOWN FOR THE COUNT.

Do you have the stamina and willpower to get back up even if the odds feel against you?

— Have you gone too far with your criticisms? Then you’ve delivered an illegal A LOW BLOW.

Hurting others will eventually lead to hurting yourself.

— Are you thinking about THROWING IN THE TOWEL? Have you given up?

Sometimes we have to say “enough is enough.” Consider the towel carefully.

— Do you miss dangers coming your way? Do you LET YOUR GUARD DOWN?

How vulnerable are you willing to be?

— Do you ignore rude comments and take adversity in stride? Do you ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES?

Good! Backbones and self-confidence are sure wins.

— Were you luckily interrupted before sh..t hit the fan? Then you were SAVED BY THE BELL.

Who doesn’t love a blessing in disguise?

 

Are you a person who strives to be a better person?

Then you are a contender.

Be your own champion.

Because, at the end of the day when the rounds are over, you can kick up your feet and know that you fought even when tired, and you put up a good fight.

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(painting by C. Dennis-Willingham)

Are you flatlining?

Change can be hard. Change takes you out of your comfort zone, out from under your safe and warm blankie. Yes, change can sometimes be scary. But without it, how do we grow? How do we learn anything new? Without change, how can we gather a new awareness of ourselves and the world around us?

Go ahead and try something new, something different. What’s the worse that could happen?

 

How about going from this:

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To this?

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Or, would you rather be dormant?

 

 Dormant – daily word prompt

Mornin’ After the Beatin’

 

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Ike on left, grown Cono on right. (my great grandfather and my dad)

After Cono’s dad beats the tar out him the night before, Cono’s grandpa Ike (who witnessed the beating) shows up the next morning with an extra horse and a bit of wisdom. (Cono is ten at this point) No Hill for a Stepper– based on a true story.

 

  We keep riding until we get close to the stock pond. Ike mashes on one side of his nose and snorts out snot from the other.

            “Damn,” Ike says. “Those dandelion feathers Float up my nose ev’ry time this year. He nods his head toward the water. “That pond o’re yonder?” 

            “Yeah.”

            “That there’s yer Great Grandpa Dennis’ favorite spot. Used ta ride up on him sometimes, saw him sittin’ there starin’ at the water like he was waitin’ for it ta talk to him.”

            “Did it?” I ask.

            “Prob’ly. Guess that’s why he kept goin’ back to it.”

            “Maybe I should sit there sometime.”

            “Wouldn’t do no harm. A little piece’n quiet kin go a long way for a man.”

             I liked that he said that; like he can see the man in me.

            “Kin I ask ye somethin,’ Ike?”

            “Uh huh.”

            “That time P.V. Hail beat the tar outta ye on Main Street? Did ye wanna kill ‘em?”

            “P.V.? Nah. He was jes’t doin’ his job’s all.”

            “But it wadn’t right. He shouldn’t ‘a done that.”

            “Nah, wadn’t right. But some folks feel a little too big fer their own britches.”

            Ike pauses and says, “Besides, it shor’ wouldn’t ‘a been right fer me to kill him. That’s a whole nuther thing. He’s jes’t a piss ant’s all. Kinda like this here horse I’m ridin’.” He reaches down and gives P.A. a couple of pats on his neck.

            “Did ye feel sorry fer yerself?”

            “Fer what?”

            “That you’d been done wrong.”

            “Why a’course not. That’s called pity. Hell, pityin’ yerself don’t do no good. Nobody ever got anywhere by pityin’ themselves.”

            “That a fact?”

            “Which part?”

            “The part that ye really didn’t wanna kill him.”

            “Cono, if I tell ye a rooster wears a pistol…”

            “Jes’t look under its wing,” we finish together.

            “That’s right,” he says.

            “Yer a straight shooter, ain’t ye Ike?”

            “Only way to be.”

           I stare up in the cool and clear Texas sky and picture that rooster standing up on our fence post, his wing back like he’s ready to draw. “Cock-a-doodle doo, you sons ‘a bitches. Now get up!” Then I laugh.

            “What so funny?” says Ike.

            I tell him about the picture I’d put in my head and he says, “He’s prob’ly one’a P.V.s deputies.” And when he lets out his “hee hee hee” laugh, I laugh even harder.

            “Ike,” I say. “I believe what ye say, that a rooster’s under yer wing, when ye tell me he does.” Not only that, I’m thinking that rooster’s got a six-shooter under there ready to unload.

            “Let me tell ye a little somethin’ and I want ya ta listen up.” He pauses, clicking the left side of his cheek like he’s finding the right words and I wait. I can wait all day if need be just to hear what Ike has to say. “When it comes right down to it, yer your own best friend. Most the time, ye can’t trust anybody but yer own self.”

            I think I’ve done figured that out on my own. But I say what I mean. “I trust you though.”

            “Uh huh, but trustin’ yer own self’s even better.”