Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Happy Experience

A big "Hello" to all my friends! I’m baaccckkkk!!!  Last Thursday I flew to Orlando. Alone. The plane stayed in the air and I had no trouble with "Security" or finding my way around the big, scary Orlando airport. As you know, my fear of flying almost kept me from making the trip. My friend, Carol, and her friend met me at the airport. After sharing hugs and happy tears, we babbled all the way to her house - just like old times.

It was a wonderful trip! I’m so happy I went. There is much to tell but I am sunburned and exhausted. I must unpack and then rest up for at least a day before I feel like sitting at the computer long enough to share everything with you.

Thanks to everyone who helped me make the decision to go. What a shame it would have been to miss the opportunity to make so many beautiful memories that will be with me for the rest of my life.

More later...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

True Friends

My friend, Carol, phoned this evening. She is so excited about the fact that, in less than forty-eight hours, she’ll be meeting me at the airport when I arrive to spend a few days with her. We've been friends all our lives and have been planning this reunion for years! I’m looking forward to spending time with her, but my excitement is overshadowed somewhat by my fear of flying. Though many friends and family have tried to make me feel better by insisting that things will be fine, I can’t seem to overcome the shakiness I feel. I hope, once I’m in the air, I’ll relax and enjoy the trip.

 We plan to walk on the beach every day and who knows what else Carol has planned?  She assures me I’ll have plenty of material for a second book when I come home. She never lies to me so I’m sure I will. Can’t wait to get started!
A true friend is one who reaches for your hand and touches your heart.

A friend is one who comes in when the whole world has gone out.

A friend accepts us as we are, yet helps us to be what we should.

Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.

A friend is the one who knows all about you and still likes you.

"A single rose can be my garden—a single friend, my world!"

"I will always be able to get through the darkness, as long as a friend like you is waiting in the light."  ~Peggy Toney Horton

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Decision Made

The confirmation says: Thursday, March 24, 2011
Flight 1147 (non-stop)
Departing: 5:53 PM
Arriving: 7:43 PM

Yes, the flight is booked! I’m going to visit my friend in Florida.

After a week or more of pacing the floor asking myself and others what to do, the decision has been made. My friend is happy. I’m uneasy. No doubt, I will be until I have arrived safely back home six days after getting there.

I must find a way to relax and enjoy this time with my lifelong friend. She reminded me recently that, since we were teen-agers, we have dreamed about going to the beach together, but it never happened. After we both married young and started our families, there was never a time when it could be done. We’ve waited a whole lifetime for this. We put it aside as something we’d one day get around to doing after our children were grown.

Her husband died. She made me promise I’d come for that visit soon. I promised. Two years have passed with her nudging me to make the arrangements and keep my promise to her. But as I told you yesterday in An ImpossibleDecision I was in a quandary over another promise I'd made many years ago. It has been a difficult decision to make. But, with the help of many friends, it is finally made.

I have many things to do to get ready. I may not be writing much for a few days. Thanks to all my friends out there who helped make the decision.

Once I’m on that plane gazing out the window at the fluffy white clouds, I’m sure to relax. And when I do, I’ll remember all of you and your comments – and I’ll probably feel very foolish for being so afraid to fly.  One can only hope!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

An Impossible Decision

Many years ago, my husband and I had the good fortune to visit Hawaii. Just the two of us. I’ve never liked to fly but my husband convinced me it was the opportunity of a lifetime so I bolstered my courage, packed my bags, found a reputable baby sitter (mother-in-law), kissed my young children good-bye and headed out with my husband for what was to be a wonderful experience. I told you about it in depth a while back. Click here to refresh your memory.

We had a wonderful week in Hawaii. It will remain, forever, on my memory’s list of “The Happiest Times of My Life,” but, unfortunately, the trip back on the plane will also never be forgotten!  It will always occupy the list on the other side labeled, “Most Frightening Times of My Life.”

As I watched coffee spill and unidentified objects roll out from under seats, I sat rigid listening to the captain on the intercom, “We’re experiencing a little turbulence,” and was sure I’d never see my children again! I prayed for hours that the turbulence would subside and that we’d get home safely. But when I saw no improvement within a reasonable length of time, I took drastic measures: I started bargaining with God! I said, “Dear Lord, if you let me walk off this plane and get my feet on the ground once more, I promise, I will never go up in another one!”

I’m sure He heard me because it wasn’t long after I made the pledge that the captain announced that we were about ready to land in Dayton, which is where we had departed from, leaving our car there. Walking off the plane, hands clammy and knees still knocking, I was so happy I wanted to fall down and kiss the ground!

However, I maintained my dignity, went with my husband to claim our baggage and finally, with a couple of friends who wanted to ride home with us, we found our car and headed for home – on the ground! As much as I’d enjoyed Hawaii, it was wonderful to be home!

Now, here’s the problem. As I said, many years have passed since that trip and the horrible fear of dying in a plane crash and never seeing my children again. I haven’t flown since; haven’t even been tempted. Until now.

Those of you who read my book, Somewhere in Heaven My Mother is Smiling  will, no doubt, remember my friend, Carol. I wrote much about our lifelong friendship. Well, the time has come for me to visit her, as I promised her I would shortly after her husband died. It’s more than a twelve hour drive. Doing that is a little impractical since we’re both anxious for me to get there and it wouldn’t be exactly safe for me to travel that far alone. But the biggest factor is that if I fly, I could be there in a little less than two hours!  What a difference!

“So what’s the problem?” you say.
Think back to that promise I made all those years ago. To God! Oh my!

I have literally lost sleep trying to make this decision; I’ve talked to several members of my family and friends. As you might expect, they all have a different answer. My daughter says, “Everyone says that when they’re on a rough flight. I do it every time! Book the flight and go. It’ll do you good!”

My friend, who is a devout Christian says, “Don’t put that on me! Do you know how bad I’d feel if I told you to go and then that plane went down?”  I’m thinking, “Thanks a lot for your help.” I think that was her way of telling me I'd be crazy not to  honor that promise. I feel worse!

My husband won’t say a word – probably for the same reason. Carol is calling every day to ask if I’ve made my reservations yet.

I explained it all to her and she said, “Peggy, God does not hold us to promises we make when we’re scared to death for our lives. He’s an understanding God.” I asked her how she’d feel if she talked me into it and the worst happened. Her answer, “I’d just say, ‘It was meant to be.’”  (Screaming!)  One thing Carol and I disagree on – Predestination! But that’s another blog; another time.

I welcome your input. Do I keep the promise I made to God many years ago and just say “No,” to my friend, or do I keep my promise to my lifelong friend and get on a plane with the attitude that God understands and everything will be fine?


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We're A Little Different

Peculiar personalities run in my family! No kidding. We know it and accept it. And no two of us are alike.

I’ve already told you about my daughter who puts problems on the back burner so she won’t have to think about them. Well, she has other idiosyncrasies, too. When you go to her house, the first thing you see when you get up in the morning is her spraying the kitchen counter tops with cleaner and wiping them with a rag. Every morning! No one ever asks, "why?" And she's such a perfectionist! She’s always on time, always dressed properly for every event, and knows the correct thing to say and do for any occasion. Sometimes I think I mistakenly took someone else’s child home from the hospital.

Another daughter doesn’t like to be with people. She admittedly prefers the company of animals. That’s why she works in a kennel and has four animals of her own. When she’s not at work, she spends her time with them and her two children and likes it that way. However, at family occasions, she’s the life of the party. Always has been. We couldn’t do without her humor and entertainment. As long as she doesn’t have to deal with a lot of strangers, she’s very happy!

My son lives alone and that’s just fine with him. He enjoys his own company and that of his cat. When he feels like it, he goes out with people, and enjoys himself, but it has to be when he wants to. No matter how much you try to persuade him, he won’t budge if he wants to be alone. When someone asks, “Why won’t you go?” He merely says, “I don’t want to!” No excuses, no details, no attempt to avoid hurting feelings... just the plain, unvarnished truth! And it doesn’t hurt him a bit. People like him and he has many friends. I suppose, down deep, people prefer the truth to a lot of pretense.

Yet another male member of the family has such an extreme case of OCD that when he goes anywhere to stay overnight, he doesn’t trust that the beds are clean, so he covers his whole body before going to bed. He dons pajama pants, a long sleeved shirt – sometimes a hoodie – and socks. No part of his body is exposed when he sleeps, or tries to sleep. I doubt he gets much shut-eye dressed like this.

My husband has his peculiarities, too, but perhaps I’ll let him off the hook. I wouldn’t want to embarrass him. But of course, you no doubt know that the children, all except the last one, who is an in-law, inherited their oddities from him. There's no other explanation.

Since I’m perfectly normal, where else could they have gotten them?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Say Something Positive!

It’s not polite to eavesdrop, but sometimes it’s just too easy. I had an appointment today. While waiting for my turn and perusing a magazine, I couldn’t help but hear a one-sided conversation between two women. I listened for at least ten minutes and did not hear one positive statement!
That’s disturbing.

The conversation began with the terrible things that are going on in Japan. The massive earthquake, the aftershocks and reports of a damaged nuclear plant releasing radiation are definitely bad things. We all agree it’s dreadful and we are praying for the people involved; if asked, we can donate money, food or clothing, but that’s about all we can do. Only God can save these people. We are told to pray and then have faith that He will work everything out for the best. And He will, in His way and His timing. 

As if that weren’t enough bad news, the lady continued, “California will slip into the ocean one of these days,” and without taking a breath, “and the earth is slipping off its axis. That’s all we need!” I kept listening for just a hint of something good thrown into the conversation, but it didn’t come. Next, I heard, “Janet is in the hospital; she’s been in there 22 days. It doesn’t look like she’ll ever get out!”  Sigh!

“I tell you, if you’re not sick when you go in, you are when you come out,” she said. “I hate hospitals. I just don’t go! Most doctors don’t know what they’re doing anyway. They kill more people than they save!”

Here we sit on a beautiful, sunny March day, thought I, safe in our wonderful country, and this lady can’t find one positive thing to say. I was hoping to hear something like, “Isn’t it a beautiful day?” Or, I’m so grateful to live in this country where we don’t have to worry about things like earthquakes and tsunamis!” But she finally left without saying any of those things. 

A famous TV personality and author of many books says, “Where the mind goes, the man follows.” I love that quote and it’s so true! If we dwell on only bad things, we invite more bad things to come into our lives. We must try to live in a positive environment. I agree it’s very difficult at times, but after you do all you can do, it’s best to try to be happy and let those around you do the same. Our time here is so short. We should live it one day at a time, gathering as much joy from each as we possibly can. We certainly can’t be joyful if we sit around talking about bad things all the time. 

If we start each day by counting our blessings, we won't have the time to upset ourselves or others with continuous negativity. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Magic of Music

Music has always been a big part of my life. It can make or break my mood. I can be sad, distant and brooding. Or I might be cheerful, lighthearted and childish. It all depends on the kind of music on the player. I've been known to grab a candle as a makeshift microphone and sing – or try to sing – with the music or dance around the room unreservedly. On the other hand, I've been reduced to tears or moping for hours just from listening to one song that brought back painful memories.

I might even listen to a certain kind of music on purpose, knowing it will make me sad. I believe that, sometimes, we all need to “wallow,” and that’s not so bad. I think a certain amount of wallowing helps us get things out of our system quicker than trying to hold it in. It can’t be healthy to hold things in and pretend to be happy when we are so miserable we feel like we’re going to burst.

My daughter says, “If something bothers you, just don’t think about it.” And she doesn’t!  If she has a problem she can’t easily solve, it goes on the back burner and there it stays until it either resolves itself – or it doesn’t. What worries me is that someday, all that stuff she has on the back burner will come rushing out at the same time and she’ll have a nervous breakdown, or worse. A little mood music wouldn’t hurt her. Perhaps I’ll suggest it.

According to the American Music Therapy Association, music is curative and restorative for a wide variety of conditions, even as aid to help with physical rehabilitation and assisting those with disabilities. Music therapy can ease the pains of chemotherapy, lower anxiety or lift a depressed person's spirit, and as you may already know, help insomniacs get to sleep. As cited by the American Cancer Society, music is unable to cure cancer or chronic disease, but it can relieve aches and symptoms while enhancing a patient's joy and general wellbeing.

“Music has charms to soothe a savage breast – to soften rocks or bend a knotted oak,” says English playwright and poet, William Congreve. And yes, that’s “breast,” not “beast.” If you don’t believe me, look it up.  

And then, why not put on some of your favorite music and enjoy this lovely Friday evening! That’s what I plan to do!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Citizen of the Month

 Our grandson had the most wonderful honor bestowed upon him last week.  We are so proud of him! I must share the story with you.

Here’s what the newspaper article by Ben Calwell of the Charleston Newspapers, said:

“The sun was low in the sky on a June evening in 2009 when Chase Gunnoe stood with his camera at the Hawk’s Nest overlook off U.S. 60 in Fayette County. In the distance, he heard the Cardinal, an Amtrak train, as it neared a trestle spanning the New River. As the Cardinal began to snake across the bridge, Chase tripped the shutter on his tripod-mounted Canon 7D digital single lens reflex camera and captured the scene.”

Chase, 14 at the time, posted his photo on a website dedicated to train photography. In a few days, Amtrak’s ad agency spotted Chase’s train shot and sought permission to use it. 

After a contract was worked out, Amtrak chose Chase’s photograph for the cover of the 2010 “National Timetable” publication, which is distributed to train stations and travel agents across the country. The timetable is also published on a CD and distributed worldwide. This is the first time West Virginia has been on the cover of the magazine.

Additionally, Chase’s photograph appeared inside the magazine, “Amtrak America” 2010-2011. It has also appeared on the cover of the September 2010 Improvement Plan for Amtrak’s Cardinal.

Nitro’s Mayor Casto named Chase Citizen of the Month for March and plans to put his train photo on the front of the city’s calendar next year. Chase presented a framed copy of his photo to Casto, which he plans to hang in his office.

Chase was honored further on Friday March 4, when he was recognized at the WV State Capitol by the state’s legislature. A copy of the Amtrak photo was given to Governor Tomlin, the Speaker of the House, and each member of the House of Delegates.

You can see more of Chase’s train photos at:   

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Where Did You Go?

Dear beautiful spring weather, I miss you.  Was it something I said? 
 ~"Skipper" Kim Corbin

Another dreary day!

It’s March – time for the sun to astonish us with its brightness – to urge us to awaken early and jump out of bed ready to meet the day head on. But it seems to me that we get only one sunny day “in a row” these days. I’m trying hard not to complain, but how can I help it when sunshine lifts my mood significantly while dark days depress me?

Aristotle said, “Nature does nothing in vain.” If we believe that, I suppose we must accept that there is a good reason for dark, cloudy days. The only one that comes to mind is that, after a few of the cloudy ones, we appreciate the sunshine so much more than we might if all days were sunny. As with life in general, we must take the bad with the good.

April will be here before we know it and if it runs true to course, we will have many rainy days. But there’s something special about April showers, isn’t there? For one thing, temperatures are usually warmer than in March. As rain pounds upon the earth awakening sleeping plants and trees, it releases a distinctive scent that is evident only in this beautiful spring month. I love to take an early morning walk in the rain just to breathe in this unique fragrance.

At this point in time, I can only sum up the weather with yet another quote: Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, and snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.  ~John Ruskin

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Welcome Springtime!

No doubt about it~ March definitely came in like a lamb! Here in my little part of the world, at three o’clock this afternoon, it was a sunny 48 degrees. Just lovely! Makes one feel good after a long, cold, snowy winter. From my living room window, I can see buds on both my ornamental pear tree and forsythia bush. Golden daffodils surround my mailbox. The world suddenly seems brighter.
At this time of year, things change quickly. By the first of April, we’ll probably see a wealth of yellow dandelions, purple violets and redbud trees. A little later, there will be bright yellow blooms on the forsythia bushes and trees will start to flower; then will come dogwood, cherry blossoms and lilacs. Ah, lilacs – my very favorite! I can think of no sweeter fragrance in springtime!

It got much cooler this evening, of course. It’s about thirty-four degrees now, but still not like what we had a month ago. There’s something exciting about these changes in temperatures and daylight.

I suppose all seasons, like all people, have some good in them. If you’ve been reading this blog very long, you know that I truly love fall and winter, but when spring arrives with its sunny days and budding flowers and trees, it’s difficult not to love it, too. The seasons sometimes remind me of my children; I love each of them differently—for their various qualities.

Someone once asked my grandmother if she loved any of her five children more than the others.  She said, “I love the one more who needs me the most at any given time.” I never forgot that, but it was only after I had my own children that I fully understood it.

While seasons can’t really need us, the important thing is that we have the capacity to love many different things or people at the same time. Our love should radiate like the sun, warming everything it touches.

Welcome sweet springtime!