Tag Archives: inspiration

The Empowerment Program Empowers Homeless Women

This is a fabulous idea! This organization hires homeless women taking them out of the shelters to train them to make jackets that are given to the homeless.

They also provide training for other careers for those who wish to move on once they are established. We need more ideas like this one. Check out the video and consider donating to help this worthwhile program.

https://www.facebook.com/attn/videos/1703232489712203/

My Tribute to Father Bill

Two years ago, I made an effort to begin going to Sunday mass again.  I’d been absent more often than not during the preceding years for a plethora of reasons — weekend work schedules, out-of-town family events, and caring for my mother in her home in another state. Father Bill was the priest on the Sunday I’d returned to join the faithful.

I watched as he entered the church from the sacristy. Walking across the altar was difficult for him, I understood why he didn’t participate in the processional at the beginning of mass.  I lamented the state of the Church, and its continued problems recruiting young priests.  During that mass, Father Bill touched my heart with his thoughtful, quiet homily and the devotion and passion of his voice as he sung the hymns.

On the walk home, I confided in my husband how moved I was by Father Bill’s story which reminded so much of an event that occurred when we attended Midnight Mass in Rome over two decades ago. When I got home, I wrote a short story about that special night.

It has been over a week since Father Bill fell and broke his hip. After surgery, he seemed to be doing well and the hospital staff planned on getting him up to walk. Within a few days, his condition worsened, and Father Bill was called to his heavenly home. He will be sorely missed by the parishioners in our little village.

He struggled to walk, yet he bolstered himself to come and say mass each week even on the coldest winter days. The effort would waylay many younger people. When our pastor Father John spoke of Father Bill, he equated him with characters from stories similar to the tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and Lord of the Rings. Father Bill was the old king who went into battle when he was needed and fought valiantly in the service of others. Not a single dry eye in the church this past Sunday… Godspeed, Father Bill, this story is for you.


Midnight Song

The dimly lit courtyard held a snaking line of visitors IMG_6562.PNGwhich buzzed with muted conversations, the shuffling of feet, and an occasional entreaty by a youngster to the elders who accompanied them.  The group waited in anticipation to hear Pope John Paul II say Midnight Mass at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome.  Among the crowd were people of all ages, colors, and ethnicities.  Ahead of us, the melodic cadence of Italian came from an animated troupe while behind us stood a gathering of nuns with dark veils covering their hair and wooden crosses hanging from the rosary beads secured at their waists.

In our group were military families taking a trip to Rome on Christmas weekend.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime event for my small family.  I had purchased a crucifix to hang in our home and brought my rosary so both items could be blessed by the Pope during Midnight Mass.  Growing up in a Catholic family, my favorite mass of the year was this one celebrated on Christmas Eve.

When I was a young girl, we would get bundled up in our winter coats, boots, and mittens and crawl into our beat-up Chevy for the drive along snowy highways with the moonlight lighting the snow-covered fields until they glowed.  The country church we attended it’s a well-known fact you had to get there early because the church reached its capacity for Midnight Mass. If you arrived late, you’d have to stand in the back and for a young child, it was reminiscent of standing among a suffocating forest of human legs.

The choir would start off the standard hymns I’d learned when my dad would play the Christmas album, “Sing Along with Mitch.”  The voices of the faithful would swell with hope and love infused into their harmonies.  Our song was a prayerful offering to the Creator.

In that dark Vatican courtyard, as we tried to stay warm, stomping our feet and rubbing our hands together, our small military group began to sing Silent Night to keep our minds off the December chill in the air and to pass the time.  The Canadian nuns joined us and soon a trickle of other groups followed, providing a mixture of accented baritones, sopranos, tenors and altos.  Our song grew in strength into something so pure it connected us all at that moment.  One carol followed another until the stone walls surrounding us echoed with our words. Goosebumps popped up on my arms, and I felt a chill deep in my chest as I sang along.  We–the travelers to this place on this specific night–were one in song and in fellowship.

I remember that night like it happened yesterday and not twenty-four years ago.  We connected to strangers with our familiar song.  I haven’t any photos or videos to document the moment but they aren’t needed because the memories are permanently engraved in my mind and heart.  I wonder if the other people remember that evening as fondly.

Music Makes My Elliptical Go Around

I have a love/hate relationship with my elliptical.  It wasn’t even that I’d paid a king’s ransom to purchase one.  My sister and her boyfriend carted it about 200 miles in the back of their SUV — FREE!

I was so excited at first… Then I realized I preferred walking outside to being inside on a machine, but I live in the frosty North which translates into “I either workout indoors or I get fatter over the winter.”  My dilemma was simple.  I’m a wimp and it was too easy to get off the elliptical when I got tired. When I’m walking I can be four miles from home, and I don’t have a choice but walk back.

I’d made great strides in my training over the summer and I didn’t want to regress.  I paced back and forth by the dusty gift contemplating whether I could succeed where I was unsuccessful for (Wait for it!) years.  Yes, it isn’t a typo.  YEARS!!

I’d tried several times over the years but after I exercised on the elliptical ten to fifteen minutes I’d stop stating that it was too hard.  Which is a crock of expletive.  I was in the Army.  I was a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do.  True, that was years ago, but I’d done the tough stuff.  I would walk for two to three hours in the heat until I was so tired I could barely put one foot in front of the other.

I wasn’t going to let a big, old, gray instrument of torture get the best of me.  I armed myself with my water bottle and my secret weapon — a music playlist.  I also prepared to go all drill instructor on myself if I tried to wimp out again.  My goal was to remain on the thing for thirty minutes.  Double my longest time.  I hit play on my phone put the earbuds in and preceded to conquer the gray devil.

I listen to many artists and different genres.  It’s music that makes me move, helps me to write and relax.  Here’s a sample of a few songs I listened to this morning.  I’m also happy to say I tamed that gray beast and I exercise for over 60 minutes at a time.  And yes, I did have to go all drill instructor on myself that first time.  It was ugly…

Chill Time

My chill time revolves around writing.  Feet up, cup of tea (hot or cold) depending on the season, and music playing in the background are all necessary components of a chill time without the day-to-day distractions which destroy creativity.  I’m lucky to have my days to myself.  I couldn’t write when my kids were young.  Two rough and tumble boys around the house kept me on my toes, and my creative impulses were focused on keeping them out of mischief.

Yesterday was sunny and warm compared to the -15 to -30 degree days we experienced in the couple prior weeks. I headed out to walk along the river to stretch my legs and refresh my soul.  It was perfect but even with my head to toe UnIMG_5779derArmour on, after an hour, it was time to call it quits.

Today is cloudy and gray.  Still fairly warm and my feet are ready to hit the pavement again, but first things first. I pulled out my laptop and began writing on my current WIP.  Thank God, I found my voice at least for today.  It’s been a struggle for weeks now.  The blank screen taunting me.

I guess I needed some sunshine and chill time.  I’ll listen to Christopher Cross’ “Sailing” and “Ride Like the Wind” as I sip my tea and dream about another place.

Have a great day!

 

 

Read “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?”

One month ago today on Friday the 13th, I flew into San Juan, Puerto Rico. I volunteered to serve as part of the VA Disaster Employee Medical Personnel System (DEMPS) to assist with disaster relief efforts after Hurricane Maria touched down on 9/20. I fully intended to write a journal entry every day, just to capture the […]

via How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? — Tell It Slant Mama

Small Town Holidays

I love living in the tiny village along the Mississippi that I’ve called home for over twenty years!

I don’t miss the traffic, the noise and the lines found in larger cities.  I can walk through our streets without feeling threatened anytime day or night.  I get to soak up the beauty of my surroundings without driving anywhere.  In fact, I can walk from one end of the village to the other a couple times without tiring.

Thanksgiving weekend is a popular one here.  The population increases dramatically as all of the children and grandchildren return for the holidays.  Not only is it the start of deer hunting in the area, but there is an alumni basketball tournament at the school over the weekend.

My oldest son has played in it since he graduated, and it has been a tradition for over a decade.  The players reunite with their high school teammates to play against both younger and older teams.  Generations of family members come to cheer on the teams.  At halftime break of each game, the court overflows with children dribbling basketballs and shooting hoops until the teams return for the second half.

I sit in the stands greeting the mothers and fathers of my son’s team.  It’s a bit of deja vu from days past when our high schoolers ran up and down the court.  Our hair has more silver and our faces a few more lines now, but the enthusiasm and goodwill are still abundant.

In the evening, a Christmas parade with lighted floats, fire trucks, horses, music and Santa is followed by fireworks over the Mississippi River.  It is a fitting end to our weekend.

I saw a post the other day where someone wrote that they didn’t understand why Americans had a “day” of Thanksgiving.  The tradition is one of being thankful for the harvest, especially in the rural communities so dependent on a good harvest before the long winter.  It is also an acknowledgment of our country’s early beginnings, and how the generosity of the local Native American tribespeople helped the early settlers survive their first winter.

But, Thanksgiving is about more than remembering to give “Thanks” on one specific day.  For me, it is a time for gathering as a family and a community.  It is a time to realize the shared blessings of being a part of something so much larger than yourself.  It is a time to reinforce the importance of giving of my time, talents and resources to those less fortunate and to those I care about.

Our small town holiday weekend reminds me of what is good in the world and how crucial it is to be an active participant in the world around me.  To recognize and speak out against inequality and injustice while doing my best to be a positive force in the world.

This work doesn’t happen on just one day, but every day.  It all starts with you, your family and your community.  Make efforts to improve each of these areas and the blessings will continue to spread.

Heartwarming Story of Holiday Spirit

Listening to the news this morning, I heard a wonderful story about a homeless vet outside of Philadelphia who had assisted a young woman stranded after running out of gas.

Johnny Bobbitt, Jr. is a homeless vet who saw Katie McClure pull her car over to the side of the road.  He advised McClure to get back into her car and lock the doors.  He took the last twenty dollars he had and bought gasoline for the young woman.

Bobbitt was a flight medic in the military and wanted to go to college to be a medevac flight nurse after he left the service, but issues with substance abuse and money problems kept him from his goals.

His selfless deed touched McClure and her boyfriend.  They have kept in touch with Bobbitt and recently set up a GoFundMe page for him.  As of today, it has raised over 306,000 dollars in response to Bobbitt’s good Samaritan act.

Each of us has the ability to change another person’s life.  Johnny Bobbitt, Jr. helped countless of wounded service members when in his military role overseas.  He helped a young woman in her moment of need so she could get home safely.  Katie McClure and numerous donors are hoping to help change Bobbitt’s life.

Make today amazing by helping someone else in need.

A Mother’s Instinct

I would die for my children to keep them safe, and I think most mothers feel the same way I do.  So when I was working on my current draft of Never Show Your Hand, I wanted to bring this protective mothering instinct to my character, Shanaya Cadotte.

Shanaya has returned to the Red Cliff Reservation to assist her Uncle Jeb with an accounting issue at the casino.  A forensic accountant who had worked for the CIA, Shanaya decided she wanted to raise her daughter near her family, so she relocated from Washington D.C. back to the Bayfield area.

But when she starts to investigate, the threats against her begin and her first priority is keeping her daughter safe.  That’s all I’ll tell you about the plot, so I don’t spoil anything.  Chapter Eleven of the story is complete and the first draft is nearing 16,000 words.

Question for my readers:  How would you keep your child from harm if you were threatened?  Would you send them out of town?  Or, would you keep them at your side?