Carry the Load

I had no idea that when I stepped out on my walking trail this morning, I would have such a visceral experience.

It is Sunday morning and being in the Texas heat is something you prepare for. Armed with my phone and a water bottle, I start out on my four mile walk.  What I am not prepared for, what smacks me in the center of my chest is this:

These signs were every few feet on the trail. And they took hold of me in a real way.  As I stop to read each sign and take photos, Memorial Day has taken on true meaning for me. The signs display the age of the person, their hometown, the year they died, and a short blurb on what happened and who this individual was in a personal way.

I keep seeing people walk by, never looking up at these huge posters. I feel like going up to each one of them and saying, “These people matter! They went to battle for you and me! Most of them died young- take a moment and look!”

Perhaps, they have already looked. Perhaps they also have someone they loved and cared about who died in battle. But I’m not sure.

Carry The Load is a non-profit dedicated to providing active, meaningful ways to honor and celebrate the sacrifices made by our nation’s heroes — military, law enforcement, firefighters and first responders.

What started as a mission to restore the true meaning of Memorial Day has broadened to include more than just our military heroes and more than just the one holiday. Carry The Load works to bring all Americans together to participate in honoring our nation’s heroes every day.

It’s most noteworthy and ambitious project lasts a month-long with a 100k relay that begins on the North East Coast and North West Coast of the US. As the relay progresses, it  moves downward and ends in Dallas, Texas on Memorial Day with a big rally in Reverchon Park. Men and women literally carry items-backpacks, armor, fire extinguishers (I met a woman who was wearing this for a firemen she served with) to represent and honor those who have lost their lives in service.

I’ve never heard of this until moving to Dallas, where its headquarters is based. This non-profit has continuum care for those who have been in service. Please watch this video on their website to see how big of an impact this event is.

There is a small path that winds through a grove of trees on the side of Katy Trail. The wooded area had music piped in and a long row of big posters lined along the way. I stop and read and the tears come-for the young lives given in service, for the mothers and fathers and spouses and children left without a son, a daughter, a spouse or a parent.

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Memorial Day means different things to different people: a day off, fireworks and a cookout perhaps. But let’s never forget what the real meaning of it is-to Carry the Load of reverence and remembrance for those who are not here in this physical plane. Let us say a prayer of hope and thankfulness.

Here is my Memorial Day Poem. I lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico and drove by a military cemetery each day:

Prisoners of War

I drive by each day on my way to work,
White marble masts rising up from the green rolling waves.
There is a sea of them rising up the hill, 
spilling over to newly plowed earth.

It is winter.
My heart feels no beat.
Words frozen upon these pale lips,
Frozen as those beneath the snow of winter’s first blush.

Not until I drive upon the winding road, stop
and walk among the rows of faceless names,
my high heels sinking slightly in the moist ground, 
do I feel a tugging in my chest
of what has been done for the name of freedom.

And those names begin to thaw my heart and conscience,
Running into tears for families I do not know.
Mothers losing their sons, 
wives and husbands letting go of their beloved’s hand,
children left with half a home as their legacy.

Today there was another procession honoring the dead,
flags flown half mast, 
taps gently played as the box is cradled into darkness.

I stop my car along the road, watch and weep. 

Victoria Yeary

 

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100% Forecast of Rain

There is 100% forecast of rain today.

The rumbling echoes of thunder and then come the drops. Slow to begin with and then a heavier fluvial flow comes, eases off and comes again in spurts, until the rain itself has settled into its own rhythm, its own cadence.

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It’s a soft rain today, a rain of peace. I open the small window in the kitchen, and hear the drops landing on the patio and the bedding of green Vinca.

It’s early morning. My favorite Italian roast coffee is sipped slowly as I savor the blend of cream and sweetness against the dark, bitter taste. Rain gives me a soft spot to ponder, to think and feel.

Rain is reading-soulful books that take you in, or inform you, or inspire you.

Rain is music-the cadence of the drops outside the window, the direction and speed of them as they hit the glass panes or ground.

Rain is my invitation to write, to think, to touch the inner life that sometimes has the movement of a great ocean storm or of gentle strokes of rain falling deep into the forest of thick branches and black dense earthen floor.

I want. I crave a sense of my life that feels lacking. What is this that comes up like water out of sidewalk cracks bringing the flotsam and small bugs and earthworms? What flushes my soul and the cracks of my longing and desire?

I want more, and yet, as the rain comes, I want nothing but to sit and listen and write. The shadow of the ground, the grey covering the sky brings forth a beauty of the unknown, of the hidden.

Happiness is found between the falling of the soft plopping sound of drops, especially with a lover.

Lying in a bed of rumpled sheets, the chiaroscuro of our bodies intertwined in a half-lit room of darkness. The slow-moving of lips, hands with the gorgeous symphony of rain.

Yet rain must end. Sun must come and dry the tears of the earth away. Just as forecasts change, just as raindrops don’t suspend mid-air, life continues, changes, and then, begins again.

Written Sunday morning during rain @ approximately 9:00 am on the 20th of May.

Victoria Yeary

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Washing Dishes

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I remember my first experience washing dishes. I was all of four. It must have been a tiny juice glass. I was standing on a stool and washing the dishes. I stuck my whole hand in the glass and it shattered. It scared me. I don’t remember crying though I might have.
I do remember that I didn’t stop washing dishes.

It’s something I do every day. I have a dishwasher but somehow the soap suds in a deep sink, the dishes floating among the bubbles feel cathartic.

Cleaning dishes is so visible and redeeming. A mess is in the pots, edges of brown meat, vegetables and sauces, lipstick on the coffee cups and residue of wine in the glasses. All have to be cleaned, made new again.

And taking the dishcloth or sponge and wiping the surfaces, sometimes scrubbing the bits of cooked food on the stove top feels worthy, feels good. My results are immediate, visible.

The porcelain dishes are shining. The crystal is sparkling. And I feel like a domestic goddess!

Dishes are now drying upside down on the thick dishcloth towel that I buy at the fancy kitchen goods shop. I need quality to absorb the moisture, the wetness dripping off the pots and pans and forks.

My kitchen is my sanctuary. I cook and create and make things for others. It is a place where I have value. I can cook. I can make sumptuous dishes and give them to others. I create momentary joy in their life. Then cleaning the dishes, especially after a dinner party, after my guests leave,  gives me pause to ruminate  about our evening together.

The dishes are gleaming, the counters swept clean and wiped down, the stove all ready for the next food event. And the small light above the stove serves as a backdrop to an empty and awaiting stage for the next event.

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Marmalade Heart

Marmalade Heart

Orange Marmalade

 

 

She plucks the Seville orange,

bright, joyful color of a bumpy rind,

digging her fingers into its flesh.

Sprays of citrus flavor the air.

 

Heaps of curling skins

fall around her as she gently supremes

the white, pithy webs of encasement.

 

Juices dripping down her hands and wrist,

as she plops each one into the copper pot.

Blue flames flicker and beat the bitterness from her heart.

 

His sweetness is the measured touch.

Echoes of her youth, days of being free with dreams and possibilities.

 

Swirls of orange turn gold as passion erupts,

a slow churning of Vesuvius in the pale regions of her soul.

 

Cooled by his calming touch, secure and warm,

the blossoms of the fruit, the sweetness of his soul,

has warmed her marmalade heart.

 

Friday, April 20, 2018

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Shining like Stars

For those of you who went to Sunday school as a kid, do you remember the song? This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.

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Did you know that the Bible says we can all be shining like stars?  I read this last week! Philippians 2:14 gives the instructions of how to shine:  Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless…In a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.

Isn’t that beautiful? I mean to be compared to shining like a star in the universe is pretty awesome!  But you did catch the first part of this, didn’t you? do everything without complaining or arguing? 

Can any of us go through a day without complaining, even if it is just to ourselves (under our breath at the car in front of us going too slow)?

I think it means more than just refraining from speaking words of complaints or arguing with someone. Could it be more of a mind and heart condition?  Buttoning my lip and not complaining could lead to some other problems…ulcers, pent-up frustration, etc. or not being authentic and truthful.

Isn’t complaining just a form of judgement or of something or someone who is not doing what we want?

Could we make a 180 and turn complaining to appreciation? If you have ever spent time in a place of appreciation, constant moments of awe and even love, you know how it feels. You see things in a new way.

You may be walking in the woods, taking in the beauty of nature. Or, sitting in church singing and feeling your body and emotions being one with the Creator of nature. Or you could be dancing, at a club or in your apartment-jumping up and down and sideways and feeling the moment of bliss in just expressing yourself. Or watching a movie that pulls at something deep in you or reading a book that transports you to a place where you feel connected to something inside and beyond.

In those moments, we feel connected. We feel whole even. It is part of our being human and being created by the one who loved creating us.

Being joyful, grateful, appreciative sets the right tone, the right perspective and paves the way for shining!

Being grateful and appreciative of what is in front of you in the moment chases complaining and arguing out of the room. You can’t gripe and fault someone while also appreciating them.

I know, I’m on the Pollyanna kick again. You say, “Victoria, we live in a crooked and depraved generation. You can’t just be all sweetness and sunshine with all that is going on in this world.” I agree. I can’t and neither can you. But just try taking an hour, a day and instead of grumbling, appreciate the situation in front of you or the person or the problem.

I am in a state of transition. I am transforming my life and starting a new career. There could be a lot to grumble about! My belongings are in storage. I am renting a room from someone and sometimes feel like an interloper. I’m not sure what the next few months will look like exactly.

I tried applying to jobs in my field- over 200+ in the last ten months. Doors kept closing.
And they closed for reasons I do and do not know. But all the while, another door was cracked open, a door I had not considered seriously- professional writing.  I’m working on a project where all the tools are being provided for me to craft a viable business and livelihood. It gives me flexibility to travel and to work from anywhere. I can be with my grandchildren this week and next week be in another place. Yes, I have to find clients, but I also am taking care of myself in a way that gives me fulfillment.

Being grateful, being appreciative and yes, even joyful is not about covering up a problem or a situation or a toxic and unhealthy person or environment. Being in a state of positive appreciation gives you the ability to see things differently. To shine in on a new way or path to a solution, even if it’s just for your sanity and peace.

Lastly, the final part of this verse talks about being stars and holding out the word of life. Biblically this means holding out the word of Christ, but it also can take on a great meaning for all of us. A star is a fixed luminous point in the night sky that is a large, remote incandescent body.

Holding out the word of life is being in a place of growth, of being sourceful and of being alive! of shining to others as a help and support and a guide perhaps.

Imagine, being full of light and giving it out freely. That is what light does. It isn’t greedy or just shines on some and not on others. It just shines, baby! It just shines. Shouldn’t we all just be shining?

Be a star today! It was the first thing God created-the stars-the heavens.

SHINE, BABY, SHINE!

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The Virtue of Humor

He makes me laugh! His wit and humor strikes something deep within me, jiggles my insides, and gives me insight into his intelligence- how he sees the world. I’m in as much anticipation of how he will delight my funny bone as I am how he will tickle my sexual fancy.  A recent quote from a woman who finds her new love funny.

Humor is more than a laugh. And in a relationship, it can become a type of interchange between a couple that stands for certain expressions, words or events. They may be in a public place and her wink and a statement such as, “200 thousand leagues,” may bring a huge grin to his face as he quickly whisks her away from a boring dinner party they are attending.

Or sweet mispronunciations of their children’s favorite stuffed animal may always bring them back to a place of where they started as a couple and as parents.

Humor has been known for its healing properties. And in a relationship that will get plenty of doses of ups and downs, humor maybe the virtue that allows the relationship breathing room.

Humor is also a place to allow the other person space to catch up or to slow down the tempo of their day or  a partner’s intensity. It equalizes and sets what is really important into perspective. It serves as one way of approving the other person. Laughing at a person’s witty remark or funny joke gives them an audience, an encouragement of their own sense of fun and humor.

And Humor is a sign of a quick wit, a perspective. It can straighten a sour disposition sometimes. Some of the great humorists of the past are quoted continually: Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Steve Martin, Jim Carey and even Issac Asimov to name only a few.

Humor gives life to all of us. It is a moment of pure joy. Laughing in a marriage or partnership is necessary. It may be attending a comedy club, playing a game with your neighbors, laughing at kids cute phrases, and most of all not taking oneself too seriously.
If you can laugh at yourself and each other in a fond kind of love, the heart is lighter and the road is smoother.

I leave you with some quotes:

I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a word I am saying- Oscar Wilde

Get your facts first and then you can distort them as you please- Mark Twain

A day without sunshine is like, you know, night -Steve Martin

Behind every great man is a woman, rolling her eyes- Jim Carey

People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do-Issac Asimov

Humor many times may come at your own expense. And if it is funny enough, you willingly give away your pride in order to draw a laugh. My own latest story happened this evening:

My grandson, Otis turned 7, today, on February 7th. I made him a homemade card and placed cash inside of it. I also decorated the envelope. At the same time,  I wrote a thank you card to my sweet cousin to send in the mail. Both envelopes were sky blue.

As I ran out of the apartment, I grabbed Otis’ card to give to him. We had a short impromptu meeting at Chik Fil A. I picked up both Otis and his brother Ogden to meet their mother and stepfather at the restaurant.

In my haste and effort to get the boys out of the car, I dropped the card going into the restaurant. As we were opening gifts, I realized I did not have the card, ran outside and spied a blue envelope in the middle of the parking lot!

I ran to pick it up. As I did, I looked at the card and realized not only had I dropped the card, but I had the wrong card! It was my thank you note to my cousin, now with black tire marks all over the back of it. Otis’ birthday card was back on the table at the apartment.

I took it inside, explained to everyone what had happened! Otis burst out laughing! He thought is was so funny that his Lolly had not only grabbed the wrong card, but the one I now held in my hand  had tire marks all over it. We all went on about dropping things and even joked about me being careful getting the food because I might drop it on the ground.

Now this doesn’t sound very funny. But in this case, I promise you, we will expound on the silliness of Lolly for at least another couple of weeks. And by the way, on the way to the car, Otis dropped his brand new stuffed Mario character in almost the exact same place. Lolly ran to retrieve this as well.

Otis and I had a good laugh about that! I’m wondering if I should run over his card a few times before giving it to him. You know, just for a good laugh!

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Finding Christmas Joy in a Gingerbread Latte

No, you cannot find real Christmas joy in a gingerbread latte or a peppermint mocha. But just as many items and icons represent this important holiday, I do believe a Christmas latte shares the space.

Hot cocoa with marshmallows and gingerbread men. New year, concept of a still-life Christmas.

When I think of the biggest purveyor of holiday latte’s, I naturally think of the nation’s largest coffee house- Starbucks. I’m not a fan of SB. I prefer local coffee houses and local roasters. Yet, I love going to Starbucks around the Christmas Holidays.

There are certain locations if you visit just a day or two before Thanksgiving and Christmas is filled with the out of town family’s gathering there for a quick cup of mocha or gingerbread latte.

I’m usually alone, but seeing the family’s gather and sip their hot beverages gives me a good feeling. My children are spread out all over the states. It’s rare for us to be together. So, I go and see the joy of families together. No, it’s not creepy and I don’t go from location to location, lurking in the background. I just like being in convivial places at this time of year. And yes, I like a festive flavored latte!

My joy is found in other places during the holiday season: In the decorations, the music, the holiday festivities and most of all the true place of joy- the message of Christ. That joy runs deep within me. I can take it anywhere. And Christmas Eve service is always a treat.

I was planning a trip to Glenwood Springs and staying at the Hotel Colorado for Christmas Eve. It’s a large hotel built in the 1800’s with a grand lobby. Hotels are not built anymore with twin walk-in fireplaces at each end of a football field length lobby and wood paneled walls. And at this time of the year, they deck it out extravagantly! I cancelled this week because I am recovering from being ill.

It’s all good, though this is a great place of celebration and family’s being together. Next year we are planning a family Christmas together, perhaps there!

Meanwhile, I visit with friends, wrap and send packages and sip a gingerbread latte.  Merry Christmas to you all! The blessings of God be on you and your loved ones!

To my beautiful daughters:

I love you! Merry Christmas my gingers!

 

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