What Am I Becoming

Aware of it or not, we’re all Beings In Process . . .

I’ve written often of who I am. or have done, but finally found it more important to find out who I’m Becoming. and have found that everyone is doing the same. We’re evolving, constantly evolving, and I take seriously Shakespeare’s words: “To thine own self be true,” and wonder, just who and what is my True Self. and am I evolving toward that Self?

In the beginning, those close to us formed us. Who else? And it is good, but by the time we’re in our teens, many of us find we don’t fit into their pattern, yet strive to conform, guiltily thinking, with our limited vision,  that to be different must be wrong.

The Process of finding our own True Self is difficult, but in some manner, (with me it was books), many of us find that not only are we different, but that there’s nothing wrong with being ‘different’. Oh, what a revelation, for we also find that if we’re uncomfortable with who we are, we, and no one else, has the power to change and become what we want to be. And, able to look around and recognize, accept and love the differences in others, too. Wow, what a life changer.

Of course, we tried to become what our parents and early teachers wanted us to be, but for a successful, happy maturity, we must quietly learn to recognize, accept, respect, and finally love who and what we want to be.  What a stale, cookie-cutter world it would be if we were all made from the same pattern.

I don’t know your story, and so I tell mine. I was born one of five siblings, and different from all. I was pure Svenska, with white, straight hair, and surrounded by a dark curly- haired family. Mama must have felt God had made a mistake, but I later found I fit perfectly with my paternal lineage, and thankfully, finally became mature enough to know I was no mistake, but had just been born with Scandinavian genes. And little by little, learned, to my deep relief, that I was not an odd-ball, but there were many with my same physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual propensities.

It was a blessing to me that from childhood I’ve been a reader, and my father never once complained of the many trips to and from the Murray Library that I so casually asked of him. It was there I found books explaining thoughts and lives of people from all over the world, and I was shaken to my core, to know they were not wrong, only different. People of the world, and God made them (us) all.

There, in that blessed Library, but a mile from home, was where I found that the entire world was made of different people, wonderful people, and moreover held the power right within myself, how to explore, discover, and strive to become the person I hoped to be.

Aware of it or not, we’re all Beings In Process, and I wish Teachers could let young students know that not a one of us is wrong. Just different, and that every second of our lives, we all are in the Process of Becoming.  We’re  evolving.  Always evolving.  And, of so much importance, to be proud of the kind of person we are becoming.

I’ve found that when we reach the later decades of our lives, we don’t wish to be an Einstein, but to have allowed our True Selves to come into being, and so able to joyfully meet and work with ‘different’ people who entered and still enter our lives.

So I ask. Ethel, who are you becoming? For none of us are through with the Process, which will continue until we enter  God’s Next Room, where the machine, no longer needed, is discarded and Spirit, that ever-present Inner Source, reveals Itself.

And even then??? I’ve caught glimpses of that Goal, and shiver as I know that if I allow,  and grow, we all will, in some High and then still  Higher  Rooms, become One with The Source of All. You know that, too?   And that we’ll someday meet each other There? What a blessed Process.

Addendum

A few years ago I penned a small booklet I titled A Machine Called Ethel, and though I’d make changes in it to-day, the concept stays firm. I walk, talk and live in a ‘Machine’ called Ethel, but I Am not that machine. I use it, take care of it, could not continue in a physical life without it, but I am not it. I think you’d like the book.

Camels, Boats, Trains, Planes, & The Internet

The best and worst is yet to come . . .

Never again will any city have the Power and Mystique of Old Cities, like Istanbul, Peking, Athens, Constantinople, Carthage, et al,  because the role they played is no longer necessary.

They were powerful and remained that way because they grew along the one and only highway there was.   That one  well-traveled, deep formless highway of our oceans, seas, and rivers.

It seems odd today, but up to about 250 years ago there were also Routes and Trails, but not a single City ever developed along even the long Routes across the Gobi or Sahara Deserts. Each back and forth trip, took men and camels  years to complete, yet not even one city developed  along those ways.

Deep waters were truly the only ‘highway’ and the trails were by Horse, Camel, or walking. Pleasure journeys were unknown.

But with time and exploration, New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans developed, but they too, are on deep waters and even Chicago became a City only after the Erie Canal connected the deep Great Lakes with the deep waters of New York and the Atlantic.

The next ‘highway’ was Railroads, and were the outgrowth of when England built small ‘rails’ into the coal mines, carrying back and forth both men and the coal they dug. England, in time saw RR’s possibilities, and began building large trains for passengers.

Within a twinkle of an eye, RRs were soon built all over the world, through forests, over mountains and rivers, across the Plains,spanning deserts, and in doing so, changed our maps and lives more than at any other time in history.  RRs, the world’s second ‘highway’, carried people and everything else needed to build cities anywhere. The deep water ‘highway’ is still used, but RRs did the utterly impossible fete of opening the vast empty inlands of every continent on earth.

In their heyday, Railroads were glorious beyond belief and we’ve yet to see their equal in sheer luxury.  Unbelievably expensive, for the Private Passenger Cars made today’s most expensive motor homes look like ‘shanties’.

There were servants, and thousands of Black Americans made their first step into jobs away from the South, on those RRs as waiters, cooks, maids and valets. So unbelievable that those luxury cars became the setting for Books, Movies, and ‘The Orient Express’, an ultra plush railroad going deep into Asia, became a synonym for luxury never before seen or since equaled.

Railroads, for a time, were truly the King of Travel and the world..

Murray, Utah, my hometown owes its existence to RRs. The Smelter (AS&R) could and would not have come into existence without it, and Murray City, like thousands of other cities around the world, was born as merely a Railroad stop.  Murray was once but a small sign saying Franklin.

Air Travel came next  and as Railroads could not compete with its speed, they quickly lost the luxury travelers and today’s RR’s now  carry only a small number of passengers, along with  Ore, Coal, Animals, large Equipment and merchandise,

But before anyone could settle down as to what went Air and what went by Rail, came Eisenhower’s Highways, bringing trucks that went beyond a train’s reach, and, with hardly time for a deep breath, came all kinds of busses and vans, which give us almost manufacturer-to-our-door service.

Large cities no longer depend upon deep water, and are built wherever wanted. And with Drones  in the offing, today’s cities are further and further away from old Rome, or Constantinople. Yes, much beauty has been lost along the way, but today, cities are no longer built to last forever, and outer beauty is not even considered.

People now travel as never before, but no longer go on Journeys. If we want to be in New York, all we need are a few hours to get there and back. There is no time, as there once was, to get acquainted with fellow travelers, or people along the way. Today, we scarcely have time to read a magazine before we’ve crossed the continent, kept our appointment, and returned.

Yes, transportation has made us One World, and is so far-reaching that it’s also changed our Wars.   Today’s war is not nation vs nation, but culture vs culture, and the ‘enemy’ can be right  ‘next door’ and yet,  with a click of a computer key can enter  the Internet Highway, and ‘rain down’ destruction upon some spot on another continent.

Boundaries, for good and bad, are things of the past. Utterly obsolete. We are one World and ‘battle’ lines are unmarked spots scattered helter-skelter, over the globe. Transportation, in its changing forms, has done it all, and hold your breath, for we are just catching glimpses of  the infancy of Drones, and the ‘best’ or ‘worst’ of their ultimate potential is yet to be realized.

Real Life

Easter is a time when we all freely speak of Death and of what has become known the Hereafter.   And so . . . Ethel being Ethel, I do the same.

You see, there are some people who have been There . . . and then came back.  It’s never happened to me, but I married one who did have that unique experience and his words left me with no fear of what to expect.   Nervous? Yes, yes, yes, but not fear.

It happened long before I knew him, when he was 17 years old and a student at Murray High School. He had been stricken with Pneumonia, and as there were then no wonder drugs, most people never recovered, and quickly died from that dreaded disease. And so, Gram, with three other children, along with husband and home, hired a 24/7 nurse to be at his side and it was there in the upstairs, west bedroom in the Pioneer Home at 570 East 4800 South, Murray, Utah where he left his body, as the doctor predicted, experienced That Other Place, and  then came back.

And that’s not really the correct way to tell of his experience, for he did not return willingly. In that Wonderful Place, he said someone approached, and began wrestling and  pulling  to take him away from the Happiness and Contentment that was There, and that he fought back fiercely, to stay there.

He said, “But the one I wrestled with was stronger than I was and no matter how I tried, I lost the match, and she pulled me back to my sick body, in my rumpled  bed and where, in time, I recovered.  I fought as well as I could to stay in that Wonderful Place, but she had her way.”

And he used the pronoun ‘she’ because when it was all over and he was well again, he knew it had been his Nurse who had put whiskey to his lips and ‘wrestled’ him back.

But he never, ever forgot Where he had been, What he had seen, and How  wonderful and Real, It was.

I didn’t know him when all this happened, and it was about a decade later, when he told me, “I knew I was in a life or death struggle.   But.” he continued in very puzzled, but firm words, “Life was There, and not to where I was being pulled back.  Everything within me fought to stay There.”

It never ceased to puzzle him, for it was an 180 degree switch from what we, in our human bodies, consider the life and death struggle.  Made me sit back and know that we are observing it from the wrong angle. My husband said, “Real LIFE was in That undescribable  LIGHT,  and not where she furiously fought and succeeded in returning me to.”

At that time, my sister, Amber Ohlin (later on, Mrs. Angus Bodine) worked in the Thornton Anderson Drug store there on the north west corner of 4800 South and State Street in Murray, Utah, and the doctors would often come in and sometimes discuss cases with the Pharmacist.  It was a small building and she easily overheard that “The Bradford boy (and we didn’t know the Bradfords except by name) has pneumonia and is going to die tonight.” Just that.

Yes, ‘just that’ is all Amber told the family at our dinner table but I remember, and of course never dreamed that the Bradford Boy she spoke of, would some day be my husband and the father of my sons.

And so,  I do not fear death. But with  trepidation?   Nervous?  Oh yes, for it is an ‘unknown’ to me, and I will be leaving all that is familiar and loved . . . but then I remember my husband’s words, as a young 17 year old, with scant ‘religious’ training, as to how he fought that battle and said,  ‘I lost the battle and was pulled away from real  LIFE’, and tears came to his eyes as he spoke.

So, I do not fear death and one day if you happen to read of my ‘ dying’,   shake your head and know that I have joined the majority, in That Place of LIFE.   That Place of Real Life.

—————————————–

Three books by Robert Monroe are wonders of what he, Monroe, experienced on the same subject, as he tells of his own unsought out-of-the-body happenings.  Awesome.

 

Some Trivial Thoughts

Some things crossed my mind . . .

If you’re even halfway familiar with my words, you know that my mind veers back and forth between serious thoughts, to utter trivia. And today, it’s trivia, but that’s ok, for trivia can be fun.

Okay, so for a moment stop what you happen to be doing, and fold your arms. That’s right, just fold your arms, and now look at them.

One arm is on top with its hand folded under the other arm. You didn’t have to even think about it. You just did it. But now, try to fold your arms the other way, with the other arm on top and with its hand tucked under. And note that I said, try to fold your arms the ‘other’ way. And the key word is try.

That’s a ‘different story’.  And it’s bewildering, for it just won’t work. Oh, I know you can do it, as I have, but tt takes much thought and effort, and when you get it done, it doesn’t feel right, at all… It’s awkward. Your arms get tangled and it’s a mess.

And then, when you get your arms untangled, and are laughing about the whole thing, follow me. and fold your hands. The same way you did as a school child when the teacher told you to put your hands on the desk and fold them. Done it a million times, haven’t you?

Well, do so again, and it’s so easy, with one thumb sitting snugly on top, and the other tucked beneath. And now, of course, you know what I’m going to say, but now re-fold them, but do it so the other thumb is on top. And before you know it, for your fingers are mixed up.

I’ve asked others to do these two simple acts, and they’ve all ended up looking at me with surprise, at how difficult it is, and some have told me they tried them with their own family, and it’s always the same result. And now their kids are asking their friends to do the same. Kids love this kind of thing. But it’s just as surprising for oldsters like me.

At first I thought the answer was with being right or left handed. But it doesn’t, for I’ve found one right hander does it one way and the very next right hander does it the other, and so on. All I know is that we’re queer creatures of habit or instinct and who’s to know which is which.

We all have our own oddities. I’m right handed and can’t sign my name with my left hand. And yet . .. when my first computer was installed at my desk, my son, who was doing the chore, was surprised that I had to have the Mouse and its pad on the left side. And said, “I didn’t know your were left-handed”, and of course, I’m not. But there are chores I just automatically do with my left rather than my right hand.

I can’t deal a deck of cards with my right hand, but easily with the left. Just as I’m also a leftie when putting plates, knives, forks and the food on the table for a meal. Such tasks are not only awkward for me, but I don’t do it all well if I try them with my right.

It’s said that men always dress by always putting the same leg into their trousers first, and I don’t know, but for myself, I pull on my hosiery right leg first, and then, hosier in place, I swear it’s my left shoe I then choose to don first.

My friend LaRee cut her lawn a certain way, leaving there a pattern she knew by heart, and her husband one day cut the lawn for her, using his own pattern. and LaRee, believe me or not, waiting until he was gone, did the entire lawn again, just so the pattern was ‘correct’. Seeing the other just drove her ‘crazy’.

These bits of trivia are not earth shattering but once you begin observing them, it’s hard to stop. Are we prisoners of habit, or is it something bred in our genes. But pass them along to your kids. They’ll love them.

 

Reading The Obits

Reach out, if you can . . .

There are many joys in getting older, but there’s one that can be yours only if you’re older, and of all places, it starts by reading the obituaries. But remember, it is a most sad time in people’s lives, and you can be a blessing to that family, or not, for you are treading on tender ground.

However, sometime you’ll see a name of one you knew years before, and you’re flooded with memories that no one but you could now know. And I’ve learned to offer those memories with the sorrowing ones.

It won’t matter if you know the family, or not, you knew the one they mourn, and I tell them, with few words. what I remember, and then send it to the Mortuary, and let them forward it to the family. Don’t be surprised if there’s no response, but other times its welcomed over and over. And it’s cost you only a moment of time, a postage stamp, and perhaps a few tears..

I just had a marvelous experience, and so decided to pass the ‘how’ along.  There, one day, I saw in the obits, a name of a couple who had visited Dad and Mom in our home when I was a kid. And then, as my eyes slid to the portrait I laughed aloud for I saw my Dad smiling back at me.

Now, of course it wasn’t my Dad, but put a handle-bar mustache on the picture in the Tribune and it could have been my Dad. And so, Ethel being Ethel, to my computer I went and poured out the why, how, when, and where of it all.

And I even sent along a copy of Dad’s photo and in a week or so, I found they agreed with me, and in the days following, it was proven that the man in the paper was, as was my Dad, a descendent of the same family from Eskilstuna, Sweden.

In doing this, you must be ready to find they might not get your mailing, or toss your note in the garbage, while thinking, “What does it matter me what they remember.” or “I wonder what they want?” And so, after you’ve sent your note, forget about it, because, just maybe, no one does care.

But just the same, take a chance. You don’t need to be “a writer”, but just tell them you knew their loved one long ago, and would like to share those times. And, if they want to talk to you, they can just send a card, or make a phone call. And, if they don’t respond, what the heck, you did what you thought might be welcome, and if not, it doesn’t matter to you. You tried, and that’s how life goes.

But this time a letter came back to me that was filled with joy and delight.

Yes, I told a lot of stuff that only one of my generation and family could have known. Let them ask, be careful about what you say, and fill in any blanks you know. Or add happy happenings. It’s always different and always wonderful.

My today’s story ended up by finding that we had come from the same family somewhere ‘back then’. and she was avid to go further.

I had also sent my words to a couple of younger ones of my family, and nephew Jim, wrote back that he had always wondered where and why the town of Santaquin had entered into our family. and there in but a sentence or two, I had spelled it out for the young ones of my family..

Now, if you know me, you also know that I am not the one that was then needed, but, I knew who to call, and within a week the unfamiliar word ‘extraction’, came along, and then emails and copies of names, names. and names went back and forth and I was happy to think I had helped make their joy.

See, there are treasures buried in those daily obits. Look them over and then dare to take a chance. Be kind, be careful, but dare to send a note, a phone call and maybe bring joy to both ends of the exchange, knowing that these happenings aren’t just for one, but for all. God works in mysterious ways, you know, including using such odd ones as Ethel. Oh me.

Try it out, you have the time, and even if it takes weeks before a ‘familiar’ name appears, one day, wham, bang, a name of decades ago is there, and off you go.  You just might bring a bit of joy to a sorrowing heart and when it does, it’s great.

I tell of just one note I sent that helped fill a few blanks in a genealogy file that might never have been completed otherwise. Take a chance, it’s just one of the joys that can come to us in our older years. And. just maybe, that’s the only reason we’re still around.

The Source

Listen to the children . . .

I was about 11 years old, and had no fear of asking questions from my brother, sisters and parents, and had not yet learned they usually ignored me for asking such ‘dumb’ ones.

One evening my sisters and I were ‘doing the dishes’ that had been used to prepare and serve the evening’s meal. Yeah, I was a child and can still see me there in the southwest corner of the room, and asking my question.

The answer I sought was that I realized everything had a source. The wooden boards for the cupboard, chairs, table and house, had all come from trees which had been felled, sawed into boards and then some man, like my Dad who was a carpenter, had made those things from that wood.

I knew that all metal things came from ore which was taken from the earth and smelted (I learned that from the old Murray Smelter which loomed in our lives and where neighbor men worked). I knew glass came from some kind of sand. Ice from water, and water from the ocean, rivers and rain.

Coal which heated our home and cooked our meals came from old, old trees, for Dad had even shown me the pattern of leaves on those lumps of coal, which, eons before had, under pressure. become that coal. Oh, how I wish Dad had saved at least one or two of such wonders, that I still recall seeing and touching. But we needed the coal to cook our dinner..

I saw our food growing from the earth, meat from animals, our clothes from cotton grown in our Southern States, wool from sheep, milk from cows, eggs from hens, and on, and on. Those Books of Knowledge that Dad had bought for us, and I’d read as I laid on my belly on the floor,  had taught me much.

But then I came to a wall. Yeah, and beyond that wall, I could go no further, and so I asked my question on that long ago afternoon. What was the source of the earth I walked upon. Where did water come from? The first seeds? Cows? Pigs? Cotton plants? The first flame to light our fires? In other words, Ethel needed to know, “What was the Basic Source of all I looked upon? And used?”

No one heard me, or if they did, they ignored my question, or maybe I phrased it poorly? And I kept wondering, not all the time, for I was a kid, growing up, getting along with my parents, school and friends. All that stuff.

So I grew up and in doing so found lots of my questions didn’t ‘fit’ well with my Teachers, and in some way I knew they were unwelcome, but if I didn’t ask, how could I ever know?  Who else could I ask?  In church I asked questions that caused Mom and Dad to be asked where I got all that stuff. Yeah, life is confusing for kids. And their parents.

Like so many others, I floundered, rebelled and became a great sorrow to my mother with my ‘odd ‘ questions and differences and when I was 18 I finally quit trying and pretty well went out on my own.

I read lots of books, married, had sons, home and family. Sent my sons to the same schools and church that I had attended, because I also wanted them to have a ‘good’ training of right and wrong. And, so it went.

But I also was determined never to lie and when my sons asked if I believed this and that, or such and such, I had to be honest and answered, truthfully, that I didn’t know, and that everyone had to figure out those answers for themselves, as I had. And the questioners were content.

Anyway my reading was endless and then I found the teaching of the Far East and the words resonated within me; and changed my life. They spoke of a Source and I knew the wonderful Zen Eight Fold Path contained words I could relate to and strive to follow forever or wherever.  I have never joined any Teaching and am not religious but I do my best to lead a deeply spiritual life.

Any way one day when I was 90 years old and reading and meditating on the Source of All, I was suddenly that child again, in the old kitchen wiping the dinner dishes and recalled my old question. Of course I had found the answer years before, but for some reason there was that one moment when I was the child again, seeking answers, and realized that children’s questions can be far deeper than they seem.

Perhaps we should be more attentive to their words, for they haven’t been too long apart from The Source Itself.

Frying Onions

Think about this . . .

Every Belief System tells us to keep our mind One Pointed, and in Meditation I do fairly well, but when I’m doing some everyday task like, well, like frying onions as the first step in making a Stew, it’s a different story.

A day or so ago I tried to keep track of my mind, but it’s an impossible task. I traveled back a century or so, the other side of the world, visited with people I’ve not seen in decades, and all the while my hands were frying onions mixed with a few red pepper slices.

My mind, I found, is not only multi-layered, but has more lanes of travel than an octopus has arms.  In fact two or three octopi. Stay with me, and if you think I should be in some doctor’s care, don’t tell me. I’m happy as I am.

Frying onions is a no-brainer, but if you don’t keep your eyes on the skillet, they’ll burn, the flavor ruined and it’s back to the beginning. So, while my hands were glued to the stove, my mind was figuring what odds and ends were in the freezer, purposely saved to be part of such a stew..

First to mind was a bag filled with veggies which were to go into a Frittata that Ina Garten, TV’s ‘Barefoot Contessa’ told about, and immediately I began wondering why she’s no longer on TV and what she’s doing.

Stir the onions, Ethel, enjoy the aroma, think about Ina, but keep stirring.

The Contessa was Gram’s sort of cook, always open for changes to old standbys and I miss her friendly face and wish Gram could have seen her program. I’ve tried to ask, but find there are dozens of ways to reach the Food Channel to buy their offerings, but no matter how you look, there’s no address to ASK, and get an answer.

However, within a moment, Ina was gone and I’m sitting on Gram’s padded kitchen radiator watching the beloved woman at her shrine, the kitchen stove.

But I’ve Mind Traveled, to both New York, Florida and next door to Gram, and the onions haven’t yet even started to color, only wilt, but I stir them and think of Stan, a man I once knew who loved fried onions and how the size of the skillet he used amazed me. Suddenly I was in his kitchen, laughing over things the two of us found amusing and wondering where life has taken him. And then, in the next instant, in Sedonia, Arizona at a meditation meeting also with him. Good man.

Then quickly, I OFF’d the stove switch, answered the doorbell, and glanced at a couple of tall bushes that I had not wanted planted there, and while saying NO to the seller-at-the-door, I was silently reviewing the old ‘bush’ debate with the long gone people who again stood there. What a waste of time, but for one sec there they were again.

Back to kitchen, switched the stove back ON, and though gone but a moment or two, I’d suddenly remembered I’d have to run to the store for a few items. For my stews are different each time I make one, and how could it be otherwise, for my freezer and refrigerator are filled with different foods each time I get in a stew mood.

Which switches me to Seattle, thanking my niece Sylvia Christensen for how she has added samples of wonderful veggies for my freezer shelves and stews.

Yeah, my mind travels and if you know Ethel even a little, you also know I constantly visited with The Source to give thanks for the miracles that are in my kitchen, and my life. And then there’s Mama again, thinking she might have a hard time catching on to today’s methods, but she’d adapt.

Quick thinker, my Mom. And though she’s been in The Next Room for decades, we visited again, and, just like that, my sister Bernice and our Dad were here too, coming to enjoy the aroma and see what was ‘cooking’.

Mind Traveling is one of my best ways to visit. Oh, you do it too? Yeah, we all do, only do it so quickly there is no way we could write it all down. And I wonder if those I visited with also do the same thing?

Bet they do. They know very well what it’s like to be ‘just human’. See, they’ve been here, and done this. So, bye for now and give me a grin if, by chance, you Mind Travel to my kitchen to smell the onion aroma. You’re more than ‘Welcome’.

The Lights Of My Life

Lights of the Entire World
With thanks to Debbie Crane

Sometimes I search for thoughts and words to send “Out My Window”, and then  sometimes they come to me through my open door. And, this week, here are words that came that way.

Debbie and her husband Kevin Crane, of Murray, Utah, came to my home, and as they were preparing to leave, she handed me, with apologies, these words. And as I read them, I knew they needed no apologies.

They are lovely and I give them to you. The Lights of Debbie’s, and our, lives. Enjoy.


The Lights of My Life

In my youth
darkness was my fear-
the small light
at the end of the bed
gave comfort.
NightLIGHT.

The great outdoor smells
so wonderful to me-
the fire is warm and soothing
how good it feel on my face.
FireLIGHT.

The sun changes the shape
of the fears of the night-
The world is bright and
clear as the darkness turns to day
SunLIGHT.

Holding hands as we walk
along the beautiful beach
in the twilight
The large golden globe in the sky
gives a glow to the landscape.
MoonLIGHT.

One light has given more illumination
and comfort than all the rest.
The Light that gives all things-
Jesus Christ, LIGHT to the World!
Eternal LIGHT
The greatest light of all!

by Debbie Lynne Crane

Tales Mama Told Me

I thank Mama for today’s stories.

I don’t know who they were, but when I was a kid, every summer a family group came and ‘camped’ in a grove not far away, and Mom said they were Gypsies, and they ‘stole’ kids, and blonde ones were considered special for they brought good luck to the group, and there I was with hair so white, it could snow on me and no one would notice.

Every kid in the neighborhood had been told the same story, and we all were so scared we didn’t step outside as long as ‘they’ were near. Our area was so quiet you’d never known there was a kid for miles, and to this day if I’m among beautiful, dark, curly haired people I shiver and want to run home and lock the doors.   And I’m now no ‘kid’, nor have white hair, but oh, the power of tales learned from our Moms.

The next story I tell is not something she told me, but because she refused to even hear or answer my questions, she also made it more mysterious and interesting.. I know now, that she had no idea what to tell that dang kid with her persistent questions, but, there was this certain house that we passed every day, and I knew that house had more chimneys and ‘outside’ doors than any it needed.

It bugged my childish mind because Mom would not talk about it. You see, that house had all those chimneys, as well as seven outside doors. and I asked and asked and asked, and no one would even acknowledge the oddness of it.

My parents would ignore me, talk about something, anything else, so I knew there was something I wasn’t supposed to know, and only when I was older did I know it had been built when polygamous homes were needed, and to ‘keep peace in the family’, some poor man had had to give every one of his seven wives, her own place to cook, and her own ‘front’ door.

Now I laugh and wonder why those seven women didn’t gang up and let that man know how much power there is in numbers, but people didn’t do that kind of thing ‘back then’. Anyway, when parents dodge their kid’s questions, those kids know there is something behind the silence, and so stories get bigger and better, Like this one. For though an Arctic Circle restaurant  sits there today, I never pass that corner without thinking of all those chimneys, and that poor cuss with seven wives, seven private rooms, and seven front doors, and probably wished far more than seven times that he’d never gotten in such a mess.

And then there’s the Dream Mine hidden in the mountains east of American Fork, Utah. The men reported it to Brigham Young, but were told to leave it alone, to raise their farms and family and leave the Mine for the next generation.

Well, of course they obeyed orders, except one fellow named Rhodes who dreamed over and over of where it was, and finally, disobeyed rules, took to the mountains, and what’s more, found that Dream mine, but could not ‘work’ or claim it because of Young’s injunctions,

Rule or no rule, Rhodes made a map of where it was, and also told (whisper, whisper) a few of his chums, and so the tale spread. Many a man, far into the 20th century, spent months each year seeking that Dream mine, with no success,   There was even a son of a well known Murray family, friends of our family, who refused any full time job, because each spring he ‘had to go to the mountains’, sure that ‘ this’ time that Dream mine would be his. And, in time he died, with no mine. And never had a full time job, either.

Today I wonder if Rhodes just might have blundered upon Timpanogas Cave, and thought it to be a wonderful mine, and never dreaming its value was of beauty, not ore. Who’s to know,  but for almost two centuries men have sought his mine while thousands enjoy pure beauty in the same area he described.

Then there’s the well-known story of Polka Dot Dresses for Burial clothes, and even if you’ve heard it, read along, and laugh with the rest us.

It’s become a standby of old tales, but the first time I heard it, and before I knew why everyone laughed, I still saw that even my mother smiled. But when I grew up enough to know what was meant, I didn’t smile, I laughed louder than anyone.

So, here’s the story: An older woman died and the family was wondering what kind of dress to bury her in.

The Mortician said, “Well, for women who have married and had a family, we usually recommend a deep, royal purple, but if it’s an unmarried, virgin woman, we suggest pure white.”

The family stepped aside and talked a few moments and then their spokesman said, “Well, we want to do the correct thing,   and so we’ve chosen to bury her in a lovely White Dress, but we need to have it sprinkled liberally with Purple Polka Dots.”

I’ve heard this story, told and laughed over by more than one local family, which for some reason surprises me. Of course, I think it’s a funny story, and if asked today, I’d wager that Polka Dot dresses would almost be a standard choice. But today I betcha they’d have to add the Purple dress with White Polka Dots.  Am I right?????

Panic Attacks

Gobble, gobble, gobble

We’re told that Panic Attacks are one of the most common of human ailments, far outnumbering Migraines, yet often goes unrecognized.   I’d  never even heard of Panic Attacks, and yet a day came when I found that maybe they might be a problem for me.

Read on if you think you might be having them, try what I’ve found works for me, and if you aren’t having such attacks, these small, but oh so mighty ‘exercises’ will still be great. I’ve been there, done that, and I’m still here.

First, we’re told to be calm and deliberate in all we do, and described it as “Living in the Moment”.  Sounds simple, but how do you do that? And anyway, it isn’t easy to convince yourself that YOU might be having Panic Attacks, YOU?  And anyway what are they talking about?

Well, several years ago, I was scared one night, and drove myself to ER, thinking I was having a heart attack. They examined and ruled that out, but then put me in a ‘ chair’ of some sort where my vital signs were continually monitored and watched by nurses and medics who looked and made notes as they passed by, and after an hour or two I was ‘unhooked’ and told there was nothing wrong with my heart, and probably only had a Panic Attack.

As I recall, no one, doctor or nurse, told me what a Panic Attack was or what to do about them.  But I read a lot and have found Google to be a treasure trove of info and so I tell my tale .

First, I’ve learned to ‘watch myself’ and when I feel life crowding and putting pressure on me. I stop for a moment and crazy as it sounds, check to see if my Jaw and Shoulder Muscles are tense. And. if so, I might be on the edge of a Panic Attack.

I understand that those muscles are two of the strongest in our entire body. and are tense 99% of rhe time. We are unaware of that constant ‘clutching’ within us, but it affects our entire mood, body, and day. Every Therapist is aware of this, and has different methods of relaxing them, and here are two oh so simple ones, and even if it’s not a Panic Attack, they relax me and will do the same for you.

And what’s great.is if I’m with other people, no one will know what I’m doing. So, sit down if possible and take SLOW, DEEP breaths.   Watch your torso extend as you breath in through the nose and SLOWLY exhale through your mouth, gently blowing to let your cheeks move slightly as you blow out.   Silently speak the words, “Inhale”, “Exhale” , as you breath, and be aware, and surprised, that, though you didn’t even know those muscles were tense, how good it feels w hen they relax. And as a side-benefit, your mind has become One Pointed. You’re watching yourself breath.

One Teacher called it ‘relaxing the Roof of your Mouth’, and I thought, how silly, there are no muscles there, but, just the same, that phrase works, and you’ll smile to ‘feel’ the entire area of the mouth relax. It’s said that because they, the Jaw and Shoulders, are two of the strongest in our body, it’s not good that most of us go through our entire day with them clenched. Ready for attack.

And then there’s the Walking method. As you take your steps, silently say, “Right foot”, “Left foot”, and so on, with your concentration on your words and feet. It’s a good method, but for myself, I do the two, Breathing and Walking, at the same time. You’ll make your own rhythm of combining the two, and what’s more, it takes your mind off whatever was making you tense. And, again, you are One Pointed..

Another Teacher told that many an actor, nervously standing in the wings, waiting for the cue to go onstage, will bend over, arms hanging loosely while saying . “Gobble, Gobble, Gobble”. and, automatically their Jaws and Shoulders relax. And whether you’re an actor waiting for your cue or not,   it works. Yeah, Gobble, gobble, gobble.

With surprise, I found that when I’m at my computer, my jaw and shoulder muscles are always tense so if you use the computer, watch yourself and you might find it’s a good time to start Gobbling.

I suppose Panic Attacks are hard to diagnose, and so, unrecognized. people seek relief by drugs, alcohol, sex, smoking, hitting the bars etc., and in desperation, sometime think they’re dying, and rush to the nearest ER. And I feel sorry for those poor cusses, I mean the Medics in ER with so many patients coming in, that Panic is usually the last thing considered, if at all.

Your life is precious. Go back and read my two methods. Even without Panic Attacks, they’re worth using. All the time.