|ARCHIVE ISSN: 1530-5775||
December 2011 Vol.13 #12
Cruising Santa Clause
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eBook Selections for Holiday Reading
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You can see more by David Donar at http://politicalgraffiti.wordpress.com/.
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Signs of Life
from Georgia Jones
This is the final installment of this full-length novel. Thanks for joining us. All of Signs of Life is available at the Kindle Store And watch for the next book in this series.
There was something wrong. Her every instinct told Lainey that. She rubbed her crystal between her fingers. Elinore was still sitting placidly in the chair. That was strange too, Lainey thought, and tried to get up again. She still could not stand, but she felt that it was imperative that she cross the room, that she shake Elinore and determine that she, at least, was normal. Lainey lifted her body up on one side and tried to hurl herself from the couch to the chair and into the circle of peaceful faces that clustered around Elinore. It did not work. All she accomplished was to twist her injured arm until the pain added to her confusion and her feet slipped and slid in awkward, futile contortions on the carpet in front of the couch. Something was not right.
"What about Sonia?" she almost screamed, remembering the desperate girl who had come to her shop earlier in the day. "What about Sonia?" Lainey demanded, in a calmer tone this time, of the passive faces that turned her way.
Eugene aimed a reassuring smile toward Lainey and answered in a sweet, musical voice. "I have set a spell to counter his. Sonia is safe."
As soon as the words came from his mouth, Elinore stiffened. "Sonia is not safe!" she declared urgently. "She is being drawn back to his spell. She is some place high… No, she is on her way to some place high. I can see horses. She will look down on horses, but they aren't going anywhere. They go around and around and there is music, but it has all faded."
"Playland…" Lainey interjected. "She's going to the cliffs above the old Playland."
"There's nothing there but condos…" Andi began, not realizing the danger at first.
"The cliffs…" Elinore gasped. "She is being called home!"
Lainey found that the fog in her head had cleared and she could move again. "How can we get there fastest?"
"But it must be too late already," Andi sobbed, realizing what she was being told about her sister.
"Elinore said she was on her way there… We may still have time to stop her," Lainey declared, reaching for the telephone to call a taxi.
"A taxi'll take too long," Eugene stopped her, "I have a car." He still held Andi's hand and now he pulled her toward the door. Lainey followed with Anna and Elinore behind her. Halfway down the stairs Elinore stopped. Lainey felt the movement behind her cease and she stopped, too, and turned around.
"Mayin is with her," Elinore whispered.
Andi screamed, a high, sharp sound that did not last or carry. It was as if it had been swallowed by their fear.
They hurried ahead and down the street to where Eugene had parked. It was a large, older, American car, hard to park in the city, but big enough for all of them. They got into the car, Andi in the front next to Eugene, and Lainey, Anna and Elinore in back. Lainey did not feel the pain in her arm. It seemed to her that they were moving in slow motion. She wanted to get out and run, to feel the exertion of action, to know that something, anything, was being done.
She should have called the police, she thought suddenly.
"They wouldn't believe the word of a psychic," Elinore answered her.
Of course not, but I should have tried. "Can you see where they are now?" Lainey asked.
"No. I can just hear his voice. He's calling her to come."
"What happened to your spell, your stronger magic?" Lainey demanded, angrily.
"We countered a death spell. He's using another. He's her father, if he calls her, it's stronger than anything we can do," Anna answered flatly, helplessly.
It was only three miles, but in city traffic. It seemed to be taking forever. Then Eugene turned to Elinore and asked, "Where?"
"I see her on a stone fort, standing on top of a fort. She's looking down on people, a restaurant, and the ocean. She has Mayin in her arms."
"The Palisade!" Lainey answered. "Go down Anza to the end. It's Sutro Heights Park. It overlooks the old Playland site and the restaurant."
Eugene made a sharp right turn and they were all thrown against that side of the car. "Be careful. We can't afford to be stopped," Andi reminded him.
Lainey was surprised at how calm Andi was. She had only had that one short outburst of emotion and then she had come along as if everything were under control. Lainey felt like nothing was under control anymore. She wanted to turn back the clock. She could have decided to become… what? She could not think of anything. She was a detective and this was her case. Someone was about to die, she felt it and she did not know if there would be time for her to do anything. It was out of control.
The car screeched to a stop at the curb and they all pushed their way out of the cavernous interior. They had to hurry, but they moved as if they were mired in molasses. Lainey wanted to scream.
"Where?" Eugene asked again. He was focused on getting to Sonia. That made Lainey feel more effective. "Where?" she repeated after him.
"She's not at the fort. She's come down…" Lainey almost sighed with relief at these last words Elinore spoke, but there was more.
"She's on a path of small gravel or crushed stone below the fort and there is a fence, three horizontal beams of concrete, broken so the metal core shows through. They're alone. She's looking down now, down a sheer cliff to the road below."
The group surged forward in a panic to reach the spot Elinore had described.
"Wait!" Elinore cried, stopping them mid-stride, "She isn't looking down now. She's staring off to the south. There are trees on the cliff that direction… Over here!" She turned to her left and they all followed.
It was odd, but this had been the nicest weather in some time. The day had been overcast at times, but there had been sun. The sun was out now, bright and clear, the fluffy clouds that were the last stragglers from the storm decorating the perfect blue with shades of white. It was a lovely afternoon. The grass was freshly green from the rain and flowers were in bloom already. The damp grass soaked through Lainey's shoes and stained the edges of the soles.
They ran through the park, past a woman walking a miniature, pot-bellied pig, and a young man who threw a stick for his golden retriever. There was an old couple on a bench, not talking, just sitting in the sunshine. They ran past these people and past the steps to the Palisade, the large stone structure Sutro had built for the people of San Francisco to walk around and look out to the sea, the place that Elinore had called a fort. The Palisade curved and around its westerly side was a path of small, grey gravel. There were mud puddles in spots, but they ran right through them.
Lainey heard birds chirping. It had turned into a beautiful day.
As they rounded the corner of the Palisade they saw her. Sonia was dressed in the white of the tambor, and wore her beads and shelled necklaces and bracelets. She was smiling at that moment, but she looked as if she had been crying before. Her right leg was flung over the top beam of the fence and she balanced precariously on her left foot which rested on the bottom beam. Mayin clung to her, her arms around her aunt's neck. The child had been crying, too, but she was quiet now.
They called to Sonia and she looked over her shoulder toward them. Lainey thought she saw a look of hope cross her face, but it was quickly replaced by a placid, emotionless mask.
She shifted her weight so that she now rested her right foot on the bottom beam and was pulling her left foot over the top. She was on the other side of the rail. Mayin slid to the ground and stood in front of her, looking up.
"Come here. Come to me." Andi coaxed, almost a prayer.
"Come over here, Mayin." Eugene commanded.
"Sonia, Mayin!" Elinore and Anna called.
They were too far away.
"I can't leave Sonia," Mayin begged.
"You have to. It's time," the words escaped from Lainey as if they had been held prisoner inside of her, "You have to."
The child slid down and under the rail, gave one last tug to Sonia's hand, and was safe. She ran toward the rescuers and into Lainey's arms. "I have to help her," she sobbed as she threw herself against Lainey.
"You can't, honey. Sometimes we can't help, no matter how much we want to." Lainey turned away from the cliff, holding Mayin's face tightly against her so the child would not see what was certain to happen there.
Anna stopped where she was and started chanting something in Yoruba. The others took a few more steps, but they stopped, too. It was too late to grab her and hold on until whatever spell she was under wore off. One wrong word, one sudden sound might cause her to jump.
"Sonia," Eugene said in that sweet voice he had used to Lainey, "Come back with us. You're in America." He sounded encouraging. "We're all here. Andi isn't angry." He was flailing around for a topic that might break into her consciousness. "We're all here, Sonia."
Lainey could not think of anything to say, anything to do. All that was left was to hope that Sonia would answer Eugene. Instead, Sonia stepped off of the fence rail onto the narrow strip of nearly level ground that ran along it. Holding onto the rail, she leaned forward, south, looking and listening, straining into the wind. She stood like that for an instant. Perhaps that was when Lainey should have acted, should have flown the last few yards to grab her and drag her back over the fence?
Sonia's voice broke the silence that followed Eugene's attempt to talk to her. "No, Pia. Pappa, no!" She called, and it seemed that she might resist, but then she looked ahead, to the south and lifted her right foot. As they stood watching helplessly, Sonia walked off of the cliff toward her father and home.
Sonia fell. She did not scream or call out again. She fell. The silence of her fall was followed by screams from the cliff bottom, the sounds of cars being stopped abruptly, and a piercing scream as Andi collapsed.
Eugene pulled Andi to her feet, and they all ran forward, as if there was still some point to reaching that spot. Lainey carried Mayin in spite of the bandage on her arm, carried her pressed to her heart. When they reached the cliff edge, Lainey looked down. It did not make her dizzy now. The people running to the white form surrounded by a spreading dark outline were real. She might almost recognize them.
They turned then; Andi, Eugene, Anna, Elinore, and Lainey with Mayin still in her arms. They turned and hurried back to the car. When they were inside, seated in the same places as before, looking out of the windows at the sunshine and the park, Lainey thought, for a moment, that she might have imagined it all. They might have just arrived here. There might still be time to stop Sonia from jumping. There might… but Mayin was sitting on her lap, arms tight around her neck and Eugene was backing the car, turning toward the beach and the cliff bottom where they would find the shattered body of a young girl dressed in white.
The child reached up and touched Lainey's face. It was wet with tears. When had she started crying? It seemed to Lainey that she had never stopped, that she had cried forever.
"Sometimes we can't help no matter how much we want to," the child whispered and wiped Lainey's cheek. Lainey tightened her arms around Mayin.
The car lurched and Eugene drove as if he, too, thought there might be a reason to hurry, as if there were some hope that Sonia was alive and waiting for them at the bottom of the cliff. The crowd that filled the road leading to the cliff dispelled the illusion and Eugene slowed the car until it seemed to drift aimlessly toward the side of the road and stopped.
Once again they emerged, but not as a unified group set on a goal-to save a life. Andi got out and stood beside the car, weeping quietly. Elinore took Lainey's arm and whispered, as reassuringly as she could, "We did all we could." But Lainey noticed that all of the blood seemed to have drained from her friend Elinore's face and, though she was normally pale, she now resembled a death mask, the death mask tattoo on Billy Bartman's cheek. Lainey shuddered. She felt cold, cold as death.
Anna Fernandez and Eugene stood close together, talking, and Lainey leaned toward them, trying to hear. Mayin was standing, too, close at Lainey's side.
What could there be to say now?
Lainey could not hear very well, but she thought that Anna said, "He was alogura`, stronger than we thought." And Eugene replied, "I will need a relic for my prenda if he is to be stopped." Lainey had respected their beliefs, their tradition of secrecy, but she could not do that now. She needed to know what Eugene meant by "relic." The word sent a shiver down her spine.
Lainey looked to Elinore for some sign. There was none, and it was just as well because Lainey had decided what she was going to do. It was time, maybe it was past time, that she confront these two. She took Andi's hand and slipped Mayin's smaller one into it. "Take care of each other," she ordered, but it was a softly spoken order that meant that they should heal as well.
"Did you plan all of this?" she challenged Eugene and Anna.
"No," Eugene stated and set his jaw at a stubborn angle that said he had nothing more to add."No, but we were warned. We might try, but it might not work. The Orishas, the gods, do as they wish," Anna answered.
"What were you just talking about?" Lainey demanded, suspiciously.
"We were talking about how we can stop this from happening again."
Andi stopped crying then and approached them. She did not let go of Mayin, but stepped between the child and these others. Her fear and shock had turned to anger and she wanted answers, too. "What do you mean 'happening again'?"
"Because we couldn't protect Sonia against the powers of the dead, we will have to use those powers to protect Mayin."
"Someone has to die," Andi echoed her own prophecy. "Someone has died. Sonia is dead. There's nothing else to do."
"Yes there is," Anna prepared herself for the reactions she knew her words would provoke. "We have to direct that power. Her spirit must be brought to reside in a prenda, a caldron of a palero. Eugene is still a palero. There must be a piece of bone…"
"No! You can't," Andi screamed, but then she sank to her knees, crying. "What will happen if you don't?"
"He will take Mayin back, but there may be more. He might want to punish those of us who've tried to defy him."
Andi looked into the dark eyes of her daughter. Mayin seemed to understand so much more than she did.
"The ambulance is coming," Elinore said, and a few seconds later they heard the scream of its siren. Elinore put her arm around Andi, helping her to her feet and holding her there in a comforting embrace.
"What do we do now?" Andi asked, resignedly.
"First we can express our loss. I loved my little ahijado. You have lost a sister, and I a godchild. We need to mourn and make our offerings to Oy`a for her safety in the afterlife," Anna answered, sadness in her voice. "Then we must turn to Eugene."
"I wish I'd never met Eugene," Andi asserted, but even as she said it Lainey could see that Andi would rely on him to take care of her and of Mayin.
Lainey turned and walked away from the group at the car, away from the crowd and noise around the body at the bottom of the cliff, toward the nearest bus stop. She wanted to be done with this. She wanted to go home, but she could not, not yet.
Even the thought made her cringe in horror, but she had to see, she had to follow this thing to its end, and the end was lying at the bottom of that cliff. Lainey turned toward the crowd. It was what she had to do, she reminded herself as her body rejected the command to move ahead. She had taken this case and it would not be over until she confronted the lifeless body of that girl.
There was a large crowd around the cliff area. The road was blocked and more people from the cars were pushing into the area every moment. Lainey looked to them like just another sensation seeker. How could she expect the crowd to part and let her through? The police had already arrived, but the ambulance was just now edging its way into position, scattering bystanders as it backed toward the spot.
A policeman approached her part of the crowd. He had his baton out and was firmly ordering people away with a tired, "It's all over. Go home now." How could he know that she could not go home? That she felt responsible for this tragedy?
She felt a hand on her arm and turned to see Eugene. "Maybe you shouldn't?" he asked. Anna was with him, but he had convinced Andi to stay at the car with Mayin and Elinore. It was too late to ask if she should or should not, Lainey thought in a flash of hysteria. She already had, and this was the result.
"It isn't necessary," Anna added, comfortingly.
"I feel responsible…" Lainey choked.
"You're not. You did everything you could. We all did," Anna added, looking toward Eugene.
Lainey had not noticed before, but Eugene was crying. Had he been in love with both sisters? Lainey wondered.
The policeman was approaching them now. "Please go home," he pleaded in that tired tone.
"We're her family…" Eugene managed to say.
"Oh," the policeman looked embarrassed, but he led the way through the crowd, asking people to step aside, pleading with them to go home and let Sonia's body be removed in peace.
Why should they? Lainey thought. Sonia did not die peacefully. She did not die the way a person should die… And then she stopped herself.
How should a person die? How had the people she loved died? No one was ready to go, not one. None of them deserved to die. None had done all they should have done in life. How should a person die? There was no answer to that. She certainly did not have one.
They were close to the ambulance now. It had found its spot in the crowd, and stopped. Three men got out of the vehicle, two from the front, one from the back. They were dressed in white, like Sonia. All three of them were blonde. Was there any meaning in that? Was there meaning in anything anymore? One of the men carried a clipboard. Sonia was barely dead and they were already generating paperwork over her. Lainey wondered what the papers on the clipboard said-any detail, any detail to fill her mind!
Lainey wanted to stop there, to stand by the ambulance, to look away uninvolved. Her feet carried her forward. Eugene began to sob and Anna grasped his arm to keep him guided toward the spot.
As they passed through the final row of spectators, thrill seekers, Lainey heard a voice over her shoulder, "It's just some spick girl, probably an illegal." Billy Bartman! she thought, a sudden panic rising inside of her. Lainey turned abruptly, hoping to startle him with her presence. But it was not him. A man, wearing a casual shirt and sunglasses that marked him as a tourist had made the pronouncement to a woman in a light sundress, shivering through her cardigan sweater. There were two small children nervously trying to see around the woman without seeing what they instinctively knew was awful to look at, Sonia's broken body. Lainey stared at the group. Who were they to comment on Sonia?
And then, there was no more crowd. They walked into a circle of people held back by men in blue uniforms carrying batons. They followed the men in white who pulled a gurney with a black plastic bag resting on top of it. The bag was limp now, and empty, but soon it would be filled.
Lainey saw a mass of white ruffles, streaked in red and thought of flowers. And then, she saw the dark hair and the twisted limbs, and from behind a blood soaked curl of hair she saw a dark eye, looking fixedly south. She wanted to rush up to the girl and tell her she was sorry, but she realized that Anna was right. It was not her fault. What more could she have done? Perhaps if she had known more, known more earlier? But perhaps was not what happened.
Eugene sobbed, and nodded "Yes, it's her. It's Sonia."
The three of them were led to a police car. The policeman wrote down their names and asked them to wait there. After a while, an officer came and Eugene stepped out of the car to talk to him. The ambulance crew did not turn on the siren when they left.
The officer stuck his head in the window and asked Anna if Eugene had someone to take him home. Anna said that she could drive him. The policeman offered to walk back to the car with them, but Anna did not want them trying to talk to Andi right then and took Eugene and Lainey by their arms and led them through the crowd herself. The crowd had thinned now that the body was gone and traffic could move on. Those few people who were left milling about only stared at them and stepped back. It was not good to get too close to tragedy, not if you could avoid it, Lainey thought.
Elinore and Andi stood where they had left them, leaning against each other and the side of the car. Andi was holding Mayin in her arms. Elinore looked much too frail and small to have supported Andi, but she had, and Mayin, at last, looked like Andi's daughter. It was easy to see now.
Andi's eyes were clear as she focused on Eugene. "You've had your death," she said. Her anger was cold and her hysteria was gone.
"Not my death. His. I didn't want her to die. I didn't want anyone to die."
"Whatever you wanted, Sonia's dead. Dead." She repeated the word as though hearing it again would make it more real to her. "Dead." She said it again, tasting it this time.
"And Mayin?" Lainey hardly dared ask.
"She's my daughter. I want all of them to stay away from us," Andi stated forcefully, turning so that Mayin faced away from the group.
"I didn't want Sonia to die, but now Mayin will be safe. He can only have the one life, if we take the proper steps…" Eugene's voice trailed off before he could say anything more and he looked to Anna to answer for him.
Anna put her arm around Lainey's shoulders and leaned close to her face. "I know it's hard, but Sonia can protect Mayin now. They can all move on." She waved her arm in a gesture that encompassed everyone, but centered on Andi and Eugene. "Andi can have her baby back. Who knows, maybe they'll have more." She smiled at Andi, and, once again, Lainey felt the horror of Sonia's death. How could they move on so easily, she asked herself.
Elinore smiled at her, a soft, reassuring smile, which Lainey found as out of place as Anna's acceptance of death as a next step in life. It would be a long time before Lainey would be able to trust Elinore the way she had before. Maybe she would never feel that certain about anyone again.
She nodded to Anna and moved away from her grasp. She touched Andi's arm and then Eugene's hand in sympathy. She kissed Mayin's soft cheek and then turned away, toward the bus stop. She would prefer to go home alone. She became aware of the pain in her arm.
A police car passed and Lainey looked up wondering, again, if they should have called the police. There was no use trying to do it another way, she thought, it has already been done this way. Not all of it turned out wrong. Mayin would have a mother and be safe from the powers of Andi's stepfather. But what did it mean, she asked herself, and she felt tired and drained of emotion. It was not over for them, she knew, but she was out of it now. It was not over though; not for her either. She would always remember the broken flower at the bottom of the cliff.
A girl was dead, Lainey did not want to think about it, but everywhere she looked she saw those eyes, the dark eyes of the dead girl, staring south. She saw them in the reflections on the bus windows. She should be leaving them behind, just as the lurching bus was leaving the body behind, back there, where she had fallen.
It was time to… What? Move on? She remembered what Marty had said: "People die. It isn't always your fault." It was not her fault.
"Sometimes we can't help no matter how much we want to." She told Mayin that, and the child had said the same thing to her. She could feel her breath on her ear. "Sometimes we can't…" The words brought acceptance. There was nothing else she could have done. She knew it now.
Lainey stepped off of her bus. She felt as if she had passed through from one side of a membrane to another, from the world of the unreal to the world of the real. She was back in familiar territory and could relax.
She had chosen to become a detective. She guessed she had done the job that was expected of her. In an odd way, that felt good.
The front of her building was no longer covered by the offensive swastikas, though the painted spots still reminded her that they had been there. The glazier was coming tomorrow to fix the glass in her door. She missed knowing that Marty was there to listen to her problems, but she had done it on her own, become Hunter, and that felt good, too.
Just as she was beginning to feel that the worst this day could offer was behind her, she saw Detective Martinez coming across the street. It was no coincidence. He was looking for her. What can he possibly want, she thought with some irritation.
"I heard about the suicide at the cliffs, and that you were there," he said.
"You're calling it a suicide?" she asked, acid in her voice.
"Lainey, you can't read mystical meanings into everything. She was homesick and unhappy. Her boyfriend was ignoring her. She killed herself. It happens."
"Yes. It happens." For the moment she could almost believe that there was nothing more-an unhappy girl who could not see the possibilities. It happens.
"I brought you something." He handed her some papers. "Your application for a private investigator's license. I thought it was about time you took care of this."
He smiled that indulgent smile she hated so much, but he had brought the forms for her, maybe he thought she might make a real detective, after all? He lingered a moment longer, but there was nothing more to say and, finally, he had to go back to his car, to leave her standing there watching as he drove away.
Lainey shook her head in amusement at herself. He could not even do that, drive innocently away, without aggravating her. She watched his car, wondering why he had really come. Those papers could have been mailed.
The sun was setting over the city, blinding the windows like startled deer. The storms had passed and the sunset was beautiful. Lainey Hunter stood on the sidewalk outside of her building. She felt the hard, rough concrete through her shoes. She was alone now, and she did not need taking care of anymore. How would she do on her own, she wondered, and smiled the same self-satisfied smile she found so aggravating in Detective Martinez. It felt good.
Read this book from the beginning.
Inspired by tales she invented for her grandddaughter, Pat Frayne wrote a book about a magical land with a magical hero, Topaz the Conjure Cat.
She published it, and the print version is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as her website.
But Topaz, being a magical cat, wanted more.
So this bright cat moved out into the electronic universe to be published online, for people of all ages who are young at heart, like a young man I know. He would never open a book except under extreme duress. Then he started downloading books to his iPhone, and has not stopped reading since.
Pat decided to publish Topaz and the Evil Wizard online, at Smashwords.com. There the book is available in formats for many electronic readers, from Kindle to iPad.
Smashwords is a site where anyone can easily publish their writing. I noticed that they even encourage folks to publish their Nanowrimo novels, if they managed to write one in November. Great care must be taken with the formatting, but other than that it is an easy site to use.
I wasn't there to publish, but to read. I had to create a free account, and then I was ready to go. At Topaz's page, there are options for downloading 20% of the book, in any desired format, before you decide to buy. They have an extensive FAQ to help with any download problems.
I downloaded to my iPad. It appeared seamlessly in my iBooks app. At first I just grazed in it, but soon was hooked. Topaz is a very important cat in a land with magical creatures and ferocious villains. Soon I was hooked. I stayed up till 1 AM reading this fantasy -- not something I do often these days. I especially loved the way Topaz won an important battle with a weapon only a cat could use.
I found the reading to be a very pleasant experience. It was easy to hold the iPad just right and "turn" the pages and stay immersed in the story. I could leave the iPad open right on top of all my other open books and magazines.
I'll be reading more eBooks. And, if you want to find out what Topaz' secret weapon was, so will you.
Warmth of the Season
I don't think I could live in a perpetually warm climate. I grew up in the Midwest where snow at Halloween was common and temps in the minus digits heralded the arrival of winter. Even in the South, temperatures have already started to drop into the twenties this year. Skies are white with hints of snow possibilities. While we still only really need a heavy sweater or light jacket, there is something about the chill in the air that symbolizes that the holiday season has begun. When it actually does snow here in the South in any measure, schools and businesses close and we cuddle up for a day of hot chocolate and short sleigh rides in whatever snow exists.
There are so many elements to the holidays that it is a bit of a recipe in putting everything together. Christmas music has to play in the house and vehicles from the start of November. As we move through our list of planned activities and traditions, we add a pinch of laughter to a hefty scoop of family fun. Our lights went up as a family project a month ago when the temperatures were still in the seventies. While chilly temperatures add a brisk feeling to the season, they also make for cold hands against the metal ladder and a frozen face. The kids helped by unwinding lights and planning the light display. The tree is up and will be decorated in typical child fashion with a bunch of ornaments only as far as my decorators can reach. Each year the main cluster of decorations rise up a few feet more up the tree as the kids grow taller.
A gingerbread house made mainly for the fun of touching frosting and eating candy moves along the seasonal recipe. At the beginning of December, each kid begins opening a daily window in their advent calendar. The actual holidays bring Christmas Eve service with singing children, candles and a Waffle House dinner. The kids have rotated on their belief in Santa Claus. In previous years, Santa Claus was avoided like the plague in all formats. Currently, Joel is vacillating between believing and not. He is sticking with belief to help out his sister who is head-over heels in love with the idea of Santa. She has a list of tasks that we have to accomplish to welcome Santa which include: chocolate cookies and chocolate milk, reindeer food to lead the team to our house and writing letters to Santa.
On Christmas morning, the kids get up early and open presents in fifteen minutes flat. Even if it is fifty degrees outside and snow-free, we burn a fire in the fireplace. We eat candy off the roof of the gingerbread house and snuggle in front of the fire. Joel and Emily usually have some request for baked goods that we make together in between playing with their new toys. Christmas music plays in the background while piles of wrapping paper rustle. There is a family warmth about the season that transcends presents and Santa. As the kids get older, the presents are getting more expensive and smaller. I know in a few years that Santa will fade away. For now, I am enjoying these years of childhood belief and wonder at the miracle of the season. I am treasuring the moments of wide-eyed surprise that make the holidays so special for adults and children. Whatever the temperature outside, I am going to cuddle a little closer to these precious children and the season.
May your holidays be full of warmth and love.
Read this feature from past issues.
Our guest columnist this month is Barbara Berger, author of Fast Food for the Souland other books.
Everyone wants to live a happy life - but the big question is how! So why not try a new strategy? Since we all know that we suffer when we want what we don't have, why not try a new strategy and want what we have instead?
OK laugh, but when you stop laughing… think about it for a moment. Is it really such a weird idea? Is it - especially when we know that all of life is just a mind game anyway? When we realize this and realize that our unhappiness arises from wanting what we don't have - why not use this understanding to experience the happiness we seek by wanting what we have instead!
Can it be that simple?
Well let's take a closer look at this mechanism.
Start by taking a moment and bringing yourself home to yourself. Now ask yourself - and answer as honestly as you can - what is making you unhappy right now, right this very moment? Chances are it's because you don't have what you want - or because you have what you don't want, which is just another way of saying the same thing. Is this true or not? Be honest with yourself. The only thing that can be preventing you from being happy right now is wanting something you don't have. Maybe it's better health, maybe it's more sunshine, maybe it's a nicer apartment, maybe it's a partner who's more understanding, maybe it's more money in the bank, but whatever it is, it's something you don't have at this very moment in time. And this is what's making you unhappy now.
Take a moment and think about it.
Is what I am saying true or not?
I am sure it is because what else could possibly be making you unhappy at this very moment? It can only be the thought of what you don't have that's making you miserable. It can only be a thought of something that's lacking. Of something you don't have…
So why not decide to want what you have and be happy instead?
Again when we see the mechanism, we discover that this is not as crazy as it sounds, especially when you realize that all our experiences are just thoughts in our mind anyway.
And yes that is the truth and there's no escaping this fact - every single experience we are having is just a thought in our mind - every single one of them. There is nothing else going on. Even though some of these thoughts (and experiences) are thoughts and experiences we like and therefore desire while others are thoughts (and experiences) we dislike and therefore resist. However you look at it, that's all that's going on. There are thoughts in your mind - and you either like what's going on or you don't. And that's about it. The situations in themselves, the specific events and circumstances that we like or dislike, really don't have much to do with it at all. They are just the happenings of being alive that are unfolding before us. It's our preferences and opinions about what's going on that make us happy or sad.
So why not want what you have instead? This is the fastest route to happiness!
So let's try it for a moment - try experimenting for a moment with wanting what you have. First of all put down this article and take a good look at what you have at this very moment in your life. Look at what you're doing, look at where you're sitting, become aware of what and how you're feeling, and notice what's going on around you. Take it all in - whatever it is. Don't be judgmental in any way, just look around and see what's going on around you in your life right now. Both externally and internally. Then take a deep breath and ask yourself how you would feel if you really and truly wanted exactly and precisely all of this right now. How would it feel if you could only want this? If you could only want everything that is happening around you right now as well as everything that's going on inside you? How would it feel if you really felt this? If you really felt that whatever it is - was absolutely perfect for you? If you really felt that you didn't want to change anything at all? Take a leap in your imagination and try and see what happens!
How does it feel?
Give yourself a chance to really feel what it feels like to want precisely what you have at this moment.
And then let it sink in.
It feels like instant peace, doesn't it! Like happiness now!
Barbara Berger is the internationally known, best-selling author of Fast Food for the Soul (published in 30 languages), Are You Happy Now? and The Awakening Human Being - A Guide to the Power of Mind which was just released in the US and the UK. The book can be ordered on Amazon.com. Find out more about Barbara Berger.
Read this feature from past issues.
What Makes a Family Strong?
In every home, you’ll find people, young and old, with different temperaments, different ideas, different tastes, different sensitivities, and different ways of looking at the world. Yet, despite their differences, they are expected not only to live together, but also to get along with each other.
How does that happen? What brings each of these diverse personalities into a communal spirit? What makes these unique individuals a family—and a strong family at that? Imagine if each person were left on his or her own to live in this household. What would that be like? For example, Mom would have breakfast at 7, sometimes. Dad, at 8, occasionally. Susie, whenever she feels like it. And Junior, maybe not at all.
Multiply that scenario by all the other tasks of the day, and you would have total chaos. Not to mention a house full of strangers. But consider what occurs when a family eats together.
Eating together at regular times gives each person a feeling of order, an essential building block in the structure of the family. Dinnertime, for example, is an hour out of the day when everyone feels they “belong” as they share food and conversation and, for some families, prayers of gratitude. When each member of the family puts aside his or her own interests for that special time, they communicate their importance to one another. And it has tremendous impact. For instance, according to recent research, it appears that Dad’s presence at the dinner table can have a positive effect on his children’s performance in school.
Now here’s a word about table talk. One ancient tradition offers the following piece of wisdom. In a family discussion, let the youngest child voice his or her opinion first so as not to be swayed or intimidated by the opinions of the older members of the family.
Think of how comforting it is for each person to have a forum for his or her ideas and feelings and to be respected even though others may disagree. Or, how vital it is for a sense of well-being that each family member find his or her own voice and discover who he or she is. Imagine how affirming it is to be heard by patient, interested listeners. Think of the security felt when family bonds are strengthened.
The world outside your door changes daily. Values once cherished in the mainstream are being replaced by all kinds of undesirable practices. How do you protect your children from destructive outside influences? How do you convey values that will remain guideposts for their lives?
A strong family becomes a refuge from the confusing twists and turns in the mores of society. And companionship at the dinner table is an ideal time and place for conveying values.
It is a time of taking in both food and ideas. In fact, the very word “companion” is derived from the Latin words for “sharing bread!” Dinnertime is a golden opportunity each day to have meaningful dialogue. It is a time to make and share meanings, a time to acknowledge and respect each person’s ideas, and a time to receive direction and inner strength from the family unit.
It’s also a time to report the news from each person’s experiences of the day or to comment on what is going on in the world. Or it can just be a time for laughter. Perhaps you may never have made the connection, but daily rituals and routines are not merely a convenience, they actually give children a sense of security. Most families have their own particular rituals, religious or not, that offer comfort in their repetition. It’s the same kind of security young children feel when they ask to hear the same story over and over. It’s familiar and reliable.
A family’s routines and rituals stand in sharp contrast to the ever-changing, crazy world outside. Routines and rituals help children define and experience a feeling of normalcy.
Unconditional love is another feature of a strong family. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most misunderstood terms often found in parenting manuals. Some parents take “unconditional love” to mean that we should love our children no matter what they do—and, by extension, condone what they do. Wrong!
As I see it, unconditional love means that no strings are attached. It means that we love others even when, or especially when, we disapprove of their actions. When a child or anyone else, for that matter, makes a mistake or uses bad judgment, our unconditional love would generate a compassionate response and a correction that does not humiliate him or her.
Unconditional love means we accept people as they are. We make no attempt to change their personalities to suit ourselves. Unconditional love is at the heart of the strong family.
The Last Laugh
Lastly, there’s a magical Super Glue in relationships—laughter.
I am blessed with a family of very witty people, starting with my husband. Bill’s humor is dry and quick. And after having known him for 66 years, he still makes me laugh. (Just imagine the sheer joy of a lifetime of laughter!) My oldest child, Jessie, inherited her father’s type of humor. Andrea, my second daughter, has her own charming sense of humor. My son, Richard, has the cleverest sense of humor, and I am often awed by the brilliance of it.
As for me, I was voted the funniest person in my high school graduating class, which I consider high praise. I love to make people laugh. It’s not just fun, it is uplifting—for them and for me! But there’s more to humor than just giggles and guffaws.
There’s getting through the rough times by seeing the humor in them. There’s maintaining a sense of balance and perspective through humor. There’s the bonding of people who laugh together and share those light moments even when hearts are heavy.
And then there are the bonding effects when family members enjoy each other’s company—there’s camaraderie and relief from the day’s stresses. There’s a therapeutic effect of laughter on the mind and body. Family is a place where you can create joyful memories with each other and for each other.
So, it appears that differences in personalities fall away when we focus on those elements that strengthen the ties among family members.
Making the family strong is everybody’s job. The child can willingly accept responsibility for the upkeep of the household—at least by keeping his or her own room in order—which adds to the strength of the family by preventing the stressful and wearisome battles for cooperation. The father can set aside time to be at the dinner table each night, communicating that he gives his family top priority. And the mother can fill the atmosphere with unconditional love, joy, and fun, bringing all those personalities together into a strong, cohesive unit called family.
Finally, for parents who feel they’ve missed the boat and that it’s too late to start these practices, it isn’t! I have had the privilege of working with parents for more than 50 years, and I have found that we can begin at any time to bring our families closer.
Simply put, it’s a process that starts with mutual acceptance and respect.
Molly Koch is reprinted here with permission from Baltimore's Child Magazine. You can also find Molly at mollybkoch.com and keeptheconnection.org. Contact Molly with questions, comments or suggestions for this topic.
Read this feature from past issues.
There are two ways to build self worth-the old way and the new way. The old way was the one I was taught. I was taught how to improve self worth by making myself better-like I was defective and needed correction. Self worth only became an issue in my high school years. In fact I really didn't know much about self worth but I was programmed to make something of myself. Once I made something of myself (like I was nothing) I could then feel accomplished and good about myself. Having no self worth is no fun. You feel ignored by your peers and less than.
If I had self worth others would look up to me and admire me-maybe even be a bit jealous. I'd be more popular with the girls and maybe have someone to go steady with. I thought having a car would be a big step towards getting a girl friend, but it only attracted an under age kid two years younger than me who made me feel like a big shot so I'd let him drive my car. I'm glad I didn't let him drive it alone. He decided he wanted to speed and hot rod my car as I was anxiously sitting in the passenger seat. I reached over and removed the keys from the ignition and the car drifted to a stop. That ended our friendship. I don't think you can do that with today's cars.
I did get mostly A's and B's during high school thinking that would make me popular, but it didn't get me into the hip crowd and didn't attract any girls. Looking back, I guess I compensated. I had no self worth or success socially so I stuck my head in books and got A's and B's. I gave up on high school and started looking beyond to making something of my self.
College was a challenge. Even though I got A's and B's in my course work in high school, I basically flunked my SAT exam which added an extra semester to my college years. So my first semester was to take basic high school courses like algebra and English. To make things even more challenging, I flunked a basic aptitude test given in ROTC. The instructor told me that based on my results I'd be lucky to make it through two years of college.
My entire program to do well in college and make something of myself was jeopardized by that news. I ignored any social life and put my head into my studies. It was the only thing I really knew how to do anyway-socializing was alien to me. Much to my surprise, I got mostly A's in all my courses. I guess it was more of the same-I compensated. I didn't know how to socialize and still had no self worth so I put my head into the books and graduated with honors as a member of Tau Beta Pi.
Through a high school friend I met my future wife. He and she had been dating and after they broke it off, I picked up the pieces. Having a girl friend and joining a fraternity gave me a sense of being someone-finally having some self worth. I took a prestigious position with DuPont as a start up Chemical Engineer and got married. I really felt good about myself and was very happy. I had made something of my self.
My mother and step dad never argued or raised their voices. I admired my wife because in her family they didn't hold back their feelings. Unfortunately my marriage was fraught with arguments and she'd lose her temper for the smallest of things. I had no idea how to deal with the constant upsets and consequently felt miserably frustrated and had no self worth.
Add to this, we bought a fix up home that I was going to remodel. It was in a neighborhood with several trouble making kids who did whatever they could to make life miserable for the rest of us. I learned what it was like to want to kill another human being. Actually I didn't look at these trouble makers as human. I was stuck in my remodeling project and we couldn't relocate. So as accomplished as I was, there was little I liked about myself-I had no self worth.
Add to that I was given a project at work that I had no idea as to how to solve it. I was given a job to double the output of a chemical plant by designing and building another sister plant. I had no experience in design and had no idea what I was doing. But I did luck out, by learning how the existing plant worked, I designed a slight modification costing a total of $400 to improve the process. And much to my surprise and everyone else, production was doubled. I had achieved my goal without having to build another plant-a savings of over a million dollars for a year of my employ ($10.000) and a $400 investment.
How to build self worth-luck out. It should have boosted my self worth but it didn't because I realized I had just lucked out. Yet, numerous engineers before me couldn't figure it out so I got a reputation as being a "Hot Shot Engineer" and was transferred to New Jersey to solve another problem.
Of course it was well before I finished remodeling our home. I took the transfer and left West Virginia with my tail between my legs as I lost money on our home and was a failure at dealing with the trouble making neighborhood kids.
My life continued on for many years with similar ups and downs as I tried to figure out how to improve self worth. My wife passed away a year later and even though I felt sorry for her dying at such a young age, again I felt relieved because I was a failure at solving our explosive arguments. I never hit her or was physically abusive but I could certainly see how some women can goad their spouses into being physically abusive.
In summary, I spent nearly forty years of my life trying to accomplish things-make something of myself-so I'd have a healthy self worth and never achieved a healthy self worth with that approach. Just how do you build self worth? The irony is that we all had it when we were born. We lost it by listening to others tell us we need to be better to have self worth. No, no matter what you accomplish, there will always be disappointments-things that fall through and even question your fabric of being. In actuality you build self worth with choice-the new way is choosing to like yourself for no particular reason other than that you reclaim your born right of being totally OK. Everyone of us makes mistakes-my life (as you see) was fraught with them. Every mistake brings it's share of emotional disappointments. The ticket to building self worth is to feel and experience the disappointments (the anger, frustration, upset, and so on without blaming yourself) and choosing to like you in the process. Sure life provides a lot of opportunity to accomplish things and you will, so the goal is to be happy with your accomplishments and like you; and to be unhappy with your disappointments and to also like you in the process.
Mark your calendars!
Read this feature from past issues.
The Scale Conspiracy It's a fact-95% of all diets and weight loss program fail. Why? Are you a compulsive habitual eater, a compulsive emotional eater, or self defeative eater? Warning: Reading this book will provide you the means to build self esteem such that you will feel great about YOU even on the worst "bad hair day" imaginable. Georgia Jones
NEW from our own Richard Kuhns
Answer: No, it's not the bathroom scale conspiring against you as it sometime seems. It's that the overweight person has a thinking (suggestion) problem or a problem dealing with certain emotions.
Answer: At any given time you may be one of three types of eaters (compulsive or not). The Scale Conspiracy in easy to understand terms empowers you to identify the type of eater you are at any given time. Then using specific easy to use common sense techniques and suggestion (self hypnosis too), you will handle it successfully so that you may remember you used to have an eating issue but forget what it felt like as you shed weight permanently.
This is a "legacy poem" from our April 2003 issue and another of our most popular poets. (We hope to bring back more legacy poems from both Frances Arnett Sbrocchi and Shimon Weinroth soon.)
Day may slip quietly into night
Contentment take flight
Summer's fun and fire
drift through Fall to
Winter's barren brier
We are forgot
Some things go gently
Get information on Domestic violence and violence against women at LadybugBooks.com
The Scale Conspiracy
It's a fact-95% of all diets and weight loss program fail. Why?
Are you a compulsive habitual eater, a compulsive emotional eater, or self defeative eater?
Warning: Reading this book will provide you the means to build self esteem such that you will feel great about YOU even on the worst "bad hair day" imaginable.
We invite any of you to contribute on this subject. We feel it is important to continue the discussion of domestic violence.
We are looking for your stories remembering women's history. Send in your story and we will publish it.
LadybugLive.com and TeenTalkNetwork.com
Special Holiday Editions
We have it all
Always special but even more for the holidays!
Dene Ballentine has begun a series everyone will want to hear: Mother-Daughter Relationship Stages. This is a not to be missed discussion with helpful thoughts and insights for any mother-daughter relationship!
Dr. Doris Jeanette has a special interview with Valerie Storey who is offering 12 Ways to Stay Creative Every Day, PDF to help guide you into creativity; plus, the show is our sample this month (below).
Sue Storm, the Angel Lady, offers messages of peace from the angels.
Author of eight books, including her how-to-write book, The Essential Guide for New Writers, From Idea to Finished Manuscript based on her series of creative writing workshops.
Find out more at www.valeriestorey.com
We are always looking for new hosts so if you know someone who has something to say... There are lots of benefits to anyone hosting a program and for the teen who can do this, not the least of them is the experience itself. It's a great gig for any teen!
Please use the subject title: NewVoices Information
"There are people who have something to say and those who have something to sell. We are interested in the ones with something special to teach the world."
For LadybugLive and TeenTalkNetwork to continue growing, we need correspondents and readers. The process is quite simple: submissions are by email. If accepted, a reader calls, either our local or our toll free number as directed in the acceptance email, to record. What will you be recording?
We are looking for: readings of original creative work, comment and commentary, and ideas for regularly appearing programming that can be done within this format. We are not able, as yet, to do direct call in shows, but shows that require listener (delayed) response are OK. All of this, of course, within the same guidelines as everything we do: Of interest to women (no particular restrictions). This format might also be ideal for some of those traditional topics, such as clothing and makeup, with a fresh "twist."
We strive to bring you the best in women's writing.
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We know online radio is new to many of you but we also know how rewarding it can be. So, if you need help to get started, don't hesitate to contact Georgia for help... And, hey! Our hosts love hearing from you!
Our teen site, TeenTalkNetwork.com programming is safe no porn or other unwanted promotions are attached to our files.
Our teen site, TeenTalkNetwork.com programming is safe no porn or other unwanted promotions are attached to our files.
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Read this feature from past issues.
Books, Cooks, Looks & Ms. Elani
Dear Friends and Readers,
A debut novel
A debut novel
Girl in Translation
Emigrating from Hong Kong to America, with all except her few relatives speaking the language she knows, would be hard enough for an eleven year old, but throw into that mix a a step down from the life that was led in her home country and it is a recipe for disaster. Mrs. Chang hoped to provide a better life for her daughter, Kimberly. Her elder sister had married a man who owned a factory that made clothes and Mrs Chang was offered a job there. All sounded wonderful before the Chang's arrived but within a few weeks reality hit; the factory was a sweat shop and the wages paid were impossible to keep anyone alive and required Kimberly to work every afternoon after school in the shop to help her mother. Thus begins the Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok, her debut novel. Kwok herself emigrated to Brooklyn as a child and worked in a sweat factory so knows first hand what is required to pull oneself out of the heat, smell and poverty.
The tale that makes this story different from many of the other coming of age stories is the voice of the young girl as she learns to fight her way up the ladder, often failing yet never wavering that she must use the only talent she has, her brightness, to get her mother out of the roach and rat filled apartment into which Mrs. Chang's sister dumps them.
The complete lack of the basic necessities: food, clothing and a roof over ones head are barely there. Constant bullying, teasing and fighting become a daily way of life, yet through a few friends, one made in the sweat shop and the other an overweight unpopular girl at school, Kimberly is able to survive. As her brightness is challenged by teachers who believe it is impossible for her to do so well in school, Kimberly just works harder to prove them wrong.
Woven through the story are comparisons between the two cultures and how hard it is for older immigrants to learn to 'fit in' and what a young child must do to bridge the two cultures without giving up the familiar. Kwok's vivid descriptions allow the reader to experience the mistakes and consequences of decisions made when language and culture are not understood. As Kimberly shows her ability to learn she slowly gains respect of those that can open the right doors. Unfortunately, while opportunities are suddenly available, the loss that is experienced by moving away from the known is powerful. When the last page is read and the book closed one is left to ponder the question: could I have made the decisions and been able to face the outcome? Hind sight is twenty twenty and there is has not only admiration for Kimberly but the author, Jean Kwok, in being able to present this story.
Read this feature from past issues.
YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE
News to Watch
The National Women's History Museum pays homage to the academic field of women's history with the release of its newest mini-documentary series, "Keepers of History: Women Who Protected One Half of Our Nation's Story." The 20-minute video traces the development of the women's history field and shines a spotlight on the women historians, who against tough barriers preserved the stories, contributions and experiences of American women. The video also pays tribute to the tremendously valuable contributions that women's history archives played in the development of the discipline.
Afghan women are protected by law, but not prosecutors
Help cure drug-resistant malaria by being idle Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute are asking for people's help in allocating spare computing power from their PCs to help perform 100 years of computations in one year by evaluating millions of compounds that could lead to new drugs to cure mutant, drug-resistant strains of malaria. The calculations, which would be carried out by tapping into the World Community Grid, are part of the GO Fight Against Malaria project. CNET
UNDP report links global well-being to environment
Women can lead Pakistan's pneumonia fight
GAVI initiative takes aim at cervical cancer, rubella
PeaceXpeace We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2011 Women, Power, and Peace Awards! This year we will be honoring The Global Fund for Women (Peace Philanthropy), award-winning photographer Laura Boushnak (Peace Media); life-long peacebuilding and systems pioneer Louise Diamond (Patricia Smith Melton Peacebuilder Award); co-founder of Journeys to Understanding Sahar Taman (Connection Point), interfaith organization S.A.R.A.H. (Community Peacebuilder); and co-founder of Women LEAD Claire Naylor (Generation Peace). To find out more about each of the winners check out our Awards Page.
Speculators banking on default in troubled countries
UN backs broadband access as a human right
From the EDITOR
Giving is a process, a relationship, a two-sided mirror held against our relationships and our world.
This is the season of giving not to be confused with the season of shopping and it is good to think about this process, the giving of gifts, at least once a year. As you struggle to make the perfect bow on that special box, the gift in question is in clear view. You are receiving the joy of making someone else happy. That often means that someone else is getting a tangible item they will enjoy, but I have always liked the active role in things and being the giver of a gift and the recipient of the pleasure that bestows makes it a perfect cycle for me.
People will sometimes give a gift that you, as the person pulling loose the bow, would not have chosen or considered. The answer there, of course, is to appreciate the giver by taking the gift full circle… No, I don't mean back to the store, but back to the giver by making sure her pleasure is not diminished by your lack of caring courtesy. Good gift recipient etiquette is not about a carefully enunciated "thank you" as much as it is about a sincere appreciation of the gift giver.
Some gifts, though: the jar of canned fruit you are known to be allergic to, for example, are not given in pleasure. They might be given for any number of reasons, but the one worth considering is that the giver was not so much thoughtless as in need of your response. This giver needed the gift of giving and if you withhold your appreciation, even for something unneeded or unwanted, you are the one being mean-spirited. If you are 12 to 26, plan to wear the footed jammies at home, probably alone or with someone who understands that this is a generous gesture and say the thank-you as if you know how nice they will be to curl up in some evening. Don't say you will put them away for a special occasion; everyone knows what that means.
I get quite a few unsolicited gifts and every one, whether it fits my décor or is something I would have purchased myself, is placed somewhere. It isn't there in case the giver comes by to check or for everyone to appreciate. It is there to remind me that someone expressed a kindness toward me, and that is something I always need. It is there as my expression of thanks and a reminder that my gift of thanks was given.
When a gift simply must be exchanged or returned, include the giver in the process. If possible, take her shopping with you. Talk about the exchange in a positive way: That blouse is a lovely color against my skin; don't you think? Those pants make my hips look smaller… Don't contrast the exchange with the rejected item. Start over and allow the process to be the gifting of a thank you instead of the rejection of a consumer item. Email or telephone (voice, not text) can be a good way to include Grandma, who may live miles away or be unable to make such an excursion. Gift the giver with the pleasure of your pleasure, even if it isn't limited to the original choice.
A lot is said about thank you notes. It is true, for a traditional giver a note may have more meaning than knowing that you put the purple crystal heart on the window sill near your desk, or that may be the only way that act of gratitude will be know. Don't dismiss these as old-fashioned gestures, but don't use them in place of the real gratitude a gift deserves in return.
Regifting, buying in bulk, last minute anything-left-on-the-store-shelf shopping… Who needs it? A hug, a compliment, a well meant wish for the holidays; they all work better than a consumer item, and much better than one given without pleasure.
A lot of people I know have stopped giving gifts to their grown family members, tangible ones anyway. A visit or an afternoon at a movie, a good meal together, any number of things, including a charitable gift in their name (Why wait until people die for this?), flowers more men than you might guess would love receiving flowers! so many things can be meaningful if given in pleasure to give pleasure, if received in appreciation.
Gifting is not a science. It is one of the few times when intellect does not count. Gifting is something we do during our mid-winter holidays because that is the time when we all gather together to stay warm, to hope for the passing of the hard times and to enjoy the pleasure of that possibility.
Read this feature from past issues.
|At LadybugFlights we have always encouraged the participation of our readers. For that reason we have this space, a place where you can be heard. Nothing as formal as an article or a column... Just some venting, self-expression, or a chance to communicate what you are thinking on almost any topic. Send it to us and we will let you know if we can use it!|
Mary Fletcher's article jumps out with energy and dances with life. It is a magnificent sharing reflective of her own dreams coming true. The Dancing Wheels Company touched my heart and the beauty in the writing as well as the accomplishments are wonderful. I am sending this to a dear friend who has traveled and accomplished. She is also in a wheel chair. Like Mary Fletcher, Pat's identity is in who she is and her zest for life.
What a great story and thank you.
Read this feature from past issues.