Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

A baseball message

It was a baseball day like any other. The crowds filed into the stadium, in spite of the 90+ degree heat and the fact that this was the last week of the AAA baseball season.

Having first row seats on the end provided a great view of third base and left field but also included endless people occupying the seats to our right, legitimately or not. There was no-one around to check tickets and my guess is that a number of the new first rowers weren’t entitled to that proximity.

What I gained, however, was a profound realization of the everyday life that surrounded me in an unextraordinary setting. For example, a single file of senior citizens plus one made a noisy and somewhat clumsy entrance just prior to the singing of the national anthem. But what I noticed thereafter was far more important.

One of the ladies in the group was clearly afflicted with some form of arthritis that had made her movement difficult. As I glanced at her hands, her joints were mostly the size of ping pong balls. While I shuddered at the possibility that this may be my reality of the future, I carefully considered how painful her life must be.

The younger man to her left appeared to have just left Marine boot camp, complete with his camo hat and short haircut. But his behavior suggested that perhaps he had completed several tours of duty, resulting in some emotional issues that left him impulsive, fidgety and very loud. Whether or not he was suffering from PTSD makes absolutely no difference. Like his arthritis-plagued neighbor, he was clearly facing some significant obstacles.

And to our immediate right was a family consisting of grandparents and two boys. The elder of the two was wearing a high school jersey but had some sort of nervous system condition that resulted in his endless leg jerks. To his left was a much younger boy who was extremely thin but had some sort of developmental condition that left him with foot braces.

Maybe this is just another day in America. But while I reflected on my own general good health, I considered the fact that we all have some form of life hurdle to overcome. The endless entrances and exits of the two boys were slight inconveniences but I am grateful for the obvious lesson that my existence could have much greater hardships. Shalom.

 

If I may assist you with any of your writing endeavors, it is my pleasure and privilege to do so.

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Women and cars

What is it about cars and things automotive that rattle so many women? It always amuses me to watch females in an automobile environment, to see how they flail and plead ignorance.

Could it be that we ladies choose to perpetuate the old image that cars are not feminine? Professionals such as Danika Patrick who is very attractive as well as successful should have had some effect on that concept.

But as I wait for my car’s oil change to be completed (Yes, I initiated this on my own), I watched a lady who shook her head and looked mystified that her car has transmission issues. The only thing she didn’t do was ask what a transmission was. Having just been told that I need a new air filter and given the nod to replace it, I wonder who some women are so distressed when informed of car difficulties.

By no means am I suggesting that all women are auto-phobic. One of the ladies in this waiting area appears to be at ease and engaged in her car’s progress. But it’s no surprise that out of eight in the lobby, only she and I are female.

Somewhere along the way we ladies decided that axle or other grease was incompatible with nail polish. Or we decided that it was good male/female interaction to hand off our automotive things to our manly men.

And if being savvy about my car turns me into a female version of the camo-covered, long-bearded, gun packing man on these premises, I’ll stick to jewelry-making and writing. We are not the same as some of the actions that we take. But I continue to be amused by the couple that walks in to report that the lady’s back tires need to be replaced. The man decisively takes the lead and she merely nods and sits placidly with the rest of us. Shalom.

 

If I may assist with any of your writing endeavors, it is my pleasure and privilege to do so. You may reach me at csbutts19@yahoo.com.

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Back to school

As I prepare for my first day back in the classroom for the school year, I am pensive and hopeful. It seems somehow appropriate that my return will include some special education students, those who require an additional level of care and teacher participation.

These are students who need teachers most and are absolutely nonspecific about displaying their love and appreciation for their caregiver/teacher. While I have no special education training from college, my many years of teaching have prepared me for this challenge which I thoroughly embrace.

My hope is that I can provide this class and all those that follow the highest level of compassion, professionalism and individual attention that my students deserve and require. While I have no permanent class for which I have ongoing responsibilities, my role as a substitute teacher is just as serious and committed as that of a permanent, full-time educator.

The school year will be my joy and gratification, as always. Somehow, my students always know that I care about them and that I am very serious about delivering the knowledge, guidance and encouragement that are my blessing to convey. It always works out that way for my students and me. They are quick to ask me to return.

May I have the wisdom to do what is in their best interests. May I also have the patience that is sometimes tested, the clarity to provide best and most concise answers and the good sense to identify the needs of each child. It’s always clear to me that if I enter the classroom with positive expectations, they always become realities. Shalom.

 

If I may assist you with any of your writing endeavors, it is my pleasure and privilege to do so. You may reach me at csbutts19@yahoo.com.

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Guilt and absolution

One of my recent sojourns of solitude produced the word absolution for my reflection. While this word is one that is significantly Roman Catholic or Protestant in its origins, I find it free of religious connotations for me but worthy of my consideration nonetheless.

While I may have dismissed this word as insignificant or irrelevant in the past, my patio time causes me to reflect on words that persist in my consciousness. As writer and educator, it is my intent to spend time on it, rather than dismiss it as simply another vocabulary word.

For those unfamiliar with absolution in the secular context, it is the freedom from blame or guilt. We who do wrong things are often quick to blame or assign guilt to ourselves when we consider some acts or thoughts for which we are responsible. Ultimately, God is solely capable of creating our guilt and absolution.

Aside from that, we often burden ourselves with the recollection of actions in our pasts for which we feel guilty. This is familiar to me, having committed at least two or three major mistakes in judgment for which I have felt guilty. But my question becomes, for how long must we remain responsible for those deeds that we did in years past?

So much of that has to do with inexperience or lack of counsel that would have prohibited us from making bad decisions. Clearly, we can’t change what we committed in the past – we can only learn from it in the hopes of not repeating our secular (or perhaps, religious) transgressions.

For fear of appearing sanctimonious, I simply recommend that we free ourselves from the guilt that hinders our present tense clarity or positive outlook. Learn from what you did wrong in the past and it will inevitably result in better decisions. Just as with so many other negative messages that we send ourselves, remorse is non-productive and can be filed away with the other mistakes of our youth or lack of wisdom.

 

Forgive yourself. If you can understand a mistake, you are halfway to not repeating it. Shalom.

 

If I may assist you with any of your writing endeavors, it is my pleasure and privilege to do so. Shalom.

 

 

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Importance

One of the things that we thinking humans often do is minimize our importance. There are as many methods for doing this as there are situations in which we find ourselves. Most recently, I was pondering my communication from God and immediately terminated the process with the idea that God had much more important issues to address than mine.

In addition to that manner of thinking inappropriately limiting God’s abilities, it serves to diminish my overall value. If I think about it long enough, I can identify a litany of examples where we subordinate ourselves when there was no justification in doing so.

Every time one of my students inquires about asking a “dumb question,” I quickly respond that there are no dumb questions – it’s simply not smart to hold back on asking questions. We often refrain from sharing important information from our physicians, attorneys or accountants. Somehow, we believe that what we have thought to say is not noteworthy enough to utter.

While I often ask people behind me at the grocery store if they would like to go ahead of me, that’s not in the effort to make my time insignificant. The same is true of allowing people to enter a highway by creating a break in the traffic. Those are simply good manners and kind gestures.

But when we extend that to, “You go ahead. My time doesn’t mean anything – I have nowhere important to be,” we sabotage ourselves. Or we can cancel an “optional” appointment such as a haircut or massage, in order to see someone or go somewhere that can just as easily be scheduled at our convenience instead of theirs.

This is not a habit that we want to teach our children. Every appointment, opinion, position or possession that we own is as important as those belonging to others. When we minimize and de-emphasize ourselves long enough, we find ourselves firmly established in the inferior position.

It makes more sense to posit our relevance whenever and wherever necessary. The busy, competitive world is eager to hand us sufficient negativity to diminish us and it is only through persistence and pride that we can hold up our heads and be whoever we want to be. Shalom.

 

If I may assist you with any of your writing endeavors, it is my pleasure and privilege to do so. You may reach me at csbutts19@yahoo.com.

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Abundance

What is it about cornfields that inspires and invigorates me? While every plant is unique, every one of them stands tall, welcoming the sun and contributing its presence to the corn community in which it stands.

It seems to me that the acres of corn are symbols of the land of America on which they are planted. It also enriches me to find beauty in the familiar or fundamental realities.

While I don’t think that I’ve ever walked through a cornfield, I would love to do so. Being vertically challenged, I suspect that it would be easy to get lost in the stalks and surround myself with their green, leafy majesty. My guess is that they smell earthy and corny, as they work hard to produce their cobs of delicious kernels.

Corn’s little neighbors, soybeans, are equally prolific and energetic. As soy products have become more popular, these crops have proliferated. They are short but mighty, lending their dark green color and density to vast acres of this country. As is the case with corn, the soybeans work diligently to produce their offspring and feed the occupants of this world.

What’s the point of this, you ask? For one, it’s the process of finding the extraordinary in the mundane. But beyond that, the richness of these fields is as powerful a sight as a crowd of Americans who gather for a cause in which they believe.

There aren’t too many parts of this wonderful, vibrant country that I don’t find majestic. Having grown up in a very large city, I am as comfortable in Chicago as I am in small mountain or country villages. You could conclude that I’m simply proud of being an American, cherishing its peaks, valleys, landmarks and cornfields with the same zeal. Shalom.

 

If I may assist you with any of your writing endeavors, it is my pleasure and privilege to do so. You may reach me at csbutts19@yahoo.com.

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A broken fork

The lunch alternatives were few, once you deleted fast food and travel centers. Our choice was about a mile off the highway and the number of cars in the parking lot suggested that this was a popular local eatery.

Entering the restaurant, no tables were either cleaned or unpopulated, so we stood briefly, and the owner came by and cleaned a table. Our server eventually arrived to take our orders, after we waited for menus, drinks and silverware.

While I spend no time as a restaurant critic, it soon became obvious that this would not evolve into a cherished eating place. Floors were seriously dirty; food was absolutely mediocre and our orders took at least thirty minutes to arrive. Admittedly, the prices were reasonable, and our lunches totaled less than $18.

Amazingly, the patrons kept coming through the doors. Their standards were apparently quite low, or their options were few. As we were finishing our meal, I noticed a large wooden spoon and fork hanging from one of the walls. One of the tines of the fork was missing.

No-one thought to remove or replace it and it occurred to me that it was a symbol of this diner’s eating attempts that were missing a vital component – a tine or a commitment to quality. We’ll do better next time and as we drove out of town, we noticed at least two alternatives that probably had neither broken forks nor a nonchalant approach to cuisine. Shalom.

 

If I may assist with any of your writing endeavors, it will be my pleasure and privilege to do so. You may reach me at csbutts19@yahoo.com.

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One half hour

Because I’ve recently made it a practice to spend a half hour each day on my patio, in the sun, I’ve been amazed at the multiple realizations I’ve acquired. This is a time that I am alone, with no radio or other devices, simply observing the sounds and visions that surround me.

To begin, I am enchanted by the perceptions (or lack of intrusions) that manifest themselves in the quiet of the patio. The hummingbirds are vocal, sweetly purring or angrily chirping when others invade their space. For as many minutes as I spend, I can see yet another hummingbird, either ingesting their nectar or zooming through the sky at phenomenal speeds.

The lack of other stimuli allows me to think of all those subjects that are either top of mind or filed away somewhere for later access. Magically, answers appear that were earlier unavailable. Clarity emerges, replacing doubt or confusion about a wide variety of subjects.

No matter how many weeds I pulled earlier in the day, I can still see new ones. The shrubs that I trimmed yesterday appear to have grown several inches, if only in protest. Pigeons that appear and strut through the yard are unaffected by my motionless, mute presence – until I make the egregious mistake of moving one foot forward six inches. They take off as if escaping an enemy. And the bees prowl the yard, looking for the forbidden hummingbird nectar, flowers or any other destination they choose.

The most miraculous occurrence is my newfound ability to communicate with God. As one who has never doubted God’s existence, my quiet solitude has enabled God’s active presence in my awareness. The messages are clear, wise and more valuable than any I’ve received elsewhere. If it took this setting and openness to wisdom for it to occur, I am far beyond grateful for the blessing. Shalom.

 

If I may assist you with any of your writing endeavors, it will be my pleasure and privilege to do so. Shalom.

 

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My sister

Dear Sister –

As I sat in front of you to express my love, I knew that you had no idea who I was or why I was there. You asked me several times to stand behind you and I wondered if the sight of me as a stranger was a conflict.

A terrible and unforgiving condition has consumed your being, leaving someone who looks like my sister but doesn’t have your spirit, your energy and your boundless love. For the first time in our many decade history, we couldn’t share a photo a joke or your inimitable laugh.

My greatest challenge is the method by which I can truly engage with you. Your only communication to me was to demand that I move you or remove myself from your sight. When I held your hand, you quickly pulled it away from me.

But I tell myself that when you can access the clarity to recollect and revel in the past, you will do so. That time may never come and every sight of you may be the last.

And so for now, I will kiss you goodbye and hope that it’s not the only one I will be able to deliver. Know that I treasure every minute of our shared lives and I am profoundly grateful for all that you were and all that you gave me. Love forever, Cindy  Shalom.

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Pancakes

If you are anything like me, certain words have the power to trigger memories, good or bad. A word that I hadn’t heard for years and years, standpipe, reminded me of those days in Chicago when we had heavy rains and worried about flooding, so we had to put in the standpipe. Other words and expressions have the same effect – Volkswagen Beetle, spelling bees, custard and Beeman’s gum.

One word that always conjures explicit and positive memories is pancakes. Everyone knows what pancakes are. They are flat breakfast foods that are most often eaten with butter and syrup. In more exotic venues, you can add pine nuts, fruits such as blueberries or strawberries and virtually anything you like.

For me, pancakes remind me of the few and treasured times that we went out for breakfast when I was a child. With five people maintaining busy schedules (for me, endless homework) and somewhat compromised finances, going out to eat anywhere was unusual. But breakfast was always very special because I always ordered pancakes.

Venue was irrelevant. It could have been one of the delis that were in our neighborhood. It could have been a restaurant that was one of my dad’s customers. But except for very few occasions, pancakes were never something that we ate at home. To this day, pancakes evoke memories of the rare trip to a breakfast spot where I immersed myself in buttery, gooey splendor.

While I quickly admit that these observations have no national or global significance and won’t improve the world in any way, I always hope to inspire and educate. Three of the five participants in this memory are no longer here to reminisce but the recollection remains.

If you have reminder similar to mine, share them with those who may be enhanced through the suggestion. When that’s not the case, celebrate the reality that something mundane can bring a smile to your heart. Shalom.

 

If I may assist you in any of your writing endeavors, it is my pleasure and privilege to do so. You may reach me at csbutts19@yahoo.com.