Breaking the Rules

One morning, I was meditating and afterwards this short piece below came to me… a good reminder that sometimes we just have to do things our own way!

“Learn what you need to know and then break the rules – the ones you want to.

Don’t try to fit into the mold and lose yourself by beating the same drum everyone else does.

The world thirsts for innovation…new ways of thinking, doing and being to make sense of its complexities.

You will never be like everyone else. Celebrate your uniqueness and revel in your power to control it!”

I hope you find something meaningful for yourself in these words.

Simplicity

In today’s world, it’s easy to get lost in the complexity of our society. Our life can become a whirling mass of chores, things, people, responsibilities and places, leaving us feeling lost and joyless.

When that happens, take some time to make yourself a top priority. Decide what really matters to you…your well-being and peaceful existence. Eliminate as many of the “shoulds” as possible, and let go of unnecessary things and people. Take some time to do what makes you happy and clears your mind. Relax and go with the flow of life; don’t complicate it with overthinking. When you return to what you absolutely have to do, you will approach it more lovingly because you’ve found time to nurture yourself and relax back into yourself.

My favorite go-to place locally is without a doubt, Cape May, NJ. The beauty of the ocean and rhythm of the waves relaxes me and helps to clear my head. The same is true to some extent for writing and genealogy although those activities can at times be bittersweet. 🙂

Do you have a special place or activity that allows you to relax and free yourself from your routine?

A Love Poem for Valentine’s Day

I wrote this several years ago…thought it was worth a reblog. Happy Valentines’s Day to everyone!

Sweet Thoughts…Precious Memories…Undying Love  How  many of you have ever felt this way?

You have been mine before;

I remember the taste of your tender kisses,

The warmth of your welcoming embrace,

A smile that lit up my lonely world;

That playful way you stirred my passion,

Feeling lost forever, lying in your arms,

Somewhere long ago.

You’re the one I want to be with;

I love you with all that I am.

You are the precious air I breathe,

A character in every dream I cherish,

That missing part of me that I see,

Looking deeply into your eyes.

Along the Delaware Bay

I love to stare at waves rolling onto a sandy beach. The motion and soft sounds usually lull me into a state of deep relaxation. Here are two videos I took earlier in June this year in the area of Cape May, NJ. Perhaps you’d like to share a peaceful moment with me now…

The above video was take at Sunset Beach in Cape May Point. If you look closely you will see a sunken concrete ship, the S.S. Atlantus, at the end of the video. You can read more about the ship HERE.

This video is taken at the more rural Higbee Beach in North Cape May. The morning was cloudy and windy, but the waves and slight howling of the wind still did the trick for me. Here is a LINK to the colorful history of this beach.

A few more looks at waves…

Sunset Beach
Higbee Beach
Higbee Beach

The First Day I Went to Jail

Six months after I graduated from Rutgers with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, I began my first “real” job as a social worker for New Jersey’s Bureau of Children’s Services.

“I want you to visit this seventeen-year old in the jail up the street,” said my supervisor.  “Her father signed an incorrigibility complaint—again.”

“Sure,” I said  as I tried to dismiss the thought that I’d accepted the wrong job. Coming from a conservative middle-class background, I had never seen the inside of a jail, let alone visited an inmate.

It has been more than forty years, so I don’t remember many of the details. What I do recall is being startled by the deep voice that came out of nowhere when I first entered the building, asking me why I was there. He buzzed me in after I responded, and I was led back to a room where I spoke with Janet (not her real name, of course).

This tall, dirty-blond young woman was amused by the fact that I was only a few years older and promptly called me “Granny.” I didn’t mind the nickname and as she talked about her life, I came to see a free-spirited girl who had been toughened by her experiences but who still managed to be kind and funny despite her dysfunctional family. I genuinely liked her and admired her compassion for others.

Over the next few months, we spent a few more times discussing her problems. It wasn’t long, however, before Janet turned eighteen and aged out of the agency system. I felt relieved of my responsibility to her, but at the same time concerned about a future with unsavory friends and no high school diploma. I never saw her again.

A couple of years later, a news article came to my attention. Janet’s murdered body had been found on the township dump—a young life tossed aside like a piece of trash. I wondered  if I could have helped her in some way avoid this ending, but came to realize that a few sessions with a young social worker could not have had a profound effect on twenty years of living in an environment of neglect, poverty and ignorance.

I can only hope that our times together helped in some way. Perhaps she made a couple of better decisions, or perhaps not. One thing I do know is that the experience of learning about a life so different from my own left a lasting imprint on mine.

What Are You Grateful For Today?

There’s always something to appreciate if you think about it. Even on dark, gloomy mornings, the fact that you woke up to see it, is a blessing. Life is something to be thankful for, and as tough as it may seem now, things change and the road levels off.

I find my own life goes more smoothly if I focus on gratitude at least once a day. Before going to bed is an excellent time to be reflective of the day just lived. I know, some days you’d like to forget. We all have those days. Bad things often happen to make room for new opportunities and growth.

If you can’t find the silver lining in that day, then look around at the people in your life. No doubt many of them love you more than you will ever realize. Love is always something to be grateful for. If there are no friends or loved-ones there, it’s an invitation to step outside your comfort zone—join a group or get involved in a charity or church group. Reach out to a neighbor, co-worker or a stranger who needs help. There are plenty of them around.

Some people keep a gratitude journal. While that doesn’t work for all (me included), it’s easy enough to say outloud five things (events, people, objects, feelings, etc.) you are grateful for each day. Be sure to actually feel the gratitude as you think about each one. Can’t do five? Start with three.

We frequently take people and things for granted. Remember to search for the joy in whatever and whoever is in your life. As the saying goes, tomorrow is promised to no one. Make the best of each day and remember that the more you appreciate your life and the people in it, the easier it will be for more good things to come your way.

Yikes! Retrograde Mercury

This is an updated reprint of an article I wrote seven years ago…

It’s the uh-oh time of the year, astrologically speaking that is. Three or four times every year the planet Mercury slows down in its journey around the Sun and appears from the Earth to be moving backward. Actually, it still is moving forward, but this three-week change in motion can create a bit of havoc with life on Earth.

Mercury rules mental processes and communications. You may find that appointments get cancelled at the last minute or you forget that you have one. Letters may get lost in the mail or you may finally receive one that was mailed to you three months ago. Cars and other equipment break down more easily or old problems may resurface.

The bottom line is that things are more likely to go wrong or get confused. Naturally, life goes on and you can’t avoid living through these aggravating periods. However, if you can, avoid planning a trip because something may come up that prevents you from taking it. Try not to buy anything new, especially a car, because the odds are increased that you will later regret your purchase. Don’t sign a contract, but if you must, make sure you or your attorney examine it thoroughly.

On the positive side, it is a great time to finish up something from the past. Clean out that closet you dug into a while back or finish writing those letters or emails you left uncompleted. It’s fun when you run into someone you haven’t seen in a while or when an old friend contacts you to get together. It’s also a favorable time for writers because the mental processes are affected in a way that enhances creativity.

We are currently in one of these retrograde Mercury periods. The good news is that the current one which began February 17th is over on March 10, 2020. Other periods to watch out for during 2020 are: June 18-July 12 and October 14-November 3.

For several years, I worked as a professional astrologer. Although I encountered some persons who were skeptical, once they began following these cycles of Mercury, there were few left to deny the mischievous effects of retrograde Mercury.

So how about you? Have any of you found the last week stressful because of mixed communications or things breaking down? Or perhaps, something lost or delayed returned from the past? So far for me, I was delighted to finally receive an email list of like-minded women I met last July at a writing workshop.

Martha’s Words

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He kept them in a night table drawer—a treasure of poems carefully hand-written in a composition book by his mother fifty years before. One of the poems, “My Boy,” was about him. How it must have warmed my Dad’s heart when he read it. Reece Wilmer Press, Jr. looked a lot like his mother and had inherited her stocky body build splattered with freckles, as I did.

I wasn’t particularly interested in the poems back then. It wasn’t until 1972, when he gave them to me, that I remembered they even existed. Martha Walton Press had died nine years before my birth. I am truly sorry that I never had the chance to know her. Dad didn’t talk much about his early family life, but I had the impression that it was a bit troubled. My mother mentioned to me that he had to quit school at age 16 to help support the family when his parents split up. (Ten years later, though, he graduated with a diploma in civil engineering from Drexel University).

The poems, written between 1899 and 1911, survived the five moves to date in my life. During this time, the writing has faded and the pages have become slightly torn and dog-eared. A few years ago when I took up genealogy, I read the poems several times, searching her words and studying the stylish handwriting in an attempt to know her better.

When I began self-publishing, it became apparent that these poems should be preserved in print. The themes of love, friendship, death and life are timeless. The words are cumbersome by today’s standards but their simplicity conveys a richness of emotion and nostalgia. Moreover, my grandmother was a feisty, creative, intelligent woman who played piano by ear, sewed clothing that she saw on a model and ran her own beauty shop. From the little I know about her, she seemed ahead of her time. When she became divorced, she married her younger brother-in-law, a bit unusual for the 1920s. She deserves to be remembered, and I can’t think of a better way to honor her memory.

As I continue in my writing journey, I feel that Martha’s spirit watches me, cheering me on. I sometimes wonder if she would have done more with her writing if life hadn’t gotten in the way. The luxury of retirement was not available to her; at the age of 57 she passed away from colon cancer.

I published her twelve poems in a short book entitled, “Martha’s Words,” in 2015. Here is the first poem—I hope you like it and will want to read more of her work.

A Lesson

A rose lies withered in my hand,
And one by one, its petals fall.
My thoughts oft turn to a better land
Where no flowers will fall at all.

It reminds me too of an aimless past,
Ah, full of regrets I now see.
Yes, one by one, hopes all fall fast;
There’s naught sure but eternity.

‘Tis sweet to live just day to day
For hope fadeth with the morrow.
And the prize we seek in a worldly way
Is only a false hope we borrow.

I often pray that God, to me, may gift
A life like the pure simple flower,
Content to take his sunshine to live
And scatter his blessings each hour.

Martha Walton (July 27, 1899)