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Selling the Faithful Old Family Minivan

Another Way for week of April 24, 2020

Selling the Faithful Old Family Minivan

It didn’t really seem old to me. Why, it was a lovely 2000 year model, the first new vehicle that I’d ever owned. And the year 2000 still seems like a “new” century to me. Okay, so I need to wake up, Ms. Rip Van Winkle.

Never mind that 20 years had passed: 20 years of carrying daughters and their belongings to various state colleges. And home again after grad. Years when I rushed in the middle of the night to the labor rooms of two daughters having babies. Hauling friends and family. Trips to the beach and the northeast and many many to Indiana where my family comes from. Over 220,000 miles on the dear old van. But unlike some of my daughters who name their cars, I had never actually given that mini a moniker. Still, our memories of good times and bad rode with us in that van.

It had sustained only one very small smash up that required a bit of body work and paint by a friend. I’d kept seat covers on the seats and extra plastic mats on the carpet mats (back in the day when there was no WeatherTech or Husky mats). I faithfully tried to clean up my coffee spills as they occurred which were, admittedly, numerous. Embarrassingly numerous. The day of reckoning came.

In early February, we finally found an affordable 2017 minivan in almost pristine condition, and bought it. I could probably write a whole column about how buying a car is different in 2020 than 2000. We were so rusty and blown away by the technology. Both the new-fangled ways of operating a vehicle (cars that park themselves?) and the buying process itself had us whirling. At one point I felt I was on Star Trek or one of those modern detective shows. As the guy finished all our “paperwork,” he did so on a huge computer screen that was essentially his whole desk top. We signed endless forms with our finger tips on that screen, and he finally handed us the legal records on a thumb drive. No folder of paperwork.

Next we wanted to get our old Dodge Caravan ready to sell (we knew it wouldn’t have brought much as a trade-in). We went to a store specializing in products for cars to make them shiny and new again—and bought a spray carpet cleaner guaranteed to get out vomit, dog doo, urine and any odors thereof. I must give a shout out to E & M Auto Paint “Carpet Cleaner and Deodorizer”. The coffee stains were my biggest concerns and while not every stain came out, after the carpet shampoo and hours of scrubbing, I felt like keeping the dear old van myself.

Before scrubbing.

Same floor, after scrubbing. No perfect, but so much better.

What I liked about the spray was applying it to the floor, you could keep pressing a rag or towel into the carpet and it kept seeping up stains and residue. You didn’t have to keep spraying more spray. To me, the old van looked almost new. Yes, the ceiling fabric was hanging down in one place, there were a few scratches on the dashboard, there was a corner on the front seat that was starting to unravel a little, and a few patches of peeling paint outside. As I sadly removed three college decals from a side window, I was happy we never put on bumper stickers.

Selling a car yourself these days is made somewhat easier online. However, you have to get wise to the scammers and the false inquiries. One man looked at it who would have mostly used it for a work van. And yes, with the seats out, we agreed it would make a fine work truck. But no sale. Several weeks went by.

Then a young woman began texting us regarding our ad on Craigslist. Her husband called to talk to my husband. Gradually we learned they had four small children, and they really needed the space our minivan offered. When they came to meet us at a city parking lot, Mimi was visibly excited about seeing it. “Oh, it’s just what I wanted! The kids will love it!”

That was like music to our hearts—to hear that someone wanted our family van. We made plans to meet up the next day to complete the purchase. Later she followed up with an email: “It has been wonderful, my children absolutely love it! They don’t want to go in their dad’s car at all anymore. I can’t thank you enough.”

And that, my friends, is how we sold our 20-year-old minivan. With tears of nostalgic happiness. We hope it serves this family very well.

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Your own story? Memories of favorite vehicles?

I remember my sister talking to one of our vehicles, long ago, when she said a fond farewell to it. Anyone else talk to your car?

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Comment here or send to me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication. 

 

 

 

When Senior Year Ends Suddenly – by Stone Kemp

Another Way for week of April 17, 2020

Stone on his 18th birthday.

When Senior Year Ends Suddenly

Guest Columnist Stone Kemp

Stone Kemp is my guest columnist this week, a great nephew. Stone was a senior at White Pigeon, Michigan this past year and grew up in this small school where all 13 grades total under 800 students. Stone initially wrote this as a Facebook post and gave permission to share it here, in honor of all the seniors who are missing so many end-of-the-year festivities due to COVID-19. He has been accepted at University of Michigan.

Now that school is officially over [announced April 2], I wanted to just share my love for White Pigeon these past 13 years. White Pigeon, you’ve done so good for me. I’ve loved every aspect of it.

I started off in preschool with Mrs. Crespo. I remember hanging out in the “play kitchen” with my friend Blaine and we had contests of who could burp the loudest. I never won.

Then came Kindergarten with Miss Kincaid. So fun. I remember being nervous about going to school, and not wanting to leave my mom. But I made friends to help me along the way. I grew more comfortable through time.

I got to first grade and had Mrs. Hershbach. Honestly, I don’t remember too much about that grade. For second grade I was lucky enough to have Mrs. Crespo again and I began to have a “girlfriend.” It was a good time.

For third grade I had Mrs. Gray and I remember all the drama between the boys and the girls, especially when Kobie and Karey broke up. Oh boy, the whole class was divided then. Ha! Fourth grade I was with Mrs. Miracle and I remember she would always read books to us in her very fun pirate accents. I remember the spelling tests every Thursday and how my mom would take us “advanced spellers” to the lunch room and we would do quizzes and get candy if we did good.

Fifth grade was the golden year. I had Mrs. Vicki Chupp DeMeyer and we had so much fun in that class. During recess, it would always be DeMeyer’s class versus Schmeiling’s class playing football in the yard. We usually won. We also went to fifth grade camp as a class, and I remember getting pranked by our two teachers.

Sixth grade began my middle school life with the awkward moments, the raging hormones, the stinky middle schoolers (deodorant anyone?). It was a good time though and we went to Chicago on a field trip. That was so fun!

Stone, as a middle schooler, enjoying conversation with his Great Grandma Miller on a beach vacation.

Seventh grade year was a breeze and eighth grade got a little tougher. Claycee West and I got moved up to high school Algebra I, so we got a head start on “high school life.” Freshman year was wild. I missed the first week of school because my family had a vacation planned before Labor Day and that’s when the school decided to move the start date before Labor Day. I remember I quit football that year to run a Bible study. It was such a good, good time. I was dating a junior at the time and I was just a little freshie so I thought I was pretty cool. Sophomore year I got chosen for homecoming court and ran cross country, and did my only year of track.

Junior year was one for the books. Coach Shawn Strawser convinced me to come out and play varsity football and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. We had such a good year and beat Mendon High for the first time in 20 years and made it to the playoffs. I also had to do the SAT but scored a decent 1250 and was proud of myself for that. Also they picked me prom prince which was so awesome.

Senior year. Oh where to start? I got homecoming king with Reyna Fielis and that was really cool. My football season was cut short due to a knee injury, but it worked out I could play basketball. Senior year was full of so many lasts. So it was very difficult to comprehend our senior year suddenly being over. I’m just now realizing how hard it is going to be for a little while.

I remember we seniors planned to skip school on Friday, March 13. We wanted to all go out to breakfast and do fun stuff. Well I remember waking up that day and saying that we should be at school because we would be getting three weeks off due to COVID. So I dragged myself out of bed and went to school. I remember that we weren’t doing hardly anything that day so I and a couple others left school during fourth hour. We went to Rachel’s and had lunch. I’ll never forget that.

So I skipped part of my last day of school, never thinking we would miss the rest of the school year. But here we are and it will be okay. God has a plan for everything. But like I was saying, thank you, White Pigeon. Thank you to all the teachers and staff and parents and lunch ladies and principals and coaches and janitors and endless speakers we had. And thank you to my peers, my best friends, my teammates, my WP family. You forever hold a place in my heart, White Pigeon. You’ve done good for me, now it is my turn to make a name for you guys.

Stone and his great grandma enjoying a boat ride along with Stone’s sister, Megan.

God bless and I hope to see everyone, hopefully, at graduation.

Your thoughts or responses to Stone’s post?

Do you have kids in your family graduating from high school or college this year?

What do you remember about your senior year of high school?

What teachers do you remember and celebrate from your elementary school days?

Comment here and share your responses to Stone’s essay.

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Or send them to me and I’ll make sure Stone gets them. Send to me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

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This isn’t the first time I’ve written about the village of White Pigeon, Michigan. See this fun story about my parents’ love story and how a small nut shop there was a special place.

 

Stress in Relationships Stalks Us All During Quarantine

Stepping up, stepping down. His bandage stayed on the first two weeks post-surgery.

Another Way for week of April 12, 2020

Stress in Relationships Stalks Us All

Time to talk about the other malady we are feeling across the world: the stress, ugliness, arguments, and discord a pandemic of these dimensions can produce. This ailment, stress, will affect 100 percent of us unless we keep it in check. It can be as damaging to relationships as a deadly virus.

Because of the virus, my husband and I had to do physical therapy at home for the knee replacement surgery he had on March 10. He was able to go to one week of appointments with a trained physical therapist. Then, with little warning, all outpatient therapy at the nearby retirement complex was scrubbed. We felt gut-punched.

Our homemade way of measuring the progress getting bend into his knee. The dog, as usual, supervises.

When one spouse is in acute pain from the bends and stretches being flexed on his new knee, and the other spouse is occupied two hours a day supplying him with the various tools needed (stretch bands, squeeze balls, icing of knee, rulers and yardsticks to measure progress, notebooks to document the quarter inches gained), well, you can guess that there were some hurtful words and tearful times for both parties.

I have probably written about stress at least a dozen times over the years of publishing a weekly newspaper column. Let me be clear. I’d much rather have the stress ailment than Covid-19, but I lament the difficulties most of us are having in our families even across the miles—by phone or Facebook or texts. It isn’t easy to hibernate in our homes and apartments and (likely most difficult of all), in mobile homes. Cabin fever: yes.

Homemade cards from grandchildren help to brighten the day.

Thankfully, we were able to find another therapy place that is open and very helpful, but he still has to do much therapy at home, of course. At least we have more guidance. I’d much rather be the helper for his therapy than the patient. I’m also glad I don’t have to add the two hours of therapy onto an eight-hour work day, plus cooking, housework, and walking the dog. I’ll admit it doesn’t take a quarantine to bring out arguments, but after 44 years of marriage, we know we will survive the current fray and kiss and make up.

The Harvard Business Review recently posted an article, “That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief,” an interview with grief expert David Kessler. He says the stress we’re under is a form of grief. Because none of us know who will get sick, who will become a caretaker of the sick, who will get well, how things will pan out—the anxiety we feel is a form of anticipatory grief. The advice they give, briefly, is to try to get back to the present—and not spend too much time worrying over what we cannot change or control. (Of course, there is much we can do to help avoid illness: washing hands, not touching face, physically keeping a distance from people, staying home, and more. You know the list.)

But as you are able, trying focusing on the present. Kessler suggests: “Name the things that are in the room you are in. There may be a computer, a chair, a picture of the dog, an old rug, a coffee mug. Breathe. Realize that in the present moment … you’re okay. You have food. You are not sick. Use your senses and think about what you are feeling. ‘The desk is hard. The blanket is soft. I can feel the breath coming into my nose.’ This really will work to dampen some of that [anticipatory] pain.”

They also encourage us to let go of what we can’t control, and “stock up.” Not on toilet paper or eggs or whatever is in short supply in your neighborhood, but give each other grace, good will, and share love. Let’s pray for and appreciate all of those working in health care, who are suffering some of the worst brunt of all this frustration, uncertainty, and even rage. Let’s share as we are able with those who are out of work, spending long days alone with toddlers or preschoolers who have little grasp of why their worlds have been upended with schedules changed and no seeing their friends.

It’s okay to feel grief, anger, and frustration, but don’t let those loom over your spirit and take over your household. I do hear many of us focusing instead on the beautiful colors of spring flowers, the return of green to the earth, newborn chicks or lambs, a celebration of Easter as we perhaps have never known it: no (or few) services in actual houses of worship, connecting with family and friends via Zoom, Facebook, Google Hangouts, or good old fashioned Ma Bell (phones). Maybe hiding Easter eggs in your own yard—no mass scramble in parks, at churches, or White House lawn.

I do pray for all of us a sane and healthy Easter, with God’s abundant love for all.

 

 

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How are you staying sane, if you are?

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What daily routines are a new enjoyment?

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What have you learned about yourself?

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Finally, if you need help, do reach out. Do not harm yourself or your family.

Call for help. 

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For a free booklet, “Secrets of Long Marriage: The Six C’s of Marriage” plus a bookmark with “101 Ways to Manage Stress,” send your request to me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

 

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

 

 

 

 

A Long Hard Week: When Our World Changed

Another Way for week of April 3, 2020

A Long Hard Week

It was a hard, tough week for us. You will likely recall your own circumstances of whatever week, day, or time when the corona virus began really changing your life, your outlook, your state of mind. For sure, the virus was out there much earlier, on the news, in other countries, and then bam. Things started really closing down, and we were told to stay home.

On top of that, four people we knew well died all in that same week: not from COVID-19, but they were taken from us just the same.

It started on Sunday, March 8, with a startling announcement after worship at church. One of our longtime members, a coach who began the football program at the local now large university, passed away in his sleep. We collectively drew in our breath: that sucking-in sound that signals surprise, dismay, sadness. Challace was not quite 78. His memorial service later that week was massive for our moderately sized church, and the hugs we gave and received from his family were likely the last hugs we will have for a long time (from someone other than a mate).

On Monday I learned that a sweet member of my water exercise class at our wellness center had also died on Sunday. Ruth was in her 90s. Her husband participated in the same class, and on Monday he came to class anyway. I imagine he desperately needed to do something normal, to get out of their apartment. They had been married over 72 years. Later I figured out I had worked closely with their son about five years.

On Tuesday I learned that the housekeeper at my former office, Doris, had died. In her early 90s, we knew she had cancer, so it wasn’t a surprise. I had written about her in this column, about her long career working into her 90s. In fact, she did light cleaning at the local credit union until cancer made that impossible. I mostly rejoiced that Doris’ suffering was over, and went to the family viewing on Thursday night.

On Friday a dear cousin, Joyce, also went to her heavenly reward. She had “coded” (rescue slang for a cardiac arrest event although not a heart attack) the Friday night before in the yard at her home. Her daughter, a trained safety staff person at work, tried to revive her mother, performing CPR until the rescue squad got there. Joyce was put on a ventilator and chilled into a hypothermic state to save her organs. Her family spent the week faithfully by her side, praying for a miracle to overcome what had surely caused brain damage. Reluctantly they said their goodbyes and after much medical consultation, removed the ventilator. She died peacefully on March 13 at the age of 72. That’s young in my book.

That Friday the 13th in March, was the day many of us had our lives affected personally with restrictions on no gatherings of more than 10 people, keeping away from even our loved ones, locked out of nursing homes, closing of schools, daycares, restaurants, recreation, and gyms. Not a good Friday for anyone, but particularly devastating for all those who had already suffered the loss of a loved one. Bad luck superstitions aside, it was not a Good Friday.

This coming week of course in Christian circles is Holy Week. Jesus had a disaster of a week some 2000 years ago. I’m sure the disciples found that particular week a whirlwind of emotions as well: to go from the triumph of Palm Sunday to their world falling apart. The closeness of Thursday night’s last Passover meal with Jesus, and later that night, Peter and Judas’ wretched betrayal of Jesus.

Then came the cross of “good” Friday. I guess we call it good because of Jesus’ willing sacrifice of himself—even though he knew how incredibly painful and ugly and gut wrenching it would be. His gift made it possible for the rest of us to grab onto the rays of hope which his birth, life, death, and resurrection give us. We can clutch his hand even amid the prolonged disruption and fear this virus has caused.

And praise be, the tomb was not the end for Jesus: his resurrection gave us the promise of the same raising to eternal life.

Look for those rays of hope and snag them for yourself: the love of family, friends, and colleagues which stretch beyond the borders of sidewalks and windows and closed doors. And don’t stop praying for those suffering grief, panic, pain, loneliness, and fear. We owe abundant thanks to those who provide their care.

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How has your life changed since March 13, 2020?

How do you plan to celebrate Easter?

How are you?

Share or comment here or privately, to the address below.

Connect with me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help! I Can’t Get Up: When Mom Breaks Her Hip

Another Way for week of March 27, 2020

Help! I Can’t Get Up

So, in the middle of all the worry and response to news of the coronavirus spreading, what happens when you or someone you love needs to be hospitalized for routine health issues in the middle of a pandemic?

As I look back over the past month, the worldwide panic, fear, and pandemonium has spread so far and fast that it all swirls together in my mind and memory.

Mom having her spirits lifted by a therapy dog, the day after surgery while receiving a pint of blood.

About five weeks ago now we were called in the middle of the night with a message that many baby boomers fear regarding their parents: “Help, I’ve fallen, I can’t get up.”

Let me back up a second. My mother is 95, lives in a retirement complex in an independent apartment. Thanks to the good Lord and my sisters, Mom had recently gotten one of those arm “Mobile Help” callers (after the retirement complex quit including it in their package of services because of the expense). Mom fell in her bathroom around 12:30 a.m., realized she was in great pain and couldn’t get back up, and summoned help with the beeper. Within 20 minutes “there were men [rescue squad guys] all over me.” Helping of course.

My sister Nancy, a retired RN, called me about 3:30 a.m. with the news as she sat waiting with Mom in the emergency room. Her husband said, “Maybe you ought to wait until morning to call” but she responded, “If I’m up in the middle of the night, they can be too.” Honestly, I wouldn’t have wanted Nancy to wait. I began immediately plotting our next steps. How soon could we leave? My husband had an appointment that day with an orthopedic surgeon that we had waited months to get. We should surely keep that appointment. Who would take care of our dog? As I lay there worrying, I also held up my mother and sister in prayer for comfort and good decisions from medical staff. That was Feb. 19. The coronavirus was of course a concern to everyone but most of us had not yet begun to imagine the ramifications for our families and basically the whole connected world in terms of economy, travel, jobs, depression (monetary and mental).

Heading through western Maryland, we pass a ski lift making snow.

My husband and I left for Indiana the next day. When we walked into Mom’s apartment and the bathroom where she had fallen, the sight of her shower door knocked completely off its track punched me in the gut. The reality of her lying on that floor in pain, panic, and darkness hit home.

We headed to the hospital. Mom’s surgery had gone well in spite of it being risky because of thickened valves (also known as severe aortic stenosis). The doctor used as little anesthesia as possible as he pinned her femur to her pelvic bone in less than 15 minutes.

Mom doing well in physical therapy several days post-op.

She was in good spirits (still on pain killers from surgery) and I felt grateful we could travel so quickly. My other sister was unfortunately delayed because of ice at the Charlotte, N.C. airport, and had to return home to try again the next day.

When Pert finally got there late in the day, we caught up with each other visiting around Mom’s bed. By Saturday the doctors released Mom to the rehab unit of her retirement complex. We enjoyed helping settle Mom into her new temporary room.

On one of the days following Mom’s surgery, Pert and I took a walk in the healthcare section (separate from rehab) to see remodeling and updating they’d done since we’d been there last. It looked amazing but apparently it was an unwise move on our part. We opened several closed doors. Even though we were generally very careful about using hand sanitizers, after we left to go home, a total of four family members were eventually struck with a stomach bug, with a lingering unsettled feeling for two to three days after. But we were lucky. No quarantine, no weeks of isolation at that point. Rather, we soon began to feel better with the simple comfort of chicken noodle soup, crackers, and ginger ale.

My heart goes out to all individuals and families dealing with seclusion, staying away from family, friends and normal routine—or worse, a scary illness and loss of a loved one. We also lost, in one week’s time, a dear cousin on my husband’s side, a church friend, and a former coworker—not to the virus, but other causes.

Mom requested our “normal” Sunday evening meal: popcorn and balony sandwich. She loved it!

We must pull together, share our resources, and hold each other up in love and prayer. World strong!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What food sounds good to you after being ill or post surgery?

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Share your best “pick me ups” during this time of quarantine and keeping a friendly distance between humans!

 

For a free booklet, “Praying When You Are Depressed,” send your request to me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Should You Help?

Painting of bygone days in rural Rockingham County, by David Huyard.

Another Way for week of March 20, 2020

When Should You Help?

I had been lost—bunches of times—on the very back roads we now live on—when my children were younger. They had friends who lived on back roads and when they were invited for birthday parties or overnights and the best navigation help we had at that time—no computer help at all—were directions usually given over the phone, well, the result was that I often ended up frustrated, anxious, and even wailing. I did my best to write out the directions, including watching for landmarks: if you come to a stop sign with a tree 30 feet off the road, you’ve gone too far. Really? How many crossroad descriptions does that match?

So, I had and have empathy for other lost folks. But of course, you’ve got to be careful. And wise.

Recently I was heading out to take my husband a vital piece of his chain saw at his friend’s wooded acreage. I noticed a woman in a car, with her emergency flashers on, at a crossroads. She looked about my age. What did she need? Mechanical help? Directions? She appeared to be looking down at her lap. But I knew my husband was waiting for his part. If she’s still there when I come back, I said to myself, (judging it would be no more than a five-minute errand), I would help her.

Didn’t she have a smart phone? Who ventures out to find a place without a phone or GPS these days? It looked like she was trying to call someone. Maybe help was on the way.

When I returned from completing my errand, she was still sitting there, but another woman, also similar in age to us both, was out on the road obviously trying to help her. I recognized the other woman, a neighbor who moved to this area about five years ago, who I knew through work connections and also a fellow blogger and Facebook friend. This made me feel safer in deciding to stop and help.

The “lost” woman said she was trying to find a new-to-her CPA who lived in a brick home for her tax appointment. She had some directions written on paper, but her phone was not working in our neighborhood. No surprise there.

Art by David Huyard.

The house was supposedly visible from a church not far down the road. I volunteered that I knew where that church was and she could follow me to the church and we’d see what we could see. So the other fellow blogger/Facebook friend—who I’m guessing was on her way to a dog training class—took that as a nod I could probably help better than she could.

But. When we got to that church, a house matching the description was not immediately visible. I plugged in the address she had on my phone. From my “Google Maps” it became obvious to me that the brick house was over across the hill and .3 miles away. Bingo. She also used my phone to call the CPA’s number. The woman was overjoyed and would be only a few minutes late to her appointment. She thanked me profusely before hurrying to the CPA’s house.

Would I have helped if the person lost would have been of a different race or language group than me? I hope so. I thought about our trip to Alaska last summer where we were told about the general practice that if it was below zero and there was a hitchhiker or someone needing help, they were obliged to stop and assist or else face a fine. I’ve been unable to document that it is a law, but the common understanding of locals is that you must help.

Second cousins at an impasse.

What if she had appeared drunk or unkempt or out of control? By what standards do we make quick judgments about whether it is safe to help? Time of day? Age of car? Is it safer just to call the police if you don’t know whether to help or not? I know that many have sat and waited an extended length of time when needing help and car after car passes you by. I think many of us assume that everyone has cell phone help at their fingertips, but we also know how those devices can fail us at just the wrong time.

Bottom line: be wise (I would not have stopped for a man) and maybe keep your distance from a car, or call for help from your own vehicle. I do know it is a great feeling to be of help when someone is in distress, and nice to still practice the Golden Rule.

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What are your own safety rules of when you help or don’t?

How do you decide?

Your own stories?

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Comment here or send to me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

 

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

How to Shine Every Day. Really?

Another Way for week of March 13, 2020

How to Shine Every Day

(Editor’s note: Tenth and final in a series on physical, mental, relational, and spiritual health.)

Our last word in this ten-week series of dynamic action words found on my favorite cereal box is “Shine.” One of the first things to spring into my brain with the word shine is a song we used to sing in Sunday school: “Oh let the sun shine in, face it with a grin; smilers never lose, and frowners never win.”

Or this: “Heavenly sunshine, heavenly sunshine, flooding my soul with glory divine.”

Or this, from more recent years: “Shine, Jesus, shine, fill this land with our God’s great glory. Blaze, Spirit, blaze, set our hearts on fire.”

Each of these church songs are inspiring and uplifting to me but I doubt those were the images and lines the marketers for the Kashi cereal had in mind. But that’s ok. I hope the song snippets flow with you through this coming week as we all face challenges brought about by the world-wide virus crisis of 2020. [I actually wrote this about two weeks ago, before the U.S. got down to business in dealing with the coronavirus.]

Shine is a bright invigorating word that, especially if the sun is shining, gets most of us going in a very good way. It can be harder to crawl out of the covers on a dark, dismal, rainy (or snowy) day. We’ve heard, or know firsthand, about seasonal affective disorder and the depression and negativity that can settle over one’s spirit during a season of shorter, darkened days. In regions of the world where people experience very long nights (such as northern Arctic regions), they sometimes have increased issues with alcoholism or depression—just because of the dearth of sunshine in winter.

Throughout history, light from the sun has given life and hope and existence to not only humans, but animals, nature (think flowers, growing things), and indeed sets the pace for daily routines: for life itself. From the early stories of how the world came to be, in Genesis 1:3 we read, “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.”

But what does it take to shine in our inner spirit and in our relationships with others [even as we practice social distance!]? We may not be as bright as the sun or stars but certainly some people radiate brightness with their very being.

Betsy and her red hat given to by her friend, Jamie.

Isn’t the hat just too cute?

When I think of people who shine I must name Betsy, who is a new friend I’ve met since I retired. We met at a wellness center in a pool exercise class. Betsy is almost always smiling, a remarkable achievement I have never been able to manage, but I’m working on it. She almost glows. Her eyes sparkle and she has a beautiful smile whether with teeth showing or closed. She is in her 90s but still swims almost every day. She dons a bright red hat on a dull day and looks ready for Fifth Avenue shopping.

Betsy reminds me of another woman I knew decades ago at our church, Katherine. She almost always had a smile and it seemed genuine. Such folks lift my own spirits. She was one of the prime movers behind a robust Weekday Religious Education organization in our county, where children are still invited to come and learn from the stories of the Bible, which should be part of any well-rounded literary education. Obviously, parents and children can choose whether they participate in it, conducted off school grounds.

I also must give a plug here for a children’s Sunday school, nurture, or faith formation curriculum, Shine: Living in God’s Light, because of its name. Shine is under the auspices of the publishing/media organization I retired from last March, and is used and recommended by a number of Christian denominations, although published by Mennonites and Church of the Brethren. Find more at shinecurriculum.com. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. It has been both a challenge and helpful to have these word prompts for ten weeks sparking ideas. Thanks to many of you who have added your thoughts online. The secret to shining every day? Think positive thoughts no matter how glum your spirit or current situation, and as so many have said, take things one day at a time. Reach out to others if you are the one “standing in the need of prayer,” and return the favor when friends and loved ones are in need of your help, as many are in these difficult days. Keep the internal—and eternal light of love—shining.

***

How do you plan to keep shining, even when you are feeling bum or depressed or anxious? Share stories or comments here!

***

Please let me know what inspired you most through this series? Was it too long? About right? What was your favorite, or the most “meh” of the titles. I love to hear any feedback.

If you’ve missed some columns in this series, I can send you the complete series by email. If you don’t have email but would like a copy, I can print and send it for $2 Contact me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834. Or download the entire series in this PDF: Go. Rise. Play.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Ways to Learn to Love Someone You Have Trouble Loving

Another Way for week of March 6, 2020

10 Ways to Learn to Love Someone You Have Trouble Loving

Or, What the World Needs Now

(Editor’s note: Ninth in a ten-part series on physical, mental, relational, and spiritual health.)

The people who compiled the list of ten inspiring action verbs found currently on my favorite cereal box, “Kashi,” put a really hard one on their list. At first glance it seems easy: well of course I actively love others. A no-brainer.

But this word is so often sung about, written about, talked about. So what new is there to say? Why would they include it on their list with words such as spark, play, rise, go, wander and more?

I think it is because the underlying purpose of the list is to get people not just enjoying love as a romantic state or divine love from God. Or family love that offers bonds of protection and stability. But rather to stretch ourselves and perhaps actively love where we haven’t tried to extend love before.

There’s the rub: love someone who isn’t very lovely or loving in return? Who is it that takes some effort for you to love? Of the opposite political persuasion? Perhaps it is someone you know at school or church or work who has a personality quirk and grates on your nerves? Maybe someone of a lower income group or hard-to-understand accent? An in-law that rubs you the wrong way? What would it take to actively love them?

  1. Decide you need to try.
  2. The second step is getting to know them better. Stereotypes and preconceived notions about the person often fall apart as you get to know him or her: why they are the way they are.
  3. List their good and positive traits.
  4. When you are having trouble loving them, think about their best feature.
  5. Ask God for help to truly love them.
  6. Recognize (perhaps make another list) your own negative habits or traits that might make it hard for someone to love you.
  7. When you find yourself looking judgmentally at someone, look at their face and recognize that some mother or father loved that person (at least we hope so).
  8. Those who have not been truly loved in their childhood often become very difficult to love as adults, but all the more in need of a loving friend.
  9. Sometimes it is hardest to truly love those closest to us, because of all the daily irritations that come from living together.
  10. If after all this you don’t find yourself liking that other person, perhaps you can still love them in a spiritual sense.

Perhaps you remember the singer and songwriter Burt Bacharach who wrote:

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of …
No, not just for some but for everyone.

They were always game for a smooch.

That brings to mind my own father, who preached the doctrine of love: to kiss and make up after a fight, to love the unlovely. And of course, he not only preached it, but lived it: visiting literal orphans and widows as part of his (volunteer) job as a church deacon, or working to improve distribution of food to the “hungry peoples of the world,” inviting many international guests into our home. With an eighth-grade education, he sometimes got his words and especially the pronunciation of difficult Biblical words mixed up, but he longed to teach those around him to use the power of love to make a difference. “Why can’t we all live together in peace and harmony,” he would

Mom and Dad looking all coy and innocent after their deep smooch.

say. Sometimes I thought he was being too simplistic or idealistic, but it’s a question to ask ourselves, at least with maybe that one person you have the most difficulty loving or appreciating.

Are you ready to try to expand your circle of those you love?

***

What have you learned about love in your years on this earth??

***

 

Send your comments or confessions or stories to me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834. If you’ve missed some columns in this series, I will make them all available by email (and online as a PDF) at the series’ conclusion. Just let me know.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

 

 

Wandering Hodge Podge

Another Way for week of February 29, 2020

Wandering Hodge Podge

[Editor’s note: Seventh in a ten-part series on physical, mental, relational, and spiritual health.]

I sent this out to newspapers for the fifth Friday in February. If you wonder how often five Fridays in the shortest month happen, it is only once every 28 years. You can find any little factoid wandering around online, or as we used to say, surfing the Internet, and that’s where I got this info.

Our word for this week is wander. I love the hint in that word of freedom and impetus to explore, to go beyond our usual routine or habits and comfort zones, to a brand-new place.

I think we typically think of nature as a place to wander, and I love it, either with a companion or alone. I began those wanderings as an early teenager—walking up a hill on our Indiana farm (my Virginia-born husband would scoff and call it a small rise)—where I would sit at the end of a day pondering my life, future, relationships, hopes, fears, and beliefs. So the physical act of wandering away from our house, barn, and chicken houses to a space where I didn’t go every day allowed me time and space to process life, and dream.

As a couple we enjoy hiking and Virginia is a splendid place to explore trails aplenty. We have not begun to visit all of our state parks—partly because our go-to place is Shenandoah National Park. Now that we have senior passes we can go to any national park for free. Just one of the many benefits of aging. (We landed those passes before the recent price hike, but well worth the investment even at $80 if you travel at all.)

Zion Park, Utah, photo by Melodie Davis

Zion National Park, Utah

My father and mother introduced us to national parks on a six-week family journey to the west coast in 1964, visiting at least 12 parks: Yosemite, Glacier, Crater Lake, Yellowstone, Mt. Rainer, Sequoia, Redwood, Mesa Verde, Petrified Forrest, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, and the Badlands. All are unusual places in which to wander and discover the many natural worlds out there. Since then I’ve checked off about seven additional national parks from my list.

Long ago: Sam’s mother, Tanya, left, showing one of our kittens to friends at school.

Wandering can also refer to just trying something new—without traveling one block or mile or kilometer. Maybe plant a back porch garden—as we’re nearing spring. Wander around a museum you’ve never bothered to visit. My grandson was recently rewarded for good behavior by a trip to a large pet store: not to buy anything, but to see and enjoy a variety of animals and reptiles. Sam would have loved a kitty but with allergies, he had to leave them in the store.

Or, this may seem like an unusual example of wander, but this past Christmas, I put “billfold” on my Christmas list when my husband begged me at the last minute for ideas. When I opened that gift, it was lovely, and had a multitude of pockets and card slots, but I was like, uh, this is so big! How will I ever put it in my purse? Or should I just use it as my purse? No, there are too many things I like to keep with me when I’m out and about. Hadn’t he noticed the size of my purse, and the billfold I had before? Could I change my habits and go lighter using the new billfold as purse? My mind wandered through many options as I deeply wanted to embrace this sweet gift from him.

Could I fit this big billfold into my current purse??

Then I decided to just try it out. It was new territory for me. I went “wandering” into it, with a little trepidation in disappointing him over his gift if it didn’t work out. But now, I love it!

So you never know what a little experimenting and wandering around will bring about. Being open to the new and different can open up innovative options and even worlds.

I hope you feel compelled to spend a little time “wandering” today, even if you must work on an assembly line, in a restaurant kitchen, office, or are home with children. Pause and find something new to ponder or explore or celebrate. Maybe you’ll wander out to the kitchen and just cook up something different for supper. You might enjoy branching out.

***

How do you “wander”? Why?

What have you learned about yourself or others when allowing your mind, spirit, or body to go wandering (but not philandering!!)

***

Or, were you ever given a gift you weren’t sure you liked but came to love it?

I’d love to hear your comments here.

If you’ve missed some columns in this series, I will make them all available by email at the series’ conclusion. You can request it now and I’ll send it to you in a few weeks. Contact me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

 

 

Me Defy? Oh My!

Another Way for week of February 21, 2020

Me Defy? Oh My!

(Seventh in a ten-part series on physical, mental, relational, and spiritual health.)

Our seventh action verb for this week is defy. That scares me. How am I going to write about defy?

I am not an in-your-face kind of person. I don’t recall ever participating in an outright protest about anything. Sorry folks. I have never wanted to make enemies on either side. I have strong beliefs and my family and friends mostly know them. I just don’t put them out there in public. I’ve signed some petitions, wrote plenty of letters, even sent opinions to editorial pages.

When I was younger, I wasn’t one to defy my parents or their wishes—unless it was in the area of marrying a man who was not of our faith denomination. Both Christian, I have never hidden the fact in my writing that he grew up Lutheran and I grew up Mennonite and we compromised by going Presbyterian. When we had all three daughters baptized as infants in our Presbyterian church, I maybe defied the wishes of my father. I know we disappointed him in that.

So I have to ponder, why and how is defy a good action word for us?

A hymn we sang recently gave me new inspiration. Based on the poem or writings of St. Francis of Assisi (or at least attributed to him), I loved these lyrics adapted by Sebastian Temple in 1967:

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love.
Where there is despair in life, let me bring hope,
Where there is darkness, only light,
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

These approaches to life certainly defy the status quo. It is an ongoing struggle to face life with hope and joy when so much sadness, anger, evil, and misunderstanding seem to stain and drag down everyday life.

Grandma Miller, right; Grandpa Miller, left. This is the way I remember them. Probably on their 60th wedding anniversary, which I do not remember.

It takes defiance to forgive, to keep on giving when one you love does not give back, to pray when there do not seem to be any answers, to get up and go to chemo another day—even to send your littles out the door to school.

Another word for much the same thing is dare and here I think of my grandmother on my father’s side, who died when I was ten. Grandma Miller, as we called her, (her name was Barbara) lost two of her children, one at about 13 months and the other at age 22 of the Spanish flu epidemic. Grandpa and Grandma had nine children altogether, but I’m sure she grieved and missed these two daughters as any mother would.

As an infant, she also lost her own mother just hours after she was born. Then at the tender age of five, she lost her father, whom she remembered well. Like others in that era, she had to go live with relatives and was shuffled around—those families were always large, and it was hard to house and feed all the children.

So Grandma Miller was acquainted with sorrow, grief, and loss, yet she defied the odds she faced in the beginning, and raised a beautiful and loving family. Somewhere she and Grandpa instilled in my own father his deep and abiding passion to help others. I’m sure you have had parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who have taught you these great lessons and alternative approaches to trial and sadness.

Grandma Stauffer whom I remember well, lived into her 90s and was able to hold and meet my children. Photo courtesy of Judy Yoder, my cousin.

My grandmother on my mother’s side lost her husband in a car accident when they were just in their 50s. She was a seamstress and supported herself the rest of her long life by doing sewing for others, especially alterations, using an old-fashioned treadle sewing machine (not electric).

So, defying can mean facing your life with grit and determination and a loving attitude in spite of grief, loss, hard times. Now that’s a defiance I’d like to take with me in life. Thanks, Grandma Miller and Grandma Stauffer.

Will you be that kind of role model for your children and grandchildren? God, make us a channel of your peace. May we defy odds and live with joy in our hearts.

 

More on Grandma Stauffer found here and here.

More on Grandma Miller found here.

Grandma Ruth Stauffer as a young girl, probably 8th grade graduation. She was allowed to be “fancy” as shown here, before she joined the church.

Grandma Barbara Miller, on her wedding day.

***

How do you demonstrate defiance–in a good way??

What do you admire most about your grandparents if you had the privilege of knowing them?

What lessons did they teach with their lives?

What would you NOT do that they did?

Comment here!

Or send your stories or comments to me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

I will make this series available in a PDF to send out by email at the series’ conclusion. You can request it now and I’ll send it to you in a few weeks.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.

 

 

 

 

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