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Bluebells of Happiness

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You’ve heard of the ‘Bluebird of Happiness,’ well these are my Bluebells of Happiness. They are Virginia Bluebells, Mertensia virginica. This patch came from my Mother’s garden. She got them from her mother’s garden in Clay County, Teges, Kentucky. They were originally planted there by Mom’s great-grandparents who migrated from Virginia. They are some of the first perennials to emerge and bloom in spring. When I see them, I smile at the reminder of generations of gardeners behind me and the promise of warmer weather ahead. 😊

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Contemplating Faith

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Faith is a fascinating phenomenon.  It’s not really a thought, but it’s not a feeling either. Yet faith encompasses both our thoughts and feelings, affecting them as well as our behavior, endowing it with a transcendent quality.  As such, faith serves as a filter through which everything we experience passes and subsequently influences how we respond.

Whether it is faith in ourselves, faith in others, faith in nature, or spiritual faith, our ability to generate faith is determined by a multitude of factors.  The nature of the earliest relationships forged with us during childhood is paramount. Relationships characterized by sincerity, unselfishness, devotion, safety, optimism, trust, and love provide the conditions in which faith flourishes.  Faithfulness begets faith.

Fitness of faith, its suitability for serving its purpose in our lives, covers a broad range. Faith may be so insubstantial as to provide little or no protection from our own whims or those of others leaving us vulnerable, especially in times of uncertainty.  Faith is easy to claim when things are going well, but “a faith of convenience is a hollow faith.”  On the other hand, faith may become so unyielding that it causes us to lose sight of everything and everyone else, blinding us to the needs of others.  Faith gives us courage to question our beliefs; to evaluate whether or not they are consistent with our humanity. Typical of extremes, neither empty nor rigid faith yield desirable consequences.  

There are those who relegate faith to the realm of the innocent, naive, ignorant, and unsophisticated.  But faith doesn’t expect everything to always turn out the way we want. It provides the strength to keep going no matter how things turn out.  Faith moves us forward even when we can’t see exactly where we’re going. It makes things possible, not easy. Faith doesn’t deny, ignore, or resign to what is unpleasant, harmful, or corrupt.  It rejects the temptation to be satisfied with being less than we are capable of being. Faith doesn’t sit around waiting for things to get better. It inspires us to get up and make things better for ourselves and others.          

Faith doesn’t blind us to reality.  It opens our eyes to possibilities! Be of good faith!

      

 

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Be of Good Courage

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Fear is a contradictory emotion.  On one hand, it protects us. On the other hand, it prevents us from living fully. The same signal that warns us of danger can become a crippling deterrent to fulfilling our potential.  Whether it’s fear of abandonment, disapproval, or failure; fear of being wrong or making mistakes; or fear of interpersonal differences, what all these fears have in common is their representation of the unknown.

Facing the unknown generally involves change.  Change means risking the loss of what is familiar and comfortable.  Even if what is familiar and comfortable is inadequate, undesirable, or destructive.  Fear of the unknown is an insatiable thief that unapologetically robs us of discovering all the possibilities within us, around us, and between us.  

The antidote for fear is courage.  Courage is choosing to risk losing what is familiar in order to gain something different.  The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. We do not have to give up everything we know in order to embrace what we don’t know.  

Fear keeps us complacent, satisfied with what we have become.  But we are more than what we have become. Courage empowers us to become the best version of ourselves and assist others in doing the same.  Be of good courage!    

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Reckless or Responsible. Our Choice.

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During our daily walks, we have noticed an increasing amount of litter along our usual route.  The other morning, I remarked to my husband, “I’d like to see an animal jump out of the bushes when someone throws trash out their car window, and throw it right back in their car.  I wonder how they’d like that?”  People who demonstrate such disdain for the natural world and their fellow inhabitants infuriate me.  I was fuming as I bent down to pick up another fast food cup and wrapper.

When I got home, I messaged a childhood friend of mine, Douglas Moore, who is an artist.  Here is an edited recap of our exchange:

ME:  Good day Doug,  Do you remember when you won the pollution essay contest in 4th grade?  Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s still a problem.  I have a favor to ask.  If I were an artist, I would draw a picture of animals throwing trash back at people’s cars or in the windows of their houses.  If you are interested in creating an image, I’d like to write up a blog and post it.  Let me know if you’re interested and have the time.

DOUG:  I remember the essay, but are you sure it was the 4th grade and not the 6th?  Sadly, I have noticed and the current administration doesn’t seem interested in doing anything to protect against the inevitable repercussions of pollution.  I like your idea, so let me see if I can come up with anything worthwhile.

ME:  It certainly could have been 6th grade, Doug.  Pollution and the persistent depletion of the Earth’s resources is unfortunately practiced on both sides of the party line.  While I agree that the current administration is choosing to minimize and ignore the role our actions play in endangering the health of our planet, I see plenty of room on both sides of the aisle for improving our attitudes and practices when it comes to protecting the one and only Earth for the generations to come.

With two sons, and hopefully grandchildren someday, I do whatever I can to change what I’m doing that might improve the chances of them living in a safe, healthy environment.  Change is not easy or comfortable, but the only person I can change is myself.

The next morning, I received this picture.

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DOUG:  Carolyn, I’m not sure if this is what you had in mind…but let me introduce you to Rudy Rabbit, the owner of Rudy Rabbit’s Recycling.

ME:  Douglas, Rudy the Recycling Rabbit is adorable.  He should inspire anyone to be more conscientious about littering.  He reminds me that responding in anger is rarely effective.  It’s much better to be the change you want to see in the world.

DOUG: As with any idea the wheels start turning…and I thought we’d need a few identifiable characters and Rudy was the first.  But the more I worked on him, the more I thought, would he really be vindictive, which is more of a human trait.  Anyway, it just felt right to make him part of the solution instead of adding to the problem!  But a carload of sneaky raccoons and mischievous squirrels are more likely to do a drive-by trashing.  Glad you like Rudy.  He’s excited about letting more people know about the benefits of recycling!!!

ME:  I completely agree.  Action that originates in vindictiveness is rarely effective in achieving a long-term solution.  Perhaps Rudy will be the example that makes Rowdy Raccoon realize that littering is a self-destructive behavior.

DOUG:  Our next character now has a name?  Rowdy Raccoon!

ME:  See how I slipped in that new character?

The next morning I found this image waiting for me.

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Doug’s artwork reminded me that when something is wrong, it’s wrong no matter how many people are doing it.  When something is right, it’s right no matter how few people are doing it.  And so, we will continue to pick up trash during our morning walk.  Perhaps those who see us doing so, as they drive by, will decide to hold onto their trash until they get home or to work where they can properly dispose of it.  Maybe someday there will be more Rudys than Rowdys because the Rowdys have chosen to be more like Rudy.  In the meantime, let me have the patience and courage to be a Rudy myself.

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Try a Little Kindness

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The Lenten Roses are blooming in spite of freezing temperatures. They remind me that strength, determination, and beauty can overcome adversity. Being surrounded by ugliness does not mean we should become ugly. It’s amazing what a touch of beauty, kindness, respect, and grace can accomplish. Give it a try!

#AParentForLife #TheArtOfParenting#ParentingAsArt #TryALittleKindness