When She Was Young

When she was young, she used to dream of living in a mansion, a castle, being a princess, or an heiress, at least.

There would be silk curtains in lilac-her favorite color. Fresh flowers on a dark wooden table inside the spacious dining room.

She would lay in the sun by the pool in her back yard, relaxing, getting that perfect tan. A garden of her favorite perennials would grow around the winding sidewalk that wound from the gate to the steps leading to a slate porch outside the entryway.

At night, lights would glimmer over the pool and line the winding staircase that lead to the bedroom with the best view of the ocean. The music of a violin whispers up from the parlor below.

Dreams, is it not strange how our dreams and wishes change as we age? The prince riding up on white stallion to reach down and lift you up beside him, whisking you away to the wonderful castle with palms and turrets. He carries you in his arms to that lilac scented room and holds a flower out to you as you reach for it.

Then, one day, we find we have grown up, we notice the world around us, how it has its own beauty and charm. We see that the simple things, small, yet delicate are often more appealing than the opulent dreams you once held.

Wild flowers replace the sculpted garden, a path through the deep forest takes your breath away as you peek at the azure sky above you. You no longer dream of the wealthy, handsome prince, nor hear the gallop of his horses drawing a carriage. Smiling, you raise and twirl around, as you see him out in the field, guiding the brown mare up the wooded trail toward the cabin.

You smile as you remember how your dream has changed. How you love cuddling up in an afghan on the floor of the cabin as he plays his newest guitar melody for you in front of the rock fireplace. Dreams…

When we are young, we have not yet experienced life’s choices or possibilities. We can only dream. We remember the stories read to us at bedtime, the books we read, curled up on the couch on a rainy

day. But as we grow, we are made aware that there are many dreams to choose from, many beautiful places, many choices await us.

Your castle has turned into a cabin, our garden into a forest. Beauty has taken on a new meaning- it is more a feeling, than a vision. To close your eyes and hear the strum of his guitar is much more romantic than the prince you once dreamed of hiring a musician to play tunes for you by moonlight.

When she was young, when YOU were young, the future was knitted from strands of starlight shimmering through the palms to the tune of ocean waves and nautical wind, There’s nothing wrong with that, you laughed, its simply that his hair blowing in the winds of the forest, the moonlight glowing through the windows of your cabin as he played the song he wrote for you, somehow soothed your soul more now that you were grown. You think of all the dreams you had ever entertained,

and looked up at him as you realized, this was real, it was life, it was good. When she was young, just as when when YOU were young, your daughter would entertain the same dreams.

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Black Widow

Black Widow ( a rap tune fro my “son” Beni-hana, who has kept my son alive through his work  in the rap music gene)

Find the time, shout it out for me,

‘black widow, waiting patiently

knowin’ now -he’s livin’ in your soul’

we dont hide, here on the north side

time rolls on, nothing really maters now

all the pain, killed my soul somehow

my man, you have kept his dream alive

looking down-from the other side

you shout my anger-feel my violent rage

you dont hide-its on your front page

we dont sit -on this mountain side

rivers flow, we’re gonna stand and fight

keep it up, shout it out for me

it aint right-not like its supposed to be

this black widow -spins her deadly nest

can’t kill love-to hell with the rest

im waiting-im waiting

silent in my pain

black widow, waiting in the rain

keep it up-tear it down

im still here…break it down!

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A New Kind of New Years Resolution

29720269A New Years Resolution for the Technology Generation

It seems that everywhere we go, half the people we pass are on the phone, using Apps like Facebook, or watching ‘You Tube” perhaps laughing at jokes on the web, We are not really interacting with the people we are with- we are simply with them. We see it in restaurants, parks where people are taking in the scenery ( or used to), at the grocery store- just about everywhere we go. I have had so many older people say to me that they are “alone, even in a crowd” nowadays. “I wish they’d put those things away!”, they often sigh.

I admit to having been caught up in messaging, checking on the kids,, answering phone calls, seeing if a sick friend is doing better, all while I am out with friends. It’s a sign of the times. Almost everyone does it, the young people , more so than the older of us, but anyone with an “i phone” is likely to get a message or phone call while they with others and, it is only natural to answer it.
It is great to be able to call and tell a friend that “you will be late”, or find out that your loved one arrived safely at their destination. Having lived in both worlds, I greatly appreciate being able to stay in touch with my family, and for them to be able to call me if they need me. It is fun to play the games or look at jokes, but, lets face it, relationships are so much more important that spending your time in a room or restaurant with a group of friends, each in his or her own little world. We must learn to put a limit on how much of these modern conveniences are going to talk the place of talking to your sister who has met you at the mall, or visiting a sick loved on in the hospital. Enough is enough.

I have not had a “Happy Holiday Season” in the last decade, but that it not the subject tonight. No matter who we have lost, moved away from, or how deep within our thought we are, it is vital that we open our hearts, our thoughts, and even our worries to those that we find ourselves with.

I have raised my family now, and savor the chance to be with my children or grandchildren. It doesn’t matter if we are at home on the couch, going to the store, or taking a hike, our time with other people is important. It allows us to share, to hug, to laugh to love. True, we can do a lot of these things on our “i phones” in this day and time, but who wants to go out to eat only to watch people talk on their “i phones” when the whole purpose of meeting was to spend time together?

When I go on a walk, I want to observe nature, listen to the birds sing, smile as a squirrel scuttles up a tree. I want to show my grandchildren the caterpillar climbing a plant, a butterfly gathering nectar, a flock of birds flying over head. I want to tell my son that I appreciate him fixing my car. I want to hug my daughter, and tell her ‘thank you’ for taking the time out of her busy schedule to meet me. When I get home, I am sure my husband or parents want to hear about my day, compliment me on my new outfit or gently touch my shoulder and say, “I’ve missed you today,” We are missing so much of the meaning of life when we fail to do these things.

I think it is time , that we as a people, old and young, remember that there is a time for the technologies that all of us enjoy and a time to put them down and think of those around us, to remember the days when communication was largely done in person. I think it is time that we all value the personal side of relationships. How can we get to know a potential friend, welcome a new employee, even meet a possible mate if we cannot disconnect ourselves from technology long enough to take advantage of these simple pleasures that have brought us all to the place we are today.

It is a fact that technology will be a part of our future, and it can be a tool used to comfort those waiting on us, check on our loved ones, or make an appointment. We can use these advances to our advantage, or we can allow them to separate us from those we love and those who need us to look into their eyes and express our kindness and caring.

Let’s make a New Years Resolution this year that we will spend more time without our technological devises safely within arms reach than we do clinging to them like an oxygen tank on a sinking ship. God gave us the gift of speech. He gave us the gift of knowledge to invent technologies. But He also gave us each other. The ability to form relationships cannot truly take place without eye-to-eye contact. There is an old saying that reminds us that “the eyes are the window to the soul.”

Make a mental note of how much you enjoy the company of others, the conversations you have, a game of cards, singing or listening to music together. Fifty years ago, having a television was an amazing leap in technology, families found themselves crowded around them, listening and laughing together. Before that, our grandparents huddled by the radio listening to the news of World War II.

What did we do before that? We read, we had conversations, discussions, we laughed together, we watched the antics of children. We worked without interruption. We managed just fine without our modern technologies. It is important that the things we make a part of our lives, do not become more important that the people we live with, love and help. Though very few of us would want to give these technologies up, we must find a place for them within our lives-not allow them to take over our lives.

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In Honor of Veteran’s on their Day-We are Here Because You Were There

To Honor All Veterans:

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Today, I am thinking of my father, Ken Culbreth, who served in the Navy in Guam-at the end of World War II, I later helped him write a book about his experienes there along with collections of stories about their experiences in the Pacific Theater during that time.  My father passed away in August of 2014. It remains difficult to be unable to ask him to tell me more about his experiences.  There are so many friends and family who have served our county.  Among them,  my Uncle John Gardner, who fought through the worst of World War II from N. Africa to Germany.my Uncle Harold Garland who was in England during WorldWar II, my Uncle Jack Garland who served in Hawaii during  World War II. There were those who served in Korea during the early 1950’s.Then there are all of my friends and family who fought in Viet Nam during the 1960’s and early 1970’s. I think of my husband, who served in Germany and many of the young men of the Post-Viet Nam Era who served around the world during that time.

I would like to honor my Great Aunt Bettie Rayburn Bryant, one of the first WAC’s to retire with more than twenty-two years service and her husband Howard Bryant who met and married her while in Germany right after World War II. So often the women who have served our country in many capacities are ignored.  I inherited my Aunt Bettie and Uncle Howards Photographs , Journals and Memory Books of their time in the sevice and was enlightened to the vast roles women have played in protecting our country and supporting our troops. Included in her memiors were [hotographs that she took of Dachau Death Camp near Hamburg, Germany when the remains of the camp still stood. A sign ouside a gate warns people  not to trespass, that a memorial to all who died here will be erected in ther memory.

There are those who kept our country safe during the “Cold War” era, and those who have fought for our country in recent years from  Iraq to Afghanstan and beyond, and continue to do so today.  Many members of our Armed Services have served  right here at home. Many have served during “peace times” at our Miliary Bases around the world.  I could not possibly mention all of the places these Americans have been, what they have risked, what they have lost or come home to live with.  All I can do is say, “Thank you!”  We are here because you were there. Bless you all!

I would like to share one personal experience that occured in my younger days.

My mother’s sister, (my Aunt Phyllis’s husband), John Gardner, didn’t want to talk about his days in World War II. I had heard my dad’s stories  about his days in Guam when the worst of the war was over and I couldn’t understand why my beloved “Uncle John” wouldn’t talk about his Army days during that time with me. One day, when I was in college, he took me by the arm and lead me to his back porch, motioning for me to sit down.

I saw the moisture in his eyes as he told me of fighting seven major battles and campaigns from North Africa to Germany, and showed me the silver arrows, gold stars and Campaign records to prove it. He told me about Gen. Patton riding in the tank that he drove, of having to pick up enough pieces of his friends to constitute “bodies” when the tanks in front and in back of him were blown up by the enemy. He told me of seeing Mussolini and his mistress hanging (upside down, I believe) when they drove one of the first tanks into a liberated Rome.

There were more gentle memories like seeing the “Leaning Tower of Pisa” , the once lovely country side of the lands they liberated, and so much more. Of course, by then I was crying, begging him to forgive me for opening up his wounds. He just put his strong, weathered arms around me, and quietly said ,”That’s alright, I guess I needed to get it out some time”-he took a deep breath and turned my head to look into my reddened eyes and dried a tear from my cheek. “Just don’t ever ask me to speak of this again,” he whispered as I nodded and mumbled, “OK.”

I kept my word. I was humiliated that I had opened those wounds that he had kept private for so long, yet I have always been proud that he chose me to finally open that box of unspeakable pain with. Though his widow has shared his Campaign Records and showed me the box filled with Silver Arrows and Gold Stars several times, I have always felt great honor in both his sacrifice and strength in sharing his story with me. He will always convey the meaning of “Hero” in my mind.

I ask you to join me in, again, remembering that if these brave heros had not been there, with lives and dreams in constant danger, we, the Americans who enjoy our freedom today, would not be here. If you get a chance, volunteer at a Veteran Hospital or Home.  Serve meals at Centers for our Veterans, listen to their stories, or respectfully remember that they may not wish to speak of the horrors they witnessed.  Never forget the sacrifices so many have made. Lastly remember the words of our National Anthem as we honor our Military, not just today but every day-while thinking of the words of our National Anthem, “Oh, say, will that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave, o’r the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

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Cocaine’s Daughter

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If she could go back down that road,

and take a turn-the other way-

And find a place, a gentle face-

that made her smile, and learn to pray..

One more day, might find a way….oh, oh, yeah, but then…

She dries her tears, holds back her fears,

and faces night in troubled waters-

She’s cocaine’s daughter.

To laugh and run in morning sun,

through magic fields of waving clover.

Not blinded by the clouded sky,

She’d take a breath and start all over.

One more night, she tries to fight..oh, oh, yeah, but then…

She dries her tears, holds back her fears,

and faces night in troubled waters-

She’s cocaine’s daughter.

I try to hide, I’ve learned to lie,

though my soul is dead inside me.

I’ve tried to run, but cannot beat,

The hurt and pain that seem to guide me.

So, one more dawn, I sits alone, oh, oh, yeah, but then…

I dry my tears, hold back my fears,

Treading in those troubled waters,

and fight cocaine’s daughter.

Face your self and brace yourself,

admit that cold and snow surrounds you.

It’s I, not she, not “us” but “me”.

Speak the truth, be strong and true.

It’s the only way, to learn to pray, oh, oh, yeah, but then…

I stand strong, I’m not alone,

I take a breath, God does the rest,

No longer trapped as cocaine’s daughter.

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Autumn Haiku

Asters dance as bees reap

Autumn’s last gift to the Gods

Of honey-of hope.

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School Memories from my Childhood

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