Let There Be Play!


I’ve been thinking of the little children I saw over the weekend who took delight in Halloween, including my own grand-babies.

Throughout all of the years of my life, I’ve never bothered to research the word, Halloween. Sure, I’ve heard whispers of evil stories associated with October 31st.  At movie theatres, I’ve seen trailers for spooky picture shows, and in stores there are always the covers of horror books.   Still, seeing the excitement of children in anticipation of the holiday, I always wondered,  “How could that be?”

Long ago, when my own two boys were barely into preschool and kindergarten, my oldest had recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  Life for children and families was very different from it is today.  Insulin was our only defense and rules were rigid in order to keep children safe and healthy.  No sugar what-so-ever was ever allowed unless it was an emergency.  So what to do about Halloween?

Motherly instincts told me that Halloween wasn’t about good or evil.  Not inside the innocent minds of children.  I didn’t believe it was about popping melted chocolate into wee and waiting mouths.  No, in my mind, Halloween was all about traditions hidden with imaginations while taking part in play.  Behind eyes of brown or green or blue, everyone could see….

Within my mind, Halloween was about dreaming and dress-up.  Being cast in a new role to play a character on a neighborhood stage in front of a backdrop of orange and black. Painted faces laughing in mirrors of glass from deep within skinny bellies before snapshots were taken in kitchens next to siblings of the same.  Families together with bowls of candy.  Enough treats for everyone who might ring a bell.

My son living with diabetes dreamed of the same tradition as every other child.  He donned a clown suit of red and yellow, learned his line of “Trick-or-Treat” and went off to wait in the wings before taking part in his play.  Upon returning home, his face was all aglow at his performance.  He and his brother emptied brimming plastic pumpkins for all to see.  One-by-one tiny fingers counted each treat, tossing M&M ‘s together with peanut butter cups to the side for emergencies.  So proud my little boy was to show me his pile of loot!

Soon my husband came out of the next room.  He dug deep into side pockets, pulling out a couple of bills of green plus a few rounds of silver.  Our little boy clown jumped up and down..down and up.  So excited he was!  “Tomorrow we’ll go shopping,” I said, squeezing him tight.  That set a new stage for our Halloween every year thereafter.  No matter what, our son would always be cast in the annual Halloween play.

For young children everywhere, Halloween is all about tradition, expectation and imagination.  Taking part in play!  There is no doubt in my mind this still holds true today.

Hoping everyone together with their cast and crew enjoyed your own Halloween play!

Clapping my hands for you!

 

To Witness Imagination


Have you ever witnessed imagination?  Has it ever given you a magical feeling, perhaps a tingling inside or has it ever been so tangible that you could almost touch it?  Please, stay with me for a moment….

I truly did see imagination recently.  No, not in my dreams upon resting my head on a feather pillow in the quiet of the night.  Nor when I was alone, thinking silently to myself what I should begin to write.   The imagination I’m speaking of took place in the out-of-doors where red maple trees grow tall at the base of my little forest land.

The cast of characters played on a stage of thick emerald grass.  They consisted of my husband, our ‘Doodle’ dog, and my precocious grand-daughter of three and a half years.  It’s important now to add the extra ‘half’ at the end of threeYOU understand.  She was staying overnight together with her baby brother who I was feeding in a faded kitchen high chair, patterned in purple nursery rhymes.

Hearing screams of giggles and laughter, I looked out white double doors through panes of glass leading to the patio and beyond.  Doodles was chasing the little one dressed in jeans, her head flopping to and fro in natural curls as she tumbled on the carpet of green.  Grandpa picked her up by rubber heels to swing her back and forth while she shouted with glee.  As I tended to my grandson, helping him spoon vanilla yogurt dribbling from his mouth, he pointed to the window.  “Doo-Doos,” he smiled.  “Doo-Doos outside.”  Just then more shrieks began.  In that moment I gazed at imagination in play.

My grand-daughter was on the left, near a tree dropping golden leaves.  Falling…f.a.l.l.i.n.g. My husband stood a few yards away, clutching an imaginary string before he began to run around the yard, calling her to follow him.  Smiles lit her face from within, pink as cotton candy on a day at the fair.  She chased him around the yard with Doodles running alongside, barking through colored piles of leaves along the way.

Suddenly they stopped at a red maple tree.  It appeared as though the string had gotten caught on a branch.  Together they pulled and tugged, careful not to break such a delicate thing.  Finally, my husband reached high in the sky, above wooden branches and hidden crinkled leaves to untangle what only they could imagine.  Finally free, he handed it to my worried grand-daughter, who waited patiently below the tree.

Relieved, she beamed with joy, kissing her grandpa on a stubbled cheek.  There, he helped her touch the colorful kite, careful not to snap its hidden Popsicle sticks or break the string of white.  Together, they ran across the whole back of the yard, one last time before an open fist let their cherished kite fly free.  Up…up…up it went behind clouds of white into the blue.  As I watched from the warmth of my kitchen, I felt my heart sing from deep within my chest.

Never before did I love my husband more than on that very day.  He inspired our little grand-daughter’s imagination to come alive.  There’s no doubt in my mind that she believed everything about her Grandpa’s fantasy.  She felt it and touched it, played with it and lived each and every special moment within her imagination.

As my nose began to crinkle like it always does before crying with sentimental joy I thanked God for a new blessing.

I witnessed imagination…..!

kites

 

The Book of Life


The book of life never truly ends until your last breath has been taken.  Until that moment, keep writing, add new chapters to create paper pages never-ending while leaving your leather cover open to imagination.”

Kim Gosselin

Book Imagination Fannie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*photo courtesy of http://www.sodahead.com/fun/if-books-transported-you-to-their-world-which-book-would-you-open/question-4409215/

Will You Choose The Correct Fork In The Road?


Posted on September 22, 2015 by James North

I recently had the honor of writing a Guest Post for the very talented author, James North. Please visit his terrific site as it has much to offer together with his many publications.  http://jamesnorththrillers.com/

Will You Choose The Correct Fork In The Road?

Everyone comes to crossroads in life, a fork in the road if you will.  At one point in my own, I found myself at a dead-end where all that I knew was gone. My vision for the future was not to be.  In an instant. Tick-tock.  Quickly, like a second-hand on a clock.  A new normal was in store for me and my family from that day forward.

To the left were tears leading me down a pity path.  To the right I felt magical whispers of wind wafting through my hair. Somehow, scents of leaves beneath my crinkled nose. Colors of orange and copper splayed across a sunlit wooden bridge beneath the weathered limbs of hanging trees.  Cross it and everything would be okay if only I believed it to be true.  Yes, please, choose the correct fork in the road.

Metaphors of my life from over twenty years ago when my children were diagnosed with chronic conditions.  The above shaped much of who I am today.  Like my boys, I had to change too. Surprisingly I became a writer.  If not for the two of them, I never would have written a single word.  I prayed every day for God to guide me on the right path, for my words to help others through paper pages that would someday be printed in books.

How I wish my children could have ridden bicycles while licking dripping popsicles.   Or, gone off to birthday parties to steal real crumbs of chocolate cake off colored paper plates!  That would have been a true dream come true for me.  Yet, in all of their little lives, it was never to be.  No, God had other plans for us.

My kindergarten boys who once played with toys are now grown.  They will always be blessings who helped make positive differences in the world.  I thank God for holding my hand to choose the correct fork in the road and with His help, you will too.

fork-in-the-road

A “Fishy” Imagination


Mommy said, “Go to bed!”  Hurry up, can’t stay up, little girl must brush pearl teeth. Quick, comb your hair.  Climb each stair we’re almost there.  Under covers tucked right in. Kiss on cheek with book to read.  Turn the page…look!  Lots of kids with more like me. Night-night now, close the door.  Moonlight shines on wooden floor.  Tiny thump with four paws down.  Darkness fades around her bed, light bulb flashes in my head.  “Get up!  Get UP! GET UP RIGHT NOW,” my mewing said!  She stirs and wrestles.  POOF! Plump pillows push floating feathers to play with me.  Soon, I hear her breathing even and steady.  “Wait….I’m not ready!”  Open a window, slink down trellis, green with waxy vines.  Careful and quiet don’t cause a riot.  Mommy sleeping, daddy too, stars are waiting with hilltop seat for me.  There it is, way up in the darkness of the sky.  Twinkling lights dance to form a picture. “Do you see what I see?”  A tasty dessert for me to eat.  My imaginary bedtime treat!Beautiful Night Sky Wallapers (19)

The Unexpected


So lovely yesterday, I was able to take my laptop out of doors in order to catch words running away in my sun topped head.  Soothing warm it felt, with more upon my face.  The old wrought iron swing beckoned me.  “Come hither,” it said, squeaking back and forth.  All was quiet in the thick green grass of my rolling back yard, except for echoes of my little forest land.  From century old trees of weathered stripped bark, acorns fell one by one.  “Bombs Away,” they seemed to say.  They plopped to the ground, falling on a carpet of crunchy, dried leaves.  Fuzzy squirrels of brown patiently waited.  Soon puffed cheeks were round and full.  Bushy tails scampered away to stash nuts in secret hiding places for the cold of winter ahead.

Such a change today!  I awoke to splatters of clear rain against panes of glass windows throughout my home.  Cooling temperatures had moved in, kicking on the furnace.  Glancing out my patio, the garden is all but gone with painted pots of stringy flowers, mostly dead, waiting to be removed.  Patio chairs with comfort cushions need to be sheltered in the garage while the umbrella table needs to be covered until spring peeks around the corner again.

So sad to see it all go, and yet with each ending there is a new beginning.  Something to dream about, hope for, look forward to and aspire to be.  Ever changing as we grow wiser with each passing day.  The unexpected is always full of surprises.

After the rain stopped I went outside to wipe down beige tweed cushions from the swing.  One had fallen to the patio, laying on the ground all askew.   Bending down and underneath, I marveled at a simple sight not yet seen.  Growing through a sliver of invisible dirt with mortar between burnished bricks, a single red petunia stood tall, not ready to give in to the elements.  Oh, yes, its green stem, leaves and bright petals were dull and withered from the recent frost.  Still, life grew there.  Against all odds it rose tall, in the most unexpected place.

I wondered then, how long had the flower been?  Nature gave it water when dry, shaded it from the sun and kept woodland animals away.  Somehow, a tiny seed was whisked away from a potted plant through the breath of God.  Or, perhaps one of His creatures, a beautiful bird with feathers spread far and wide dropped it during the dawn of an early morning flight?

Either way, it is my own little miracle together with a Life Lesson.  Yes, the petunia has withered in its phenomenal growing spot, but next spring perhaps it will be back again?  Maybe even to multiply?

Allow yourself to hope and dream.  Look forward to change together with the unexpected.  Wish for what is yet to come.  Spectacular surprises of life may lie within.

photo 1 (88)

 

A Pinch of Salt


Late last week I received a call from my oldest son with worried words no grandparent ever wants to hear.  “She’s sick, Mom.”  My sweet, innocent grand-daughter was on her way to Children’s Hospital together with her dear mommy.  Soon to be admitted with a tender tummy and a possible infection.  I took a breath to calm my nerves, offering support to my son and his wife.  Such a helpless feeling in my head.

The next morning my husband and I were off to the hospital.  I was struck by the guard who stopped us at the front desk.  “Who are you,” he asked in an accusatory tone?  “Grandparents,” we responded in unison.  There, ‘mug shots’ were taken for a pale blue badge that was stuck to the front of our jackets.  I looked down at mine.  Directly below my picture it read, “Grandparent,” making me feel important on that day….in some small way.

A nice lady with hair of gentle white directed us to the elevators at the end of the hall.  Pressing the red button we waited until the door opened when a flood of young parents trampled out.  I noticed one in particular.  With her left hand she covered her mouth, while wiping tears from her eyes of brown with her right.   I looked down.

The emotion was almost palpable once inside the elevator.  It lingered, surrounding the tiny silver space where a button board of colored numbers lit up for me to choose.  Up, up, up, we rode to the floor where our little grand-daughter waited to see us.

There she sat with her loving Mommy, happily on a small sofa near a picture window filled with sunshine.  Smiles filled the room while she played with ‘new babies,’ magical ponies and read books that afternoon.  Daddy joined us for “really good” mac-n-cheese, plus three or four or five brightly colored “M & M’s”as special treats to eat.

Thankfully, our grand-daughter was pronounced perfectly healthy!   After a couple of days she went home with Mommy and Daddy where her baby brother and “Nimby” dog eagerly awaited her arrival.  Such happy news to hear!

Still, I think of the young mother who rushed off the elevator that first day.  The one whose eyes of teary brown held a recipe of heartache.

 Bread of Chronic Conditions: Two tablespoons of pain, 1 teaspoon of agony, a dash of shock with a pinch of denial.  Mix thoroughly together with tears in a bowl large enough to hold a soul.  Form into a lifetime loaf.  Bake at 350 loving degrees until strength and courage being to form.  Lives begin to raise as acceptance takes shape.  Gradually a ‘Momma’ becomes more at peace. When center springs forth to gentle finger-touch, remove loaf from oven to rest upon a warm kitchen counter rack.  The mother is no longer afraid to believe in happiness.  Her child’s innocence together with dreams and wishes become the very most important thing on earth.  Together, mother with child believe that anything is possible, wishing upon stars to make future dreams come true.  Before long they truly do.

*This recipe is ‘American Tested’  in kitchens by mothers everywhere. 

child-with-toys[1]

 

 

 

What Nature Teaches You


Sunlight shimmered, streaking through white window panes of my kitchen patio doors this morning.  Brightness woke my limbs from further slumber.  Six o’clock.  A smiling face of walnut wood from the clock on the wall told me so.  Scents of lemon oil drifted beneath my nose.  Time to wake-up!

“Doodle” dog nudged my feet of bare, signaling his readiness to go out into the world, to sniff wheat-colored plumes of grasses nearby, and to check invisible boundaries for any possible intruders.  My hand was on the door’s bronze lever, seconds from pushing it down to open it up.  Outside, a ruffle of feathers caught the corner of my eye.

Only a few feet from garden bricks was a new ‘family’ for me to see!  Beneath our bird feeder, the one where bright red Cardinals, Blue Jays and Sparrows of speckled brown rest on perches near, five Turkeys pecked leftover seeds on the ground below.

I have often seen one or two before.  The Hen, of course, who feeds for the invisible brood she hides safely away.  And once or twice in the last six years, I’ve witnessed a large Tom waddling up and over our backyard hill, his long turkey neck of reddish-blue wobbling back and forth within the breeze.  This morning, it was a true gift from God for me.  To see this sight of such rarity!

As the large Tom bobbed his head, pecking for seeds within the earth of clay, the Hen spread her wide wings, revealing three tiny babies, “Poults.”  Not much larger than the eggs of a goose, they were covered in brown and white downy feathers that glistened in the sun.  Their small eyes were dark black the color of wet ink.   Darting this way and that, they were already keenly aware of any possible danger.

Just as I was about to grab my camera, a doe and her fawn scampered by, spooking my new backyard ‘family.’  WOOSH went the Tom who flew straight up into the nearest, tallest tree!  I never saw a turkey fly, but most definitely they do.  The noise is shockingly loud, like thunder clouds of flapping feathers.  The Tom flew straight up into the bright blue sky, rather than soaring side-to-side, like most birds do.

As for ‘Tom’s’ family who were left quite skittish in my back yard, they took off very quickly.  The Hen tried to gather her poults, spreading her wings while running toward the forest.  Being ‘babies,’ the feathered toddlers waddled in different directions while ‘Mama’ yelped her loudest, trying to keep them close to her.

Like little wind-up toys zipping towards the woods, three baby ‘poult’s carried a lesson for me today.  Life moves forward in a flash, often unexpectedly.  Don’t wait to pocket a picture of your dream.  Catch it before something surprises you.

Painted Dreams


Eastern_Bluebird-27527-2

Bluebird so pretty to me

Flapping wings to and fro

Near spruce of blue

Bursting through grasses of green

 

Viewed at feeders 

Where small seeds of yellow

And bigger ones in shells of dark

Spill from rounds falling to ground

 

Squirrels so bushy in shades of fuzzy brown

Scurry and scamper to nibble

Leftovers from beaks of black

Before grey Morning Doves stop by

 

Bluebird so pretty to me

Flapping wings to and fro

What a sight to see

Strokes of orange breast below royal feathered backs

 

Soaring high against a sky of powdered baby-blue

Past branches and trunks of mottled bark

Where wildflowers grow scattered here and there

In rainbow colors everywhere

 

Suddenly flying wings disappear

Behold a grove of crayon pines

Hidden between needles never seen

Lies a secret shelter

 

Flapping wings of color have stopped

 A  nest made of twigs and printed paper

Woven in scented tree abandoned

Bluebird so pretty to me gone for now

 

Wishing to see soaring feathers of royal blue again

Splashes of orange breast floating on fluffy white

Clasping hands closing eyes so tight

Praying my painted dreams come true tonight

photo

 

Wishes for Grandson


A breath, a cry, a baby yawn, you’ve made your presence known.  Newly bathed and swaddled in gauze, your mother cradles you to her breast where two hearts beat as one.

For my first grandson, I have wishes for you.  More than three, less than a million.  If I was near a fountain of gurgling water splashing into a pool of clear, I’d toss loose coins while wishing silently.  Instead, I will write them here for you to read one day.  A day not so far away when you grow from wee into a little lad.

Before you even arrived, I prayed to God above for all your life ahead.  And, as I slept the first night after, I dreamed of all I wished for you.  As you grow from infant to tadpole to toddler to teen, close your sweet eyes to imagine that wishes and dreams do come true.  I give them all and more to you.

While you are a baby I wish for you to nestle with Mommy, reach for your sister’s face of innocence and Rock-a-Bye with Daddy.  Choose your favorite blanket, roll on your belly, scoot on the floor, learn to crawl, and 1-2-3 please smile for me.

I wish for you to play with wooden blocks, build a tower, knock it down, eat green peas, spit them out, take first steps and pull my hair.  Catch a big red ball, say a word, and play in snow with Daddy who loves you so.

Before we can say magic words, babyhood is gone for good.  A little boy you now will be.  We will miss the small.  Soooo, B-I-G!  How lucky is your family?

I wish for you to hold a puppy’s leash while jumping in puddles of mud when the rain smells good.   Splash, splash, splash.  Now, close your eyes to soak warm sunshine like an ocean sponge.  Do you feel it on your sleepy face?  Toasty, like Mommy’s kitchen after baking cinnamon rolls.  Can you smell them if you sniff, sniff, sniff?

Oh yes, I wish for you to sleep in a tent  or catch a frog while listening to crickets chirping loud in the quiet of the night.  Soon it rains a melody of drops on dark green canvas for you to hear.  Plop…plop…plop.

I hope you’ll see a Mama bird build her nest  and feel a roly-poly bug crawling in your hand right up your wrist.  Not to worry.  It won’t hurt, only tickle.  Lots of itty-bitty legs…can you guess how many?  Grandpa says, “14!”   Soon I laugh at chocolate rings round your mouth from milk found in a cup at Grandma’s house!

I wish for you to win a race, build a back yard fort and watch firefly’s glow yellow in the black of night.  Skip a rope, jump a hoop, swing a bat, and hit a ball.  There it goes…..Look, squint your eyes to see.  Flying like a rocket ship…see?  A home run to be!  Listen closely now, do you hear the cheering crowd?

Please, pick up squiggly worms for me.  Ride a bike, get dusty dirty, fly a kite, and skip a rock.  Swim in lakes, underneath are minnows skimming crystal sand in waters of Windex blue.

Yes, Hudson, I wish for you to bottle up bullies with a cork.  If words should sting, please tell Mommy or Daddy.  You will see that bad words do not help…only hurt.  Rise above them. Remember this, be the best that you can be.

When old enough to fall in love, kiss the girl you will marry one day.  Please love her with all of your heart.  Look to Mommy and Daddy to see how good it can be.  Respect the ‘She’ you love someday.  Any part of your heart you give away will come right back to you….only bigger and better!  Do you feel it growing inside of you?  Be patient and you will see.

The greatest wish is that you live a long life of prayer, good health and forever happiness.  For if this last big wish comes true for you, chances are all others will too!

Above all else, be your father’s pride, your mother’s love and your sister’s shining knight.