Hiccups

I was sitting with my dog recently. We were just chilling, something at which we’re both good. The silence and communion were peaceful and then, without warning, she started hiccupping. Although the interruption in our peace experience was minor, it demonstrated how something as common as a hiccup can offer a metaphor for some of life’s deeper happenings.

I think most of us, as we age, comprehend the concept of living in the moment. If some of us don’t, we haven’t taken advantage of the myriad lessons life offers free of tuition. We should also understand that even with the most developed skills of being able to live for right now, right now can be interrupted. Except for my habit of saving for the future, I think I have been a person who tries his best to live in the moment. Of course, the practice of living in the moment can prove to be fluid.

A moment can be any number of minutes, hours, or days. It all depends on what you’re doing and whether you’re at your best physically and mentally in pursuit of it. For example, you’ve decided to go back to school and study for a PhD. Chris has decided to do that. She hasn’t been in school for over thirty-five years, when she was studying for her master’s. She’s going to be working hard at each moment to be the best student she can be. Each moment will work like a piece of glass inserted on a canvas to make a beautiful mosaic.

As we use our best skill, knowledge, and ability to be the best that we can with each God-given moment, hiccups can occur. We might experience a health scare. Some financial calamities might wipeout most of our cash reserves, making it necessary to start over again. Some hiccups are short in length and others may seem to take up permanent residence. Oftentimes, the long-term ones give us an opportunity to meet challenges we never imagined. I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma twenty-one years ago. It  has been a significant life-altering experience. What I considered a hiccup at the time, has stayed around for a long time. My life wouldn’t be what it is today if that hiccup; that change in my health profile hadn’t happened.

I leave you with this: as you’re coasting along life’s highway, enjoying the journey, don’t be surprised when a hiccup comes. Don’t deny the presence of the hiccup. If you haven’t experienced a hiccup yet, just keep living. I’ve found that my faith in God helps me deal with the effects of the hiccups of life.  Denial doesn’t work.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Others helped you get here

I think it’s a maturity thing (spiritual to a large degree) that causes many to offer more prayers of gratitude after sixty-five. No. I haven’t done any studies or referenced any research that supports this. However, anecdotal evidence seems to back it up. I have many connections to people who suffer from a variety of chronic ailments; ailments that have been around for more than three months, which make life a daily challenge. Testimonies from lots of older folks, with health issues, demonstrate that they are grateful for getting out of bed each day.

I’ve written a considerable amount about my own chronic health condition, and I know each day alive is evidence against all odds the world might take against me. Quiet prayers and meditative moments of thanks are part of my daily routine. Lately, I’ve been giving thought to people God has placed in my path throughout my life. There’s a strange irony that occurs whenever I think about these folks; I remember them. If you knew how bad my memory is, you would understand why I call this strange. I’m one of those people who runs into someone in the airport I haven’t seen for quite some time, they greet me and confidently pronounce my name. I, on the other hand, only remember their face; however, I do a fairly good job of making them feel good, at least I think so. There are people who have been with me at certain legs of my life’s journey, and they have uploaded something of extraordinary value to may hard drive.

My first-grade teacher is a person I’ve not seen for well over sixty-five years. She’s been gone from this plain of existence for a long time, but I still remember Ms. A. I remember the trauma of being left at that place, on the first day of school, and how Ms. A helped me survive. I remember my fifth-grade teacher, Ms. B, and several teachers at Wynne, Arkansas’ Childress Elementary and Childress High School. This little separately operated and far from equal facility showed me clearly how dedication to a cause, with few resources can have tremendous impact on the community. I remember Mr. S, my high school counselor, who convinced me that I should go to college.

Throughout my life there have been countless relatives, college/graduate school professors, mentors and healthcare providers who have served me well. Some of these folks probably had no idea of the indelible impression they made on my life. I wonder what sort of person I would be today if the mixture of individuals I’ve had relationships with, short and long-term had of been different.

The longer we live, the greater our chances of being blessed and to bless others. You may think your life has little influence on others, but keep living, and one day someone will tell you of a time that you provided invaluable help to them. It will be a story about a time that you’ve probably forgotten; however, the bearer of the story will remember the encounter in the freshest of details. I believe this is the way God wants things to work between us. It may not seem as though I need you, but I do.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

 We all want to connect, right?

There are over seven billion of us on the planet. Depending on the culture in which each of us operates, we rise at some point each day to begin our daily activities. Whether we realize it or not, each of us starts our day with the need to connect to someone in some way or another. If we’re a part of a family unit, the connecting starts early. Each member of the family probably has responsibility to contribute to the mechanics of keeping the family and the abode in which it resides operating smoothly. We need each person to do their part. In addition to these duties, we participate in some form of social activities before each of us leaves the house or stays home to begin the day’s activities. Consciously or unconsciously, we feel grounded when we sense a connection to our family. Being an island of existence isn’t in our nature.

Have you ever thought about just how much we’re connected to each other outside of our homes? I’m tapping away at this laptop keyboard, trying my darndest to pen something worth someone’s time to read; to think about and to find some morsel of truth which applies to their existence. I wouldn’t be able to connect these alphabets, forming sentences for you to read without the work of numerous others who have performed various tasks; tasks that have resulted in this laptop setting on my desk. The connections of many have blessed me with a device which I’m using to write this blog. When I hit the publish button, I’m hopeful that further connections will result in you and others reading my thoughts. By the way, I often wonder why I do this. My good friend Google tells me that there are around 500 million regular bloggers in the world. Every time I launch my musings into this sea of thoughts, I find myself amazed when comments come across my desktop in response to what I’ve published. Oftentimes the comments come from someone of another culture, which tells me that human connections can traverse any boundaries.

By nature, I’m an introvert. It may sound like a strange concept that I consider myself a highly functional introvert. My career was in human resources, and I enjoyed it tremendously. I can’t think of too many occupations that require the ability to connect with others more that human resources. To serve the people of an organization, a human resource professional must be able to connect with people both horizontally and laterally, serving the needs of executives and staff. The greater the connection, the better. I think back how satisfied I felt whenever an employee satisfaction survey produced good numbers. Even though my staff and I had worked hard to ensure good connections of people in the organization, we also felt a greater sense of connection reading good numbers and comments from the results of an employee satisfaction survey.

Call me naive if you will, but I’m convinced that the world would be a better place if more of us realized that we need each other. Furthermore, that we are connected in ways that we don’t even think about.  

The more connections we have the better for all.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

God knows what we need

Oftentimes you run across something in your reading that touches you on mnany levels. The following is something from one of those times. I take no credit for this, but I had to share it with others. We often think we know what we need, but God knows best.

An unknown civil war soldier wrote this eloquent testimony:

I asked for strength that I might achieve; I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked for health that I might do greater things; I was given infirmity that I might do better things.

I asked for riches that I might be happy; I was given poverty that I might be wise.

I asked for power that I might have the praise of men; I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things that I might enjoy life; I was given life that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I had asked for, but everything that I had hoped for.

Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered; I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

                  Hate crimes on the rise in the USA                                       

Well, it seems we have some sick individuals in America. Of course, I don’t have to tell you that. Wait a minute, I’m not talking about covid patients, or the one-third of the American population that suffers from mild to severe chronic illnesses. I’m referring to the unseemly large number of people who hate someone of another race, gender identification or some other distinctive identifier so much that they can’t help but say or do harmful things to them. Their levels of insecurity and lack of self-worth are so pronounced that they’re driven to look toward other groups of people in some warped attempt to lay blame for all things wrong.

I just read an article in my local newspaper, reporting that hate crimes in the Unites States are at a 12-year high. The year 2020 saw an historic rise in hate crimes against Black and Asian victims. Hate crime data is kept by the FBI. Of course, the environment over the last four and a half years has been ripe for a healthy harvest of hate crimes. Short of the 2016 – 2020 White House openly endorsing the practice of hate crimes, language demonizing the alleged actions of certain ethnic groups was a regular seeding function from those hallowed walls of the people’s house. Some people in our republic sit and wait for guidance about what to think about others. Referring to the coronavirus as the Kung virus, attaching criminal status to people who seek a better life north of our Southern border and seeing no need for police reform certainly didn’t help reduce instances of hate crime.

I heard a commentary from a news reporter recently about how 911 resulted in Americans coming together. Evidently, this reporter hadn’t spoken to the thousands of Muslims-Americans who underwent attacks and humiliation of all kinds after 911. Though they might have made every attempt to be a part of the group who came together, the sick ones in our country attacked first and didn’t bother to ask questions later. I find it interesting when people, with limited capacity for appreciating other cultures, attack Sikhs. Evidently, a turbine on the head is reason enough to attack, notwithstanding the fact that the turbine worn by Sikhs look nothing like the one worn by some Middle Easterners. Sheer unadulterated ignorance is something I can’t say enough about; therefore, I won’t try to give it just reward in the amount of space I normally give all my blogs.

I fear hate crimes will be with us long into the future. Some folks just can’t get their brains around the notion that America is a part of the global village, and is now beginning to look as if it belongs

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

911 still runs deep for all of us

I posted this one two years ago. Since a reader just commented on it, I thought I would post it again

oldblessedwordpresscom

Nine Eleven 1

Today is September 11. I sat at my keyboard early this morning, wanting to write something about September 11, 2001. Of course, that was the date of the tragedy involving the destruction of the twin towers in New York. There were many ideas circulating through my mind, but I couldn’t settle on just one. As I watched the national evening news, there were some images that cinched it for me.

Images often tell a story in a much more powerful way than words can ever do. It’s at that time when we see a certain image, the adage about “a picture is worth 1000 words” is arrestingly real. All the television news programs, local and national, devoted time to commemorating 911. The national news program I watched showed images of people standing at a podium, at the sight of 911, making comments about the loved ones they lost in the…

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 A good legacy for the community

I posted a blog on August 16, 2019, about my momma titled Momma’s Influence ( Momma’s influence – oldblessedwordpresscom). She died on July 5 of 2018 due to complications related to Alzheimer’s. This is a follow-up (kind of) to that piece.

A few days ago, a beloved cousin of mine, Linda Rhea, died from lung cancer. As did my momma, she chose to live her life in my hometown of Wynne, Arkansas, a tiny hamlet of 7, 749. I’ve written about Wynne before in a series I called From What I Can Remember. I promised myself that would write more in the series, but I haven’t done so yet. I think I need to sit down and try to remember more of my experiences growing up in Wynne.  Linda Rhea was only seventy-two years old, just one year older than I.

Funerals, family reunions and the occasional visit with relatives are the primary reasons folks who’ve moved away from Wynne make return visits. Regardless of the pandemic, my cousin’s funeral was my reason for returning to Wynne yesterday. If I might be allowed to say so, a fine funeral it was.  A large crowd of people, mostly locals and former locals came out to the Union Valley Missionary Baptist Church to show their respect. I’m not one to attend a lot of funerals and believe me at my age there are ample opportunities to be present at a lot of them. This was one I felt I needed to attend. Although I hadn’t seen a lot of my cousin over the last two decades or so, she occupied a large part of every compartment of my life growing up in Wynne.

I find the reflective part of a funeral particularly interesting and even entertaining. Of course, this is where individuals are allowed an opportunity recollect heartwarming and often poignant events in the life of the deceased. There was quite a bit of humor shared by each person who spoke. Obviously, my cousin was a person beloved by all in the community. I didn’t get a sense that those who spoke were hard pressed to find good thing to say. They spoke from the heart and the sincerity was genuine. One thing that I was pleasingly surprised by were several comments made about my momma. Yes. You heard me correctly.

One speaker commented that my cousin had said, “Now that Essie Mae is gone my life won’t be the same.” Essie Mae is my momma’s name. A couple of other speakers commented that a community is never the same when people like my cousin and Essie Mae leave us. I found it a bit odd, yet endearing that my momma, who died three years ago was being mentioned at my cousin’s funeral. Her legacy, undoubtedly, lives on in Wynne, Arkansas. My momma, known as momma to many in Wynne is still revered by the community.

Funerals are often excruciatingly sad events; however, this one wasn’t. I’m glad I attended. I’m sure Linda Rhea and Essie Mae are enjoying each other’s company again.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

A full night’s sleep: a blessing denied

I’m finding myself thinking a lot these days about days of old or is it days when I was younger. In case you’re thinking that I’m longing for days gone by, no that’s not it. Lately, I’ve been thinking about something the old folks used to say about not being able to sleep much at night. What happened to those old folks? Wait a minute, I think any mirror makes it very clear who they are now. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been able to rest my head on my pillow, dose off quickly and rise rested and charged up seven eight hours later, without any interruptions during the night.

Uninterrupted sleep during the night would be a much welcome gift. If you’re reading this and you have reached an age of vintage, you probably know of which speak. I’m not going to get into the stuff about visits to that room adjacent to your bedroom or just across the hall. No. I don’t want to be that personal. But I do want to talk about my uncanny ability to catnap during the night. I usually miss the ten o’clock news each night. My bed waits to greet me every night at 10:00. I think it knows I’m coming. Usually, my proverbial rubber band has become completely unwound by this time and I must address the sheets whether I’m sleepy or not. Soon as my head hits the pillows, I’m wide awake.

Let’s get back to catnapping. For some reason, I sleep, without failing, in two-hour increments every night. At the end of each two-hour nap, I’m challenged to get back to sleep. Of course, the amount of sleep I get overall depends on when I take the first nap. A while back, I decided to take the advice of Google and stop gazing into the blue screen when I first get into bed. You know all the sage advice you get about shifting into rest mode the minute you get into bed, not over stimulating yourself with digital devices. If it’s on the internet, it must be good advice, right? Well, that didn’t work. Without reading downloaded books, watching some streamed movie, or playing a video game, I found myself simply gazing onto the dark for what seemed like hours.

I’ve concluded that sleeping all night without interruption is a blessing old folks don’t enjoy, at least not this old person. Maybe the old folks I used to hear saying this had it right. Maybe my circadian rhythms have lost their rhythm. Until and if they ever get back on track, I’ll continue to use those intervals of being awake at night solving all the problems of the world and thinking about what I might blog about the next morning. In the meantime, I think the sheep are tired of me counting them. They would like to go to go to sleep.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Short-lived, dedicated service

I just walked out of the living room, after watching a special TV broadcast of the arrival of the thirteen young warriors who lost their lives to a suicide bomber in Kabul, Afghanistan. President Biden, First Lady Biden and a host of other older dignitaries were there to great the remains of these willing sacrifices, as their caskets were rolled off the aircraft that brought them to Dover Airforce Base.

The broadcast was just another special news report until pictures of the thirteen were shown on my TV screen. The oldest was only thirty-one years of age with the lowest end of the range ending at twenty. Understandably, the images showed no wrinkles, no gray hair, no outward signs of bountiful wisdom that oftentimes come with age. These weren’t seasoned warriors who had been hardened like iron against iron. Even so, as the reporter shared some biographical information about them, there was a common theme that applied to all: They were anxious to serve their country.

Many will reflect on this atrocity and ask themselves why. I wish I could come up with an answer to that question other than that they answered the call to serve, but maybe that’s answer enough. I still can’t excise the feeling from my gut that this is the senselessness of war: We invest our most valuable resource somewhere over there, rather than in the future that’s closer to home. The world is a complicated place. I realize that and my wonderings are limited in their ability to comprehend it all.

Thanks for your service, young ones.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

I dreamed of it

I grew up in the 1950s and 60s. Times were slower then. We had time to think about things, to meditate, to make sure our move was the right one. Things would happen just across the state line, and we wouldn’t here about it, sometimes, for several days. I dreamed about a lot of stuff back then. Analog allows one to dream in great, deliberate detail.

I dreamed about flying cars; we have them now. I dreamed about watch phones; we have them now. I dreamed about humankind going to the moon, we’ve done that. I dreamed about self-driving cars; we have them now. I dreamed about robots; we have them now. I dreamed about video calling; we have it now.

I dreamed about a lot of things during my first twenty years of life on the planet. With what seemed to have been lightning speed developments in technology, many of the things I dreamed about have come to pass. We have seamlessly adopted many of these technological developments into our everyday lives, taking all of them for granted. We never really miss them until there’s a power outage on the grid somewhere, or the batteries that power them run dry.

There is one thing I did dreamed about when I was younger, and it seems to be more alluding as time progresses. That thing is peace. We have been our own friend, our own enemy since time immemorial. The higher-level creatures that we are, we’ll never be able to look each other in the eye and see ourselves. As did Martin Luther King, I have a dream and I will keep dreaming. Someone else will do the same long after I’m gone.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.