Virtually Kiss the Blarney Stone

St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching! This is a wonderful holiday full of cheer and good tidings. I love the Irish blessings I see passed around every year on Facebook. Here is mine for you:

Since you are a writer, a poet, a blogger, an artist, a musician, or a dreamer perhaps….here are some pictures of the Blarney Castle for you. It is said that if you kiss a certain rock while hanging upside down at the top of the castle…you will be gifted with the finest eloquence the world has ever seen! Here’s to you and yours this wondrous St. Paddy’s Day. May you have laugh and laughter all the days of your lucky life.

I know I include music quite often in my blog…perhaps too much but I play this song often for my children in the car. It reminds me of an old Irish blessing. It was played for me on the day I graduated high school. This song has a special place in my heart from that day. I intend to play it for my son and daughter the day they graduate from high school too some day. Listen to it and have a wonderful St. Paddy’s Day!

Oops, My Grammer

I’m always goofing up my spelling and grammar online. I make mistakes especially with blog posts. A friend from my Writers’ Guild shared with me this video this morning and it made me laugh. Weird Al Yankovic is so funny! I truly love his videos.

The Firefly’s Secret: A Story for Children

By J. Speer

The firefly was once merely a little bug who loved the sun with all his heart. Every day he flew through the valley. He greeted his friends in the sunshine. Wally the water buffalo would say, “Hi!” Then, he would continue munching lovely green grass. There was also Greg the Giraffe who tottered high and tall near the trees. The little bug would fly past the lion, the cheetahs, and even the hyenas. He would skim across the waters of the river and visit the hippos, the crocodiles, and fly over the rhinos. The little bug loved his valley. He loved the river, the trees, the rocks. In fact, his home was a big rock on the biggest hill to the side of the valley. It was a perfect place where he could see all, including the sun which he loved most of all.

Every day, the sun rose with beautiful light. The sun burst light everywhere onto every inch of the land. It glowed. It radiated. The sun was brilliant. The little bug admired the sun. When the sun was around, the fly was happy.

But every evening, the sun had to go. The little fly did not understand why. He wanted to play in the light of the sun. The sun would lower toward the horizon and the little bug would look at it sadly. It was time for the sun to go.

The little bug would fly back to the big rock where he could look over the valley. His friends all went to their places to sleep too. The little bug sat on the rock and sighed. He was very sad. Night after night, the little bug would sit on the rock and wait for the sun to return. One night,in the glow of the moonlight above him, the little bug began to cry.

The moon watched the little bug, sad and alone on the rock. The moon lowered in the sky to glow a soft light onto the big rock. The little bug looked up at the moon and sadly smiled.

“Why do you cry, little bug?” Asked the moon.

“I’m sad. I want the sun to come back,” said the little bug.

The moon looked at the little bug with compassion. She lowered closer to the big rock and glowed a beautiful night light.

“I have a secret to tell you. It is the secret of the sun and the secret of the moon and now it will be the secret of you…if you are ready,” said the moon.

“I am ready,” said the little bug.

“One time, a long, long time ago, the sun was all alone in the dark. He sat in the darkness and he was very sad just like you. He longed for a friend. He wanted someone to help him. He was very sad. Then, one day, he grew tired of being sad. He started to focus inside himself. He created light, a tiny spark made of self-love in his heart. He focused on that tiny spark and it grew to be a bigger spark. He kept fanning the flames of the spark within until it became bigger and bigger. Now he shines with the most brilliant of lights. His light of love shines everywhere and makes everyone happy around him. That is his secret. He had to create it within before he could shine it outside.”

She continued, “Shining the light within can be exhausting though even for the sun. So he must leave to rest and recover so he can continue to shine it the next day. The sun doesn’t want to leave you, little bug, he has to leave to rest.”

The moon looked fondly at the little bug. If she could hug her little friend, she would.

“I was once like you. You remind me of myself. I too missed the sun at night. We all did, the stars and I. One day, the sun told us the secret of his ability to shine. The stars and I tried very hard to find the spark within, the light of self-love, and slowly one by one we began to light up the midnight sky. I glow for me. I love my glow. It is soft and dreamy. I have a beautiful light within…and you will too now that you know the secret of how to shine for yourself and thereby, for the world.”

She smiled, “Goodbye, little bug. I wish you the best. Shine on.”

The little bug sat on the rock alone in the dark and thinking of the moon’s words. He sat on that rock for many, many days as he tried to find a spark of love inside his heart too. He finally found it and the spark grew and grew and grew until he glowed all over with a soft, pretty light.

“Wow,” he said. He flew over the valley shining his beautiful little glow everywhere for himself and thereby, for his friends who admired it.

He passed down the secret to his children who passed it down to their descendants.

Today, as the sun starts to sink into the horizon, the fireflies come out over all the valley to glow soft little lights. They light up the valley. They are so beautiful.

Now, also the fireflies are all over the world too. Little children love and admire them. They chase after the gentle, glowing bugs. They laugh when a little firefly lets them catch them. They open their hands in wonder to stare in awe at the glow of the little firefly.

How do they glow? The children ask themselves this question.

What is their secret?

Now you, little one, little child…you know the secret of the sun, the moon, the stars, and the fireflies. The secret is within you. The secret to shining for all is self-love.

Now, how will you shine your little light inside. Focus on it. Find it. Help it to grow and you too will soon learn how to glow. And when you glow, the whole world will be a happier place.

Rejection is Just Redirection

Have you ever experienced an online troll?  What about a “hater” or even a “group of haters”? 

(By the way, this is a great song about the whole “haters gon’ hate” vibe.  To go off on a short tangent, I really love this song.)

What about someone in your environment who, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get them to treat you right?  Or maybe just someone or something that leaves you drained?    

Here’s some simple tips:

  1.  Take time out for you and practice self-care/self-love. 
  2. Be wise to the negative behaviors of others but hold yourself to a higher standard and do not stoop to that level. 

“I am sending you out as sheep among wolves, so be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”  Matthew 10:16.

  • “Do not cast your pearls before swine.”  Matthew 7:6.  This is not to say that other people are necessarily bad.  Perhaps they are not at a point in their lives that they are willing and able to receive you with love and respect.  If this is so, do not waste your energy and time trying to prove your worth to them.  Life is short and precious, it should not be wasted continually trying to be perfect for someone else’s expectations of you.  Make your own expectations.  Meet your own goals.  Dress the way you want.  Think the way you want.   You are not unworthy.  You are enough.  They just fail to see the treasure that you are, even if you may appear to be a diamond in the rough.  Remember, in this life, we do not know who God treasures either.  Some people would be the least you would expect.  Treat people fairly and stand up for yourself when you feel in your heart that you are not being treated fairly by others. 
  • Let go of bitterness and get your spirit back.  Bounce back from hardship like you’re Walter Payton.  This is extremely hard.  First, learn to take the L.  Second, learn to forgive.  Third, vow to not let the pattern repeat itself.  Respect yourself enough not to allow it to happen again.  Fourth, understand that what others meant for your harm, God may have intended for your good.  This is called providence.  It was providence that made Joseph a powerful influence in Egypt to prevent the famines despite all he went through.  Providence worked in his life and it works in your life too.  It’s just hard to see when you’re in the trenches.   You just got to believe.  Sometimes, though, we pray and pray and pray on something and it still doesn’t happen.  That’s another life lesson right there.  The failure, the rejection, the divorce, the bad grades, the whatever is going on in your life…..it is teaching you to first lean not on your own understanding of things but on a spirituality, and second, it is teaching you to love yourself.  The full and total rejection moment will teach you to find value in you, to regain your self-esteem, self-confidence, self-worth.  Remember as Rocky says in this short motivational speech, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.  It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.  You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.  But it ain’t about how hard you’re hit.   It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

 Keep moving forward towards your goals.  If you have to, start very small.  Work on your hygiene first.  Work on the way you dress.  Work on your hair, make-up, style, etc.  Go back to the gym or church or wherever you find positive vibes and happiness from meeting goals.  Don’t let others tell you not to do these things.  Do them because you need to do them to improve your self-esteem.   Raise that bar first and then move out from there to your surroundings and your interactions with others.  Begin, at the same time, to strip away that which does not serve you.  Are there behaviors or traits you have taken on that are not good?  Substance abuse problems?  Addictions?  Unhealthy habits?  What about people you interact with that wear you down?  Begin to set boundaries not just with certain people but with things you do throughout the day.  Ask yourself, do I really want to do this thing or is this something I am doing because so-and-so wants me to do it?  Once again, this comes back to self-love and self-respect.  It is not selfish to say no.  It is awareness that you need to raise the bar on your self-esteem/self-worth.  Likewise, choosing to not date certain people or hang out with certain folks that bring you down…..that is not arrogance but self-awareness that you need to protect your energy.  Your energy is vital to your overall health and success.  So start small.  Take the baby steps which can turn in to bigger steps down the road. 

These are the things I am telling myself now.  I too have faced a personal setback and I am re-learning this now.  It is a thing I have to continually re-learn painfully.  You would think I would get it the first time but no, I keep having to re-hash it over and over as I believe a lot of people do.  One thing that really helps me is YouTube.  Here’s some video advice from folks way, way, way smarter than me about how to do it.  The first three videos are about self-love.  The fourth is Maya Angelou reciting, And Still I Rise.  The two other videos are inspirational pastor sermons.  These are my two favorite sermons of all time that I must admit, I have to go back to again and again when “my chips are low” and I feel myself entering that defeated mindset mode.  I highly, highly recommend watching these sermons!  However, they are each long but packed with valuable info.  I hope that you like these videos too (please share with me as well, any videos you think would help me) and remember that whatever I am going through and whatever you are going through, we are in this together and you are enough, you are valuable, you are worthy.  Think like Walter Payton and bounce yourself back up.  Let’s get to it!    

You Cannot Break Love

Love does not come from the heart.

Rather, the heart comes from love. 

The heart may break but the origin of the heart is eternity.

When you understand this,

You understand love. 

For love flows through all things and all times. 

It permeates everything…

The raindrop, the ant, the mountain, the tree.

Why do you cry, silly girl?

Why do you hang your head low? 

Do you think you have lost love?

Do you seek it?

Do you ask yourself when will you find it?

Love is within you.

Love is near, ever present surrounding you

In the winds, the foods, the waters, the books you read, the poems you write, the thoughts you think. 

Love is in all that you do and all that has been done before or will be done in the future. 

Love is life.

Love is reality. 

Love is the past.

Love is the present.

Love is the future. 

Love exists through creation, destruction, and renewal.

Love was there in your first breath and will be there for your last.

Love was there for your ancestors and will be there for your descendants. 

All creations of love will return to the source and then flow out again. 

You cannot lose that which is never lost, never broken, never entirely destroyed. 

Dry your tears. 

Stop dwelling on sadness.

Don’t expect another to provide you this love.

Open your eyes and see love for what it truly is…immortal.    

Connect to that source that flows through you

And no man shall break you anymore.      

Britney Online

I began following Britney Spears on Instagram about a year ago. I don’t remember why. I think she was suggested. Her Instagram is full of light-hearted quotes, sunshiny videos with her looking pretty and offering words of positive advice, and then there’s videos of her dancing. The dance moves are energetic and talented. She looks amazingly in shape. Her house in the background looks posh. She doesn’t post negative stuff ever.

At first, I hearted a lot of her stuff. When I would see a post, I’d generally like it. But as a year went by, I started to skip over some videos. I didn’t do this in a mean spirit. I didn’t grow to dislike her at all. I think I just figured she had enough adoring fans. She didn’t need my like. And I started to dismiss her.

Dismissed. What does this action mean? I wish I had a better brain to fully analyze the psychology of dismission.

What I do know is being dismissed hurts.

Have you ever been in a job where you were dismissed? Have you ever been in a family and dismissed? What about a friend circle? Imagine it for a moment on a larger scale like celebrity.

Is dismission mean-hearted? Yes and no. I think the intention for dismission is not inherently evil. I think it is merely indifference. But it is mean. The absence of love is not hate but often indifference.

What does it mean to dismiss? Are you outright clearly disrespectful or choosing to obviously ignore? Yes and no again. Yes, you are disrespectful and ignoring another but no, your intention again is not mean-hearted and villainous.

I think dismission is even more insidious than outright dissing someone or hate. There is no clear and visible distinction so it is very difficult for the victim of dismissal to actually articulate their feelings of loneliness and isolation. They are denied their right to fight back.

I, too, know what it feels like to be dismissed. I think we all have experienced it at some point and it is not fun. I think people dismiss Britney and they have dismissed her feelings for more than a decade. How else can you explain what happened to her and what was condoned to happen with the conservatorship? The woman could run a billion dollar music empire but aparently needed others to manage her checkbook or schedule appointments for her.

I call bull.

What happened to Britney was wrong. I find it really interesting too that the majority of her Free Britney fan base has been young gay men who probably recognized in her this dismissal, someone pushed into a closet in the dark and not permitted to shine. And shine she does. Despite all that has happened to her, her posts are positive. She is a marvel to me.

I know what it feels like to feel dismissed, on the fence between outright hated or liked. It’s not fun. I have 550 posts on my Instagram with only a small group of friends and 1 or 2 likes per post. There is no return on investment of energy. And I think that is the problem with Britney. She pours out a massive amount of positivity and energy only to be met by poor return of investment. It’s hard to keep going on any endeavor when you get poor returns in the long term. Imagine if you had ten dollars and you invested it and got three dollars back again and again. Eventually there is no point in continuing. And yet Britney has and that is commendable. Think of all she went through.

So let her dance if it makes her happy. Mind your own business if you got something negative to say out of jealousy or envy. And like her posts every now and then. The woman deserves it. She’s a survivor of an unclear, passive aggressive form of abuse. I know I will be dismissed for speaking that truth but I don’t care.

https://www.regain.us/advice/psychology/what-is-psychological-invalidation-how-it-happens-and-its-effects/

Coincidence

In his book, Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey talks about love. He compares it to archery. He says, “The arrow doesn’t seek the target. The target draws the arrow.” He was probably talking about romantic love.

Many of us spend much of our lives chasing romantic love like Wiley Coyote and the Roadrunner. It evades us when we force it. But if we go with the flow enjoying life and the present moment, if we stop to “smell the roses” so to speak….that love will come sit down right beside us and we don’t even have to try…much like the Roadrunner going “beep beep” to get Wiley’s attention.

Bottomline, as I get older I don’t chase love as much. For one, my knees are bad. Chasing is exhausting and makes you want to drop an anvil on someone’s head with frustration when you fail. For another reason, there’s no point in it. Policing a man or woman gets you nowhere. Love will come to us when love is ready.

Beep, beep….

But tonight, I talk of a different kind of love…the love from pets. There have been only a few times in my life that I have been drawn to something or someone like a strong magnet. One of those times is the day I first encountered my second dog.

When I saw him, I knew in my heart I wanted that dog. I didn’t go to Petsmart to get a dog. That was the last thing on my mind. I was there to get fish food. I had brought my son and one of his friend’s along to the downtown shopping district. We were just enjoying the day.

Do you believe in random occurrences or are our steps ordered in some way as if predestined? Why do I say such gibberish? I will tell you why in a moment.

This is my second dog. I took him home from the pet store that day as a spur of the moment decision. I said I’d take him the moment the volunteer said his name.

Slushy.

Such an odd name for a reddish brown border collie like this:

Slushy was his name.

Why would that name make me instantly buy him?

This picture right here:

A 1982 Slushy doll on sale.

In 1982, my grandma bought me an Avon toy called Slushy the dog. I carried Slushy everywhere. I slept beside Slushy. I ate beside Slushy. Slushy never left my side….for years. He was my favorite toy comparable to a favorite blanket. I loved Slushy with all my little girl heart.

Slushy.

How is it possible that years later I would encounter the real life look-alike to my favorite childhood toy friend? Coincidence? Random fate? Or something more…

Today, I type this by the fireplace as Slushy sits beside me napping. The fire is warm and toasty. He is resting. His eyes are closed but I know if I shift just a little, he will open them to peer at me curiously….my toy brought to life in later years, just when I would need him most. I would need his friendship once again.

I sleep beside Slushy curled up near me sometimes. I eat beside Slushy. Once again, we are inseparable. And we will probably be inseparable to the end of the road for one of us, whomever that might be.

The Unconditional Love of Dogs

Man’s best friend.

On Valentine’s Day, we celebrate romance. But what of the other types of love, including the love for our pets?

I have two dogs. One is a mix of different breeds, probably Italian Greyhound and Jack Russell. That’s what my vet said. To me, he’s just a little white dog I got at the pound.

I tore my ACL in my knee and was limping around. In a few weeks, I planned to have surgery to repair it. It was a Saturday afternoon when the kids and I drove out to the Humane Society.

I did not pick the little white dog at first. In fact, no one seemed interested in him.

He sat in a steel cage alone in the small dog room. He looked miserable. He didn’t seem excited by my arrival like some other more bouncy dogs. He didn’t bark nor make a noise. He lay with his back facing me. I bypassed him and went to a cuddly little black furball dog and a few other cute and energetic ones.

We played with the others and were set on the black furball pup. Then one of the volunteers brought the little white dog out of his cage to clean the cage.

That’s when I realized exactly why everyone bypassed him…..he limped around on three legs. There was something wrong with him. I looked down at my own busted knee.

“What happened to his leg?” I asked the volunteer curiously.

“He needs a minor surgery on the ligament. Sometimes some breeds of dogs like Chihuahuas and such can be born with a leg problem.” She said sympathetically.

His leg was messed up. So was mine. We seemed fated to be together I suppose. We took the quiet, little white dog home that day. We named him Gizmo.

He had surgery for about $170 at the vet clinic. My knee surgery cost much more in the thousands. I shoulda had the vet fix my knee.

We walked together a lot in the weeks that followed. I hobbled along behind him grimacing in pain every now and then while he still hopped around on three legs. My knee got stronger every day with his help. Eventually he figured out too that he could step down on that fourth leg and it would work. I remember watching him that moment. He gingerly placed the leg down as if afraid of the pain but soon found there to be none. Now he bounces around the house. He runs and plays and wrestles with our other dog.

Nothing makes me smile bigger after a long day of work than to be greeted by the dogs at the door. I do believe all dogs go to heaven. They seem to bring out our better nature. Over the years, these dogs have greeted many visitors to our home with equal measure of love. Young and old. Pretty or not so much. Thin and thick. It doesn’t matter to them. And I think that’s what I like about dogs best. How unconditional their love and support can be. They treat every person like a good friend.

Yes, cats are softer and fluffier and easier to take care of. But a dog will lay beside you when you’re feeling blue. So this Valentine’s Day, remember not just the romantic love but also the love of companionship, an unconditional love mastered by dogs.

Castle Frankenstein

In 2002, I was working with the Department of Defense Finance & Accounting Service. About once a month, I would travel from Grafenwoehr, Germany to DFAS headquarters at Kaiserslautern to hand-deliver financial records for the US Army Transportation Management Center for Europe.

On one trip, I finished early and took the autobahn back home. I saw a sign around the Mannheim and Darmstadt area for Burg Frankenstein. This immediately piqued my interest. I had time to spare so I took a short excursion to the castle said to inspire Mary Shelley to write her gothic novel, The Modern Prometheus, in 1818. Today, we know this story through Halloween and classic hit movies as the story of a monster come to life by a mad scientist through the channeling of a lightning bolt.

But did you know that there really was a mad scientist?

Castle Frankenstein is all mostly in ruins now. In 2002, it was still quite large and stunning, however. I remember the stones being almost red. I remember walking through the ruins alone and up the stone steps to the towers. The place is supposed to be haunted.

The castle was built around 1250. It was sold in 1662 and used as a hospital for a while before falling into ruins. By the time Mary Shelley may have seen it in 1814 when she visited the Rhine region and a small town called Gernsheim, 10 miles away, the castle would have been in pretty bad shape. No one knows for sure if Mary Shelley went there but it is believed her stepmother, who was a translator for Brothers Grimm stories, had first heard the story of the mad scientist and passed the story on to Shelley.

Who is this mad scientist?

His name was Johann Konrad Dippel. He lived at the castle or near the castle sometime around 1673. He invented what he called an “elixer of life” that was said to cure many diseases. Johann was a professional alchemist, a medieval term for a chemist. According to rumor, Johann also did anatomy and some even speculated that he exhumed bodies for his research.

There are other fascinating and mysterious stories associated with the grounds around the castle. Supposedly, there is a fountain of youth nearby that turns old women into young girls on Walpurgis Nacht. There is also a story of a knight fighting a deadly dragon.

The most interesting story I found is located on Mt. Ibes. This is the location of a collection of magnetic stones. Compasses do not work on Mt. Ibes. It is a place supposedly where ancient rites, rituals, traditions take place according to the old ways of the Franks, the previous Germanic tribes that lived in this area. Frankenstein literally means “stone of the Franks” which could be related to this magnetic stone circle phenomenon. Mt. Ibes is supposed to be a sacred and respected place.

Sadly, I did not take pictures of the trip. This was 2002 prior to the arrival of the smartphone. and it was just a side excursion from the autobahn. It was one of those “spur of the moment” decisions that I will never regret. Some day it would be great to see the Castle Dracula too.

There is another place close nearby there along the border with France. The paranormal story from this place was called The Bleeding Nun and it is featured in another gothic classic written by Matthew Gregory Lewis called The Monk. The bleeding nun is an apparition that appears at Castle Lindenberg and warns you of giving in to lustful desires as it must have led to her demise. The Monk was published in 1796.

The only other story I really love from the Rhineland region is probably The Lorelei. She is a beautiful apparition that sits on the rocks just above a dangerous turn of the Rhine River. She was jilted by a faithless lover and committed suicide by casting herself into the waters of the Rhine at that spot and drowned. Now, she seeks revenge on sailors or other male travelers on the Rhine river. She sings a wondrous tune just like a siren. She is said to be exquisitely beautiful and also…..deadly. Men who see her, generally swim towards her….only to drown in the treacherous rapids below her. She became the inspiration for a portion of the small adventure book I wrote, Searching for Fire.

Here is a nice link to a BBC article with pictures of Castle Frankenstein. Thanks for reading this and have a gute nacht, freunde.

http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20161018-germanys-most-monstrous-castle