Brick and Mortar vs. Flesh and Blood – They Both require Care

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“Americana” 16 x 20 acrylic on canvas

I’m giving our villa “a dust up” in preparation for sale and asking myself “How would a potential buyer see this room, this painting, this piece of furniture or memorabilia?”

When I find something out-of-place or obtrusive, I have three choices:

  1. Put it in a Good Will box to be given away
  2. Place it in a container for “safe keeping”
  3. Dump it without regard for sentiment

Each item saved for Good Will must pass a certain test: Can it be cleaned? Would someone else be able to use this or is it just old junk?

The box for “safe keeping” holds stuff that a loved one has given me or that belonged to one of my parents or grandparents. I can’t throw these things away without feeling guilty. Besides, I might need some of them in our new place. I plan to put these things aside until nearer the actual move giving me a second chance to keep or to throw them away. In number three, some of the “dump” items may fall into this category.

In truth, I’m a sentimental saver. I have difficulty parting with gifts from loved ones even though they serve no logical purpose. And after a while, these items begin to clutter the walls and shelves and look like somebody’s junk to potential buyers seeing our home for the first time.

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“Moody Blues” 18 x 14 oil on canvas

These decisions can be painful. You soon discover what’s really of value and what’s simply ostentatious. Impulse buying adds an accumulation of stuff that makes its way to the dump box. You buy an item on sale, or someone else does and then gives it to you. In either case, you know you probably won’t miss any of it when it’s gone.

Wouldn’t it be great to give your body a clean sweep like this? You could keep only what adds real value to your life and cast away the rest. You could get rid of bad habits and regrets, put old grievances in a box and tape the lid shut, and finally focus on what’s important.

Gone are the “To Do” lists that were never finished, the half-made quilts, the dreams that got away. All could stop gathering dust in your closet and finally RIP at the bottom of some landfill for recycling. You could make a fresh start with more realistic goals and some well-defined dreams that come from deep inside of you instead of from peer pressure.

Once the cobwebs have been swept from your interior, you could start unearthing your most urgent needs and longings. Find out who you are and what you’re made of in the scheme of things.

What is your heart’s desire? Discover the spiritual roots of your personality and your divine nature. Discard the negative aspects of yourself that turn other people off. Scrub out the dingy coating that has crept inside and tarnished your luster. Let your hidden treasure shine through and regain your self confidence.

When all is said and done, your mortal body is the house you live in every day until “Death Do you part.” Then your immortal spirit is liberated from all physical encumbrances and restraints. Since you only live once, doesn’t it make sense to spend as much time getting your spiritual house in order as you spend on getting your physical house ready to sell to strangers?

The Cook

“The Cook” 11 x 14 acrylic on canvas

A Toss of Fate or a Game of Choice?

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“A Joyful Heart” 11 x 14 pastel on Bristol; Matted and ready to frame.

I bragged the other day to a friend “I haven’t had a cold in years.” Then out of the blue, I got that scratchy throat that turned into a cough that turned into full-blown flu. And I had a flu shot!

In addition to tempting fate, I seem to be famous for making statements of denial that turn into fact. “I’ll never marry a German.” An opinion voiced after living next door to a German neighbor who was not only in-your-face opinionated, but overpowering. Then out of my best judgement, I ended up marrying one. What on earth was God or reason trying to tell me?

After that marriage, I became acquainted with a florist who was Norwegian. His lack of customer relation skills and his know-it-all attitude made me comment to a friend “I’ll never marry a Norwegian.” But guess what? I did. And this marriage has been great!

I think the lessons amount to this. Ethnicity doesn’t have as much to do with relationships as a person’s attitude, personality, and upbringing. An honest person with a sense of humor can overcome almost anything.

Reggae Night

“Reggae Night” mixed media on canvas

Forgiveness, give and take, and patience can do a lot more to smooth a marriage’s rough patches than the place of our parent’s birth or culture. Outside influences are far less important than internal ones. The basic principles that make up who we are cast a longer shadow of importance than where we come from.

Of course, I’m looking back with wisdom from hindsight. In the middle of my forest of choices, I couldn’t see the obvious right in front of my nose. I missed the red flags waving in the wind and had to learn from my own mistakes.

When I was interviewing for a job, I always told the interviewer I was a “quick study.” I learned quickly on the job and was never afraid to tackle tough stuff. Would that I could say the same thing about life.

Most of us learn from our mistakes. We can’t see the future and we can’t read the tea leaves that later become clear. We plod along and do the best we can. If we’re lucky, we have a good friend or a mentor we admire. Some of us have our faith in God to guide us in our walk of darkness where we “see through a glass darkly.”

I think back to the sage advice I received from my parents but rebelled against in my youth. Had I hearkened to some of it, I could have saved myself a “X?/X!! load” of grief.  But here’s the rub. If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you’ll keep repeating them over and over again.

When you reach the end of your life, do you want to leave with a list of regrets? Knowing that you did the best you could will provide a peaceful exit. And let’s face it. You were born with a time-dated stamp that eventually expires. Join the club!

Belly Dancer

“Belly Dancer” 11 x 14 acrylic on canvas

First Impressions are not always Accurate

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I planted my “potted” Peace Plant in the yard. Doing Well!

I have a friend who is very persnickety about what she eats and how it is presented and served. She keeps waiters and waitresses on the run. Friends and fellow diners are sometimes embarrassed or offended.

I was dining with one of the latter who mentioned our friend’s behavior with disdain until she was served a dish that wasn’t quite to her liking. She called the waiter over and asked for extra sauce complaining about the dry noodles.  After the waiter left, she looked at me and we both laughed realizing the tables had been turned. “Now who do I sound like?” she said, feeling apologetic.

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One exquisite bloom!

Have you ever changed your mind about someone after you got to know them? When I first met my fuss-budget friend, I was put off. I was wearing a suit jacket that belonged to my mother; it was one of the few things I had left from her. The coat was tweed with a black velvet collar. As far as I knew, it was still in fashion.  Long before we really knew each other my friend said “I had a jacket like that years ago (with the emphasis on years.)” I took it as an insult.

From then on I would look the other direction when she walked my way. She had done the same thing to me when I tried to get to know her. This went on between us for some time, until she went out of her way to change things.

I soon learned that she wasn’t the stand-offish rude person I thought she was. In fact, to those who took the time to get to know her, they discovered that she was a true friend; one who would bend over backwards for you and delight in spending time with you.

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First impressions are rarely correct. We often assume things about others that are simply not true. We scratch the surface, make our judgment calls and then go about our merry way missing out on what could have been.

There are simple people who are easy to know and love, but also easily forgotten. And then there are complex people who have many sides to their personality. They usually require patience and some digging to get to know them well, but it’s worth it.

The Neptunes -- Octoband

The Neptunes — Octoband

People who are deep, interesting and multifaceted often turn into lasting friends that stay connected. All types of people can bring laughter and fun into your life. They can also teach us about ourselves and help us to become better for having known them.

The most successful television sitcoms are about ordinary people like you and me and the funny things we say and do just being ourselves. Authentic down to earth people we can relate to. They become endearing to us because they are us.

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The Neptunes — Trumpeteers

Remember that the next time you pass someone over because they’re not “your type.” How can you possibly know at first glance?

A broad range of friends can enlarge your heart, enrich your life, and change your perspective to a more positive point of view.

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The Neptunes — “Golden Girls”