The War Of Words

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Recently, I have been thinking back to the days when the boys were young. Those were the days and many of them I would never like to repeat. They were stressful with meltdowns and words that took a cruel aim to the heart.

“I hate you” “I wish you were not my mom” “You’re a whiney little jerk” “Mom, he called me a butt.” Those kinds of things. Normal, yes, but the frequency at our house was 100 times what was normal. It was exhausting.

I remember at one point trying to get the boys to think before they said something. Hard to do when you are seven and in the heat of the moment. Hard for me to do now at 55+ and if I am honest; I have never been a model for saying quiet well-thought-out words.

During these early days of chaotic boyhood, a friend once  told me what she asked her kids when the War of Words was going on. I thought it was genius and wished I had done more of it as they grew up. She would ask her kids:

Is what you said kind?

Is what you said helpful?

Is what you said loving?

Often times just by asking these questions I found I could bring a temporary respite to all the chaos. It was a blessing. It taught my kids that words have meaning and repercussions too.

Recently, I was thinking back to those times and I decided that those questions of yesteryear were valuable not just for kids but for me too and I have been trying to be mindful before I speak by asking myself these questions before spouting off. I have also added two other questions to ask myself before responding to others:

Is what I am about to say true?

What is my motivation (honest) for saying what is on my mind?

Admittedly, it is hard for me to remember to ask myself these questions before talking. Often, I fall far short of where I would like to be. But usually, if I just pause before speaking, I can do a quick inventory in my head of the answers to these questions and decide whether my response is:

True

Honest

Loving

Kind

Helpful

 

If what I am about to say is not any of the above; I am trying to learn to shut my mouth and keep it that way. As a person who has shot from the hip most of her life this is a real learning experience for me. A challenge akin to climbing Mt. Everest. It is not easy. It takes a little bit of awareness and planning. But every time I succeed in being mindful I know I am getting to be one step closer to the person I want to be which gives me hope that maybe one day before I die I will master this ability to speak mindfully and to shut my mouth when needed. But somehow I suspect that it might take my deathbed to figure it all out if even then. Yet, I keep trying because I know for the sanity of all involved that when I am kind, loving, honest, helpful, and true I give the best of myself to those who deserve only the best of me.

Amen (so be it)

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Letter From The Civil War

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I have had the honor of transcribing some letters between my GG grandmother and her cousin who was serving in the Civil War. I love this bit of family history and appreciate that I have been entrusted with it. There are mis-spellings and I left them that was intentionally. Cousin Mac who wrote this letter did not survive the war. He died of Typhoid Fever at a hospital in the South. He was a Union solider.

Loudon Tenn

Sunday eve

May 22, 1864

Dear Cousin:

I happen to have nothing else to do this evening so I guess I will write to you, though I think I wrote since I had one from you.

We are once more comfortably located since leaving Knoxville and I think fully as pleasantly possible, at least the boys all think so.  We took possession of some houses left by the 50th Ohio, as they were relieved by us, so we were home at once.

We are near the River-about as far from your house to the bridge. The River is larger here than at Knoxville. It looks about as wide here as the Ohio at Cincinatti, though not near as deep. Our camp is on a kind of neck of land; the River comes in from the south, and then makes a circuit of 7 miles around and comes back within a half mile of where it passes this Camp.  I have a lready had  a couple of rides on it…some of the Plymouth boys had a trout line set- and night before last I helped them take it up. It was a nice night, as the moon shone bright and I tell you we had a good time, we rode some two miles but didn’t get many fish. About all the kind of fish that is caught now is what we call “Sheep Heads”. The “natives” here call them pretty good though.

Of all the homely ill-looking speciments of mankind I ever saw, I beleive Loudon & vicinity can take the lead. If you wanted to see some specimens, you ought  to be here at the Provoost Marshalls Office part of a day. His business is to give passes to loyal citizens, and to soldiers who want to pass the Picket-lines. Anyone can come into town, but all have to get passess to get out again. The Office is generally crowded all day, and you may be sure there are all sizes, kinds, and colors. They are generally ignorant- few can write their names.

Several members of the company came in today, they were left in hospitals in Covington, among them was Isaac Borough & Horace Place. I guess they are the only ones from our town. One of our Lieutents that was in Cincinatti in command of one of the Prisons there, also came with them.

I have heard nothing of our (?) yet. William is still at K, and will take care of it. I presume it has come before this time.

Some way or other I have very poor success in getting letters from home. It has been most three weeks since I had one, and I feel anxious to hear from them.

I send you some verses of a song what has lately come into the company and is very popular just now. I think it is about as good one as I’ve heard for a long time and the tune is so well suited to the words. I wish I could send it just as it sounds when three or four parts are sung and it is so true too. But maybe your know it for I presume some one has it in the town.

Write a soon as you can

Good night