Precious Presents

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I have a small group of friends that know me pretty much inside and out…and bless their hearts… they are still my friends. We were brought together by virtue of some shared characteristics of our children. The bond that we have gone on to form transcends our original purpose of providing support to one another. Our relationships are now based not so much on our children’s issues but on our real concern and love for each other. We now enjoy a Friendship that begin with a capital F even if it is mostly virtual.

Many of these friends I have met in “real” life. A few I have yet to meet except out in cyberspace. We have shared our joys and concerns. We have lived each others ups and downs. We have been there for the little victories and some major defeats. We have watched each others children grow and been there when a diagnosis threatened to overwhelm. As a result of sharing such intimacies over the years we read each other fairly well.

Recently, I found myself at a crossroads… a low point so to speak. My friends gave me the encouragement that usually brings me to my feet again. Most important they took the time to give me ideas and options that they thought might make my life just a little brighter. Yet, I remained on my knees and they knew it. Then yesterday I went to our group and found that a member had posted the start of the most beautiful and meaningful gift I have ever been given. She started a list entitled 25 Random Things We Love About You. The list was sincere, uplifting and once again reminded me of who I am and who I want to become. Some things were funny, some serious and some were eye opening but all the things on the list were written with love. When I read the list I laughed and cried. I was truly touched and beside myself with delight. Because of that list I am standing on my feet once again.

A present that affirms you for who you are…warts and all… only comes along once or twice in a lifetime. It is a gift are as rare as the most precious gem. It’s a gift that teachs, stirs, and allows you to remember yourself as you were at your best. It restores confidence, grants healing and puts you back on the path to yourself. It is a gift that everyone should give to at least one other person in their lifetime. Everyone should be so lucky.

I have yet to comment to my friends how I feel about such receiving such a treasure. I mean it is truly like winning the lottery. I find it hard to contemplate about what was said without feeling such a overwhelming sense of gratitude that I have such a group of wonderful women watching my back…I almost dissolve in tears. So lacking any real gift that could compare in return I just wanted to say thank you my dear friends. I want to thank you for giving me your time when I had none to give back and thank you for giving me your strength when I was too weak to support myself much less you. Thank you for giving me your love and your truth. You have given me your best over the years even when I fell short. I am truly blessed to have known each and every one of you. All of you have taught me so many things but most of all you have taught me the true meaning of friendship and for that I will always be grateful and in your debt.Someday I hope I can give back to you what you have given me over the years. For now….all you get is this IOU.

*I wrote this several years ago and just looked at it again. I feel just as blessed remembering this as when it happened. Thank you friends!*

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Better Than A Shirt

Last Christmas, after a crack B made about all the shirts and ties he had received over the years for the holidays, I gave him a bathrobe instead. But after contemplating his “joke” I realized he was right. My present giving had gotten a little boring just like our marriage had been for several years. I decided right then and there that this year I would give him something he would never forget.

If you know B you also know that he has devoted the last several years to playing the bagpipes after a trip to Scotland got him hooked. His favorite band is The Red Hot Chili Pipers but unfortunately they only play on the East Coast when they tour away from their home base of Scotland. So what is a girl to do? She buys airline tickets to New York, calls son West to see if the folks can stay with him at his pad, and she buys tickets to see the band at B.B. King’s Bar and Grill. That is where we were last night and the blokey bagpipers were amazing! Watching B watching them was the best gift I could have given myself. The joy on his face and the challenge that stirred his soul brought tears to my eyes. It was in short…one of the best nights ever!!!

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We arrived in New York at 11:30 p.m. Friday. West was here to pick us up. It was great to see our son and also see how well he is doing for himself. The view of Manhattan from his condo is amazing and his home is sporty and chic like a young man’s pad should be. But hell, we are only here for 60 hours so we had to get the show on the road. So off to bed we went only to be greeted by the sun a few hours later.

The next morning we went to the City Diner. The food is amazing and my stuffed french toast was incredible.

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We visited Central Park where we embarrassed West by riding the carousel like a couple of kids. We stopped and talked to Big Bird, who was with Elmo, and posed for pictures with the two icons, while West tried his damnedest to disappear behind a tree. It’s nice to know we can still embarrass our children no matter what their age!

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We also visited the Plaza Hotel, went into the New World Trade Center, took the subway, gave the Trump Tower the finger, went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, saw Times Square and Broadway, had an amazing pub experience at The Dead Rabbit (voted one of the world’s best bars), ate New York pizza & cheesecake, while drinking just a wee too much.

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So here it is early morning Monday and we are packing to return home to our “real” lives. We enjoyed each others company immensely, had great sex,  and got to see the things we enjoy most about the other. Divorce felt about as close to us as the sun as we spent our anniversary just being happy with the way things are…undefined.

In short, it was a weekend we will never forget, and if I do say so myself…it was much better than a shirt!!!!

Precious

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I’ve lost something precious,

That I can’t get back,

Erupting like Campi Flegrei,

I was a force of un-ending power,

Capable of killing love off,

Spitting words, ill-actions, and deeds

Spewing  word grenades through the air,

Erupting so often,

Your soul was scorched,

Love burned to the bone,

The resulting ash,

Spread amongst a family,

That leaves a residue,

That cannot be removed

 

 

I’ve lost something precious,

It cannot be found,

Underneath the wreckage,

Of past hurts,

By refusing to see,

The other side to the issue,

Insisting on being right,

Instead of being loving,

Selfish instead of giving,

Righteous instead of irreverent,

Proud instead of humble,

Rushed instead of patient,

 

 

 

I’ve lost something precious,

That used to be mine,

Due to lack of attention,

Deficiency of appreciation,

Spoilt indulgences,

And not understanding,

That the delicacy of love,

Is as strong but translucent,

As that of a Monarch Butterfly,

Able to travel thousands of miles,

As long as you don’t disturb,

The scales on its wings.

 

I’ve lost something precious,

That most don’t,

Find in a lifetime,

A thing dreams are made of,

A fairytale complete,

And I miss it… mourn it,

And wish for a re-do,

But I can never make up for,

The pain that I have caused…

I AM SORRY

 

 

 

 

I miss it

 

I miss you

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I Wonder…

I bought a new rug. The former one, the one that occupied the place by the tan sofa in the family room was old. I bought it 25 years ago. Between dogs and kids it was badly frayed and the bottom was literally disintegrating. Oh, it smelled too. Like wet dogs who had caroused in the boggy woods on a hot summers day.

So yesterday, I went to World Market to buy some wine. They were having a discount, buy 3/ get one free. They have some yummy wine so I thought I would indulge. But as I entered the store I noticed a 25% sale off of rugs so I meandered over. And there I saw it…a caramelly jute rug embedded with threads of rust, sage and icy iron blue. Best of all it was 40% off! What a bargain! The hell with the wine…this rug is mine!

I took it home and laid it out on the floor and it looked delicious like peanut butter spread on toast. And as I inspected it I came across its tag of origin: India. And I wondered…who made this rug?  Where in India do they live? How do they live their lives? Were they paid fairly for this work of art that I now possess? Do they wonder where it now lays?

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As I thought about all of this it made me nostalgic. How sad it is that we no longer personally know the people who make most of the items in our house. There is no cobbler who knows the size of my feet and that I have a bunion on my left little toe. No longer could I find a knife sharpener/iron forger on my block. The butcher is employed by a big conglomerate now and an hour-long discussion about the best cut of meat for sauerbraten is a thing of the past. I have no idea where the nearest woodworker shop is nor a trusty mechanic with his own back-alley garage. I no longer know that Mrs. Tartini’s store sells the best brooms for the cheapest price. Where I live there is no neighborhood. No sense of community. No loyalty to Sam’s Welding because he lives on my block and I see him pushing his kids on their tricycles as they ride by.

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I have come to realize that this is no way to live. Because a sense of community is important. It promotes trust, understanding, and consensus amongst neighbors. It brings as sense of place and security to those living together. Trust in our craftsmen’s work developes because we see what they do and how lovingly they do it over time. It’s those kinds of ties that bind us to one another and give life meaning but, unfortunately, so many communities today no longer have this. And its those personal ties to community which make police think twice about gunning down the people they are supposed to protect.

And so, as I look at my beautiful new rug, I wish I knew who crafted it. I wish I knew everything about them, and they about me, just to give us both a place in the world where we could interact because we are bound together by our shared humanity. A place where concern and understanding prevailed just because it feels good and right. I wish I lived in a community of love and concern…I wonder if the rug maker does too?

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Friendship

This morning I had a long overdue coffee date with a wonderful woman. We are about the same age and are both on the road of discovery about ourselves while deciding what we want the second half of our lives to look like. We have a lot in common in many regards and I hope she is on the way to becoming a good friend.

After coffee was over it occurred to me how much I miss having close female friends. Sometimes I miss it so much it feels like a piece of me has been ripped away and left abandoned out on an isolated road. Alone.

Don’t get me wrong I have some wonderful friends. But due to our constant moving or their moving; these women that I cherish and love are scattered throughout the United States. There is N… my been with me forever friend who has seen me through my youthful indiscretions and has nursed me through the past year. There is C who knew me as a teen and with whom I share a birthday. There is L who makes life something to laugh at and enjoy to the fullest even when I am whining like a baby. And there are several other special ladies who I know would be there for me if I picked up the phone. But what I need at this juncture of my life, and what I miss most, are a couple of good girlfriends to go to coffee with every Thursday to catch up on each others lives.

It is hard making friends at my age. It’s an art really. The type of art I have really never possessed in sufficient quantities… because I don’t do acquaintances. I do… “I’ll save your life if you’re in a raging river”… types of friends. I would do anything for them and they would do just about anything for me. These are the plunging off a cliff, Thelma and Louise, kinds of friends.  Frankly, there are not a lot of people I want to risk my life for or go down with at my age. But I am still willing to try to find those kinds of inspiring and fun people and offer them all that I have to give… which is quite a lot.

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There are other reasons I find making friends difficult. Sometimes when you have special needs children with challenges it makes it difficult to make friends. Most people have no clue of all the things you have to do to make your life work. They don’t understand when you have to cancel at the last-minute because of a major meltdown that is occurring ten minutes before you are supposed to meet. And being around others whose children also have challenges can be draining for both people because it seems as if too often you are both drowning at once and just holding on by the thinnest of branches. While things have improved in my household sometimes I feel like past behaviors hold me back because I am unsure when those issues will rear their ugly heads again. It makes me afraid to risk “those” looks and “those” whispers from someone I thought was special only to find that they really aren’t. Sometimes I wonder if that isn’t how my sons with autism feel.

There is also the issue that most women’s lives are so full that they barely have time for the friends they currently have much less making time for someone new in their lives. With old friends you know what you have and how to relate. Most people just don’t have the energy to figure out the quirks of a stranger. And I get all of this. I truly do. But damn, it just means that so many of us are missing out on something that is so good.

But really, I don’t want a lot of friends. I just want a small group of coffee klatching Thursday morning women to hang with. Some 40-60 something gals who won’t try to convert me. Won’t try to change me. And will love me despite all my idiosyncracies.

With all the lonely people out there you would think it wouldn’t be that hard to find but it is. Which makes me thankful for all that I do have in my life. Yet, I am greedy and I want more. Much, much more.

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B’s List Of What He Wants

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Yesterday I posted what I wanted/needed in my second half of life. Today I am posting B’s.

First of all, just so you know, I asked B if it was okay to post this. To my surprise he said yes. This is his list of what he wants in the second part of his life with me. It won’t come as a surprise to those who know us that his list is very different than mine. Much more compact. Remember, I’m the one with the words. Yet, what he wrote touched me deeply because I knew it was from his heart and soul. All of it.

The morning we were to go to breakfast to discuss our relationship; I got into the car and our wedding picture was there along with some flowers. B said that before we went to breakfast he wanted to read what he had written and so with tears in his eyes and a catch in his throat this is what he read:

What I Want In The Second Half Of My Life

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What I Want In A Relationship In The Second Half Of My Life

Getting older is not for the faint at heart. Our bodies will start to deteriorate and possibility our minds. We might get seriously ill and it might get harder to do the everyday things that we now take for granted. As they age, our children’s problems may become more complicated which will impact us and some may never leave home. One just never knows. Yet, our upcoming years are also a time for reflection, a time to finally relax and enjoy what we have accomplished. I hope it is a time to rejoice, have fun, and learn. I am excited and scared about it at the same time.

As I have contemplated what this second half of my life might look like I have come to understand that there are certain things that I want and need in a relationship, and certain things I don’t, if I am going to find my own personal joy in living. These are:

A. I need total transparency in my life. I no longer what to be guessing about what might be going on with my partner. I don’t want secrecy and secrets nor the lack of peace that accompanies secrets and dishonesty. I want to know that what I am looking at is the real deal and not some form of the truth.

  1. I want to be best friends with my partner and have us act in the manner one does with their best friend.
  2. I am trying to be someone who keeps herself open; someone who is open to change in whatever form that will take. I also want that in my partner.
  3. I want honesty not half-truths.
  4. I want someone who loves me with passion, concern and without reservations. I want them to feel desire and that I am their only and that they love me so much that temptation isn’t even in their vocabulary. I am willing to do the same but if I can’t have this satisfying/necessary type of love that I need then I don’t want to be in a relationship with them.
  5. I don’t want to worry about cheating whether it be emotional or physical. Everyone knows what it is and what the path looks like that leads there. I want to be 100% certain that the person I am with will turn away from that path. I will NEVER again accept this in my life. I
  6. I want someone in my life to laugh with loudly and often but knows the proper time to do so. I know I tend towards seriousness so I appreciate anyone who can lighten the mood when appropriate.
  7. I wan to try to live a blameless life in a blameless relationship. I don’t want to blame someone else for my issues and I don’t want someone blaming me for theirs. I have wasted too much time blaming and have spent too much time being blamed. I don’t want it in my life anymore.
  8. I want to live a life taking full responsibility for myself and not putting it on someone else. Seems like the grown up thing to do when you are over 50 years of age.
  9. I want “boring normal” everyday passionate sex. I don’t want sex with other people. I don’t want people watching me have sex. I don’t want to watch my partner have sex with someone else. I have learned what is important in life and this is not it.
  10. I want a relationship in which both parties share and consult with the other especially in the big matters.
  11. I need to be in a relationship in which my partner thinks the best instead of the worst of me. I want them to have faith that I am not slacking and that I am doing as much as I can and the best that I can on any given day. I don’t tell my partner they aren’t doing enough at work and I don’t expect to be experiencing that back.
  12. I want to be in a relationship with someone who isn’t afraid to get involved in important things as long as they aren’t disrupting the peace. Someone who will be proud of my activism knowing that ultimately I am trying to improve things for ourselves and others.
  13. For me a sense of adventure is important. I want to share that with someone who will also help push us into a realm of discovery.
  14. I want to spend time with my kids and my grandkids when I am older. I would like to have BIG family vacations together. I think it is important that the person I am with values family too.
  15. Being with someone who finds me sexually desirable no matter if I have scars, jiggly thighs and a soft round belly. I want to feel that my physical flaws are just as valuable as the parts that are not flawed just because it is part of who I am. Getting old does not do nice things to the body. I may not be perfect but I am still beautiful.
  16. I want to get naked more… wrinkles be damned
  17. I want a more in-depth spiritual life to share with my partner but I am not sure exactly what that looks like right now.
  18. I want to know that the person I am with has my back. I want to know that if I am lying in a hospital bed they will not be afraid to call the grumpy nurse over and say, “You know she hasn’t been given her meds. She needs to be turned.” Whatever it is. I want to know they will not be afraid to get me what is needed and will get out of their comfort zone to protect me when it is difficult for me to protect myself.
  19. I want to share in deep conversations so I know who my partner is… their wants, needs, dreams and desires.
  20. I want a person who loves to travel and explore. These are things I want to do when I am older. I don’t just want to be sitting on a sofa waiting for the Meals For Wheels truck to arrive.
  21. I want to volunteer more and share that experience with the person I love.
  22. A want to become a person who says yes more than they say no and I would like that in my partner.
  23. It is important for me to know that the person I am with appreciates what I bring to our relationship and doesn’t try to force me into a role they want to see me in rather than the role I put myself in of my own choosing.
  24. Compromise is important to a healthy relationship. I want to become better at it and learn from the person I am with.
  25. I want to try to do the things that will help us to stay healthy through exercise, eating, sleeping, etc. and I need a person who will encourage me to do these things especially when I am hurting and getting up and moving is hard.
  26. I think it is important to share our lives together but to also acknowledge that we don’t have to share everything to have something worthwhile and worth keeping.
  27. I want more peace in my life. I am finding out how really important that is to me. That doesn’t mean no strife and confrontation because if you don’t have a little of that you cannot be peaceful because what you have isn’t real. But in general a life that cultivates and values peace in the relationship and within us.
  28. Acceptance…I am who I am and though I can change I shouldn’t have to unless I am seriously hurting those around me (like yelling) That doesn’t mean someone has to accept everything about me like the fact that I hang the toilet paper role “wrong” but in a general sense of “you are pretty okay and everything about you doesn’t have to be re-done”.
  29. Learning keeps the mind young and excites it. I want to be in a relationship with someone who never wants to stop learning.
  30. I want to be with a person who isn’t searching for perfection but is searching for meaning.
  31. Like everyone, I have many flaws. It is important that I am with someone who is aware of my flaws and will try to ignore the ones they can and will kindly try to help me improve on the ones that they cannot.
  32. I tend to be too critical so I don’t think another extremely critical person would be a good thing to promote happiness.
  33. My love language is hearing sincere words of praise, acceptance and love. If I do not hear the words it is difficult for me to fully believe I am loved so this is important to me. I understand that words can be cheap but words said with love “sound” sweeter than words that are missing and should be said.
  34. I have pain on a daily basis from my back, neck and sometimes fibromyalgia. I want the person I am with to understand this and not think I use it as an excuse. It is hard for me to be “less than perfect” it makes me feel old and crabby because I am in pain. I want that pain to be acknowledged and some understanding to help me through it and provide encouragement rather than having to “prove” myself constantly.
  35. This past year in particular I have lived in fear. I no longer am willing to do that and I am not willing to be with anyone who would use it against me.
  36. I want to have a deep spiritual connection with my partner in which those things we find important we willingly share without fear and impatience. I want to feel that natural connection and know they are thinking of me because they call during the day or leave texts. I want connectedness rituals built into our lives from the way we spend the morning TOGETHER to how we say goodnight.
  37. I want to be able to reach my partner on the phone when I call. While I understand there are meetings and such there is NO reason I should not be able to reach my partner other times during the day.
  38. I want to limit my time traveling and try to live in the present. This is hard for me and because of my past I have a tendency to try and plan for the worst or for the future because it makes me feel safe and without anxiety even though doing so makes no sense.
  39. I want to try and live with as little anger as possible.
  40. I am trying to learn to make decisions on feelings with ebb and flow and constantly change and I am hoping my partner will do the same.
  41. I want to help make my partners dreams realized and I want the same back.
  42. As I age I want to focus more on the good and less on the bad.
  43. I want to find ways to show love that is meaningful to the person I am trying to show love to
  44. I would like to believe that as much as you can plan these things that my partner will be there holding my hand when I take my last breath and will help lead me to my final adventure.images-7

10 Minute Poem Challenge-Slowly Walking

As I walk the cliffs with you

The ocean sparkles below

Like the diamond

You gave me so many years ago

A diamond of hope and promise

So many of which were broken

Over the years

By both of us

Intentional and unintentional

Causing a slow moving

 And churning tsunami

That crept over the break wall

Consuming

Us as it roared

To shore

Today I look at you

In a new light

And I see that

Your eyes crinkle

When you laugh now

Your is hair salt and pepper

Instead of black

But now you have a

Glimmer of love in your eyes

When you see me for who I am

And not for who

You wish I would be

It’s a start, anyway

And as the sun shines upon

Your thinning hair

 I get a glimpse

Of how things

Used to be

And I think

That I am falling in love

With you

All over again

How did we let

Our marriage suffer

In ways to0 painful

To remember

But so difficult

To forget?

How did those days

Drift by

Unattended

Like like a 100 year roof

Sagging in on the people

It is suppose to protect?

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Yet, as I walk along with you

I see we getting ahead

Slowly but surely

Getting back to a new place

A place where I think

We can find peace

And understanding

With each other again

A place  of joy

And Friendship

And of course

Great sex…

That really never left

Even when everything

Else did

And so I walk the cliffs

With you

The wind blowing

Harsh and strong

Taking our troubles

Out to sea

Away from us

To somewhere distant

Remote

Far away from what was

But now isn’t

And I get a glimpse

Of how things

Used to be

And I think

That I am falling in love

With you

All over again

Simple

I am too busy to put something up today so I thought I would leave you with a story I wrote in 1999.

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Two years ago when my family moved to the Midwest, we did so in search of a “simpler” life. After burning the candles at both ends, we felt it was time to slow down. We wanted to have the time to stop and smell the roses, and to enjoy the “simple” things in life. I thought I knew what those “simple” things were until we met Boone during a mountain trek while in Thailand.

Boone was 33 years old then. Gracious and quiet, he used to be a sustenance farmer. In his village he eked out a meager living cultivating rice and growing vegetables. His was a simple life, yet Boone wanted more. He wanted more than to just sustain himself, he wanted to have some money set aside for a rainy day. So Boone gave up farming and he dedicated his life to learning how to speak English in an effort to improve his life. Now he leads jungle treks for foreign tourists who pay a lot of money to forget their busy lives and experience the “simple life” of the hill tribe people in Northern Thailand.

I got to know Boone very well on our two day trek and I think he got to know me better than he wanted to as he carried my pack for most of the trek. I would like to say that I lead the group due to Boone’s pack carrying generosity. I can’t. He carried my pack in hopes that I would arrive at the remote village sometime within the same week as the others in the group. Going straight up mountains and then straight down did terrible things to my knees and by the end of the day I was beginning to think that knee replacement surgery sounded like fun; if it involved being evaced out by helicopter.

That night while sitting around the campfire in the thatched roof village, Boone and I discussed his former “simple” way of life. I asked him about the concerns that idealistic academics have expressed about the hill people losing their culture and their “simple” ways of life due to the lure of money from Westerners.

“They think we have a “simple” life,” said Boone. “Those people should try to live such a life. What is “simple” about trying to keep your children fed on a daily basis? What is “simple” about having no money for clothes or to send your child to school? What is simple about watching a loved one die because you cannot afford proper medical care?” Boone told me that everyone wants a better life, a color TV and a satellite dish so they can learn about and discover the world in an effort to improve theirs.

Early the next morning when the rooster sounded the alarm, as I lay on the grass floor, every muscle in spasm, I contemplated my “simpler” life. Money could not buy me a cool breeze when I desperately needed it on the top of that mountain. It could not stop my heart from racing nor quell an aching thirst. Yet, money was able to buy me something else. Understanding. An understanding of why people risk life and limb to come to the United States or other nations in search of a “simpler” life. Never again will I just listen to the put-downs of those who criticize our new citizens who haven’t yet learned their new language. Because for them getting here was the battle. The language is just a minor skirmish.

Isn’t it ironic that wile the people of the so-called “third world” are attempting to “simplify” their lives many of us in the states are attempting to do so, only from the opposite end of the spectrum. In truth, maybe simplifying is really just letting go of old beliefs, allowing new possibilities to enter our lives and stopping to smell the roses. Or maybe, it’s as Boone said. Maybe it’s as “simple” as a new color TV, satellite dish and a little money saved for a rainy day.

Fences- A Positive Post

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Yesterday Paul needed to get some service hours in for Scouts. He elected to paint the fence at our church. It was hot and the fence sat square in the path of the intense rays of the scorching sun. Six hours spent working in the sun is difficult for anyone but even more so for a young autistic teenage boy with no previous painting experience. Fortunately, one of the older members of our congregation (R) was there to provide guidance and cheer him on.

I love it when old and young connect. There is something almost magical that happens when wisdom meets youth. Learning occurs in an unstructured setting and life’s lessons are conveyed easily. More importantly, both parties share those things that are important to them and greater understanding of the world and each other is obtained by both.

When he arrived home Paul was stoked and could hardly wait to tell me about his afternoon. But it wasn’t the fence he talked about. It was the connection that he made that mattered the most to him.

“Did you know that R served in the Korean War?” my sweet Korean boy asked.

“I had no idea,” I replied.

And so Paul sat with me and excitedly told me all that R had shared with him. Things about the war, what the country of Paul’s birth looked like back then, and how his life had changed because of his service. They also talked about what boys did growing up in the 40’s, how times have become more complicated and R’s ideas about the important things in life. But most of all Paul gained a friend. A man who could teach and discuss without being parental. A person with whom Paul could relate his troubles regarding peers in school and his concerns for the world as he navigates becoming a young adult.

It’s funny how sometimes in doing things for others you gain something special and totally unexpected for yourself.  This weekend Paul learned from R the value of a friendship with someone older and wiser than himself. He learned to share problems and issues and listen to good advice in return. And more than just learning about how to paint fences he was also taught how to mend a few too.