Safety

download Capital building in DC for Blog 4 20 2018In the last election this nation voted for change in Washington. Now two years in they see they have gotten change in government and they are horrified because it seems all that is going on is change. The government officials change from day to day, the president changes his views or at least his words from one day to the next, what jobs who should do seem to change and the feeling is chaos and fear. Then we add to that the changes that are going on with our planet, severe storms, great fires, great fluctuations in temperature, seasons that appear to be changing and people are afraid at a very deep unconscious level.

If you look at the television programs you see that the plans are to bring back many of the old family shows. One has already appeared with the return of “Rosanne.” Could it be that we are looking for a place of safety, a supposedly happier time?

Safety lies in the bonds of the home. Today we have allowed our homes to become a

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Mother and Father Working with Their Children

parking lot with all the activities that are supposedly good for our children.  Often there is no place for a joint meal with the parents. I think in many homes the children don’t see both mother and father working in concert on some issue because they are never there in the home at the same time.

In the family that my second husband Sy and I created there must have been a sense of protection lasting even now that Sy has passed on. It is the older girls that, when they are annoyed at me about something, report to me that one of my daughters doesn’t like me very much.

Now there has to be some level of safety that they dare to give that report. And what the speaker doesn’t know is that when the disenchanted daughter was at her stepmother’s funeral and didn’t know I was coming, she spotted me in the vestibule of the funeral home and ignored me for a short time then came over to me. And as I reached out to hold her she dissolved into my arms sobbing.  She knew that I would not feel slighted that she was crying over her stepmother’s death and I know that this daughter doesn’t cry in public but knew my arms were a safe place if only for a few moments..

These are the bonds that are needed in our families at the moment and they are created by:

  1. Parents who are attentive most of the time
  2. Parents who take the time to discipline and hold that line in a fair manner
  3. Parents who talk to their children and listen to the replies
  4. Parents who praise for the good and minimize the bad
  5. Parents who never ridicule their children.

Many families are dealing with children with Autism or Asperger Syndrome. These are difficult children to raise because many of them are very intelligent but for some reason they don’t have the tools to communicate that fact or the connections for self-control. In the field of psychology we talk about the destruction or non-development of the prefrontal lobe of the brain. Whatever the cause, we still have to do our best to grow these children to their potential.

picture of asperger autism boy for blog 4 20 2018I have a grandson with this disorder that at first was not noticed.  As a young teenage boy he was told to pick up the mess of food and wrappers that had accumulated around where he sat to watch television. I was left by his mother with the instructions to see to it that he picked up the mess by the time she got home from work.  I apparently was too bossy in my approach, and he dug in his heels that he wasn’t going to do as I asked. I’m not sure how it escalated but next thing I knew he jumped up from the chair, tore his belt out of his pants, folded it and then advanced on me belt in his extended hand like he was going to thrash me with the belt. My counseling training and my instincts kicked in and I knew that the one thing that he did not need was for me to cower or run. I held my ground and told him to either pick up the offending papers or go downstairs where I knew his grandfather was reading in his chair. This grandson loved his grandfather and that space would be a safe place for him. It took some time but he did eventually go down to be with Sy.

Later in the week I was told that I needed to go with that grandson to his therapy images Don't poke the bear for blog 4 20 2018appointment so the therapist could hear my side of the story. I did go and after my grandson told his story, the therapist asked for my rendition. Right in the middle of what I was saying he leaned in toward me and whispered, “Don’t poke the bear!” I was taken aback but finished my version. This therapist seemed to feel that I should have retreated. I believe that what my grandson needed at that moment was someone strong enough to hold him safe from his own uncontrolled rage: a safe place to reside.

So the bottom line of what I’m saying is it is becoming imperative that we take the time in our families to strengthen the bonds that hold us together and cause us to feel loved and safe: to create stability in this changed world of chaos.

P.S. The banner across the top of my blog is the Nashoba Valley where I grew up. Since I am next to the youngest in my whole extended family and many of them are now gone, this is my picture of a safe place.

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What’s the Backstory of a Book?

I think if you asked any author what the backstory of their book is you would get some very interesting answers. Thinking about this topic, it occurred to me that the IMG_20180128_153915932story behind the story might be almost as interesting as the book itself. Those that follow my Little Bird Blog know that A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir is my first published book. It started life on October 15, 2014 almost exactly one year after the hero of my book, my second husband Sy, died suddenly in the hospital. Up to that point I had fought off much of the overt grieving with all the things I had to learn to run a family home by myself. But on that day his loss became more than I could cope with, and almost in a panic, I started to write about our meeting, then our courtship, the juggling of five teenage girls, blending our two families, and it just evolved from there. At that point I told myself that I was writing this for Sy’s biological grandson, Robbie, knowing that Robbie was pretty young when his grandfather passed away and he might want to know more about Sy than just the little boy memories.

As my daughters would stop by for a visit and to see that I was “doing fine” without Sy, I would read a chapter to them, especially a chapter that was mostly about them. They began to say this is bigger than just our family; you need to publish this. Friends would go through the same process and give me the same suggestion.

From left to right Top Row: Cora, and May, Second Row: Elizabeth, Felicia, and Annie

I wrote every bit of the story from memory not a diary, or notes I had made along the way, and for that reason you will find when you read the book A Bird and the Dragon the center of the book is no longer chronologically written because once I got into each of the girls lives it became too complicated for memory. So I chose to group activities that involved each daughter.

At one point I showed my new son-in-law the part of the manuscript that involved him. He read it and said, “No! You can’t use that story.” The book would have had a better balance of interesting and mundane detail if I had left it in, but a son-in-law is far more important than a zippy, get attention story.

There are at least three ways to approach writing a book. The well-organized personimages notes organized in preperation for writing project 4 13 2018.jpg makes note cards and puts them up on a board or wall so they can move them around to get a better flow. Other writers outline the intended work before they start. The third group of writers jumps right into the middle of the pond and swims until they get to the shore. I think I’m “the jump in” type. I used to outline my English papers after I wrote them!

Okay, the book is written, close friends have done the editing—I now learn that I should have spent my money on professional organizers and editors. I didn’t have any spare money then, anyhow. Do I self-publish or hunt for an agent to sell my book to a publisher? Since I have another book that was completed years ago and rejected by many publishers–because back then you didn’t have to go through an agent—I decided that self-publishing was the better way for a first book. I may have told you this before, but one of my girlfriends heard her section of the book and went home to her computer and made the connections with the publishing house, Hay House, download Symbol of Balpoa Press 4 13 2018and their self-publishing branch Balboa Press. I had a representative on the telephone in just a few days. I looked at other self-publishing companies but found I really needed to know what I was doing to go that route and I was not in that space. Balboa did as they said they would and held my hand through much of the process, including telling me that if I kept my name on the book and used my husband’s name they couldn’t publish the book for fear of suits from family members. The real people would be too easy to trace in real time. After I pointed out that I had releases from all living relatives mentioned in the book they were ready to move forward, if I would change all the names of the places, the characters, and tweak the events.

Next, there were issues with using the poems in the book, including the poem that

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My Sister PollyAnne

names the book. I needed releases from all of these poets whose material was written decades ago. No matter, it is not public property until 90 years after the death of the poet. And try to find relatives of the poets—a circus of letters and no responses. My sister, PollyAnne recognized how close I was to giving up on the project when I could not get publishing rights to the poem “Custard the Cowardly Dragon” by Ogden Nash and said, “Just tell them what you heard when Sy read you the poem.” I think her words helped to save the project.

Now having followed me along a bit on this journey of a first book, if you haven’t read my book,  please go and buy A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir in the book stores or online at Amazon.com and please write a review on Amazon.com. If you click on the picture of the book it will take you to a second page, scroll down until you get to where they ask if you would like to write a review and follow their directions. These reader reviews are like golden nuggets along the way to getting a second book published—agents and small publishers read these reviews looking for their next project. I think readers don’t understand how important these little reviews are to the author and to the career of an author.

I would love to hear from you with your input on this topic or with your stories of your own struggles to get into print. You can reach me through my website www.jessiemaykessler.com. And thanks for reading My Little Bird blogs.

 

Do Animals Have Past Lives

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The United Church of Shirley Massachusetts (Shakerton in my book)

My interest in what comes before and after physical life started back when I was a young teenager and my parents invited the student minister home for Sunday dinner. My mother, in particular, got him into some interesting conversations but what stuck with me over the years is what he said in his sermon that morning. It was around Easter time and he was talking about resurrection. I don’t remember how he got to his point but what he said stopped me in my mental tracks. “You know a human being is such a complex creation I can’t believe that we are only given one journey around this earth; that would be such a waste.”

Those of you who have read my book A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir know that my then-husband Sy and I owned and ran Merlin Books, a metaphysical book store. One of the hot topics at that time was past life and past life regression. It was during that period when I went to train under Dr. Roger Woolger in how to do experiential past life regression. And I IMG_20180128_153915932am inclined to agree with his explanation of his devotion to the subject; “On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I believe deeply in past lives. On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, I question the whole concept and on Sunday I don’t even think about the matter.” During my training I had to go through many regressions and began to have a feeling about those stories that came forward that were true and those that I might have made up a bit as we went along. Whatever the truth, I have found that this additional layer to my understanding of life has helped to explain some of my behaviors and my relationships with my daughters, as if they are puzzle pieces now fit into a life picture that makes a great deal more sense to me.

If this above premise has some merit, than why shouldn’t it also work with the

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Patches in the Center

animals we have around us that become parts of our lives? I’ve already done a blog on the dogs in my life over the years and pointed out that I believe my very first dog, Patches, was the predecessor of my present day Cara Cozy, a Blenheim, brown and tan, Cavalier King Charles female. She has been my companion for over thirteen years. In the case of Patches, that dog was my buddy all through those lonely junior high years and into my time in high school. When it was necessary for

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Cara Cozy  in 2017 and Thirteen Years Old

me to go off to college I had to leave her behind and I actually really did leave her with all the excitement of college and a new life. She became my parents’ dog, and it was my mother who had to have her put down much later because Patches was blind, had lost most of her hearing, and was becoming incontinent. I wonder whether my Cara Cozy is so attentive to me in these later days of her life as a way of getting back what she missed in that earlier incarnation.

Now some of you know that I have a new puppy and that is why I’ve not had a blog up for a month. I’ve taken a month’s maternity leave in order to house train this new dog. Those of you who follow my blog remember that I lost my black and tan

It has been a good journey
A Year Before He Passed Away

Cavalier, Markey Mark, a year and a half ago due to congestive heart failure. That was a hard loss because he passed away the day before the third anniversary of Sy’s death. But Markey was not content to just disappear from my life. It had to have been about four or five months after he had passed over and I was in my meditation group. I happened to be sitting in front of the fire place in meditation and getting increasingly hot, I turned my head to the right to search for a solution, still with eyes shut and suddenly “saw” Sy standing there with Markey Mark at his feet, waging his tail in great excitement. For a moment I was blown away because I had never seen Sy since his death in any way but in a dream, and here they both seemed very real.

As I get to know my new puppy I find that he is shy just like Markey. Blaze is also timid at first and then can be downright aggressive at times with Cara. Both are

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Blaze Be-Loved Almost Done with Dinner

characteristics like those of Markey. Blaze will crawl up in my lap and hide his nose in the crook of my arm; all things that Markey would do. I already call Blaze my ‘mischief maker’ as I had called Markey Mark. I believe Markey passed away when he did because I put both he and Cara in a kennel for the first time while I went to a family wedding far away. I felt that since they were together for that week and in the kennel where they were groomed they would be fine. In retrospect, I believe that Markey really died of a broken heart. So did Sy send Markey back in the form of Blaze Be-Loved to mend this wound of being abandoned? I’m inclined to believe that is the truth.

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Cara Cozy and Blaze Be-Loved Sharing an Early Morning Breakfast

Do you have any dog stories similar to mine? I’d like to hear them!

 

The Caterpillar Thanks You

I had a question/answer session and book signing a few weeks ago at Bank Square IMG_20180128_153915932Books in Mystic, Connecticut for my book A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir. I never reported on how it went. Well, in the proverbial sense, it rained cats and dogs off and on for most of that Sunday. But would you believe, I had a good time! The people that came into the store were happy to be out of the rain and happy to talk so we visited. I met a mother and daughter who had come east to check out New England colleges and they bought a copy of my book as a memento of their trip here and hopefully of finding the right college. They were very open and engaging people. Later, there was a gentleman who wanted to look at the store’s suggested reading books and my table was blocking his way so we chatted. Come to find out he was also a self-published author with several suggestions of things to do or avoid. And then there were the kids who walked by and the last boy in the line swiped a valentine cookie out of the box of cookies I’d baked for the occasion. I must say that Bank Square Books is a very pleasant place in which to spend a rainy afternoon. You should try it sometime, rainy or otherwise.

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My Book Signing Table at Bank Square Books in Mystic, Connecticut

But my story doesn’t end there. From where I was sitting behind my table of books and cookies I was looking directly at the store’s spinner racks of greeting cards and note cards. As I sat, one really caught my attention. There was a large caterpillar that took up one side of the front of the white greeting card and then the words, “Teaching a Child not to Step on Caterpillars is as Valuable to the Child as it is to the Caterpillar.” The words are attributed to Bradley Miller. But as I contemplated the message it hit me that this is one of the problems in our society. We mothers have images Common Caterpillar for Blog The Caterpillar Thanks You 2 2 2018not spent much time teaching our children, especially our boys, not to step on caterpillars. That message is so vital–to teach respect for all living things. Every one of us has a value of some sort in our world and we have a right to be here. We need to honor bugs, and by extrapolation, all living creatures and plants here in our environment. I can hear some of you mothers saying, “What’s the point? You teach your son not to step on a caterpillar and Dad comes out in his heavy work boots and says as he squishes everyone he can see, ‘See, Son, this is how we take care of things we don’t like.’”

This lesson is so simple but I think if we had been teaching this concept all along we would not be having all the #MeToo issues. Granted I understand that perpetrators have a history and probably experiences that drive them to disrespect others but if the concept were an accepted part of our culture, then our need for guns and aggressive, domineering behavior would be much less. I know my message is a bit simplistic but sometimes it is the simple words that stick in the mind. Happy teaching!!

And now my last message is that I’m going to be taking on a little Cavalier King Charles puppy this Saturday afternoon, March 3, 2018. Visiting hours will be on Sunday between 1:00 p.m. and whenever, at my home. Any and all are invited. After that I will be taking a three week, at least, maternity leave. I have never had a puppy at just 8 weeks and we both have a lot to learn and relearn. Plus, I need to help my old dog Cara Cozy, aged 13 ½, to accept the new pup and then remember that she can still be a mother dog. I will need her help. She knows all the house rules and will have to teach Blaze what I forget. Thanks for your understanding, patience, and wish us luck. If you wish or need to contact me go to my website JessieMay Kessler and click on the contact button.

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Blaze Be-Loved and Daughter Lori (Annie in the book)
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Scarlet Ruby Daughter Lori’s Puppy (Annie in my Book)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blaze Be-Loved had Just taken a Flying Leap off the Couch and Needed some Mother Comfort

If Mamma Ain’t Happy…

If I remember correctly one of Dr. Phil’s famous lines is, “If Mamma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.” I believe a lot of American families do live by this principle. My daughter Annie posted another similar saying on Facebook a while ago.

                                                            Two Rules to a Happy Family:

                                        Rule number 1. Make the little wife happy.

        IMG_20180128_153915932 Rule number 2. If you forget, slap yourself upside

                             the head and go back to rule number 1.

This is all a bit tongue-in-cheek but I do think that many of the happy homes in America are run this way. My second husband, Sy, and the hero of my book A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir lived his life in this manner and the result for me was the happiest thirty-five years of my entire life. This is all very sweet especially a few days after Valentine’s Day.

But while this is going on, the nation is erupting with women’s rage over the abuse and molestation that has gone on over hundreds, no thousands of years, by the males in society. As women gain more power in the workplace they are banding together to right a very old wrong: the use of power by size, by money, by influence to force someone else into a subservient role. It is time for this atrocity to end. But my concern right now is that women will succumb to the excitement of power and will use similar methods plus shaming to control men. I am hoping that wisdom, the gift that many women have, will not be traded in for the mental control usually used by men.

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Women Leaders in the #MeToo Movement

I don’t believe that women have to trade in their skirts and put on suits to become a recognized force in our society. I am hoping that women are wise enough to understand that swinging the scales into a position of dominance over men simply starts society on another cycle; but brings nothing into balance. It is when the two sexes use their separate but unique qualities, each for its appropriate task, that equality will be reached. When there is mutual respect for those separate and unique gifts, appreciated by each side of the aisle, then our society, our planet even, has a hope of becoming a better living environment.

Yes, Dr. Phil is right that it is the woman in the household that usually sets the

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Dr. Phil in a Relaxed Moment

emotional tone of the home. After all, most of us women have been trained to think with our hearts first and our heads second. Okay I’m getting some stereotyping in there, too, but I do think because we have not cultivated the feeling side of men it seems to rest on the women to radiate the warmth and compassion that makes a home happy. So if bending a bit to keep her happy makes her warm the hearth, so be it. But remember, men also need to be cheered on, praised, given gifts and cards, and sometimes a sudden and unexpected gesture of love. Let’s keep the thoughtfulness of Valentine’s Day going through each day whether it is the man or the woman who makes the effort.

If you have a comment about this blog please go to my website http://www.jessiemaykessler.com and click on the Contact button. I would like to talk to you.

Love At First Sight

valentine-photos-of-hearts-heart-hd-desktop-background-the-wondrous-pics-1024x640 Heart for My Little Bird Blog Love at First Sight 2 9 2018Next Wednesday is Valentine’s Day, which brings us to the topic of Love and Loving. I have to confess that I’m a creature that falls in love at first sight. Sometimes it takes me a few days or weeks to recognize that this is what has happened to me but it does seem to be spontaneous. And why?

IMG_20180128_153915932But, before I get into my thoughts on that subject, I’m doing a question and answer afternoon at one of our local bookstores, Bank Square Books, in Mystic, CT (Mystand in my book) on Sunday, February 11, at 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. And of course the subject to be discussed is my first book, A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir. The timing seems very appropriate with my book being about a vibrant and sustaining love with my second husband, Sy. Then we add to that the important issues that the five daughters in the blended family brought to our love.

Why do some of us fall in love almost as we meet while others of us warm slowly and cautiously? And then some of us play with the new partner—the relationship is working, no, it isn’t working! Yes, you are right that the approach may come from things that happened to us as children or even in our first romances. I want to throw in a curve and say that some of those spontaneous loves are because we have been with this soul energy in a past life and recognize this at some level. I wrote about Tino, my high school sweetheart, two or three weeks ago but what I didn’t tell you is that when I was in 7th grade I started drawing a face on my scrap paper. The face evolved into a young man with much curly dark hair, high cheekbones, dark brown eyes, a cleft chin, and a feeling of mystery to that face. I drew it over and over again from 7th grade until I was a sophomore in high school.

As a sophomore, on a day in early May, I walked into my English class with my armload of books and my pocketbook slung over my shoulder. I sat down, put the books on the desk, swung around to hang the pocketbook on the back of the chair, and as I turned to face the front of the classroom my drawn face was walking toward me up the aisle. No, it

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See this face as an Outline – This is what I drew

was not a floating head—but the head of sturdy American Italian male with a dark complexion. Our eyes met and the shivers–I can still feel them–that ran up and down my spine were a very new experience. I can’t tell you more of the story now or it will blow my third book, Hunt the Beloved: To Find a Heart but when it came time for the first dance, he folded me into his arms and I felt like I was home. These experiences have to come from some other time. They are far too stirring and weighty to belong to a chance meeting.

If you have read my book A Bird and the Dragon or are about to go buy it and read it you will soon learn that one afternoon Sy and I were at a pond sitting on a beach talking while supervising daughters swimming. Half way through the afternoon Sy leaned toward me and said, “You, know, it feels like I’ve known you forever.” I had to agree with him for we had already gotten to the place where we were finishing each other’s sentences. That was the first date!

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Blaze Be-loved Sleeping with Siblings

I have grown old enough that when this sort of thing happens to me now I’m inclined to stop and think about the possibilities of a relationship before I make a move. But even with the hesitation I believe the inner compass knows what we really need. This is the situation with the puppy that I talked about last week. I talked myself in and out of a relationship with one of these dogs and then I stepped back to watch the doggie cams the owner has posted on Facebook to see which of the pups would best fit with my older dog, Cara Cozy, and with my present day lifestyle. I believe Blaze Be-loved fits that spot well. Now we wait until he is old enough to come and join our household and pray that the inner compass was right all along.

How do or did you meet your loves and how did you know they were right for you? I’d like to hear from you. You can go to my web page www.jessiemaykessler and click on the Contact button.

Once Again: Synchronicity

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Walnut Shade Farm my Father’s Family Homestead

In 1910, the year my mother was born, my father turned 14. He lived in Lancaster, on a dairy farm just over the town line from Shakerton, Massachusetts, the town where I grew up. At that age and time he was expected to walk the five miles each way to catch the train out of the Shakerton Boston and Maine Railroad Station so that he could then walk the rest of the way to his high school in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. And our children moan about rainy snowy days!!

Collie dogs were used on the farm to herd the cows to and from milking. My dad had his very own dog, named Gypsy, who walked the five miles with him in the morning, Scan_0029 Gypsy my Father's Dog 2 2 2018.jpgand then came back in the afternoon, on her own, to meet the train and walk the five miles back to the farm. Gypsy was his beloved dog especially for a boy who was shy and not let off the farm except to go hunting or go to school. One afternoon in the late spring Gypsy was not at the station as the train pulled in. My dad waited for a time on the platform thinking maybe she’d gotten a late start. When some time had passed he started the walk back to the farm, alone. About halfway home he saw a heap of fur from some sort of animal on the side of the road and went over to take a look. It was his beloved Gypsy. Someone had thrown out poisoned meat. And because dogs often can’t tell the difference she ate it. You can imagine his devastation! He never told us children about this event but my mother told us more than once. When you read the blog on the dogs in my life you

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Patches in the Middle

may remember that the day I first found my dog, Patches, Mother warned me that Dad would not likely let me keep her because of that early loss.

What my mother didn’t know was that my father and I were very much alike and he knew I would love Patches and not tire of her like most children do. He knew before he said yes, that Patches and I would spend many afternoons after school searching out new areas in the woods around my childhood home. She was probably my first soul mate next to my father.

Now, you are asking so where does this tie into anything. When I wrote my first book IMG_20180128_153915932.jpgA Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir it was because I was coming up on the first anniversary of my second husband Sy’s sudden death. I needed to find comfort somehow and writing seemed to be the outlet. So far in my life, and I’ve had a good bit of life by now, I find that there are times when I just need some emotional comfort. My dog Cara Cozy has performed this duty for me for 13 years but that is over the time limit for Cavalier King Charles dogs so I know I won’t have her forever. I’ve been manifesting for a new male partner to come and help me with all my projects but that doesn’t seem to be getting results.

Early in January a friend of my daughter Annie told her that they had been inspired by the calendars that Annie does for me with pictures of my Cavalier dogs. She and

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My Choice is the Pup to Left Looking into the Camera

her husband were so charmed by these little dogs that they went and got a pair of Cavaliers for themselves. This pair of dogs gave birth to five pups in early January. The couple has been nice enough to set up a Facebook group where they show pictures of the pups each day as they grow. I’ve been fighting with myself that I’m too old to take on a new dog. (My other dog, Markey Mark passed away a year and a half ago.) Some of my daughters have been saying, “No Mom. You can’t take on a new dog, especially a puppy.” So I have been watching and dreaming and trying to keep myself in check.

Yesterday, for some reason I decided to look up Astrologyzone.com, the monthly astrology program I use to help steer me through each oncoming month. I’ve talked about Astrologyzone.com before in these blogs.

Anyway, I read the predictions at the beginning of the month and I wasn’t too

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Susan Miller Author of Astrologyzone.com

inspired by what I read for January so I didn’t finish the last two pages. Yesterday I opened up the site and turned to those last pages. Susan, the author, wrote, “Finally, this house also rules pets. You may be thinking of adding a furry little creature to your household. This would be a time when you make a decision about your choice of a small domestic pet, and one that will make you very happy.”  I couldn’t believe what I was reading! I know these reports are not the gospel on life events but they have been so accurate in the past that I emailed the people for an application and if they accept me I will have a male Ruby (Cinnamon colored) Cavalier puppy in the mid-spring. His name will be Blaze Be-loved. (All my Cavaliers have double names. My need to be impressive?)

Relationships: Ping-Pong Anyone?

I remember a conversation that I had with my mother back when I was in high school and was mourning the fact that all the other girls seemed to know what to do

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My Mother Jordan Elizabeth Sanderson at Time of Conversation

to make friends. Worse yet, many of them had boyfriends—football players, no less. Mother said, “You know you really have grown up with a handicap because your father doesn’t carry on a conversation. He says what he wants you to know and that’s it.”  I wasn’t sure where she was going with this. I knew that my dad was quiet but I didn’t see how it affected me. Then she went on, “Having a conversation is like playing ping-pong. You throw out a thought and the person across from you makes a comment about your comment. When it gets back to you, you add something or ask a question and the other speaker responds. In this family one person speaks until they are done and then someone else talks about what they want to talk about. We don’t play ping-pong.” I can remember thinking, “She’s right!” But I didn’t know how to take it from there.

I still struggle with this handicap but with years of therapy training and living I know that talking and communicating is the start of relationship. Some people find it

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Couple Communicating

easy to talk while others are very guarded in their conversations. It is the person that can open up, share their thoughts, insights, and deepest feelings, that tend to wind up in the relationships that last. Somewhere recently I read that the way to a man’s heart was not through his stomach. What would draw a man close to a woman and hold him there was her ability to be vulnerable. It isn’t thoughts that tie us to one another it is emotions, the sharing of feelings and our deepest needs.

There are some relationships that seem to thrive on an almost unspoken level of communication and an understanding of what makes the partner happy. In my third

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High School Sweetheart Tino

book, Hunt the Beloved: to Find a Heart, if I ever get it finished, you will get to read about Tino, my high school sweetheart. Tino was a swarthy American Italian with gorgeous dark brown eyes hidden behind thick glasses. He came with a bad reputation and a bit of a swagger when it was beneficial. But under all that was a boy who could and did share intimate and painful feelings. And he knew what made me tick. One day in the spring he came to pick me up for a date. He is standing at the door to the back porch and he asks, “Are you ready to go?” I spot that he has something behind his back. “Tino, what are you holding back there?” I ask. He pulls out a sweet smelling, single, pink Peony and presents it to me. “Oh, it is so gorgeous, Tino!” I exclaim. “Where did you find it?” He ducked his head slightly and said, “I stole it from the neighbor’s garden. They had a lot of ‘um. They didn’t need this one.” In that moment there were levels and levels of communication.

In a later blog I will write about more of the qualities that are necessary to make a family run smoothly but the first is respect and then communication. When Tino handed me that flower he already knew that I would love it and he also already knew that I would frown on the fact that he stole it, yet he told me the truth just the same. That was the level of respect and communication we had established.

When you read my first book, A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir, BirdAndDragon_FrontCover_33you will find that by the second date Sy, my second husband, shared a very personal fact about himself with me and I was taken aback but also flattered that he trusted me with such personal information so soon in the relationship. It is that level of respect and communication that is necessary to grow a marriage to its full potential. No games. No coy conversations. Just telling things like they are.

And thirty years later when Tino looked me up in the bookstore my husband and I owned, Merlin Books, to tell me that he had cancer of the throat and didn’t know if he would make it through the chemo, nothing in the level of communication or connection had changed. I was leaving the store at the time he arrived so I invited him to step outside with me. As we stood beside my car catching up he finally said, “Jess, please, I have to hold you one more time.” Tino gathered me into his arms and the thirty years dropped away.

As we drew apart I said, “Tino does your wife know you are here?”

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Four Hearts Involved

“Yes,” he responded. “When I was eating breakfast this morning she looked up at me and said, ‘You are going to find her today?’ I told her yes, and then she said, ‘That’s good, but you are coming home to me tonight!!’”

Tino and I corresponded through his treatments and then I didn’t hear anymore. That was alright. The relationship had been there when he needed it. I learned that he had beaten the cancer and then three months before Sy passed away I learned at a class reunion from Tino’s sister that he had crossed over two years before Sy. His wife passed the following year.

It is not thoughts that hold us together. It is our feelings: emotional ping-pong anyone?

 

 

 

Knowing What You Don’t Know

I know I jump around a lot in the topics that I cover here in My Little Bird Blog but that is because I wait for inspiration or my guides to tell me what I’m supposed to write about for the week. This week’s blog is more about the inner life of the writer, at least this particular writer.

I need to start off with some background information for my stories to make sense. Some

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The Chakra System in the Body and its Colors

of you are familiar with the chakra system in the body but others of you are not. The chakras are circular areas of energy that reside over each cluster of organs in the body and have to do with the energy they receive or give off. The first chakra is between the legs at the base of the spine and the color associated with it is red. It is considered the foundation chakra. Chakra #2 is about two fingers below the belly button. It is the creative chakra and the color is orange. Chakra #3 is just below the point where the rib cage meets in the front of the body. It is known as the power chakra and its color is yellow. Chakra #4 is in the center of the breast bone in line with where the heart is located. The color belonging here is green but I also find pink in this chakra or slightly above it. This chakra deals with feelings, emotions, compassion. Chakra # 5 is at the base of the throat; its color is blue and is responsible for our communications both spoken and written. Chakra # 6 is above the eyebrows just above where they come together. Some people have a dimple or a raised area at that point. This chakra helps us to take in and process those intuitive messages that we receive and its color is a blue/green. Chakra #7 is above the crown of the head, its color is lavender, and it is associated with receiving messages from our spiritual guides, or for some, God.

Years ago I took a workshop on the animals within the chakras. It sounded like an interesting topic. After some explanation we were taken into meditation and asked to meet and talk with the animal that we found in each chakra. Later we got to share some of the conversations that we had conducted with our animals. I’m always first the skeptic…well I should say at first I think, ‘Now that is a great idea,’ and then I think, ‘Yeah, prove it to me.’ Well, I got proof that weekend and on into the next years. Come to find out I have a white wolf, Shaboo, that inhabits my 6th chakra, the one that governs intuition. This experience was interesting, but what happened later–and even today as I think about it–is a bit mind blowing:

Years after that workshop, when my husband Sy and I were running Merlin Books and had been doing so for over five years, he began saying to me that we needed to put the store up for sale or close it down. We had headed into the recession of 1989, and because

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Shaboo When She is in Good Health

he handled the bookkeeping he knew what was in the check book for profits. I refused to hear him. Then one evening Whitley Dresser, our metaphysical teacher, took us into meditation and asked us to look at some problem we were having and to see if any of our animal friends would make a comment. (Whitley had heard about the animals in the chakra workshop.) It wasn’t long before I found myself sitting in the mouth of a cave high up looking over a valley filled with houses, the accouterments of a community, and a city off in the distance. I’m afraid of heights so I reached down to steady myself and touched this furry creature. I turned to look and it was Shaboo from years ago. This time as I touched her she was very thin, skin and bones, as if she hadn’t eaten in a long time. Her fur was stringy and she just lay there. I blurted out, “Oh, my God, what has happened to you?” She lifted her head a bit and said, “You haven’t been taking care of me and I’m sick and tired. I need help.” I’m not even sure if I spoke back to her but I snapped out of the meditation.

Not long after that, Sy, my second husband, and I went to see a therapist and she was able to help me hear Sy when he said it was time to close our chapter on the store Merlin Books. I think Shaboo was responsible for putting me in a place where I could finally hear the need not just the words.

More recently, the day I held the first copy of my book, A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love birdanddragon_frontcover_33Story: A Memoir, you can imagine my excitement. I was holding a lifetime dream in my hands. That afternoon I did my daily meditation and I asked if Shaboo was around. Quick as I thought it, I was back up on the cliff overlooking the valley and Shaboo was sitting beside me. This time when I reached down to touch her she was thick with fur, white and fluffy, with meat on her body. I was pleased. I asked, “Shaboo, what comes next?” She replied, “Well, that entire valley is yours if you want it.” I was so stunned that I didn’t say anything. I thought, ‘So how am I going to get down there?’ It wasn’t until a friend heard this story that I got fully in touch with the fact that I was so afraid of possibly being a successful writer that I buried this fear of claiming power over the valley, its people and what this could represent and instead focused on being unable to sit on the edge of the cliff and swing my legs. Shaboo said nothing else and I had to be content with what I got.

unspecified Roenock VA 1 19 2018That was a year and a half ago and Shaboo comes sometimes, especially if I ask her to come. One day she had started down toward the valley, but I guess she sensed that I was afraid, so she  sat down and said she’d wait until I was ready. Over the last few weeks she has come back up closer to the top. Today when I checked in with her she was sitting on a rock down about two feet from the top and would you believe she was polishing her nails? I don’t mean with the fingernail polish that humans use but with rubbing her foot across her chest hair and then blowing on the nails. Again, I didn’t ask but I can only imagine a coach waiting for a reluctant player to get up and get going. What do you suppose she was trying to tell me other than maybe that I need to lighten up a bit? She did look a little funny but I think she knew that. I think it is part of her plan. So what is her plan?

Strange Behaviors Become Gifts

I have shared stories before about the designer of the cover of my book A Bird and BirdAndDragon_FrontCover_33the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir. My granddaughter, Nicole, designed and executed that design when she was only 17 years old. But today having spent two days with Nicole before she goes back to college brought more stories bubbling into my mind. Nicole has an older brother Andrew and the two of them, when they were little, would spend time with my husband Sy and me when their mother, Felicia was working or when she and her then-husband needed some time alone. The particular evening I’m thinking about had Nicole at about 18 months and Andrew was almost 4. I had bathed the two of them and they were in their pajamas. Nicole had on a pink fleecy Onesie and was toddling about the bedroom. I had set up a warm steam vaporizer because they both had the sniffles. Now picture this; I’m talking to Andrew and suddenly I see Nicole, hand stretched out in front of her shuffling toward the vaporizer. I yelled but she kept moving toward the magical steam. I didn’t get to her in time and she blistered the center of her right hand. She screamed, I was beside myself, and we did all the things we knew to do to relieve her pain.  Believe me I had to do a lot of explaining to her mother the next day.

Because we had the children for part of every week, when it came holiday time-we

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Twenty years of washing and the art work has faded but Nicole’s other name is there with her age.

made Christmas gifts together for all the grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Nicole was only one and a half when I bought long sleeved jerseys and fabric crayons. I set her up on her knees on a chair at the kitchen table and let her go. She would balance the colors on one side of the jersey with the appropriate color on the other shoulder. I can remember being so amazed that I wrote her age on the bottom of the jersey before we wrapped them as gifts, and I still have mine.

Another thing I remember about Nicole is that she was always looking at herself in the mirror, examining her face and hair. Even today her sisters and her roommate complain that she is taking too much time in the bathroom because she’s looking at herself all the time. As a little girl, I was so afraid she was going to grow up to be a very vain young woman but that has not been the outcome.

Later, in Nicole’s growing up years we would get the order from her mother that it

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This was the beginning of the cleaning up the bedroom stage for Ashleigh Nicole.

was time to pick up her bedroom. Because Mom worked full time and my working hours were flexible, it fell to me to supervise this job. I soon learned that you could not just send Nicole off to straighten her bookcase or desk. She would get diverted and nothing would get done. Punishment had no effect so I started sitting with her and teaching her to start at one corner of her room and work her way around the room using her bed as a landing pad for the things that needed organizing. It took days to accomplish this job! I wondered why it took so long, so I started really watching and discovered that Nicole had to touch, or smell, or stroke whatever she picked up before she could make any decision about where it should go. You can believe my frustration as a grandmother who believes you picked up an object and you put it in its home.

Today, as we were having lunch I watched Nicole run her fingers around the top of

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This is what those sensitive hands can now do after years of self-teaching.

her ice tea glass and then it all made sense. On Tuesday she goes back to her second semester of her second year at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Connecticut, where she is a sculpture major. Each behavior that seemed so strange at the time or just a quirk of nature was her efforts at self-teaching; texture, color, shadow and light, depth and height. During all of those years she was training those hands to caress clay until it grows into marvelous presentations.

I am so glad I did not express too much of my exasperation with her when she was a child although she does have an expression today, “My room is not Mother-clean it is Grandmother- clean!”

Do you have a young child that has strange behaviors? You might want to take a second look to see if perhaps these behaviors are really training exercise for a later time in their lives.