When the Wheels Fall Off the Wagon

IMG_20180128_153915932Many of you know because you have read my first book A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir that I mention my mother Jordan Elizabeth Sanderson in a few places but spend most of my time on the relationship with my second husband, Sy, and with the antics of our combined family of five teenage daughters. Today I want to talk more about my mother, especially from the angle of Sy and I being part of the sandwich generation and having to make major decisions.

When my second book comes out Sissy’s Story: Inside a Child’s Long Term IllnessHidden Sorrow Sissy Owen Rabbit 3 (2) you will spend plenty of time with my mother because she is the secondary character in that story. Of course if I could find a sponsor or a couple of sponsors to help defray the costs of publishing, Sissy’s Story could be coming out this year. –But enough of that. (Part of the proposed cover for Sissy’s Story is the picture to the right.)

Back in the 80’s it was becoming clear that my mother could no longer handle the details for running her own senior community apartment in Shaker Meadows, Shakerton, Massachusetts. Her building consisted of four apartments with my mother having one at the back on the first floor. During one visit, as I stepped out into the hallway to round up the laundry she had started in the laundry closet, the women from the upstairs apartment came to the top of the stairs and yelled down, “I hope you’re gonna go through her refrigerator. She’s gonna kill herself one of these days with what’s living in there.” I thanked the woman knowing she was a friend looking out for my Mother’s safety.

Our next signal came in the winter when Mother talked about having to back her

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One of the Apartment Buildings in Shaker Meadows, Shakerton, Massachusetts

car in the snow so that the plows could plow out her spot. “I’m so scared that I’m going to run someone over because I can’t see out that rear window anymore and the mirrors are all fogged.” (If you watched closely you could see her hands shook as she spoke.) The next clue came when she admitted to me that she had gone to the closest city to do an errand and it took her three hours to make a thirty minute trip. She’d gotten lost! It was at that point that Sy and I conferred. He said, “I will ask her for her car keys and get the car ready to sell.” I talked to her about the snow and what would it be like if a child darted out from between two cars when she was driving. She looked very forlorn but admitted she wouldn’t be able to live with herself. Sy asked her for her keys and she handed them over with a thank you. This was the last straw of independence. Because of her pride and the layout of the town she would have to take the Senior Bus and we both knew that would never happen. Her final move would be into our home on Honey Lane, Nerme, Connecticut.

That happened in April of 1981 and she spent the next seven years in our home. I

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Mother in Those Early Years Around the Time of the Vegetables

told you last year about the vegetable incident when she offered to help in the kitchen and when I put out a set-up for peeling vegetables, she said she couldn’t and walked away. Mad!! Yes, I was mad. She had asked to help! But what I had to learn was that when working with a senior who is losing mental capacity it is like working with a three year old. You have to always be “ahead of the curve” and you have to stop a sudden reaction and think about the event from the three year old’s point of view. Getting outwardly mad and making a production out of the incident doesn’t help. Upon thinking, I realized she always stood to prepare vegetables and I was asking her to sit. She had always used a certain type of peeler; mine was different. With an essential tremor in her hands she was afraid she would cut herself. –She did get out of kitchen duty!!

Mother settled on doing the family laundry once I had sorted and pretreated the clothes. I limited her to doing one load a day and it was usually done in two days’ time. She also folded all the family laundry and she would have ironed things except I never showed her where I kept my ironing board. In my first marriage I came home from delivering my second child to find Mother was ironing my first husband’s boxer shorts. Second time around, I wasn’t going to give Sy that luxury, although he really would have deserved it.

When a parent lives with you it is important that they have duties to perform because they need something that can give them personal daily pride. All the

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 The Ayer/Shirley (Shakerton) Massachusetts Regional High School Where in the Past my Mother was Secretary to the Schools’ Superintendent

accomplishments of their earlier life have become distant.  My mother in her prime was a 4-H leader, taught Sunday school for the church, and secured the building to provide hot lunches for my generation of children. In the next phase of her life she was the newspaper correspondent for my town and then became the “girl Friday” for that newspaper, writing a weekly column called “The Woman’s World,” working the front office, and anything else that needed doing. She covered big “doings” in my small town for the Worcester Telegram and Gazette and ended her working career as secretary to the superintendent of schools for the two towns that later became a school region.

The downhill mental and physical slide is hard to watch. It helps if both you and your parent can keep your sense of humor, hence the title “When the Wheels Come off the Wagon.” That was the expression I used with her one time when she opened her mouth to speak

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Mother Towards the End Holding my Dog Cara Cozy

and all that came out was gibberish. She was frightened and the funny phrase helped her to calm. I’m glad I had these years because I discovered discrepancies in what she had told me and what I actually saw. For me she was bigger than life and pushed the need to get out there and meet people. What I saw was a facade for the fears of doing what she was telling me to do. It helped me to relax. It also made me angry that I had lived under this unnecessary pressure for all of those years. When my children clear my house they will find the letter written after my mother died telling her the things that had bugged me. They will find it–unless I burn it first.

 

It was indeed a time of watching the wheels fall off the wagon!

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Good Cop: Bad Cop

In this week’s blog I’d like to pick up on last week’s topic and enlarge upon the subject of why we need to create blended families rather than just praying they will happen. And to clarify that even more, I want to address the fear of setting boundaries in any family; blended or otherwise. Wasn’t it Robert Frost who said that “good fences make good neighbors?”

IMG_20180128_153915932Fences are boundaries and those fences need to be maintained over the years, strengthened, repaired, and sometimes moved. The same is true in families. In my first book A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir I talk about how my then-husband Sy and I would spend valuable time after dinner in the evening talking and setting up what limits or restrictions were needed to keep our blended family well-functioning.

We seemed to know from the get-go that “wait ‘till your father gets home” doesn’t work. Quickly we both accepted that whatever parent was standing there when the misdeed happened was the parent to address the matter. Sometimes there was a deferment set into what we said so that we each could check with the other on the feasibility of whatever the consequence was to the inappropriate behavior. And I have to say that Sy always backed me on something that had to be handled in that very moment. I returned the favor.

Now I have two marriages from which to compare results and in my first marriage my then-husband, Harvard, wanted nothing to do with limiting the children in any

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Harvard and JessieMay — First Marriage

way. I understood that he came from a background of wealth and so he was left to be raised by “the help” and at times beaten by his father because he had done something that was displeasing to that parent. (The other parent didn’t seem to play any part in his upbringing.) But I think he had no understanding of what was acceptable and what was not. Punishment was handed out with pain and banishment. That is so poisonous a combination to the developing child, because all they want is to be close to the parent and to be accepted. Harvard never played the “bad cop” so I was left to be the “good nurturing mother” and the “bad cop.” I have to admit that sometimes that was so overwhelming that I was a terrifying cop, using too much force and little or no logic.

With the second marriage to Sy, we quickly settled on the fact that he preferred to be the “good cop” and the children would often go to him when they thought I would say no. The difference in this situation was that we did set limits together and when the chips were really down the buck stopped with Sy; and the children all knew that. I think you will see that in the chapter “The Bottom Line” in my book A Bird and the Dragon.

Jessie and Sy Kessler early in their Marriage
Jessie and Sy Kessler early in their Marriage

As households go, I think the one that Sy and I established was far more peaceful, which allowed the children to relax emotionally. They knew what would happen if they did X, Y, or Z. And they also had the experience of a father that usually listened and actually displayed some interest in them and what they were doing; characteristics usually found in the nurturing mother. They knew he would be fair and stand behind them when it was needed. He was softer than I and they were aware of his gentleness. Children need both the limitations and the softness in their parents. It really doesn’t matter a great deal as to who plays which role, or if they alternate as needed.

My bottom line in all of this is that I have a fairly close relationship with each of my five daughters—a closeness that has built-in spaces so that they don’t feel they have

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L to R Back Row:  Bert, Steven, Annie, Grandson Andrew, Felicia, JessieMay Second Row: Cora, Elizabeth, Third Row Granddaughter Candy, Grandson Robbie, Granddaughter Nicole

to please me all the time, take care of my emotions or be anxious lest I not love them. Often, the person who plays “bad cop” in the family, fears that the children will not love them; will abandon them. And believe me there are times when they don’t love you, but in the long run they come to respect you because they know where you stand on most issues. This is the place from which you as a parent can build friendships with your children. I’m saying don’t hesitate to put up walls to the emotional house that your young children will inhabit as they grow up in your household and then maintain those walls—they will thank you later in life.

Do you hesitate to set limits on your children or do you crumble under their pressure? I would like to hear some of your stories. You can reach me here or on my website www.jessiemaykessler.com and click on the CONNECT button. While you are there check out the “Tidbits from the Couch excerpt” and click on the whimsy tag.

Blending the Families: Why Bother

IMG_20180128_153915932A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir, my first book is about the love and romance my second husband Sy and I shared. But beyond that story is the subplot, if you will, about all the problems and disruptions that a family of teenage girls can generate. When combining two dysfunctional families, and most families going through divorce are by definition dysfunctional, one asks why bother to try to blend the two families? Who really cares?

The answer to these two questions is a resounding: The children care, that’s why!! I’ve counseled grown-up children from blended families images Banishing Stepfather from David Copperfield blog 5 4-2018and they quietly grieve for not having one cohesive family that they could/can lean back upon. When a couple heading into a second or third marriage have small children, the blending comes more easily because younger children are not so likely to have the bad stepmother concept in mind or the banishing stepfather as a thought. They are at an age in which there are many changes for them, new to school, new homes, and new siblings, which they seem to take in stride. Some of these younger children are actually looking for friends. It is the preteen, teenage, and adult children who are the most worrisome.

Human beings seem to be wired with the belief that there should be a mother and father in the home. And more than just having these two people in the home they actually want to interact with these people. A child needs to know they are accepted by these two individuals, and many times they were not accepted by the original parent so this parenting becomes even more important.

So, if you happen to be heading towards a second marriage, with children, the two

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Couple Talking Over Their Family Options

of you need to sit and talk about what you want for this new family. Those families in which the children are left to build these bonds on their own wind up in a lot of chaos because no one is demonstrating the taming of the ego and the concern for the other person’s well-being whoever that person is, spouse or sibling. Children take their ques from us. They watch us like hawks, all the while pretending not to want a whole family. Don’t be fooled; these children actually sometimes plot to keep the parents separate or at least at war all the while still wishing to have a “normal” family. In my book you will find that my daughter May was definitely one of these children, not to mention she had a mental disorder that we knew nothing about at the time.

I can remember once lying in bed at night and having Sy reach across, take my hand in the dark, and say, “Now remember, we stand back to back, holding hands

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Child Trying to Understand What Parent Really Wants

as our children in their wagons circle us looking for a weak spot.” And indeed we did stand back to back and sometimes face to face arguing about what was the best way to handle some situation that had arisen with the girls. At our evening “coffee time” we did a lot of talking and strategizing and coming to compromises we could both live with. Children do understand that a couple is not always going to be chapter and verse in step with each other, but the child that knows both parents are on the same page feel much safer and are happier both as children and adults.

I bring forward in A Bird and the Dragon that–to break up the sibling bragging and rivalry–we parents have to set about building a new history. It is these common activities that bring the children together and help them see the strengths and weaknesses of each sibling. Life ceases to be a contest over who came from the best family but more about what are we going to be doing tomorrow. Presently, it gives me

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My Family of Children , Grandchildren, and Step-grandchildren at Christmas

great pleasure, when at Christmas time, which is when most of my children gather, to hear them talk about “remember when we” and then sometimes there is a nod in my direction, “and you didn’t even know about this.” Indeed I didn’t, thank goodness, and so glad that they now have memories and secrets to share.

I guess the one other thing I want to leave with you is the fact that if you want to build a blended family, you as a couple will have to check your personal ego agendas at the door—there is no room for competition in a well-functioning family. As long as the parents are competing with each other as to who is the better parent nothing good is going to happen in your family.

And I do sound so serious in this piece but there is laughter, silly events, tragic events and regular old everyday events through this building family process. It just takes a little more focus, concern, and communication then a regular family. It is work; don’t kid yourself! It is worth it when your combined children still come home with their own family war stories even after one of the parents has passed on.

One Man’s Trash is….

images Colchester Federated Church Blog 4 27 2018The church in my community is holding its gigantic indoor yard sale this weekend and I volunteered to work a couple of times during the week at setting things up and marking items for sale. We have a large indoor basketball court and this room becomes the staging area for this event. As I arrived to do my part, I stepped to the double doors of this now-marketplace area and looked at the mountains of stuff to be sorted. I thought all trash…just trash!! Then it flashed through my head, why do you feel that way about “things” when you don’t feel that way about people?

 I can’t really give you an answer to that question except to say that my mother was

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A Woman I Visited

a bit of a snob having been raised in a somewhat isolating situation herself and she passed that quality on—her self-protection from what was unknown.

Now the other side of this argument that goes on inside me is the fact that from a very early age I would go and visit all the elderly and ailing women in my community. If my mother couldn’t find me she knew where to look. I guess that means people hold more value for me than things. Maybe that is what makes me a very good therapist!

When you purchase and read my first book A Bird and the Dragon: TIMG_20180128_153915932heir Love Story: A Memoir you will come to the place where I have been seeing Sy, my second husband and hero of my book, for a while and it is time my mother got to know a little bit about him. When I start to tell her about this man who is so precious to me, she stops me by saying, “Oh, Dear, I hope he is not another Robin with a broken wing!” She was referring to what she perceived was my tendency to attract men that need help or support—Okay I’ve said it before; I am a rescuer—I couldn’t be a good therapist if I didn’t have that tendency.

Anyway, there is a man in my community that I have had an interest in for about four years. It is not returned, but as my friends have become aware of this fact, I have been given chapter and verse about his failings with a very few positive comments. It confuses me because I wonder, Don’t they see the light way back in the personality that has been so damaged over the years that it is only visible to a few of us? Given the right support and attention I think one would see this man blossom. So this is a place where someone else’s trash is my treasure.

Now I hope there are some young people reading this blog because I have grandchildren that are pre-teen, middle teens, and young adults. They are wrestling all the time with these experiences of acceptance and rejection. With the rejection a

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In Rejection so Hard to Understand that You May be Someone Else’s Treasure

young person is inclined to accept that rejection as a commentary on who s/he is instead of seeing that a rejection is just another person’s perception that ‘you are trash to them.’ But you are most likely a TREASURE to someone else, so keep on with your process of sorting and learning. Yes, with a rejection if you can get a straight answer from the rejecter it is good to see what their suggestions are for you as you move forward. Although, so often a rejecter doesn’t really have a reason for the rejection—it is often an outgrowth of their own social experiences.

So do recognize that a rejection only signals that you are trash to THAT PERSON but likely a TREASURE to someone else. Keep looking and holding your head high. You are a treasure! I know! It is a part of my type of vision.

If you have comments or a need to share a rejection or slight please contact me at my website www.jessiemaykessler.com with the contact button.

 

 

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.

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

Hidden Sorrow Jordan Coppy Sissy Dog
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.