Art, Love of Life, Philosophy, Writing, Spirituality
Author: Anne Copeland
I am the Editor of a book filled with the writings of the lives of 23 physically challenged fiber artists: Artful Alchemy: Physically Challenged Fiber Artists Creating, and another called Pumpkin, Pumpkin: Folklore, History, Planting Care, and Good Eating. I am also an advocate for anti-bullying of any age, any race or belief system. I say what I mean and mean what I say, and I have a huge heart for any child or adult with physical challenges of any kind; this includes those with developmental or emotional challenges. These challenges, after all, are not out-of-body challenges.
“A hiker captured these magnificent images of a rare weather phenomenon that looks like a “rainbow halo” on top of an English mountain. 39-year-old Adrian Conchie was walking on a fell in the Lake District when he looked down and clocked the spectacular display, known as the Brocken specter. The dad-of-one described the moment, which took place at 11:30AM on New Year’s Eve, as “magical” and “absolutely incredible”. According to the Met Office, the Brocken specter appears when a person stands above the upper surface of a cloud—on a mountain or high ground—with the sun behind them. “When they view their shadow, the light is reflected back in such a way that a spooky circular ‘glory’ appears around the point directly opposite the sun,” the Met Office said.
Conchie, who runs an engraving business in Knutsford, Cheshire, was on an 11-mile hike at Swirl How near Coniston when the Brocken specter appeared to him. “I had always wanted to see one after seeing pictures online and hearing about how amazing they are from friends,” said Conchie. “When we got to the summit I looked down and there it was—it was so vivid. “I thought it would disappear there and then but it stayed for a few minutes, it was a really magical experience.” Miraculously, Conchie and his friend Bryony stumbled upon another Brocken specter later that very same day up a nearby mountain called Wetherlam.”
As I read this account, I thought about how much we depend on our senses to connect us with everything we encounter in the world, and yet, the truth of it all is that our senses can and do lie to us. When we see any rainbow, if we were able to run up to it, we would find nothing there when we got where it appeared to be.
I can remember when I was younger, after I would go to bed, and sometimes in the night I would fly. I am certain I could fly. I could take off straight from the ground, and quickly fly faster and higher than anyone could even get close to me. To this day I have been certain I was really flying, though I know in my everyday mind that flight is not something we could do. Yet when I landed in my other consciousness, I felt a bump as I touched ground each time as surely as if I had come down safely but a little less than smooth, perhaps as I might have with a parachute. But the thing is that I never had wings; I just flew with my arms out and I felt the air against my arms and my body extended gracefully.
Was my ego present when I was flying or seeing things that seem so rare and yet so real? I don’t think so. I don’t think it was dreaming any more than the man was dreaming who saw the Rainbow Halo.
Perhaps we limit our abilities when we stay stuck in our egos. When I am lost there, I can feel measures of negativity and lack of confidence in what I am doing, and I want to escape. But when I let go of ego, but still stay in control of the alchemy of all the parts that make me who I am, there is so much more waiting to be discovered. Perhaps I have the ability to create rainbows.
If all of this is a dream, I don’t want to awaken. There is so much to be discovered, and I must gift myself with time to go flying again.
When we start writing a book, we need to put our souls into it. But that is scary, for there is always someone who has something to say about your writing, your grammar, your theme, your lack of . . .
My cookbook, Pumpkin, Pumpkin, has a lot of folktales in it, and some of them have bad grammar in them, but that is what the authors of those folktales intended. It is what gives the book its color and its flavor. Remember the book, The Color Purple? Can you believe that people actually wanted to ban the book for its ungrammatical language! What would have been the fate of that book if they had been allowed to ban it? It’s being true to the times and to the characters of the people and the place is what made it the great book and movie it has been. People tend to lose sight of the necessity of being true to a type of writing, the times, the people involved in the story, and the intention of the story. I remember when the book-banning people wanted to ban The Nancy Drew stories. Nancy Drew stories were ahead of their time. Empowered young women driving cars (alone too!!!) and solving mysteries and generally being interesting people. I don’t think The Hardy Boys mysteries were ever banned.
The basic thing is that this is your soul speaking. And of course we all want to be read and to have our books selling really well. But if anyone changes anything in the book other than an unintentional error in grammar or spelling, just say no. The editor will not “make” the book; your writing will. And if you don’t believe that yourself, how can you in all truth become a published writer? If you are honest with yourself, you can tell if your book is dry or lifeless, too “unlived,” or perhaps too unreal.
Great books don’t need to have fantastic events and people in them. They can be very ordinary, everyday people like the boys and young men in the movie, “Stand By Me.”
If you still don’t feel comfortable or sure of your own writing, go to the library and pick 10 books you have never read, authors you don’t know, and read each one of them. Write down your impressions of each one and his/her writing, but be fair to the times and the place and what those people are doing.
At the end of each day you write, pat yourself on the back, and say to yourself when you go to bed, “Good job! Well done.”
Looking at my posts, I realize that I have been neglecting to post to my own blog or to others. Then I look at what is going on in my life. My tiniest dog, a rescue who had a really horrible life before I found and brought him home. He had to have a major surgery to remove 12 of his teeth and 4 fistulas (holes in the mouth from teeth he has already had). Even there, he is not done, for he is a senior fellow, and he needs more oral surgery but our financial well is running dry. He also has kidney failure, likely from the teeth that were bad before we found and rescued him. I know he belonged to a drug person before, and there is no way that person is ever getting him back. So Mama (as I consider myself to my five chihuas and one cat and two goldfish) is cooking healthy food for the kiddos.
Then there is the man of my life, Richard, my significant other, who has had two cervical surgeries, and both have more or less failed, so the doctor was talking more surgeries, but I am taking him someplace else for another opinion of what can be done to help him. We will likely go to the VA since he is a vet, and he does have an attorney for a VA disability as well as being caused by his work since getting out. Anyway, I can only do so much to help each of my beloved ones.
I had a sore spot on the other previously non-cancerous breast, so I got a ultrasound, and now my doc is calling me as I think they want me to have a biopsy and it does show something irregular.
Now we are getting (or trying to get) a home on our own land – nothing expensive or fancy, but just comfortable, in Arizona. So looking at all the homes and telling the hubster all about them and getting hopes up for us both. And then I am starting to pack up things we don’t need, and I am redoing my file cabinet and also some nice chairs that I got for free that need work.
But at the end of each day, I stop and thank the Gods and spirits all for all the inspiration I encounter every single day in posts and the friendships I have built over the years. And especially to tell everyone I love how much they are loved. I don’t think the animals understand my words, but they definitely understand the things I do for them and the tones I use to talk to them. I never go to sleep no matter how tired I am until I tell everyone (pets and hubster) how much they are loved and give them all kisses. Life moves back too fast sometimes, and it is good to slow down and remember all the wonderful things we have learned in this life, the people we have loved, and to be sure to tell them all while we still can. I think of all the people who did hurt me, some very seriously physically and mentally, but I would not have the heart for others if I could not thank them at least in my soul for making me the person I am today. I have long believed we cannot really know compassion for others unless we have been through some life challenges, each one of us.
Today I went out in my side yard and I was so surprised and happy to see the whole yard full of beautiful wild violets blooming happily from the rain we have had. These are going with me along with the wild mint in my yard when we get moved. As I am looking around at this tiny and m0dest mobile home, I remember all the things I have put into it to make it a genuine home.
I have lived a very full life, and I want each and every one of you how much you have contributed to my life. I truly feel wealthy in a way that no gold or silver can ever buy. Consider that you each have received genuine thanks and love from me always. Thank you my friends.
Well, not only did God or The Gods create us (or vice versa) but he (or they) were the most incredible painters in the world. But there was just one little problem or so they believed. Everything they created, the people ate. Now can you imagine having all your art works eaten? So of course they were frustrated, and they all put heads together (which of course stretched across the whole world) and they decided to create one beautiful work together that no one would eat.
And so they created the Flamingo. And you have to admit, aside from some potential poachers somewhere, there are no recipes for Fried Flamingo or Broasted Flamingo, and there are certainly no Kentucky Fried Flamingo Restaurants! Well, see what can happen when the Gods put their heads together?
And that is likely how we got the New Year as well. The Gods figured that the last year was not so great, so perhaps they would create a new one. So here we are on the doorstep of the New Year. Well, the Gods probably know best, or at least they must know better than we do when it comes to taking care of our world and our universe. Don’t worry; be happy! It’s another New Year and a New Start for us all! Hugs and many thanks to all of you who have graced my life in so many wonderful ways! Anne (and the hubster, Richard, and yes, he is one of the McCoys who likely fought the Hatfields!)
I want to take this time to express my appreciation for all of you whom I have come in contact with this year. You each bring beautiful gifts of your writing with poetry, stories of your inspirational lives as well as stories of the lives of others, and fantastic fiction and nonfiction books. And there are those of you who teach us and who share your travels with us and those of you who provide services for us without which none of this would be possible. I am sure there are other things I am forgetting to mention, but know that all of you have contributed so much to the lives of all of us in many ways. I think that you each bring a microcosmic world to us, something that we would not be able to have with the world spinning so fast and the days zipping by.
I am sure as each of us understands, we are in for some major worldwide changes in the coming year, and perhaps a lot of it will seem negative. Certainly the political arenas of the world are poised to make huge changes that may or may not benefit us and this is happening throughout the world. We can choose to be fearful of another potential war, or we can see the political upheavals as essential for people to awaken to the fact that we cannot just watch our cell phones and see only the things that please us.
Regardless of what may come in the future, live life fully and see what you can do to create positive change for all of us. One tiny candle in the dark can provide enough light for many. While it will be easy to focus on the negative, remember to understand that it is essential for all of us to wake up and not take our world for granted. No matter what holidays you celebrate or if you do not celebrate, I wish the very best for each and every one of you.
I have always loved frogs. If I remember correctly, when I was a very young child, my family ate frogs legs at a restaurant. And it was the last time I ever ate them. It was not because of the taste. Like chicken, they tasted good as I remember. But I fell in love with frogs at an early age, and if I had a close relationship with chickens, I would not eat them either.
We lived in El Paso, Texas in an average home except for one thing. When it would rain, the rain would create little puddles, and lo and behold, overnight the tiniest of frogs would appear in the mud and they could live their entire life cycle in the short time that mud puddle existed. When it would dry up, they would go back into the earth and continue to exist in a state of metamorphosis until the next rain storm. Although they were so tiny they could sit on one of my fingernails, they would croak so loud at night, I am sure frogs in the next county could hear them. Another interesting thing about frogs is that all of them have different sounds, and the sounds don’t seem dependent on their sizes.
I used to come out during the rain and get one of two, and attempt to raise them in large jars with water and a little mud so that I could watch them, and before the puddle would go away, I would return them to their home puddles, where they seemed right happy to return. I never did learn all their amazing secrets of their lives, the tadpoles that must have come, or what other things the did such as what they ate in those mud puddles.
One way or another, we would encounter frogs in my youth. In the summers, we often went with an elderly lady we called Grandma Gibbs, and she had a summer cabin in the mountains. My dad was away then I think in Okinawa before we would later join him. In the summertime, we would play out by a stream that was not so far from the cabin, and sometimes we would catch a frog, and examine it and then put it back. It was a magical time. I loved the soft moist feeling of the frogs, and they never tried to bite or anything that would scare a child. Sometimes we would hear them making their croaking noise in the rain, or in the evenings.
Still much later when I was a grown-up living on my own in a small mobile home in a little park in Lomita, CA, when builders in the blocks began to tear down an old farm that took up blocks and dug up the land and pond that existed there to build more large homes, first I found a desert tortoise walking down the street toward the storm drain, and I rescued him and had him for years and years. I took him to the vet when I first found him as he seemed very thin to me. The vet told me that he was very old, and he actually lived to be more than 80 years old, but that is another story.
I was working as a paraeducator substitute (by choice) in Torrance and Redondo Beach, CA and one day during this same time I came home from work, and I heard this little “Ribbit, ribbit” sound coming from somewhere in my side yard, or perhaps the back. I made the ribbit sound back to it, and then it made another ribbit sound, and this kept up for awhile. It started our little friendship, and this small fellow would make his little greeting every day when I would come home from work. I would always greet him back happily. And he too would make his happy noise in the late nights too. I have always loved the sounds of nature, and so I welcomed that and the noise of crickets in the night.
This part of the story doesn’t have a happy ending for a neighbor across the street did not like the little frog’s sound, so one day I came home from work and there was no happy sound to greet me. I never found my little frog friend, but neither will I ever forget him and how happy he made me feel.
A long time has gone, and though I no longer have any live frogs, I have ceramic, rubber, and other kinds of frogs in my home. Many ancient people believed they were a sign of good luck and prosperity, and a friend of mine told me to put some pennies in the mouth of a rubber frog and turn him toward my front door. Sure enough, the frog seems to have brought some financial blessings that literally seemed to come from out of the blue so to speak, totally unexpected.
I will always love and respect frogs of all sizes and types, even the uncommon types that are poisonous. This happens when creatures seem to need some form of protection or ability to catch prey to eat. In nature, there is always some reason why creatures become harmful to other creatures or human beings. And frogs are not found commonly today as they were once. Like many other creatures that are becoming more scarce over time, it may also be a symbol as the ancient peoples believed. Someday I dream of having a little pond with waterlilies and perhaps frogs and goldfish, and once again I will be able to hear that beautiful and peaceful sound from my bed at night in the summertime.
LOVE! I love everything about it and then some. I am a very emotional person and I cry at tear-jerker movies, or basically anything that has the least possibility of an emotional response. So when I went to Lowe’s Hardware in Redlands, CA, and saw two forlorn Christmas trees lying in the parking lot alone, I went straight to the plant section and asked the manager about the two Christmas trees lying there. He told me they were left over from the sale and would soon become mulch. Under normal circumstances, I would appreciate knowing that a tree was going to help give life to another potential plant, but this was just too much. “How much would it cost to buy them?” I asked. “Nothing,” he replied. I told him I would take them, and went right out and began tugging and pulling the one tree and managed to get it to my 22-year old Honda Civic Hatchback, but the other one was not going to be so easy; it was just too heavy. I went back to the manager and asked if he could help me get the other one, and soon as he was able, he came out with a helper and got it next to the other one in the back of the little car.
After thanking him profusely, I drove home as quick as I could and set up two buckets that I filled partly with water. In went the first one, and it quickly looked better. These two trees would get to serve the purpose for which they gave their lives, or so I believed. But the second tree, thirsty as it was to get into that water, could not help me to get it out of the car.
There was only one person who might help me, and I instinctively headed toward Richard’s mobile home. He had been the maintenance man for many years. He was a good person and he had done a lot of wonderful work for me on my home, never giving me a quote for his work. He painted it so nicely, and then using recycled materials, took the way-too-small front stoop, and changed it into a wonderful front porch with a nice side set of steps instead of having them heading into the street. He made me a wonderful bench that he painted a sunshiny yellow out of the part of the stairs he cut off to make them fit properly on the side. Of course I had paid him and had taken him out to a good hot dinner to go with, but I felt more than appreciative. This was a genuine good man.
I knocked on his door, and though it was cold outside, he came right over with me, and without making fun of me or giving me excuses, he got right to the job and I helped him drag the tree to the water, where it practically jumped in happily. Once the trees were settled, we headed off to get some money and a hot meal for him, and once again we enjoyed just sitting together quietly eating our meal at the counter. He was so modest, sitting there in his torn jeans with the bottoms ragged, an old t-shirt, and some well-used shoes. He thanked me very much and I could see his eyes light up when I told him I would like to mend his jeans for him. This would be the beginning of a love that has lasted and will continue through the day when one of us dies. And on that day, I will celebrate life for such a wonderful gift.
Richard had a pretty tough life,with he and his brothers and sisters going into a foster home after his stepmother died. I think his father died shortly afterward. Between age seven through eleven, he was in nine different foster homes; somehow he and an older sister managed to keep what was left of their family together. Their last foster parent was a mother who already had some older daughters;and she took care of them all without a husband. She got cancer while they were with her, and she used to have the boys go out and gather Creosote, which she boiled and drank, and made the boys drink some too, believing it would prevent cancer. She would die later despite her attempts to heal herself. Before that happened, Richard left for the Army when he was 17, and got in shortly after as he reached 18. It was near the end of the Vietnam War, and though he did not serve there, he spent time in a number of countries, including Granada during the Cold War, and he also spent a total of nine years between the Army, and supporting services of Army Reserves and National Guard.
Later, he worked in construction, and he eventually got together with a divorced woman who already had several older children. One day when their little boy was just a toddler, she left with her own children, leaving the toddler behind with a stranger. When Richard got home from work, he looked until he found his little boy. Most men might have left the child to welfare or to a foster home, but Richard took his little boy and raised him alone for a long time, taking him to his work with him; luckily he worked at the time in an indoor swapmeet, so he was able to do that.
Eventually Richard found another lady with children; she was in a wheelchair from multiple physical challenges. He and she were married for 20 years before she passed on. Richard took excellent care of her and her children along with his son, and they even started a ministry for juvenile delinquents that they ran for years with only the money they could put into it.
After she passed on, eventually he connected with an old friend of hers that she had willed Richard to, along with her grown children. She too had developed severe physical challenges including seizures, and was in a wheelchair; after eight more years, she passed on, leaving Richard alone once more. His son is now an adult with a young daughter, and a failed relationship. He moved to Texas and is working steadily as a mechanic. Like his dad, he too is taking good care of his daughter.
I have been through a lot of failed relationships in my life. Some people are never meant to be together for one reason or the other, and they aren’t always the reasons we tend to think.
All I know is that when Richard and I met, all the things that bring people together in a lasting relationship have been there from the beginning. We are able to be who we are with each other and we actually LOVE spending our time together. We were both seniors when we met, and we are both simple people who care about little things in life. We never have to be anyone but who we actually are. We sit happily together at our desks as we work through our days. I am generally writing books, articles, or taking care of other business, while he shares the news of the world and our local weather, or plays Mahjong or other relaxing things. We throw each other kisses, or laugh over funny things our pets do. I will always remember in my heart those little Christmas trees, and how it was when they got loving care. They lasted a lot longer outside than we could have imagined, and the little bare fruit trees next to them honestly leaned inward as if to support them and keep them standing up. I put a few ornaments on them; at least they got to live their lives for what was intended. We have not had more Christmas trees since, but those I think neither of us will ever forget that.
I graduated from my second degree (this one Criminal Justice) in 2016, the same year I got breast cancer and had surgery to take care of it. Richard was there with me as we had been in a relationship for more than a year. He was with me through all the decisions I had to make and the changes I went through. I did my research carefully, and I am still cancer free with no radiation or chemo. I will likely not use my degree except as a volunteer, I am already trained and have graduated from CASA.org (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for foster children. I do not have an assignment currently.
In 2017, the tables turned and Richard had to have a critical surgery on his cervix, followed by two more involving his trachea and his nose to help him breathe. I have been there ever since as his caregiver and his advocate through all the decisions we have had to make. He had another surgery this year in May following the failure of the first surgery; it looks as though he could have another failure causing something called Radiculopathy (damage to a nerve in the neck). But here we are together and we love each other more than ever.