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Out with the Old, in with the New

9 Jan

Out with the Old, in with the New

It is over. Christmas passed by, and here we are already into the New Year of 2019. Now, Twelfth Night is done and it is beginning to be a little bit lighter each day.

Taking it all down, putting it all away, starting a new fresh year, even while trudging up to the attic and down to the basement, getting things out of the way. It is a bit ironic. Start fresh, but not for a few days. Right now, much of the house is clear of decorations, but the dining room table is full of every thing taken from the other rooms. These decorations in my mother’s house are sometimes as old as I am. Some of them are from my earliest childhood. I wish I knew their stories. Where did those Art Deco angels come from? A whole choir of them sit in the window near the front door. When I was very little, they sang on the dining room table. They are reassuring to me. Time passes, but some things remain the same.

Fresh starts are marvelous. We can always start fresh. But, the New Year makes a logical place to begin anew. And since I am not as fastidious and neat as my mother, I need excuses. My latest book has been languishing as a rather boring first draft, since October. I have not touched it since then. But NOW, I am ready. It is time to add the meat and the spice to that first effort. It is something like cooking from scratch. The first draft is a rich, but bland soup stock. It is sitting, simmering, ready to be changed into something much more interesting and tasty to read. There are many lessons to be learned in the book, but they are subtle. They don’t shout about their benefits. You could call them the meat of the soup.

Next comes the spice. The fun stuff, some gossip, some speculation, and some outright shocking stories that may, or may not, be family stories, or those of close friends.The question always is; “How much do I want to upset my family?” How much spice shall I add? The spice is the best part, in my opinion. But, there is more to the soup than meat and spice.

There are the veggies, these are good for you and useful. Like life tips gained from living a full life, and surviving. Younger readers might gain an insight here or there and older readers may identify. They need to be part of the story, whether it is anyone’s favorite part or not. I am good at mixing things together to make a delicious stew or soup. I am betting that the end result will be fun to read, informative and in the very best cases, life changing.

Of course I suppose that is what every writer craves to hear. “You changed my life.!” Those words are magic. Magic for me, as well as the speaker. And it has happened to me before. That is why I know how exciting it is to hear them.

Back when my entire focus was on childbirth, I was able to really help some women empower themselves. They were hungry for some support in their beliefs about giving birth. I was right there, with as much information as they were ready for. And in some cases they heard me and they took action. Those are the ones who later told me what I wanted so much to hear. They told me that if it were not for my council they would not have dared change doctors, or hospital or they would never have dared hire a midwife. Not everyone needed that knowledge, but for those wanted it, I was available with books and contacts and my own story of empowerment. Those were happy times.

Now, I am a different sort of “pregnant” and getting ready to birth a book. A book about my life and it’s transformation over the last 4 years from desperately unhappy, to a joyful existence in the same place, with the same cast of characters that made me miserable before. Now every day is a good day. I want to share that journey with others.

Copyright©.  2018 Bonnie B. Matheson

What can be done about the young people growing up today?

1 Dec

It is absolutely unbelievable to me how impaired young people are today. Political correctness gone wild … I am so tired of being called a racist, homophobic, Nazi, Elitist! I am not any of those things. But, I do say my truth. It may be different than someone else’s truth because of their background or indoctrination!
The fact that our colleges and universities have become so expensive and yet they are turning kids against their grandparents is shocking!! One of my favorite grandsons is refusing to talk to me right now, because of my views. Specifically, I said in my blog that I agreed with Meagan Kelly that “blackface” as a costume is harmless and no insult to blacks. And I believe that!
Now in my 70s I have more and more friends who are black. I consider them a blessing in my life. And yet, I am frequently called “racist”. Go figure!   When I was young and knew no one except casual servers who were black, then it was probably true.  If you want to end racism, you need to get people together.  Keeping them separate does not do it.  And yet, there is a black history month, and black students Union at some schools.  It is true that sometimes it is easier to be with people who are exactly like you, but no one is.

 

I don’t have an appropriate photo, so here is my dog, Magnus. He has manners and civility, both.

Today I went to a luncheon where most people disliked the President of the United States.  That is allowed, in this country. No one will arrest them for their views.  But, one man said something that has really made me think.  Someone asked “What ever happened to civility and manners?” And He said “That was before they began to calling manners and civility ‘Political Correctness’ and mocking them.”

This surprised me.  I NEVER think of manners as being politically correct.  Manners are simply manners.  But, it is true that Political Correctness stops conversation. It is true that it shames people, on purpose. To me Political Correctness is the thing that keeps us from being able to speak truthfully about anything that might be called a stereotype.  Where do you think Stereotypes come from? It comes from things being lumped together, rightly or wrongly.

Stereotype threat describes the experience of “being at risk of confirming, as self-characteristic, a negative stereotype of one’s group” (Steel & Aronson, 1995).
I had never heard of Stereotype threat until I began writing this blog.  It is a perfect example of the nonsense we are told daily. I “get it” but I do not agree that forcing people to avoid any possible chance of running into a stereotype is helping them.  People simply must “get a grip”.
I want to be free to say what I  believe without being traumatized by the threat of breaking some code of political correctness.  I have no intention of using bad manners. There is no reason for anything but civility.  So I do not understand that man’s saying that those who “mock” Political Correctness (that would be me) are contributing to a lack of manners or civility.

My contention is that we need a lot more of both of those things.  Manners are not taught to children like they once were.  And Civil disobedience is encouraged on school campuses.  No wonder we are living in a time when both are lacking.

A friend wrote about the young today:

“They need a taste of reality. For our parents, it was a World War, for us it was Viet Nam. These kids have seen no suffering. They have been been indulged, have no manners, and are incapable of serious logical thinking. “
I agree with him.

 

Copyright©.  2018 Bonnie B. Matheson

The Lesson of the Pear Trees

23 Sep

Years passed at Heathfield, happy years for the most part. My love for the house and everything in it grew a pace. The land and the trees and the bountiful flowering bushes, lilac and snowball and Japonica. I adored the place. That first summer I would walk around it just saying silently “This is OURS, this is MINE.” It was a dream come true. Why had I delayed moving to the country so long?
I had been afraid. Afraid of change and the unknown and having to make a whole new life for ourselves. But the very things I had been afraid of became the best things. The whole new way of life was miraculous. And we all grew and changed and became better people because of it. Because of Heathfield we had a wonderful life of healthy, fun and frolic. We raised dogs and horses and cattle and chickens and pigs and even tried quail (disaster) and bunnies and I am sure I have left some animals off the list, by accident.
Time passed, our son Charley Jr and daughters Helen and Lilla grew and more were born. Robert and then Murdoch added to our young family. We entertained a great deal. Often we had parties on the terrace overlooking the yard where a pair of pear trees dominated the view. They were charming with their wide branches and tall for fruit trees. Gorgeous in springtime covered in white blossoms, magnificent in summer laden with pears, presaging winter as their leaves changed early in the fall. And in deep winter standing naked and proud of their shape, they were the first thing the eye beheld when looking south. I loved those trees.
And then disaster struck. One morning when I looked out of the window towards the south a horrible sight greeted me. One of the pear trees lay in pieces on the ground. When I say pieces I really mean pieces. It looked as if a china figure had crashed and broken into sections which were lying on the ground. I was so sad. It was heartbreaking to see the remains of that tree. And the other one looked forlorn and alone. Charley called a tree company and they came out to look at it and they brought horrifying news. We must cut down the mate to the fallen tree. We had no choice. It was dead and brittle just like the downed tree. No telling when it, too could fall. It might happen while children were playing in the yard. The situation brought a real danger to our family and needed to be addressed immediately. So we cut her down.
I cried. And I mourned those pear trees. When ever I looked into the yard in that direction, I saw only the gap where there had once been trees.

My eyes saw no further. It was as if there were a screen between me and the further fields. And so things remained all the rest of that year. Over and over I mourned the trees. I spoke of them often. It ruined my pleasure in that yard to see the empty place where they had been.
The following spring I gave a luncheon for the Mount Vernon Chapter of the DAR, at Heathfield. I wanted to please my mother in law. And I was pretty good at throwing these parties for a whole lot of people. I did not hesitate. The day was fine. Not too hot nor was it cold. There were about 60 ladies and I had tables placed all around two sides of the house for them to sit down and eat their lunch. I believe we served them quiche and a salad and then when it came to desert I realized that the pies I had bought were frozen. They needed to cook for nearly an hour in order to be ready. it was a terrible mistake. We heated the ovens extra high and tried to speed it up other ways.
In the meantime I was outdoors trying to distract the ladies from the fact that the desert was so late. I was speaking to a couple of ladies as we gazed out, toward the south. We were looking at the yard where the pear trees used to stand.
“I am so sorry you cannot see the pear trees which once stood there,” I said. “They were so pretty and big and bloomed so wonderfully in the spring.”
And the lady said “Oh that would have been terrible. They must have spoiled your view. You would not have been able to see this lovely vista!”
And when she said that, it was as if scales were removed from my eyes. Suddenly I saw the view. The gorgeous view that had opened up immediately when the pear trees were down. A magnificent view had been there all the time, and I never noticed it. I was too busy mourning the trees that were gone. Focused on lack, I failed to see the abundance which was squarely in my view.
But once I saw it, I could not UN-see it. I was grateful. And I marveled at the human brain and how it can deceive us. All that time I spent missing something that had run its course. Those trees were old. Their time was past. And furthermore, we had acquired the land on the other side of the stone wall. It belonged to us now. And we were able to care for it and mow it and keep it trimmed to some extent while still allowing cover for the little animals which lived in thickets around the fence lines.
What I saw now was spectacular. The long view, the vista, the undulating land disappearing in the distant wood and succeeding fields carried the eye on and on. Everyone could see it, but me. I have rarely been so blindsided by something that was right in front of my face. The lesson has stayed with me. I often speak of the Lesson of the Pear Trees. I have told the story hundreds of times and gained a bit more self knowledge each time. I am so grateful to those trees for teaching me.
It is one of the most important lessons one can learn. And for some reason it seems to be a common problem. People focus on something or someone who is gone, and fail to see that a better thing or person is right in front of their nose. Why is this a pattern?
I am not sure why. It is almost universal. But I preach this over and over. Don’t overlook something wonderful because you are busy looking for something that is no longer there.
There are so many properties, so many dogs, so many choices of people who could be a mate. The possibilities are endless. But you must take the trouble to look. And sometimes that is not easy. Everyone gets tired of beating their heads against a stone wall. People lie to themselves, often. The most important thing is to know what you want, and why you want it.
I wanted the Pear trees because they had always been there. As soon as they were gone I began focusing on lack. it colored everything I looked at. It even colored my thinking about Heathfield for a time. And yet there was NO LACK. Actually there was a better view than we had ever had, and besides that, the entire yard south of the house now opened up for football and tag and what ever games the children wished to play. And when we had our 20th Wedding Anniversary Dance we were able to place the tent without worrying about those trees being in the way , the way they were for our 10th Anniversary party.
Occasionally I have discovered other situations like this, that I would never have noticed it if were not for the Lesson of the Pear Trees…

That sadness which was real, but unrealistic, taught me. I longed for something whose time was over, and almost missed something whose time had come. And there is where the lesson lies.

 

Copyright©. 2018 Bonnie B. Matheson

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