Words Can Break A Heart

Something About Nothing published the Week of April 3, 2016 in the Albert Lea Tribune.

I had to visit the dentist last week and have a tooth pulled. I actually needed two teeth pulled — one on each side of my mouth — but I opted for the right side of my mouth to be tampered with first. It was the tooth that was in the most pieces.
I have a fear of the dentist that goes back to my childhood. An ungraceful badminton racket swing by a friend took out my two front teeth. I moved forward to get the birdie, while my friend moved backward. Amazingly enough it was a perfect swing, catching just my teeth but not my mouth.
The summer beginning my eighth-grade year in school was spent in the dentist office. There was no soft music, gentle touch or pain-free dental equipment, nor was there a dentist with steady hands. The fear fueled by those memories lasts a lifetime.
New technology and gentle hands by both the technicians and the dentist now make a visit to their offices as pain free as possible. My tooth is out, and I am making plans to go back for the next removal. My fear is subsiding, and I found my fear was worse than the visit. But it is hard to remove those memories of long ago from my mind.
Recently, I asked my readers for devastating words said to them at some time in their lives that stuck in their thoughts and hearts forever. I was doing research for a Lenten service I wanted to write. My readers responded, and my heart broke as I read some of the unkind and thoughtless words that were left glued inside their mind.
Here are a few examples:
• I will never forgive you.
• “You’re fat, dumb and ugly.”
• “How stupid are you to adopt disabled children? You’d return any other defective merchandise.”
• “You can’t carry a tune. Your voice is terrible.”
• “I’m going to send you home in a body bag.”
These were just a few of the responses I received. Words hurt just as much, if not more than the dentist drill of my childhood. My fear of the dentist didn’t shape my life, only the care of my teeth. Words said in the heat of anger or to wound can twist someone’s life. Kind words in the future do not seem to wipe out the memories of the past cruelties.
Of these five examples, one person did not sing in public or in a choir again. One, because they felt they were too ugly and dumb, didn’t have the confidence to go on to nursing school. And I can’t even respond to how not being forgiven or your life being threatened would change the way one lives. Luckily the person who was taunted for adopting disabled children did not listen but hurt for the children in their care who were ridiculed.
The words I remember the most from my teen years were when a boy told me I was the ugliest girl he had ever seen. I remember that boy, but luckily I had enough support that I could move on in my life. To this day, I remember that boy because of his cruel words. I always wonder what words I might have said that are remembered by someone, and I hope they have forgiven me for them. But I know they aren’t forgotten. Forgiveness and forgetting are two different things.
There is an old saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt.” I’d like to change that saying to “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can break my heart.”

     

Looking For Peace In This Crazy World

my mindPublished in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of January 2, 2016©Julie Seedorf

It’s the beginning of a New Year. I’m not quite sure what to do with it. If I pin my hopes too high on a new year I will most certainly be disappointed. If I stay stuck in my ways and try to hold on to the old year I might stay glued to a sticky life.

Last year I vowed, not a resolution, but an  idea to take the time to work on my health, write lots of books and work on finding peace within myself. I followed that idea for the first month and then I got caught up in the whirlwind of life and expectations.

Some of my friends worked on their bucket list. I don’t have one. My friend who lives out east, at the age of 70-something, experienced her first sky dive. She was exhilarated. I know sky diving out of an airplane will not be on my list anytime soon. I am very happy for my friend, but I have this thing about heights and falling, especially free falling without a net, and I don’t trust someone else to pull the cord. Left up to me, I fear I would be too frightened to think about pulling the cord to open the chute. I have no trust in me when I am wrapped up in fear.

Another friend was called for the reality show “Worst Cooks In America.” I will tell you a secret — although I claim I can’t cook — I would fail at winning worst cook because I wouldn’t make half the mistakes the worst cooks make because I find myself yelling at the television and cackling at their ineptness because they don’t know how to boil an egg. I actually can cook, I just don’t let people know, then they have low expectations and they don’t ask me to bring anything to a potluck. I won’t make a resolution for that.

Another one of my good friends made the New York Times best seller list and more. That’s not on my resolution list ether. I’m very happy for my friend, but I am realistic about my writing and don’t think Granny or Jezabelle could handle the notoriety. Maybe I don’t enter awards because I am insecure about my writing, and you have to enter to win. I’ll have to ponder that thought.

I asked some of my readers their expectations of themselves for 2017. Most replied they wanted to be a better person and to laugh more and enjoy life. I happen to think those that answered already are pretty good people, yet, they are going to try harder in 2017 to be honorable people. They actually hit the nail on the head for what I was hoping to do for 2017. I didn’t like the way I handled some challenges this year and hope to be a kinder, more patient person.

Looking back on 2016, I have a hard time believing things are going to change for the better in the New Year. I don’t remember a time in my life when I have felt the attitude of our nation to be one of rudeness and hate and disregard for others as I have seen this past year. The elections seem to have brought out an America I have never known, pitting friends against friends, leaving us to ask ourselves “Who are those guys? Did we really know some of our friends?”

As much as I have heard people lament and be happy the old year is gone because of the rhetoric, I fear we are only on the tip of the tide. 2017 may be no different.

I really do want to be a better person this year. I don’t want to get caught up in the sniping because I don’t like myself very much afterward. I could be silent and stay out of harms way and let it all happen around me, ignoring wrongs that may need righting. That might leave me unsettled too. There is a fine line between being silent for peace sake and being silent for fear of retribution.

I could try the “Eat, Pray, Love” thing. I like to eat, I love to pray and who doesn’t like love? I could call it eat, pray, exercise. After taking all that time off searching her life, the writer of “Eat, Pray, Love” did end up with a best-selling book and a new love, but as the years passed the love didn’t quite work out. I’d rather take my chance on exercise as the only emotions it involves are mine, and there is a good chance my romance with exercise won’t work out.

The new year is here. Perhaps I’ll become a poet, and in 100 years or so my poetry will become a trivia question. Maybe a goal for me would be to be one of the writers in residence on Amtrak. I can dream of a thousand goals and not care if I can accomplish one because they aren’t as important as having peace inside of myself. Will I find it this year? Will you?

A Magical Circle – The Spirit of Giving

First published in the Albert Lea Tribune, Monday, October 19, 2016

Christmas is a time of love and giving. Look around you. The bell ringers for the Salvation Army are out in full force. Grocery stores have pre-packaged bags of food ready to buy for donation to food shelves. You will find Toys for Tots and other organizations sponsoring trees in businesses so people can pick up a tag and donate a gift to someone who otherwise might not have Christmas gifts.

Individuals are busy buying gifts for their family and other friends, and others are giving gifts to those who they might not otherwise share with the entire year. We Americans are generous at Christmas.

I find when I am out and about I feel guilty I can’t leave money in each and every Salvation Army kettle. I know my donation in whatever kettle I drop it into goes to the same place, but I feel bad when I glance into the faces of the volunteers who are bell-ringers and don’t tuck a donation into their kettle. They work hard in cold weather, and they always have hopeful faces and friendly hellos.

We emphasize giving at the holidays, but in our communities our giving spirit is alive all year long. Because we don’t always have a reminder, we may forget hunger and need isn’t a holiday issue — it is an ongoing year round issue.

In my community the past few months we have supported Bebo, Alex and Cindy with benefits. These three individuals all have different cancers they are fighting. Communities Fighting Student Hunger pack bags every week for students to take home on the weekend so they will have something to eat. Our food shelf serves the area and is open every Tuesday evening for those in need to pick up food, and there is also emergency pickup. The prayer groups in every church are busy praying for those who need prayers. My community is one community; the same scenario plays out in communities across America.

The internet has widened our scope for those who need our help. I have followed a young single mother by the name of Emily who became ill when having her child. The illness destroyed her liver. Her courage impressed me, and over the years I have gained an admiration for her courage and her faith. She has inspired me. It was a blessing this past year when she received a liver transplant. I had learned to care about a complete stranger and feel she was part of my family.

Websites such as gofundme.com and caringbridge.com keep us connected to those we know and those who are strangers but need our assistance, and allow us to help, even if we can only pray and not donate monetarily.

Words of kindness count too. I can’t tell you what it has meant to me when events in my life have taken me down, and those near, far away and online friends have supported me with their soft words. There are occasions when it is easier to share with a person you haven’t met, but trust, rather than someone close by. They may have experienced what you are experiencing too. It might be just a word or two, but it gets you through to the next day.

I wish all of you a very merry Christmas. I wish those who celebrate and believe differently than I do, a happy holiday. You, my readers, keep me going. I thank you for supporting me through the year. I thank you for your kind words. I hear them and they inspire me.

Christmas is a time for love and giving. I wish for you to feel the joy of giving, because in giving you will feel the love wrapping around you to keep you going through the good and dark times in your life. That giving spirit will come back to you in ways you can’t imagine. I wish for you to keep the spirit of Christmas in your hearts all year long, and when you begin to feel the grinch and sadness and hard times in your life take hold, which will happen, let others give to you. It’s a magic circle.

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Links to Giving:

Team Getchellteam-getchell1

Alex Thostenson

Connor’s Fight5131575_1435729098-2689

Salvation Army Bed and Bread

Communities +Fighting Student Hunger

Food Shelves

These are some of my favorites right now. I will add more. I don’t have a lot to give but I can at least give by promoting them too. Have a wonderful Christmas.