The Funny Thing About Doors


doorknob

I am starting a new job in a few days. And though opening new doors gives me hope, I have learned over the years that happiness is not found behind some unknown door or even in closing an old one that has filled me with so much frustration that ANY new one is going to be better than the one I feel like slamming!

I know that “happy” is found inside of me. And in discovering that,  I have learned some valuable lessons that I will take with me. In leaving, I leave friendships that I’ve made over the decade since I’ve been there. And yet, I know it is time to move on, to give myself permission to climb out of this quicksand that has sucked me in for far too long. To understand that it is up to me to make the change, and never again give power to someone else, trusting that they will make it.

And in making that change, I am free! Instead of feeling that I wasted a decade of my life, (though it wouldn’t hurt to have the age I was ten years ago, back!) It is my choice to leave with my convictions in tact. And to understand that I have learned some valuable lessons. So as I close one door and open another, I leave with a wealth of knowledge that I WILL use inside that next door that I walk through.

The funny thing about doors is you have gotta close one before you open the other, or you leave a lot of doors “ajar” in life. I’ve always loved doors. I collect photos of them. They’ve always fascinated me. I imagine the people who’ve walked through them, lived behind them, opened them and slammed them and feel the magic of their power.

SONY DSC

The Funny Thing About Doors…

The funny thing about doors

is…

you must walk through one

before going through another.

And every one you open

leads you to something  to be discovered.

There are grand ones and small ones,

creaky ones and tall ones,

ones you open quietly,

and ones you just want to slam!

Ones that lead you to the light,

and ones…

 well,

to be damned!

But every door I’ve chosen to go through,

has taught me things I had to know.

From them, I’ve taken things with me,

and others I’ve let go.

Each one led me to a place,

to find new parts of me.

But not one of them was the “only” one,

that held the happy key.

Diane Reed

2014©

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The Scent Of Words


library reading on the floor

I knew at a very young age that I had words and stories locked inside of me. In Elementary school my teachers noticed that I could write. But not until High School did one particular teacher actually take me under her wing and offer me Independent Writing classes.  I think that most writers can tell you when they knew they had that light bulb moment when they wrote  something special or different that set them apart from the rest of the other kids in the class. Like an artist who paints their first masterpiece or the singer that sings a song that takes someone’s breath away. Or a comedian that makes you laugh until you cry, and the dancer that makes people stop and really watch till the end.

ballerina

When I was in elementary school I loved to write for me but when I was in college, I put my amature talents to use and totally BS-ed my way through my Sociology class with my essays. I had no idea what I was talking about! But I received this comment on one of my most blatantly ramblings….                                       “100! If I could give you more, I would! Brilliant!” Okay, now I am coming clean. Like I said….I really, truly had NO idea what I was talking about! I just took the question and re-wrote it a bunch of different ways. But I knew then I could possibly fake it and so I did.

catalog card index

Today, I have a much more humbled outlook. I mean, in fifth grade there aren’t a lot of kids that love to really write. I was a different kind of fish in a small pond that stood out a bit because of just that. But in the bigger world, there are trillions of great writers in a much bigger pond. I am just one of many that likes the same bait.

Dr. Suess

The world has changed a bit also. When I was assigned to write those reports that we all remember. Remember those STATE reports? Didn’t we all have one assigned to us before we reached Junior High?  I’d spend hours at our local library, pulling out drawers filled with information, clinking dimes into a copy machine copying pictures in books for those reports.

copy machine

Now kids today can find it all on line. It makes me dizzy just how far we have advanced but  in the same breath, I am kind of sad that our kids will never experience pulling out a library catalog  drawer filled with index cards with  information on them. But though their computer knowledge will always far suprass mine,  there is still something to walking into a library and smelling the leather bound books with words pressed on pages, and being able to walk to a certain section of the library, finding the shelf, and  pulling down an actual book and breathing in the scent of words.

smelling the books girl

You can accomplish ANYTHING if you don’t care who gets the credit!


We are in the midst of an election year and I must say that I am already weary as I watch the gas prices fluctuate and hear all the rhetoric from both parties and wonder where has character gone? Where are the Mr. Waltons and President Regans of yesterday?  Are they really a thing of the past?

My favorite saying has always been something I saw on President Regan’s desk several years ago when I visited his library. It basically said: “You can accomplish anything if you don’t care who gets the credit” He will always be my very favorite president.I loved Regan and feel he really lived that.  I wish I knew more people who did. I wish I could say I did.  If I really think about the people I know who hide behind their good works, it is barely a handful. Politicians are notorious for NOT doing that during elections, they are continuously boasting about their accomplishments which are usually more fabricated than not. Even Ministers have incorporated their acts of goodness into their sermon and it is surprising. Don’t people realize how transparent they are when they are sharing their own good deeds?

After the earthquake, I was given a column in our local magazine called Acts of Kindness. I had started writing about the kindnesses people did for us after we lost our store and vehicles and it kind of snowballed into a regular column.  I was given an article a month for almost a year and filled it with my own words of gratitude for different people in my life. Later,  I offered to tell other people’s stories and not one person submitted anything. It was weird. I knew people read my column because I always got lots of good feedback but  it was funny, I thought if someone was given the chance to thank someone else publically, this was their opportunity. And even though I could probably write forever thanking people in my own life, the column ran it’s course and I just began doing random assignments until I had to get a “real” job. But it was fun while it lasted. To be able to thank wonderful people for doing wonderful things for you, and get paid for it while doing it, was pretty cool!

There is a new little blirb in a woman’s magazine that has the same idea and publishes submitted stories of acts of kindnesses weekly. I love the ones where people share what other people did for them but it is hard for me to read the ones where they are telling what they did for someone else. I want to say, “really?” It includes their name and town and state and it just doesn’t sit well with me.

I wish I could be more like people who donate without telling anyone or work in a soup kitchen weekly or volunteer at a shelter and you would never know it unless it came up by accident. My dad is that kind of man. He has bailed me out of more than a few financial crisis and loaned me more than a few loans that he has forgiven. He goes and mows another churches’ lawn on a pretty steep hill and doesn’t even go to that church. His tithing does not just stop when they pass the offering plate. He quietly keeps on giving everyday of his life. Whether it is to mentor my son or to love my daughter or to lend a helping hand at whatever he can. A widow who needs yard work or chairs that need to be set up. He quietly does it without wanting anyone to know.

He paid for our dog’s vet bill when we were struggling and gave us Buddy back for a few more years. And you know what? I KNOW he has done many more things that I don’t even know about because he truly lives the words of not caring about getting the credit.  Yep. When I grow up, I want to be just like him. My dad.

The Sparrow


In my despair I questioned

Your Name~

I cried out to you in

My deepest of pain~

Saying….

Your eye is on the sparrow

You count every hair,

But Oh Lord my wing is broken,

And my hair’s no longer there!

Seems like I only see the storm

And the rain in the clouds….

But then Lord you lift me up

Straight out of my doubt!

I don’t mean to hesitate,

Don’t want to complain…

I know in my suffering

I find Your Name!

I’m sorry I question YOU

and  have  much regret

You just hold me tight

And whisper… “I’m NOT done with you yet!”

“My eye is on the sparrow

Even with the broken wing

Because in his healing

He’s found a new song to sing!”

Hole Fillers


We all have “containers” in life and we all find different ways to fill them. The idea is to fill them with purpose. Things that make our life better. As we fill our containers, the level rises. Just educating ourselves about ourselves begins to plug up those holes that we have made over the years. Some people use people, others use drugs or alcohol or food to fill the holes and what hurts us usually only helps to make our holes bigger.

Spiritual and emotional growth and a whole host of other goals  are all the things that help  fill the holes and raise the level in our containers. It has taken me years to recognize the good and the bad things I use in my own life to raise the level and the task at hand is becoming more aware of the difference which is a work in progress. I know that for me, writing is a huge hole filler.

My book is sitting in a file just a “click” away and I am totally procrastinating by coming here to share my thoughts. I look at it as priming the pump, or perhaps stretching before  a  workout! But I know I need to get back to it. Why am I stuck? Could it be because, I am afraid to finish? If I finished, I would have to submit it. If I submit it, I am vulnerable. I can’t be rejected if I don’t present the question for someone to say yes or no.

Recently, I have been taking more chances in my life. The kind of chances that come with the possibility of rejection attached. Sometimes it has paid off and at other times I have had to face that vulnerability and it has sucked. Rejection is not the most comfortable place to be. But hey “no” is just a tiny word from a little person in my BIG world. I can make that rejection fill my world and make it bigger than it needs to be or I can brush my shoes off and move on to the next possibility and even bigger opportunity.  Sometimes I have forgotten that God is the captain of my ship. And I am the one He has put in charge of His vessel and have to remember NO ONE else is in charge here. No one! I can get opinions from other people until I am drowning in them but ultimately, in the end, I know that I am the one who steers this ship.

I have waited long enough for others to make things happen for me. In turn, I have found myself “stuck.” Only I can make things happen for me. The opportunities aren’t going to come and find me. I am going to believe in me enough to finish that book, to submit it and get a thousand rejections if it will get me to that one finish line where I actually finish the race.

It is always hard to take that first step… Go back to school, apply for a new job, start a new health regimen, or just a new attitude! And perhaps finish a book you have been writing for years! We have power in our own choices. We fill our own containers. We even fill the holes as we figure out what they are, until someday…. Our containers are spilling over!

Say Cheese Please


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When I was in Junior High POW bracelets and happy face buttons were the rage. Funny, how I can connect two things that  are polar opposites. War and happiness. But maybe that is today’s metaphor for my life.Recently, my husband told me that he loves my smile and yet it looks as if I am always fighting against it, smiling that is. After trying to decide if that was a compliment or a creatively disguised dig, I decided to give him a pass and to really contemplate his words.

From as far back as I can remember, I think I have fought happiness. Just looking  back at the old black and white photos I have of myself as a kid,  I do tend to find more with a silly, half grin than a full on smile. And it makes me sad. Because I don’t think I ever allowed myself to fully experience joy from a very early age.

Lately, I have been on a quest to go back and get that kid and bring her home to the place that she belongs. With all of her disappointments and insecurities, I am not sure if I really want to. And yet I don’t think I have a choice nor can I ever really live in “me” until I do. Inviting this younger version of myself back into my life to really dig deep and explore some of the things I never have about myself is about as comfortable as inviting that obstinate step child who doesn’t want to be anywhere, least of all anywhere near you, to live with you!

As I look inside of myself, back, back, back, into a time in my life where there was joy and harmony, I find a kid with a grape juice stained mouth and a pile of books. I loved my grape juice and my books! I flash on sitting on the counter baking with my mom and can even still smell the glue as I remember watching my dad retile the tile in our bathroom. I remember rides in the car and the Drive in and picking berries on a summer day out in the woods in Washington. I remember feeding the ducks and moving to California and meeting my bestfriend who I have remained best friends with over the decades. And I smile.

But somewhere along the way, that kid got disappointed and things happened in her life that caused her to have a hard time trusting anyone let alone her self,  she felt hurt and misunderstood over and over and over again and re-visiting the parts of her pain  is not the easiest task at hand. Getting to know the younger version of yourself is about as comfortable as inviting that obstinate step child on a wonderful vacation. But we all need to go there. To interrupt our lives and explore the parts of us that never integrated into our adult self. If we don’t that kid will continually pop back into our life when we are least expecting them. They always seem to appear in the form of anger, or  fear or in the deepest part of our sorrow.

I have a feeling my childish self is not going to come or go quietly. She may even go kicking and screaming but I need to trust myself that it is going to be okay. It will be okay for her too. She is safe now, inside of the adult me. I have finally begun to trust myself and to quit relying on everyone else to make it better. To stop living in the past and finally take my own steps into the future. To trust myself and learn to love me and believe in me and KNOW that what I feel about me is enough. I am the boss of me. Well, of course God is the boss of me, but you know what I mean. I have been giving that power to everyone else in my life and I am taking it back from EVERYONE and only giving it to God and me! And I am empowered and the child in me calms and begins to relax in the knowledge that somebody else is in control now.

For so long, I have doubted everything about myself. My intelligence & abilities, my wisdom and even my morals and my own character and just when I fell into the darkest place of my life, that is when I began to see the light, as if lost in a cave, dark and damp, only to find the hope of a ray of light through the cracks. That is where I am now. I have found the light. I may not totally be out of the cave yet but I see the way out and I am going to beat the myth of being stuck in my child. Instead I am going to invite her to come into the light with me and find the joy. I am strong enough and smart enough and brave enough to guide her right to the light where she belongs.

I am going to stop fighting the smile. To believe  in the dream  that it really is okay to genuinely be happy and take new photographs and to smile really big.  And…“Say cheeeeese.” To let everyone know I am happy and that I don’t have to fight it any longer.

Survivors


As we go through life, we take on different roles. Daughter, Sister, Wife,  Mother, Aunt, Friend and eventually Grandmother. We take advice, and later even offer it. The life we live along the way prepares us for the roles we take on. Our stories all have lessons we each can learn from. Even our struggles and sorrows are eventually gifts of wisdom. As survivors of different trials we go through, we can offer hope and guidance for others when they see us come out of our own valleys without the battle scars they fear. And what scars we do retain, we can wear them as badges of honor for we are SURVIVORS.

The red flags we learn to be aware of, the lessons learned, the wisdom we can offer all are important pieces to the puzzle. Sometimes some of the pieces are missing and it takes a long time to find where they fit in order to see the bigger picture. But once all the pieces are in place, all the lessons are learned and all the pictures are made, we put them all back in the box, shake it up and make the pictures all over again!

There’s No Place Like Home


Sometimes we have to wander far away from the storm, trying to find the rainbow, before we realize the lessons we have learned along the way. We encounter those looking for wisdom and courage and love and want to be a part of their journey. Perhaps we think that if they find it, so will we. And so… we get caught up in the seeking, we are fooled by our own desires.

If we are lucky enough to find out that the little man behind the curtain is only a little man behind the curtain, then we are ahead of the game. But more than not, we seek the answer in all the wrong places. We put hope in the world and we follow the beat of what the world deems popular rather than looking within and finding that in the end, all that we ever needed was always there for us… in our own backyard and that there really is; “no place like home.”

Turning Pages


Prologue
Reference to real people, events establishments or places are intended to only provide a sense of authenticity and are used fictitiously.
Once upon a time in an age before cell phones or personal computers, Ipods or even taped messages there lived a girl who had a dream, she wanted to be a writer. It was the summer of her sixteenth year when diaries were still in books with locks on them and the secrets were all just dreams of what might be. Images of houses with families inside, behind white picket fences and the hope of what would come next, danced through her head and found their way onto the pages, she wrote late into the wee hours many nights, pouring out her dreams onto the pages in way of poetry. Such raw and corny words, fell upon the pages as the young girl slowly filled the book, waiting for her innocent prayers to be answered, for her prince charming to rescue her and whisk her away into the life she was meant to have.
That old book was packed away, life happened in-between and recently while going through storage boxes the book was discovered again by the girl, not so young anymore, the one who had packed it away so many decades ago. Now much wiser and much more worn out, the woman held that book close and slowly opened the pages breathing in hints of yesterday, flipping through the pages, now yellowed with age. “What’s that?” Her daughter asked walking in the door, finding her mother deep into whatever it was that she was reading. She hadn’t even looked up when Brynne walked in the door nor had she heard her questions, but just the muffled interruption as she stopped reading for a minute.
The older woman looked up and smiled a melancholy kind of mood seemed to envelope her, Brynne was puzzled. Her mom always had the TV on for background company even if she wasn’t watching it. But today, she sat by the fire in silence with a book. Brynne frowned and sat down next to her mom as her mom began reading a few of the pages aloud to her. She stopped to make sure that she had not lost her daughter’s interest back somewhere at the first page but noted that she looked intrigued. Inspired by the attention she seemed to have captured the woman,Keri, explained to her daughter…”I started writing this book when I was about your age.” Brynne listened interested. “I never told you this part of my story she said.” Maybe it’s time I try to tell it to you now.
Brynne, who was always in a hurry curled her feet up under her and grabbed a throw as she settled in to listen to her mom read. Keri began reading, she read a page and then the next one and paused thinking that Brynne would be bored but Brynne motioned her mom to continue reading.
Aperture
Back in the seventies letter writing and phone calls were about the only means of communicating.  Journals were in bound books and writers still wrote their ideas on napkins and then transferred them onto the pages wound tightly in their typewriters. If addresses or numbers or names were changed, finding them again didn’t hold out much more hope than a message in a bottle might. The inventors of E-mails, Facebook,  twitter and texting were  not yet born. Little did we know what lie ahead. But my dad did.
In 1966, when I was about nine, my dad took me to his office filled with huge computers and disk drives and told me….
“Someday all these computers that fill this room will sit on just one desk … and maybe even in our life time, you will be able to hold one within the palm of your hand.”
 My first love recently found me on Face book. Our story is bittersweet. For over three decades I only allowed myself to remember the ugly part of our love story and basically stayed stuck there for all of these years. This story is about it all. (The ugly and the beautiful.)
  Everyone’s first love should be a sweet memory. Now through today’s technology I have recently,  I have been given that gift back again. The message here is not just about the mistakes made by the ones in love but by the adults in their life, the secrets kept, the sorrow and pain of young love lost.
In the seventies, we learned;  Love means never having to say  you’re sorry. I have to modify that today by saying.  Love is all about forgiveness.