Valentine’s Day is not something I care about. Love is a 24/7 emotion.
It’s little things that someone does for others never anything that you buy. It’s showing your loved ones they can be sure you’re available to help or comfort them any time of any day. It’s going without in order to give support. It’s being present for your family and friends. It’s thinking there’s no greater reward than seeing your loved one happy and safe. It’s forgiveness.
Most of all, it is doing all those things for others because you’ve taken the time to know “Who they are.” not by trying to make them into someone that you wish them to be.
This morning I decided to write from my head and heart. Writing prompts are excellent tools but often can lead us away from telling our own story. I’m going to add a new category to my archives named “Unanswered Questions”. Especially on Sundays, when the demands on my time are fewer, I lie awake in the morning and reminisce. I find I have so many questions that are unanswered. Most are unanswerable. The people, places, and certainly, the atmosphere of my past, have changed… many are gone. I’ve changed too, of course. Change isn’t a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ thing. It’s an inevitable one. Our memories are ‘spotty’ and tend to be sugarcoated if you’re a ‘dreamer’. But each of us can come up with questions we’d ask if we could address the past. So, here’s my first: Where did you go?
My hometown was once a bustling small city that was built by factories. Most Massachusetts towns in the 50s had the same heartbeat. Our booming city once had a population of about 22,000. Today, it is just under 13,000. Where did everyone go? Why did you leave? I have come to realize that I am a member of a rare group. I still live in the same city where I was born and also my father was born here too. Incidentally, I married a hometown man whose family set up stakes here at the same time mine did. (Our fireside chats are wonderful ones based on our shared roots. We were witnesses to the same heartbeat and changes.) In an interest to keep this post short and to the point, I’ll take one single thread of many to follow. I’m sure my hometown will be a part of many topics in this new category because it’s a BIG part of me.
Gangs of kids roamed the streets and filled the neighborhood schools, in our day. The ‘gangs’ were mostly made up of kids having fun not what it currently brings to mind. City sponsored ice skating rinks and playgrounds were frequented. The average family had at least 3 children, but I’d bet the median number was 5. It was easy to put together an impromptu game of football or ‘kick the can’. I cannot remember any single-parent households back then. It just wasn’t a “thing”. The movie A Christmas Story could have been based on my own experience minus that large department store… that was coming to my neighborhood later on.
Our city streets were once alive with shoppers visiting local specialty shops at Christmas. There was a shoe store, a music store, a 5 and 10 store, a sporting goods store, drug stores, jewelry stores, etc. that lined a beautifully decorated main street of brick buildings. We still say “going to the market” when we head to the grocery store here too. Churches of many denominations were everywhere. One nickname for our city was “Steeple Town” because of some grand cathedral-like structures with 25′ ceilings.
But something happened. It was probably gradual, but our city seemed to change overnight. Today North Adams has almost no resemblance to the city from my childhood. Many buildings have been torn down and saltbox chain store buildings have moved in. The neighborhood schools have almost gone away too. Junior High and High School are combined in one location. The factories closed and many families spread out and moved away. The charm of happy single-family based communities has been replaced with housing developments occupied by people who have no roots in our city and no old-fashioned sense of community. It all doesn’t feel much like progress.
I don’t blame any single thing on those changes. As I said, most change is inevitable. As a direct observer to the transformation of my own city, I can testify that it doesn’t ‘feel’ that most of the change was ‘for the better’. My gut tells me that the changes to the size and make-up of the American nuclear family lie somewhere near the core of all this.
So, I ask my city, “Where did you go?” and wonder, “Why did you change?”
I’m still here and I fondly remember your good ‘ole days.
Are you more socially or community-minded regarding people, or do you not think there is a difference between the two?
To me, it’s about family and close friends. The rest is just details.
On a scale of 1 – 10, how ethically minded do you think you are? What behaviour do you consider to be ethical?
If you aren’t behaving ‘ethically’ at all times, then life is gonna be hard for you and the people around you.
Tattoos are a very personal lifestyle choice by those who have their bodies inked.
So – Do you think tattoos make people more confident or less? Do tattoos look good on everyone? [If you are inked, have you ever regretted any of your tattoos?]
I wouldn’t suggest what others do. Tattoos aren’t for me. [Just a guess, but people who tattoo their faces seem to want attention and/or fewer job interviews.]
What enrichment do you personally receive from being social?
It’s a wonderful way to test my own perceptions and values when I interact with decent, intelligent, people. I’m known as a gregarious person but I’m not really fond of socializing.
Have you become noticeably more socially isolated or socially interactive after the pandemic and the lockdowns? There may be no difference in your social behaviour; if this is the case, let me know below.
I didn’t even notice the lockdowns were going on. That’s how socially motivated I am. The views of others have nothing to do with my own measure of my worth so not socializing had no influence on my happiness. (My immediate family did not abide by any of the “idiotic” constraints either, so we acted normally.)
What would be your top sustainability tip?
Seems the topic of the day so, measure yourself against yourself – no one else. Self-reflection and self-improvement are the roots to being happy and fulfilled
We live in a world that treats being open and vulnerable as a taboo and something to be frowned upon, so –
Do you find it easy or hard to talk to your friends and family about your health?
I don’t bow to taboos-especially when it comes to free expression-, but I also don’t find discussing myself and my health much of anyone’s business. Perhaps, my socialization philosophy needs improvement? I’ll think on it. lol
What will you be doing this weekend?
Enjoying the warmth of family and friends and feeling deep gratitude for our Saviour’s birth.
As the writer and author of your blog, how connected do you feel to your audience?
Does your blog reveal too much, too little or just the right balance of you to your readers?
I’ve made a few deeply appreciated friendships. That was a surprise to me. Overall, I don’t write for anyone else’s approval but my own. In real life, I’m quite genuine and I imagine my writing reflects that.
If you were granted a day at being one of your favourite book characters, who would you choose to be and why?
One of the first books that I loved was The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling (NOT DISNEY)- I think I’d like to be Mowgli for a day communing with his animal family and friends.
What do you believe is the greatest threat to our planet today?
Unknowns chill our futures with dread, Through tradition, hope warms-up our way. Families unraveled and spread. Unknowns chill our futures with dread. Once connected shared purposes lead Nature’s purposeful plan in play. Unknowns chill our futures with dread, Through tradition, hope warms-up our way.
Mark, who was appropriately named, was the ‘black sheep’ of the family. Every family has/needs one and like they say, if you can’t identify your own family’s ‘black sheep’, it’s probably you. Black sheep are not necessarily ‘bad’ but they do stand out against the ‘herd’. Today is Thanksgiving and Mark is standing outside his family’s home, still wearing a bright orange jumpsuit, on a special furlough from prison. He’d toyed with various alternative outfits, but all would be hard to manage with the barrier of an ankle bracelet so, in his usual style, he decided to “keep it real” in order to lift the awkward fog over what everybody already knew.
Mark needed to pause a bit longer on the step to regain his composure from a fit of ‘the giggles’ after slipping on a homemade green hat with a pumpkin stem. He’d made up his mind that he wasn’t going to allow everyone to be sullen when he had the opportunity to make them laugh. His time left was 8 months for a crime he’d committed but wasn’t a bit sorry for. The “whys” differentiate “bad guys” from “good guys” all of the time.
Once Mama wrapped him in the tightest hug and wiped tears of joy from her cheek, he knew he was indeed Home. The family got a big laugh over his costume with many of them saying with a shrug, “Some things never change.” and “Leave it to Mark.”. It became the best day, and the food was amazing!
That evening he reluctantly went back to prison. Mark had made friends with most of the prison guards and staff, so proper prison protocols were frequently suspended just for him. As he re-entered the prison after the holiday furlough, he wore the green hat again prompting audible laughter from every guard tower.
This morning as I completed my daily tasks, my mind roamed sampling themes that I might weave into the Saturday Stream of Consciousness post. I believe most of you reading this do the same. I started on a lovely jaunt on the differences between Family Day Care as opposed to Center-based childcare. Oh, the wonderful poignant phrases were many and my fear that I’d lose that fluent story once I sat at the computer great! But, as my tasks went along, of course my mind kept churning landing on a memory that inspired this independent post. I noted in my previous post that I’ve always been a ‘people watcher’. Having embraced this interest as a small child, I never was a ‘judger’ but rather a pure observer hoping to learn lessons that would serve me as either ‘good’ or ‘poor’ examples of how I might behave. It was for increasing my own knowledge alone. In my Kindergarten class, was a little girl who gave me my first lesson about being grateful. In the 1960s the predominant family structure was made of two parents and siblings. Much of this little girl’s situation was not known to me at my tender age but somehow, I was aware that she lived with parents that were not biological. This little girl was frail in stature, and I remember how her hands shook like an old woman’s. My heart had empathized with her before I even got a glimpse of her reality. One day, our teacher called her from her desk to meet someone in the hallway. When the door opened there stood an adult woman holding out her arms which caused the girl to sob leaping into a smothering hug. At this point, both the woman and girl were shaking and sobbing as my teacher closed the door. That raw emotion touched me so deeply that the scene has been one of my most frequently revisited school memories. I somehow knew that the woman was part of her real and known family and she had missed her terribly. Any other detail remains forever unknown to me. That was enough to make my 5-year-old self profoundly grateful from head to toe for having a safe, loving, home and family. It was such a mind-blowing revelation that I believe it has been the inspiration for all of my lifelong persistent gratefulness for all my large and small blessings. If I could, I’d thank that girl today because being grateful is the most fundamental foundation for being happy and she gave that to me for a lifetime in kindergarten. I just wanted to share a memory and my lesson with everyone. 😉 Thanks. ❤
Mensen maken de samenleving en nemen daarin een positie in. Deze website geeft toegang tot een diversiteit aan artikelen die gaan over 'samenleven', belicht vanuit verschillende perspectieven. De artikelen hebben gemeen dat er gezocht wordt naar wat 'mensen bindt, in plaats van wat hen scheidt'.