Be The Light: Of Ladybugs, Love & A Clever Little Girl

I’ve joined in a yearlong monthly event called We Are The World Blogfest.  

The purpose of this event is to highlight positive news stories, presenting them on your blog on the last Friday of the month.

This being the last Friday of April, I have a story to share with you, my gentle readers. 

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THE NEWS STORY:  

Did you know that in the Jewish religion when visiting a loved one’s grave it’s customary to leave a stone on the grave?  These stones are called visitation stones.

I wasn’t aware of this tradition until I read about a girl who took it upon herself, in response to cemetery vandalism, to create some pretty hand-painted lady bug and heart visitation stones.

The complete story [found here with video] tells of 6-year-old Ayel’s response upon learning that vandals had damaged her great-great-great-grandmother’s tombstone in a St. Louis cemetery.  Ayel decided to paint some stones for herself, and for all the other families who had experienced this vandalism, as a way of showing kindness to the living– and respect to the deceased.

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MY COMMENTARY:

If you took the time to watch the video, then you’ve already realized that Ayel is cuter than the bee’s knees.  I mean, how could you not love her?

That smile!

But beyond that fact I like this kid’s spirit.  She understands what happened in the cemetery and that it was a lousy thing for anyone to do.  However, instead of ignoring what happened or giving in to helplessness, she’s opted for kindness.

Ayel intuitively gets what many adults have forgotten.  She understands that creating something healing and meaningful doesn’t have to be complicated.  It just has to come from the heart.

Which, as anyone with even just an ounce of kindness in their soul knows, is a great place to start.

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Share Your World | On The Deck With The Usual Suspects

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Re: what I mentioned last week that I was looking forward to doing. On our deck we now have a small herb + vegetable garden with the usual suspects: [l to r] Italian Oregano, Rosemary, Husky Cherry Red Tomatoes, Cute Stuff Gold Peppers, and Sweet Mint.

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• Wanting something to quench your thirst, what would you drink?

Water… or maybe Iced Tea.  Of course what is Iced Tea but Water fancied up, so my final answer, Alex, is: what is water?

• Complete this sentence:  Never In My Life Have I…. 

Wanted to go to the moon.

• If you could be given any gift what would it be?

Are we talking gift, like a present? Or are we talking gift, like a skill? Or a superpower?  I need a bit of clarification here before I can gift the world with my answer.  😉

• What do you do if you can’t sleep at night? Do you count sheep, toss and turn, or get up and try to do something productive?

I’m a good sleeper, so I rarely deal with sleeplessness.  But when I do, I lie in bed and compose blog posts in my head.  This tends to put me back to sleep almost instantly.  🙂

• Optional Bonus Question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

Last week’s gratitude award goes to the needy selfish people who caused me angst and trouble– which then lead me to remember one of my favorite hymns, It Is Well with My Soul.  I share a beautiful rendition of this hymn, sung a cappella by Sisters, below. In the rotunda!

This week’s looking forward to something goes to having lunch with an articulate out-of-town friend who I’ve known for year and agrees with me that most of the people who we know are whacked.  We’ll have much to talk about.  Imagine that!

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This post is part of Cee’s Share Your World Weekly Writing Challenge.

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Be The Light: Of Coffee, Kindness, And Connection

I read about the idea first when bikerchick57 posted about it on her blog, Mary J Melange.  Then I read about it again when Susan Scott wrote about it on her blog, Garden of Eden Blog.

I liked what they were talking about so I thought to meself, I’ll do this project, too.  Thus I share with you my first post in a yearlong monthly event called We Are The World Blogfest, the point of which is to highlight positive news stories and present them on the last Friday of the month.

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INTRODUCTION: I initially thought it would easy to find a positive news story online, but I was naive.

Stupidity. Anger. Hostility. Resentment.  Those news stories were everywhere, easy to find even when I didn’t want to find them.

I was ready to give up on this project but decided that I wouldn’t let vitriol win, and eventually I found the following positive news story, therein proving that good news is out there if you intentionally look for it.

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THE NEWS STORY: When I finally found something positive in the news, it was a story about a small personal gesture made by a woman who behaved rudely toward a guy who was just doing his job.  The story, Starbucks barista gets apology note and $50 bill from ‘sassy’ customer, hit home with me for many reasons.

For one thing, I’ve worked as a waitress, which is like a barista in that you have to deal with tired people who just want their food and drink. Now.

Also I’ve been a sassy customer, not in food establishments as much as in retail stores, when I can’t find what I want– and all that I want is, in my mind, so simple and should be there.

And three, I’ve sent apology notes to friends and family when I’ve goofed up. ‘Cuz good manners count.

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COMMENTARY: This was an act of kindness that highlights a common problem that I see in our increasing complicated, impersonal, and fast-paced world.  That is, a lack of patience for not getting what you want, then taking it out on whomever happens to be the messenger.

But what I do not see or read about often enough are apologies expressing a sincere regret for impatient behavior, backed up with something tangible. Hello, President Grant!

So in conclusion, with all due respect to Gibbs Rule #6, I think that in many cases, such as this one between strangers, apologies are a sign of strength that can only make our world a better, less hostile, more connected place in which to live.

And we all want that, don’t we?

The Beginning Of My Life As A Purposeful Procrastinator

screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-8-15-02-amTwenty years ago this month Zen-Den and I bought a dial-up modem that we used to connect our home computer to the World Wide Web– and our lives changed forever.

For a few years before this, we’d been using a home computer to keep track of finances and to make a recipe book– well, one of us was making a recipe book.  These uses of a home computer seemed modern enough to us, but with a snazzy new modem we had the luxury of the WWW in our home.  Imagine!

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I knew about email because in college I had an email address.  That was only because I was part of an early academic study on how strangers interact with each other on the World Wide Web.

[Back then, the answer would be formally, as if writing a letter and responding back to each other on a weekly basis.]

I also knew a little bit about getting information from the web, although my experience had been with college librarians who were the only people with direct access to computers that connected to the WWW.

[Back then I’d give my query of keywords, perfectly parsed a la Boolean logic, to a librarian who then input my query into a computer.  Hours later I’d get a printout of where to go in the bricks-and-mortar library to read whatever it was I was researching.]

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But what I didn’t know about the WWW was how much I’d fall in love with it, and its ability to provide information and conversation instantly.

Now, of course, it seems completely normal. Pedestrian.

But I tell ‘ya when we first went online at home in 1997, I never dreamed that the World Wide Web would be the making of me.  And that the screechy sound of our dial-up internet connection was heralding my quirky future as a purposeful procrastinator with a blog.

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Questions of the Day

When did you first get connected to the WWW in your home?

How has your life changed because of it?

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Make No Assumptions. It’s Greenery For The Win.

AS A WAY OF adding some color into our lives during this mid-winter gray time of year, I went to Lowes this week where I bought some little houseplants in little plastic pots.

I’m not a full on hippy dippy plant lady yet, so fear not. But I could be headed that way.  [And really, would that be such a terrible thing?]

While transplanting each plant into a proper terra-cotta pot, it drifted into my addled mind that Pantone’s Color of the Year 2017 is Greenery.

I also remembered that when I first saw this color in early December I wasn’t taken with it, thinking that this particular shade of yellowish-green was almost garish.  A color I’d never want to see in my house. 

Was. not. a. fan. and. said. so.

But you know what?  I was wrong in my snap judgement.

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“Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew.” via Pantone

I HAD TO ADMIT this to myself as I placed the new houseplants around the house– and realized that they were exactly Greenery green.  And as such, they blended beautifully with our neutral color scheme of khaki golds + creamy whites + warm grays.

In fact, the new houseplants added much-needed splashes of spring-y color everywhere, proving to be an amazingly easy, cost-effective way of lifting my winter spirits.

So the moral of this little story is that when it comes to unfamiliar colors reserve your judgment until you’ve given the new color a chance to dazzle you.

For all you know the new color might be the perfect thing ever to grace your life… on a gray winter day.

Aging Gracefully: A Query, A Quandary, A Questionable Answer

“Explain the phenomenon of aging gracefully.”

  • You just never know, do you?

Looking at recent search queries that brought readers to this blog, the one written above caught my eye.  It amazed me.

Usually people find The Spectacled Bean when they’re looking for answers to garden problems [deer eating pansies], self-awareness [Quaker questions], or vanity [V-beam procedure].

I know it’s odd, but it’s true;  those are the three most popular posts on this blog.  Not exactly what I’d consider to be my focus or my best-written stuff, but Google’s algorithm does what Google’s algorithm does.

All Hail Google!

  • My first thought upon seeing this query was to feel a little insulted.  

Aging? Moi?! Pish posh, I say!

But then I remembered that one of my blog tags is Aging Gracefully so I had to lighten up on being insulted, and I shifted my thinking to “isn’t this wonderful?”

I was being asked to impart the wisdom of my many years so that others could learn from my depth of experience, keen observations about human nature, and buoyant spirit. 

So I sat down at my computer ready to compose a post in which I’d answer that query in such a way as to goose Google’s algorithm.  I’d write something so profound and pithy that anyone who asked a similar query, for years to come, would be directed here.

The dream, so close.

  • But here’s the thing, and it’s significant, I have no real answer to this query.

I mean, I dunno.  Maybe the answer is to never stop exercising?  Or maybe it’s to commit to being a lifelong learner?  Or to attempt to let go of any person, idea, or thing that no longer serves you?

None of these? Some of these? All of these?

Or maybe, just maybe, the real essence of the phenomenon of aging gracefully can be summarized in one crotchety remark: “DON’T BOTHER YOUR ELDERS WITH SILLY QUESTIONS!”

You got that, you nosy little whippersnapper?

6 Small Thoughts Upon The 6th Anniversary Of This Blog

A glimpse into my personal blogging evolution…

1)  I like my writing better now than when I started The Spectacled Bean.  I’ve learned how to write in a smooth flowing chatty style that is genuine, not dry & academic.  I express myself with more attitude, more gratitude, less awkwardness, and a propensity to use goofy big words that I love.

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2)  I write more in-depth now on one event or topic or person, instead of glossing over and combining many things into one post like I used to do.  I’m more focused, definitely less ditzy.

3)  I think of my blog as a newspaper lifestyle column now in which I share my observations, experiences + research, making sense of these things, so that I can start conversations which, I hope, add a bit of love +  learning + laughter into the world.  I no longer think of this blog as a diary or a variety show or a scrapbook.

4)  My posts look prettier now thanks to the instant availability of font sizes, styles, and colors.  Plus it’s so much easier to add images and videos now.  I sometimes wonder why any of us read any blog considering how text-based and bland they all looked.

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5)  I find myself more engaged with my followers now than ever before.  Lots of  fascinating articulate people have found The Spectacled Bean, and I have found their blogs.  I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my posts, and thank you for making me part of your lives as well.

6)  I’m much mellower now about this whole blogging thing.  No more angst over what to write about, little worry about how to write it, still some concern that I’ll make a spelling or grammatical error.  But overall, I’m chill– and comfortable in my role as a suburban blogger.

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