Me in the Middle of Summer Reading (#FlashBack)

“There are people who are kind, and people who are not kind, among all races and cultures. It was a White man who gave me opportunity so I could realize the American dream. Our friendship transcended race, and built a positive connection between the races. We can overcome racism through friendship and positive cross-cultural relationships. “ 
~ Francis Mandewah ~ Friendship-A True Story of Adventure, Good Will and Endurance

It’s FlashBack Friday ~ A time of the month where you can republish an old post of yours that maybe didn’t get enough attention, or that you’re really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc. 

The post I’ve chosen for this month first appeared on ME IN THE MIDDLE on August 16, 2016.  To see the original comments to that post you can click on the title  ~ Me in the Middle of Summer Reading ~ below to be taken to the original post.  I chose this post because of the quote above.  It’s from one of my Guest Bloggers, Francis Mandewah, written in his memoir ~ Friendship-A True Story of Adventure, Goodwill and Endurance.  I read Francis’ story during the summer of last year (Third Book).  He wrote of his journey from the Sierra Leone to the United States.  A journey that was aided through his friendship with a white man, Tom Johnson, who he met when he was a 15-year-old teenager.

The recent events in the nearby city of Charlottesville have left me with the need to reflect on the ugliness of racism that was on display the weekend of August 11-13.  The repercussions continue to unfold.  In his memoir, Francis speaks of this awareness and his experiences of racism since he became a citizen in the USA.  He speaks of his love for this Country and his hope to contribute to its healing.  Most of all he speaks of the role that this one friend played in helping him to recognize that goodness lives in the hearts of people no matter what their color.

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Me in the Middle of Summer Reading

First Book

i-will-not-die-an-unlived-life-col

This poem moved me so deeply that I followed up with a Google search and found that Dawna Markova had written a  book by the same title.  “Why are we here?” is the question she asks both herself and the reader of this wonderful book ~ I WILL NOT DIE AN UNLIVED LIFE ~.  It’s written while Dawna is on a retreat to solitude in a cabin far away from the hectic pace of modern life.  Her story travels along different paths than mine has and that’s the whole point of her book.  We’re here to follow our own passion and dreams.

“Anyone on a spiritual quest, seeking to discover their own deep wisdom, and uncover their “calling” will be enriched and energized in a powerful and gentle way……”

(Forward)

“Like the rest of the natural world, human beings go through seasons.  At one point, we are in the full bloom of summer, harvesting, committed, in abundance.  Then, naturally there is an autumnal time of falling away, disillusionment, stagnation, a shedding of what has been used up.  Then must come the fallowness and dormancy of winter, death, rest.  Eventually, as is happening right outside the window of this cabin, there is a great melting into muck and mud, which, if one can persevere, opens naturally into an abundant yellow-green time, when everything is possible and horizons open.”

~ Dawna Markova ~

“In a similar way to A Gift from the Sea, the readers of this book (I Will Not Live An Unlived Life) are invited to accompany me on a journey to come to know more intimately the value and purpose of their lives.”

~ Dawna Markova ~

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Men, Women and Happiness Cropped (2)

Ink Sketch and Watercolor by Mary Lou Q

Second Book

Gift from the Sea #3

Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book ~ GIFT FROM THE SEA ~ was shared with me by my mother back in the 90’s.  I packed myself a lunch and took a ride to the beach, setting up my chair in front of the ocean.  It was a restful day that I needed badly and I hoped to find nuggets of wisdom and truth from this book.  At the time it was difficult for me to concentrate on it.  I kept thinking ‘How can this wealthy woman whose life is so different than mine even relate to what I’m experiencing?’  It’s only been down through the years and coming across Anne’s various quotes from her book that I’ve decided to read it again.  Dawna Markova read it to inspire her book ‘I Will Not Live An Unlived Life’ and I decided to read them both this summer.

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anne-morrow-lindbergh-quotes-3

The Introduction to the Fiftieth Anniversary Edition of Gift from the Sea (2005)  is written by Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s daughter, Reeve Lindbergh:

“I read Gift from the Sea at all Seasons of the Year and of my life.  I never once had the sense that my mother’s 1955 book has lost its freshness, or that the wisdom contained within its pages has ceased to apply, whether to my own life or to what I’ve learned , overtime, about hers.”

“Above all, I think, Gift from the Sea offers its readers an unusual kind of freedom.  It is hard to recognize, or even to describe, but I think this freedom is the real reason this book continues to be so well loved and so well read after all these years.  I am talking about the freedom that comes from choosing to remain open, as my mother did, to life itself, whatever it may bring:  Joys, sorrows, triumphs, failures, suffering, comfort and, certainly, always, change.”

Thanks, Mom!  I get it!  ❤

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A Gift from the Sea

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Third Book

Francis Friendship

Francis Mandewah is one of my Guest Bloggers

Me in the Middle introducing Guest Blogger ~ Francis

I was so inspired by what Francis wrote in his guest blog that I bought his book on Amazon Kindle and I’ve just begun reading it.  His story begins with his life as a 15 year old young man in the African country of Sierra Leone and in the heart of the African diamond zone.  His story too is a spiritual journey of trust in goodness in the world in spite of the hardships and realities that might come along.  It’s his trust in this goodness that makes it possible for Francis to be fully present when God opens a door in his life that leads him to the path of his dreams.

“As I chronicled my trials and tribulations I discovered my voice in between the lines of my story ~ a voice that was filled with faith.”

~ Francis Mandewah ~

“I suppose this dream has been the script for my life, because even as I sit, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I always feel a tinge of uncertainty, as if I’m eternally looking for a flight itinerary. I have lived a life filled with the adventure of being ushered onto stage and the turmoil of being blindfolded and locked in a cage. Through my travels, my willingness to walk to and through the door, I discovered within myself a will to not just survive, but to thrive, no matter the circumstance.”

Blood Diamond ~ Sierra Leone

 

“There are people who are kind, and people who are not kind, among all races and cultures. It was a White man who gave me opportunity so I could realize the American dream.  Our friendship transcended race, and built a positive connection between the races. We can overcome racism through friendship and positive cross-cultural relationships. 

Francis Mandewah

 

Me in the Middle of FlashBack A to Z Reflections 2016

      
It’s FlashBack Friday ~ A time of the month where you can republish an old post of yours that maybe didn’t get enough attention, or that you’re really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc.  This Blog-Go-Round is hosted by Jemima Pett and originally introduced by Michael D’Agostino from A LIFE EXAMINED.  That’s where you’ll find the rest of the participants or to join up yourself.

The post I’ve chosen for this month first appeared on ME IN THE MIDDLE on May 4th, 2016.  Even though I was unable to participate in this years A to Z Challenge I was still able to visit some blogs and enjoy their posts.   I updated the Dozen Brave Bloggers with the links to feature those who participated this year (2017).  They did such a great job meeting the challenge!  I hope  you’ll visit their blogs and let them know where you heard about their great A to Z posts.    

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Me In The Middle of #atozchallenge Reflections

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]

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Reflectons

When I saw Damyanti Biswas‘ post introducing me to the A to Z Challenge 2016, I thought ~ ‘Oh, another one of those challenges.  Maybe I’ll try this one!’  One month’s commitment seemed like a doable time period to make this effort a challenging one.  As time went on I began to realize the amount of organization and the scope behind this endeavor!  My enthusiasm grew!  This could be a very rewarding event for me!  I was #100 on the Sign-Up List and I watched the number of sign-ups grow to an impressive number of 1,946 bloggers!

When the call came for us to Reveal A Theme, I had already been pre-scheduling my alphabet letters around the thought of sharing with my children and grandchildren some of the Lessons Learned through my life.  This was becoming for me a moment in time where I would no longer just think about it.  I was being inspired and motivated to get my thoughts on life down in writing.  The Challenge provided a creative and inspiring vehicle.

Much thanks to Arlee Bird and his Ambassadors for providing this moment in time to what turned out to be the most rewarding (and intense) experience in my blogging so far.  I look forward to 2017!!

https://meinthemiddlewrites.com/category/a-to-z-challenge/

My A to Z Challenge ~ Lessons Learned (Click Here)

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~ My A to Z Blogging Community ~

During the month of April, every morning was like Christmas morning!  I would wake up with a sense of anticipation and log onto my laptop to see who stopped by and commented on that day’s post.  I created my website/blog in September of 2015 and had met a lot of great bloggers.  I was pleased with the initial reception of my blog ~ Me in the Middle ~ and was gaining confidence and experience as I went along.  A to Z was something new!!  The traffic to my blog shot up and I had 1,611 views, 548 visitors, 678 likes and 652 comments throughout the April A2Z Challenge.  I used Facebook and Twitter to launch each day’s posts.  Visitors came to my blog from Facebook, Twitter and WordPress Reader.  Honestly, I’m now in A to Z Withdrawal and miss the stimulation of non-stop connecting and blogging with other bloggers.  It’s nice though that my life has returned to a calmer, steady pace and, to be honest, I wouldn’t be able to maintain the effort for more than one month out of the year.  So Bring It On 2017!

2016-05-03

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~ A Dozen Brave Bloggers ~

(Updated for AtoZ 2017)

(There are so many more bloggers who came to visit Me in the Middle and I hope to return to everyone’s blogs and read all of their AtoZ posts.  I decided to share a dozen of these bloggers because I got to know them through visiting their blogs and chatting in comments.  Click on their links and see the amazing blogs they’ve created!  ♥ )

If I Only Had A Time Machine

Happiness and Food

Simply Marquessa

Madness of a Modern Writer

Sharon E. Cathcart

Coach Daddy

All in a Dad’s Work

Cresting the Hill

A Momma’s View

Poetry Penned in Moon Dust

Planet Pailley

Dandelion Fuzz

 

Me in the Middle of A to Z Theme Reveal 2016 (#FlashBack)

        
It’s FlashBack Friday ~ A time of the month where you can republish an old post of yours that maybe didn’t get enough attention, or that you’re really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc.  This Blog-Go-Round is hosted by Jemima Pett and originally introduced by Michael D’Agostino from A LIFE EXAMINED.  That’s where you’ll find the rest of the participants or to join up yourself.

The post I’ve chosen for this month first appeared on ME IN THE MIDDLE on March 21, 2016.  Last April was a month of non-stop blogging and commenting even though I had pre-scheduled most of my alphabet posts.  I was seeing  alphabet letters in my sleep and would wake up early in the morning to make sure my day’s post was delivered as scheduled.  The many blogger friends that I’d meet each morning became my little blogging community as we encouraged each other and praised each other for the amazing ideas picked for themes.  This year I really will miss this part of the Challenge.  I’ll still be visiting A to Z Bloggers and hoping that I’ll continue to make new friends.  

All 26 posts for the A to Z Blog Challenge, along with the comments, can be seen by clicking HERE ~ or by clicking on the Title below. 

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atoz-theme-reveal-2016 v2

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My Life Is My Masterpiece ~ Lessons Learned

My theme for the A to Z Blog Challenge @AprilA2Z during the month of April is ~ My Life Is My Masterpiece ~ Lessons Learned.  For each of the 26 Days (with Sundays off) I’ll be posting a word that begins with each letter of the alphabet that fits my theme.   This blog/website has become one way to share about myself to my children, my grandchildren and my extended family who are scattered all over the country and the world.  Hopefully, anyone who reads this will be in some way blessed by my throwing my words out onto the World Wide Web and into the Universe.  

 My About Page gives me the focus so that, as I age, I don’t forget what I worked so hard to learn.  It’s going to be fun and challenging!   I hope you’ll stick with me as I strive to meet my goal!!

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* Note:  My letter sketches were made from ideas I found on Google Images. *

A2Z-BADGE 2016-smaller_zpslstazvib

Blogger Users can also follow me at atozchallenge2016.blogspot.com

 

Me in the Middle of Being a Strong Woman (#FlashBack)

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It’s FlashBack Friday ~ A time of the month where you can republish an old post of yours that maybe didn’t get enough attention, or that you’re really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc.  This Blog-Go-Round is hosted by Jemima Pett and originally introduced by Michael D’Agostino from A LIFE EXAMINED.  That’s where you’ll find the rest of the participants or to join up yourself.

The post I’ve chosen for this month first appeared on ME IN THE MIDDLE on December 4, 2015.  To see the original comments to that post you can click on the title  ~ Me in the Middle Being a Strong Woman ~ below to be taken to the original post. 

I chose this post because it’s just about a week since the Women’s March on Washington on January 21st and I think we can all agree, no matter where you stand on politics, that it was impressive.  Men, women and families all joined together across the nation and beyond to voice their concern about the new leadership in our country.  People of faith and people from different political leanings all stood side by side in unity and peace to send a message of respect and mutual support.   I didn’t march and I was with them in Spirit.  I’m not a Democrat and I didn’t vote for Hillary.  I’m not a ‘feminist’ in the sense of embracing the label.  I’m for humanity and striving for a better world.   I’ve seen many advantages for me as a woman that have emerged due to the activism of dedicated women.  I might not agree with every stand that was represented on the 21st yet I was deeply moved by the peaceful coming together of people of different beliefs and different concerns.  All willing to join together in one voice.  Let’s choose a forward looking patriotism!  I think Brene Brown  says it with class and grace on her Facebook Page.

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 Me In The Middle Of Being A Strong Woman

My Word 2014 #2

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“I wish I had known from the beginning that I was born a strong woman.  What a difference it would have made!  I wish I’d known that I was born a courageous woman; I’ve spent so much of my life cowering.  How many conversations would I not only have started but finished if I had known I possessed a warrior’s heart?  I wish I’d known that I’d been born to take on the world; I wouldn’t have run from it for so long, but to it with open arms.”

~ Sarah Ban Breathnach ~

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Me in the Middle of Letting Go 2016>Welcome 2017 (#FlashBack)

        
It’s FlashBack Friday ~ A time of the month where you can republish an old post of yours that maybe didn’t get enough attention, or that you’re really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc.  This Blog-Go-Round is hosted by Jemima Pett and originally introduced by Michael D’Agostino from A LIFE EXAMINED.  That’s where you’ll find the rest of the participants or to join up yourself.

The post I’ve chosen for this month first appeared on ME IN THE MIDDLE on September 12, 2015.  To see the original comments to that post you can click on the title  ~ Poems and Sketches ~ below to be taken to the original post. 

I chose this post because I’m letting go of the old year 2016 and welcoming the new year 2017.  The poems were written by a friend who came into my life at just the right time and inspired me to let go of the past and make room for new and better things in my life.  My sketches were inspired by his poems and, joined together, they represented an opening up in my life to a new sense of joy and promise.  What better reminder for me as I close the door on 2016 and step through into the promise and hope of the New Year?  “Letting go can be your best friend.”

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 Hope Beyond All Hope

Lovers of the world, unite
Bound to Creator’s vision bright
That even these our darkest nights
Become the light, become the light

Fashion all you can create
That delights the one who incarnates
And links himself to the same fate
As we sleepers who must rise to wake

Alana Levandoski

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 ♥

Poems and Sketches

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Letting Go

(c) Mary Lou Q

 Letting Go

Letting go – Is a place;
Is a time; Is a space.
Letting go – Sometimes a pain;
Sometimes numbness; Sometimes gain.

Letting go –
of the memories that are bad;
Of the arguments we had; Of times that were sad.
I let go of those things; Of those times; Of the zings.

Instead, I choose not to ever lose;
And I will retain those things where we gain.
Smiles and laughter; Creation and elation;
Security and maturity; With these make a nation.

Letting go isn’t easy;
And, yet, we know It’s the path to take
– From the learning we grow.

So – let go . . . Of what fails thee;
Focus on what enthralls thee.
There is a beginning to each end;
Letting go can be your best friend.

Arthur Rashap

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Seasons Sketch #3 Cropped

(c) Mary Lou Q

Season’s Song

When I leave this body, My aura, more spoor
May I be like Autumn’s leaves: Multi hued, flaming.
Set in clear contrast to that awesome blue sky
On a cloudless day in Fall,
Attracting and reflecting the sun,
Low in the heavens as it rises and sets.

  When I “die”, remember me as the one on a Quixotic Quest,
Searching for meaning. Feeling alone and apart,
Swimming in the context of Love’s eternal soup.
The seasons of the year, like the seasons of life,
Have been given to us as paper and paint
To create our picture of time’s journey.

And, what is time but some made-up measure
So we can box experiences. Storing them on the Shelf of Life.
Ah! Autumn, when we can harvest the fruits of lifelong learning;
Of lifelong yearning.
When all the “this’s” and all the “that’s” line up,
Coming together.

And, all the colors of thought and deed
Do come together to flash as Rainbow
No longer whispering,
But making a bald, bold statement:
Live, harvest, expire
Be, be in each moment.

Winter: The bare, still, colorless cold.
Time: Is this a season for passing?
Or rather, a season for resting?
The pause in the cycle of creation;
The contemplation, the stock-taking
Before ONE’s re-borning?

Winter: Season for preparing; For recycling
The re-coiling. Springing forth.
Ah! Listen! Regard!
The seasons sing; Life’s stages harmonize.
We, in the end, are ONE
And Love is the answer.

Arthur Rashap

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Seasoned

We sit in a circle,
Breathing in the smoke of elderhood
As we watch the flame reflect life’s turnings.

At first, there was the time Spring:
The time for springing forth,
full of energy, dreams, desires;
Tilling, planting, cultivating
Wide-eyed and impressionable
As we now see it In life’s rear-view mirror.
 
Greening turned to
 the full colors
and active buzzing of our Summers.
Life was like the circus performer
running back and forth,
Spinning so many plates
on sticks overhead;

Did it matter that some fell and shattered?
What was growing then, so important, bursting forth:
Bearing all kinds of fruit,
Now changes as viewed
through the glory of Autumn’s colors.


  Let us luxuriate, making new tracks in the colors of Autumn,
 Celebrating the days past; The work done.
Time to share the harvest.
  Our seeds now drop, Some to take root
Even as Winter stills the cycle,
 Covering the fields that once were plowed and yielding.
There is fresh space, Time is stretched,
Memories bring smiles And “Ah Ha’s!”
 
We sit in a circle
 around the fire,
Fashioning solutions from the smoke of memory
And the joyous living that was/is our lives.

 

Arthur Rashap

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Nature and Soul NYC #2

(c) Mary Lou Q

NYC Weekend

 
The most exciting thing in New York City
Is the robin building her nest outside the kitchen window
where I am staying.

One can bring nature and soul
Into any nest – Anywhere.
Pile in the shining leaves –
Create a hiding spot underneath.
Weave pieces of string into a nest that is “home.”

The most exciting thing in New York City
Is the robin affirming life by building her nest
Outside the kitchen window.
Noises, graces, shops, cafes, taxis, get-aways;
Couples sparking; Unimaginable diversity:
Museums, universities, slums and alums
If you can’t find it here it ain’t anywhere.

The most exciting thing in New York City
Was the feeling that the robin gave me:
A feeling of being safe and secure,
In the tree outside the kitchen window.
Two weeks’ salary to park your cars;
Anything you could want ain’t very far
Except perhaps Nature’s balm,
Babbling brook’s sound,
Senses becalmed.

People, faces, noises, graces, shops, cafes, taxis,
“Oy-veys:”
Sirens, barking, sirens, hawking;
Shopping, charging, pushing, bargaining;
Humanity spilling out everywhere;
Their hearts, their souls, their cares.
If you can’t find it here, it ain’t anywhere.

The most memorable thing in New York City this weekend
Is to know that a robin is building her nest
Outside the kitchen window.

Arthur Rashap

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Mariposa #4

(c) Mary Lou Q

Mariposa

 Winged friend: Mariposa;
You flew circles
while I waited for love to arrive.
You incarnated in each place
Cupid-playing while bathing in the vibes
Of love’s unfolding.

Winged friend: Mariposa; You were there,
Trailing twinkles and love dust
Wherever we looked.

Dear Mariposa,
Winged friend. Love’s messenger.
Come fly on the bosom of enchantment.
You have earned a place in our hearts.

Arthur Rashap

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 Watercolor Sketches ~ © Mary Lou Q

*Special acknowledgement and thanks to Arthur Rashap for his support in my putting together this website.*