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

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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

 

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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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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. *

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

 

Me in the Middle Revisiting the President (#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 November 10th, 2016.   On November 7th, 2016, shock and dismay registered across the country when we realized this man was going to be our president.  The whole campaign was a farce and I decided to send a protest message that neither candidate met my hopes for Leadership.  Shortly after Election Day I read Regie’s post and decided on a ‘wait and see’ approach.  Now, after three months of chaos and instability, I decided to re-visit both the president and Regie’s Blog.  The now infamous press conference has left us feeling more uncertain about the leadership qualities of the man sitting in the oval office.  Regie’s most recent observation can be found by clicking on this link ~ Full Court Press:

“If you watched (NOW) president Donald Trump’s recent press conference and got clammy hands and heart palpitations, fearing the free world is in jeopardy, I understand.”

“If you want to understand what’s happening between Donald J Trump, the press and the nation, it basically comes down to this: reasonable people have gotten tired of arguing with, and being treated like, 10-year-olds …so they elected one.

Have a nice four years of news.”

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~ And now for my FlashBack post ~

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PRESIDENT TRUMP

November 10, 2016

Thanks to Regie’s Blog ~ Well written! ~ the power of positive thinking ~ It’s all a crap shoot and we’ll all have to wait and see.  

“For the Hillary supporters …pull yourselves together. Please. Some of you are embarrassing yourselves. For the Trump supporters …some of you are too. A little grace and humility might be in order. You just elected Donald J Trump as your nation’s president …and he was once a part of Wrestle Mania.”
“I suppose it’s easy to call for everyone to accept the will of the people when you think your candidate is going to win.”

Regie’s Blog

In 2008, Oprah and Will Smith yelled and screamed and high-fived each other over how amazing the Obama presidency was going to be.

But then, we had a “beer summit” (that was odd). Then, a trillion dollar stimulus package …that turned into a deficit. Then a Tea Party. Then Occupy Wall Street. Then Ferguson, Baltimore, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Orlando, Chattanooga, Benghazi and Dallas. Then came Obamacare. And ISIS rose up in the middle east.

Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Merle Haggard and Steve Jobs ALL died during the Obama presidency. Peyton Manning retired. American Idol got cancelled. Tornadoes still ravaged trailer parks in the mid west and hurricanes still chewed up beaches. Several people got eaten by sharks. Brad and Angelina broke up. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian procreated. Smart phones blew up in people’s pockets. We had, like, six hundred Country Music award shows…

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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

(Click on the link below to hear the song)

Hope Beyond All Hope

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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.*

Me in the Middle of Being Grateful (#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 November 7th, 2015.  To see the original comments to that post you can click on the title below to be taken to the original post. 

I chose this post because by looking back on what I was grateful for last year I was able to see where I needed to maybe make an attitude adjustment here and there.  I rememberd what joy I was getting from sketching and watercolor back then.  I’ve slipped a little on my intention to do it often and now need to renew my commitment to something that brought me so much satisfaction.  All in all, this list still stands in my attitude of gratitude.  🙂 

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November Grid

(c) May Lou Q

Writing 101 ~ Make a List of Gratitudes

Last November I was in the middle of taking an On-line Art Journaling Course with Joanne Sharpe ~ Draw Your Awesome Year 2014.  For November we used the theme ~ Something I’m Grateful For Each Day Of November and we illustrated each day as gifts.  It was such a rewarding exercise!

 

So, when WordPress Writing 101 gave the assignment to make a list, I decided to do something similar except make a list of a dozen gratitudes for 2015.  It’s been a great year all the way through!

A Dozen Gratitudes for 2015

  1. I love waking up in the morning and seeing the light of the new day streaming through my window.  Life is a gift!
  2. This year has given me wonderful friendships with lots of new experiences.  I’m so grateful for them.
  3. The Joy I’ve found in creating watercolor sketches and focusing in on the details of our beautiful world.
  4. Renewed strength and health so that I’m able to walk five miles along a wonderful scenic trail.
  5. I’m at a point in my life where letting go feels really good … letting go of people and expectations.
  6. Finding my inner self and no longer being a self critic .  So much gratitude for this.
  7. A knowledge that whatever comes my way, good and bad, I can meet it with strength and courage.
  8. A year without any health problems.  In fact, I’ve improved along the way.  How about that!
  9. The courage to ask for support and guidance while making a commitment to myself!  I matter!
  10. Grateful for the healing power of writing.  A path to the clarity of finding my own voice.
  11. My comfortable, cozy apartment that’s become an expression of me and what I love.  ❤
  12. A sense of community ~ of connectedness ~ with people, near and far, who are there for me.
“There is an unchanging spark from the Creator in each of us, our highest self, a piece of God. And we are all connected.”
– Dr. Wayne W. Dyer