Hearts Full of Thankfulness

Cornucopia of Foods from Autumn Harvest - Microsoft Clipart

Cornucopia of Foods from Autumn Harvest – Microsoft Clipart

Here we are rounding out the end of the year beginning to celebrate major holidays in the US and many countries around the world.The Thanksgiving holiday is almost upon us.

It’s that time when we gather with family and friends for good food around the table, conversation and football games. But more importantly we gather to say ‘Thank you’.

It may be especially tough this Thanksgiving for many people – a test of love and faith.

Through the trials, I pray we’ll become tender and yet stronger. I pray we’ll take the time to appreciate the little things and the many people who cross our paths noticing the important roles they play in our lives.

For everything no matter how big or small, hard or easy – I am thankful! – Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.

Pat – from the ol’ kitchen table

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Scared of Letting Go

Do you remember the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” where he needs to cross a great precipice as the last of 3 challenges given him?  He takes a leap of faith stepping over a cliff in space onto what seems to appear an invisible bridge.  I’ve often wondered what it takes to let go like that.  Where does the courage come from?  How can you know?

Photo by Jim Ruppel – Copyright 2012

When I first saw that movie years ago, I remembered thinking, “No, I don’t think I could ever do that!” I still don’t think I could and yet there are times in our lives when not taking the leap is more life threatening than we realize.  That is explained better is this wonderful little story called “The Rope” where letting go was just too hard to do.

Aren’t we faced with similar risky decisions every day – of course, not as dramatic or life threatening – but decisions nonetheless that could very well reshape the course of our lives?  But, it seems the majority of time we choose a path most familiar, comfortable with the least resistance.  Never realizing how much more fulfilling and exciting our lives could be.

I think this is where I’m at in this stage of my life – reaching inside to find the courage to just let go of the rope.  I’ve tried it in the past but was not as committed as I would like.

This time, circumstances have permitted and blessed me with the opportunity to take stock again of the priorities in my life.  So I’ve started writing on this blog again and putting more personal stories out there.  This is my latest leap.

I remember years ago at a major employer’s I was given the opportunity to create and pilot a workshop series for co-workers.  I felt then too like I was taking a huge leap especially in the corporate world.  I was scared to death.

The pilot was called “Wisdom for the Ages” and its purpose was to connect to one another on a more personal level by sharing via a talking stick on specific topics (i.e. trust, leadership, attitude, harmony).  All were invited no matter the position to 4 one-hour workshops. I would ask questions, play tapes and read poems expanding on the topic.

I know it sounds corny and that is what was scary – just presenting this in a corporate environment.  I really didn’t know what I was doing and always squirmed at getting up in front of groups to give a talk.

But here I was taking the leap with the gut feeling that there must be a way to get to know co-workers more with the length of time we spend at work every day.  Maybe if we knew each other better there would be more understanding, collaboration and sensitivity to each other’s feelings.  We would have a better feel for where our co-workers are coming from.

I remember coming out of a supervisors’ meeting after giving an overview of the workshop and thinking, “What! Was I crazy?” “What do I think I’m doing – poems for crying out loud and a talking stick?”  I ducked in a small conference room to gather myself before going back to my desk and cried.  I was really out of my element. I called my husband and he calmed me down saying, “It doesn’t matter what is thought – it doesn’t change what it is.”

I regrouped and went back to my desk and noticed that the supervisors’ meeting let out with everyone going back to their desk.  One of the supervisors passed my desk and stopped to thank me for the overview.  She said it took everything within her power to hold back the tears when I read the poem as she had been dealing with the emotional strain of her mother dying.  It reminded her how important life is even when working.

She hugged me with tears still in her eyes and all the fear I felt and frustration melted with the feeling in my heart I had connected in a way I had wanted in starting this pilot.  It was worth it.

I’m scared now wondering if I can connect in that same way again but with writing and e-books or should I do as I had done before – give into the fear, not commit and get back in the corporate world again before too much time has lapsed.

We all feel it when we’re faced with challenges of the unknown – some more serious than others. But if you’re scared to make a life change – moving out, going back to school, or even quitting your job and traveling the world – listen closely to see if you hear a voice telling you, “let go of the rope” and take a chance.  It may be the best thing in your life you’ve ever done.

Pat – from the ol’ kitchen table

Creativity Where Are You?

Rainbow in Bailey

God I love this place where I live in the Rocky Mountains.  There is inspiration everywhere you look if you have the eyes to see and the heart to listen.

I was reconnected last night to that place in my heart I had forgotten so long ago in another place and another world.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve tried at least 4 times to write a story and it would fizzle out and nothing would come through.  I suspect you know what a challenge that is in whatever you’re creating.

I’m fairly new to writing and have discovered I work best when I write from my heart but that seemed to be in a current state of “silence”.

I suspect I needed to go through a period of purification and alchemy as my acupuncturist puts it.  I went for a treatment a week ago for inner untangling.  I was experiencing surges of energy so much so I couldn’t sleep.

One night I was up for 24 hours and wasn’t the slightest tired.  My acupuncturist said my body needed some rest so gave a treatment for the energy surges – the pendulum swung the other direction.

Oh yes, I’ve had some writing ideas: “Freedom-Family-Faith”, “When You’re Smiling”, “Commercials” or “Hang On” but couldn’t finish and push it through to materialize.  It was in the head but not really the heart.

I’m enjoying the rest and know change always takes time in the process of adjustment but it’s driving me crazy.  I want it to be right.

I didn’t realize yesterday was the anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death 35 years ago (Aug 16, 1977) and last night watched a TV Special of his Gospel music.  It brought back memories of a small Southern Baptist Church in Cape Charles, VA and I remembered as a little girl singing the song “There’s a Sweet Sweet Spirit in This Place”.

In watching the passion of the singing in that show I remembered how I felt and what Elvis may have felt.  I was again inspired and it touched my heart again the same way my heart was touched so many years ago.

Are any of you in a “silent” stage of change requiring more awareness, tuning in and patience?  I certainly have struggled with this for the past couple of weeks.  It’s not to say I’ve figured it out but would like to think I’m beginning to move again on the path.  Don’t give up – keep looking. You’ll be shown.  It’s there – sometimes closer than you think.

Maybe you would like to share some of your stories of creative challenges and how you’re working through them.  I would love to hear about it.

Calling All Angels


Angel Photo © Jim Ruppel 2012

I’ve written and rewritten this article a couple of times now trying to find meaning to words in my head and heart with regard to last Friday morning’s shootings in Aurora, Colorado, just a few miles from my daughter’s home.  A lot has been reported and written and I don’t want to rehash it.

It’s almost a full week since the shootings and the media moves on to current news and people begin to pick up the pieces of their lives. Some pick up where it left off and others face life decisions they never thought they would have to make alone.

My heart breaks and soul aches for those touched by this incident and I struggle with how to express words of hope and encouragement.

I don’t pretend to know what people are experiencing or feeling. I only want to share from personal loss and trust it will in some small way bring comfort.

Something has happened snatching us out of our daily routines and we didn’t ask for it.  For the most part, we can get along just fine taking care of business – going to work or school, showering, eating, playing, sleeping – and then something yanks the emergency brake and we tumble and crash.  Everything is upside down and we say, “What the hell?”, if we’re able, trying to make sense of it – only there’s no making sense.

Then something else happens, we try to stand and gain solid ground. We’re suddenly flooded with emotions and can no longer control the tears and pain in our chest. Our body is out of control and we feel like our gut is turned inside out.  Something is going on only I don’t know what.

It’s no wonder in times like these we turn to an unseen force seeking help – something beyond the body and mind because that’s not working the way it used to.  Our hearts cry out – perhaps “calling all angels” – and connect us to our spirit.  Now, this is out of the norm but there’s comfort – a peace and deep rest if only for a couple of hours.

The only problem is when I open my eyes I remember – it isn’t a dream.  It didn’t go away and it starts all over again. This is the beginning of healing – one breath, one moment at a time.  We’re in touch with a part of ourselves we never knew existed, connected to a different dimension and it’s overwhelming.

This is life – all its working parts.  Pain brought us to a depth of our soul, though we don’t want to arrive that way.  Our spirit forces us to feel things we don’t want to feel.  Our senses are opened and introduced to something beyond daily routines. Can we dare to hope again – hope that our loved ones aren’t lost forever?

Can we begin to look through this ache and pain at good things that have come out of this – is there more happening on a bigger scale beyond what I can see?

  1. People genuinely loving, comforting one another with value: young and old women, men and children, professional athletes, business, hospital and medical professionals, military, police and fire men and women, FBI, elected officials, clergy, a president and Batman actor.
  2. Heroes emerged giving their lives for loved ones and fellow human beings.
  3. Hugo Jackson, born to the Medley family, is awaiting his father Caleb’s recovery from critical gunshot wounds.

Life struggles to go on and yet it’s changed. None of this can really be explained to everyone’s satisfaction and debates go on forever. As a victim’s girlfriend put it (paraphrased), “He gave his life for me but I don’t know how to live it.”

We begin to take a step forward and we’ll fall down.  But we’ll get up with more strength and determination with the help of others to make a difference and not take this life for granted.

The real truth can only be found in the depths of our hearts but for now we can rest in the arms of an angeland hold on to the good things remembered.  What are you feeling today?  Please share.

Pat – from the ol’ kitchen table


(YouTube video – Jane Siberry and KD Lang singing “Calling All Angels”)


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The Picture

picture of my mother

Personal photo of my mother © Pat Ruppel

Isn’t she beautiful?  This is a picture of my mother, Myrtle Mae (Shaw) Collingwood, taken in the 1930’s and is the picture that mysteriously
brought two young lovers together – my mother and father.

As the story goes, my father was in the military and stationed in Norfolk. My mother lived across the Chesapeake Bay in a small Virginian town on the Eastern Shore.  A buddy of my dad’s showed him this picture and since his buddy had lost interest in asking her out gave the picture to my dad.

Love at first sight, my dad carried this picture with him where ever he went.  He had to find this girl and on his weekend leaves traveled across the bay in search of her.

The stories of how my dad found her and their romance have been lost over time but I know they ultimately met, fell in love and were married on this day, July 13, 1939, by a Justice of the Peace some 73 years ago.

Here they were a young couple, Yankee and a Southerner, in love and ready to embark on a new life together facing a new decade.  The 1940’s brought happiness and 2 daughters but also brought the strain and fears of WWII.  My sister was born before the war and I was born after the war.  As my mother received letters from my dad overseas in harm’s way, she cared for her baby girl maintaining the home anxiously awaiting the return of her man.

The war ended and dad was back home and life lovingly picked up where it left off with the addition of a home of their own and me.  Dad went on to a career in welding on ships and bridges wherever staying close to the sea would take him, my mother pursued nursing and we grew.  Life seemed normal and happy at first and then it took a definite turn that would last for the rest of our lives together.

I was too young to remember (toddler years) an event that caused the shift but it seemed to be like day and night.  My sister and I could never figure it out and they would never say.  My mother became obsessively jealous of my dad and with every denial of accusation the struggles and strain continued between them shutting us out and the world around them.

Over the years, I felt I had lost my mother and tried to get them to talk it out – reconcile – to no avail.  I could still see a distant spark of love in their eyes for each other occasionally.  It hadn’t died – it was just buried.

Nowadays couples just split, get divorced and go separate ways.  The children hold onto that hope of reconciliation in their hearts until a parent remarries and moves on and the hope wanes.  I can understand their loss but my parents stayed together and I still held my hope. In that era, wedding vows were taken very seriously and literally when you say to each other, “…for better or worse.” Divorce for them was not an option.

Maybe the reconciliation was more for me than them.  I wanted my mother.  I missed growing up with the birthday parties, primping and fussing over clothes, going shopping and mother and daughter girly talks.

Every time I would go back east to visit, I would say to myself, “It will be different this time. They’re older and surely they would talk things out, I’ll help and they’ll be happy together again.”  But when I would come in town it was as if I had never left.  We’d visit and catch up but then it was as if a cloud crept over.  The back and forth accusations and denials would begin between them and I was shut out as if I wasn’t there.  They were lost again in another world but I still held onto that hope.

More years passed and one day in 1985 I got a call from my sister to come home. Mom had died suddenly and peacefully in her sleep. I flew back in shock, devastated. We helped dad deal with the loss of the love of his life and our mother. It was over and there would be no more chances of reconciliation at least not in this world.

After arrangements were made and my mother was laid to rest, I flew home with a hole in my heart and a feeling like the world had been pulled out from under me.  I truly believed in the end things would turn out differently for them and this blindsided me.  I was a mixed bag of emotions but mostly mad – mad at God.  I thought there was an unspoken understanding between us of reconciliation and I was betrayed.  We humans are so silly in our expectations, narrow views and beliefs.

One night not long after my mother’s death, I was awakened with the memories of a vivid dream. I saw my mother but she was wrapped with coils of steel from top to bottom. I then saw a hand come in with shears snipping one coil at a time until she was totally free of the demons.  I was okay after that and found closure and peace and thankful for the grace of that dream.

My dad almost 15 years later in his early 80’s left just as suddenly and peacefully – and the picture was still with him on the night table in the same plastic frame.  He never forgot the woman he met and fell in love with so many years ago. I never saw the reconciliation but I would like to think they had finally made peace on the other side.

If you have similar reflections, I would love you to share or comment.

Pat – from the ol’ kitchen table

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