Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: I Walk the Line: Love Will Keep Us Together

Daily Prompt: I Walk the Line

Have you got a code you live by? What are the principles or set of values you actively apply in your life?

As I have written before, I have two precepts I follow in life. One is to love one another, the other to do unto others, as I would like others to do unto me. They may seem too simple at first glance, but they can take a lifetime of practice to achieve.

Let’s look at the first one – love one another.  Some of the others may be easy to love – our parents, siblings, spouse and children are hopefully on this list. But what about that mean boss we have at work, that workmate who tries to make us look bad, the teacher who makes us feel inadequate, the classmates who bully us? Can we truly learn to love these people? As I said earlier, what seems so simple a statement is actually quite complex.

The key is to look beneath the layers – the personas people adopt for a variety of reasons. Most likely they experienced a lack of love themselves, somewhere in life; perhaps they act as they do because that is what or how they were taught; perhaps there are biological reasons for their actions – brain injury or psychological  disorders. If we try to peel away the layers and reach the core of a person like this, we will find a lost soul, confused and abused and acting as they do because they know no other way. Even if we can’t change them or cure them, we can understand and have empathy for these lost souls, and we can succeed in loving one another.

With the second precept, unless one is a total masochist who wants to be abused and treated badly, we desire to be treated fairly, to love and be loved, to be accepted and cared for, appreciated and needed.  To receive these desires one must transmit these desires to others – as in karma, what goes around comes around.  If we approach others with understanding rather than judgment, with kindness rather than hate, we are following this precept. If we think about how we like to be treated and carry it forth into the world, love will find a way in and spread throughout. To make changes in the world we each have to be the change; to be loved, we each have to love one another.

It is as simple and as difficult as that,

I will repost my favorite poem that reflects these  thoughts:

He drew a circle that shut me out-

Heretic , rebel, a thing to flout.

But love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle and took him In !

– by Edwin Markham


Staying in Focus/Daily Prompt: Always Something There to Remind Me

IMGDaily Prompt:  A song comes on the radio and instantly, you’re transported to a different time and place. Which song(s) bring back memories for you and why? Be sure to mention the song, and describe the memory it evokes.

The song that evokes the most emotion for me is the song we chose to dance to at our wedding reception, “Here, There and Everywhere” by the Beatles.  As I mentioned in my last post , neither Bill nor I were comfortable dancing but it was dancing, or rather not dancing, that brought us together. The year before we married, we were both in his sister’s wedding party.  I spent most of the reception hiding from the best man so I would not have to dance. Bill was also disinclined to dance, and so we spent some time getting to know each other in the hallway outside the reception room. We started dating before the newlyweds returned from their honeymoon.

When we arrived at our wedding reception, the band asked us what song we wanted for our first dance as husband and wife.  We didn’t really have a song we called “our song.” We had not really thought about this, having put the dancing part of the festivities to the back of our minds, but Bill suggested “Here, There and Everywhere”. It was appropriate, as he is a big Beatles fan, even if it wasn’t “our song” per se before the wedding reception.

Bill’s dad had given us some quick dance lessons prior to the wedding, and I managed to get through two dances, one with Bill and one with my dad.


Touring John Lennon’s house , July 2, 2013

This summer we travelled to England and visited the city of Liverpool. We took a Beatles Tour and actually had the opportunity to tour both John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s childhood homes. Of course, the bus driver had Beatle songs playing while we drove about, and “Here, There and Everywhere” was one of them. When it came on, I said, “Hey, they’re playing our song. “

As we drove along listening to the words, the feelings of that special day so long ago came flooding, back – excitement, nerves, anticipation in beginning our life together.  The future was ours, the path ahead open and inviting. All the experiences we would have together, the family we would create, the ups and down’s of life we would face – all ahead of us, all, yet, unwritten.

The words of the song ring true to us now as they did thirty-eight years ago, on September 4 th, 1976:

Here, There and Everywhere

By John Lennon and Paul McCartney

To lead a better life I need my love to be here…

Here, making each day of the year
Changing my life with the wave of her hand
Nobody can deny that there’s something there


Bill at Paul McCartney’s house

There, running my hands through her hair
Both of us thinking how good it can be
Someone is speaking but she doesn’t know he’s there

I want her everywhere and if she’s beside me
I know I need never care
But to love her is to need her everywhere
Knowing that love is to share

Each one believing that love never dies
Watching her eyes and hoping I’m always there

I want her everywhere and if she’s beside me
I know I need never care
But to love her is to need her everywhere
Knowing that love is to share

Each one believing that love never dies
Watching her eyes and hoping I’m always there

I will be there and everywhere
Here, there and everywhere

A bi tof trivia about the song:  It was named 4th best song of all time by Mojo in 2000. Paul McCartney has said it is one of his favorites, and John Lennon once commented that he thought it was the best song on the album (Revolver).

Staying In Focus: Daily Prompt: Luckiest People/Lucky Me, Loving You

Daily Prompt: The Luckiest People

Who was the first person you encountered today? Write about him or her

The first person I saw this morning was the same person I see first most mornings, my husband of 38 years, Bill. He is the lucky one who gets to see me with my hair sticking out from my head in one place, and mashed to my skull in another place. He gets to see me before I wash my face, brush my teeth and generally make myself presentable to the world.

However, since I get up, make him an egg breakfast a few mornings a week, and pack his each workday, he chooses to look past my frightful appearance and even kiss me goodbye before he leaves for work.

I consider myself one of the luckiest people, because I have married my best friend Photo39and soul mate and the nicest guy I know. He has stood by my side during the scariest moments in my life. He was there when I experienced complications following childbirth, when I woke up after having colon surgery to remove a cancerous polyp, and sat next to me as the neurologist confirmed the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. When I dragged my feet about seeing a neurologist, he wisely reminded me that not knowing would not change anything. If it was there, it was there and we would deal with whatever the future held.

When I stressed over a job situation I found intolerable, he bought me a video of music and whales (I have a thing for whales) to calm me, and took to me to the beach that weekend.

When I joked that the perfect Christmas would be to receive a roll top desk, a fur coat (fake), and a Gone with the Wind video, he made it happen. This Christmas he gave me an official Atlanta Braves uniform shirt (I have a thing for the Braves) and a silver necklace with an Egyptian hieroglyph pendant that spells ‘ I love you.’ (Yes, I have a thing for ancient Egyptians, too). But far more meaningful than material things are the ways he makes me feel special, of his belief in me when I doubt myself.

He never complains when he is rudely awakened by my alarm going off at 6:00 AM to remind me to take my first pill of the day and by my second alarm at 7:30AM when I begin the Parkinson’s meds for the day.

He drives me where I need to go, because I no longer drive.

He took me to Alaska to see the humpback whales.IMG

He took me to Great Britain and was sure to include Stonehenge because, yes, I have a thing for Archeology.

He took me to  a Monkees Concert because, well, you know…

But above all, I have a thing for him, and always will. A few years back, I wrote him this poem, which fits nicely in with today’s prompt:

For the caring, and the sharing

and the way you kiss goodnight

for the loving and the giving                                      IMG                 

and the way you hold me tight

And for listening and supporting me

in everything I do                                                                                             IMG_0002

I wrote this poem

to simply say

lucky me, loving you!

Staying in Focus: Focus On: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GAVIN

We celebrated my grandson’ s 5th birthday this week with a chocolate chip pancake breakfast at Bob Evans. Here are some photos of the event:

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To Gavin

How can it already be year number five

since you first arrived, so precious and  small?

but in almost no time at all

you won my heart with your winning smile,

and vibrant personalityIMG_6070

I love the special kind of hugs

and kisses that you give to me

you have such a great imagination

I look forward with expectation

to find out who you decide to be

your father says right now the choice

is between being  a daddy

541880_4627235271627_106073247_n 544957_10200585290047450_999910405_n

and Ironman.

To be both of then, I think you can –

but in my heart and memories

you’ll always be my little man.

Happy Birthday!



Staying Focus: Daily Prompt:Fast Forward

Daily Prompt:  If you could fast forward to a specific date in the future, when would it be?

I started to respond to this post with numbered items and then I realized I was making something simple, far too complex. The answer is that I would like to fast forward to a time when all the beings on this planet loved one another. I think that would take care of everything.

He drew a circle that shut me out –

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

But Love and I had the wit to win.

We drew a circle and took him in

–Edward Markham

Staying In Focus: Love is All We Need

Although 2014 has not started out as auspiciously as I had hoped, there is a certain balance to the universe that can bring us some measure of peace. One of the people I wrote about earlier, my friend’s husband, who fought a valiant fight against cancer, passed away on December 27th.  I now have four friends, who are widows far sooner than they ever expected, but their strength and courage in care giving and in facing the death of their partner in life, is a true testament to the power of love – to love them enough to let them go.

But hiding in the shadow of death and loss, is the promise of new life.  For even as my friend and her family were dealing with the loss of their beloved husband and father, their good friend received news of the birth of her new grandson.  One soul departs this world, and another soul enters it. Life goes on, renewing itself, generation after generation.  And what fuels it is love. As the Buddha said, “In the end these things matter most:  How well did you love? How fully did you love? How deeply did you learn to let go?”

Some of us reach a ripe old age and others are lost far too young.  We don’t know how much time we have and so we mustn’t waste it.  We must love with all our  heart for as long as we live and the universe will find its balance – a man who loved his family; a new baby surrounded by the love of family. As crazy and cruel as the world  is, I prefer to stay an optomist. Lorraine Hansberry sums it up nicely. “I wish to live because life has with it that which is good, that which is beautiful and that which is love. “  And, as those of us who grew up in the 60’s know, love is all we  need.

Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: Don’t Miss the Magic

Daily Prompt: You have been transformed into a mystical being who has the ability to do magic. Describe your new abilities in detail. How will you use your new skills?

Don’t Miss the Magic

One really doesn’t have to be a mystical being to experience magic, for magic is all around us, unfolding every day; but were I a mystical being, my task would be simple:  to open people’s eyes to the magic that surrounds them.

There is magic in the rising sun IMG_8448as it heralds the break of day. There is magic in the wisps of fog, which wreathe a distant mountaintop, and in crystal dew, shining like diamonds in the morning sun.

There is magic in the delicate wings of a butterfly Photo05_3and the intricate veins of a leafIMG_8125

There is the magic of birdsong in the morning, and in the mystery of the stars in the evening sky. There is magic in the velvet petal of a rose,IMG_0015 - Copy
in the first flower of spring and the vibrant leaves that dress the trees in autumn splendor.IMG_2260

I see magic in the very existence of bubbles,

a bubble armada

jellyfishIMG_0973 - Copy - Copy - Copy

My Whale Ivory

My Whale Ivory


and whales.

 There is magic in birth, the creation of life; the soft touch of a newborn baby’s skinevelyn2and in a hug from a 20130828_190029great grandchild. 

Where would we be without the magic of family?coyle family

and friendship:

Pat and Bill,Geoff and Denise Pat and Kathi; 1971 IMG_1165 cropMost of all, there is magic in falling in love,n1015159936_332755_8561 in living a life together, sharing and enjoying he magic that is our world.IMG

Don’t let it slip by unrecognized. Take time to see it, feel it and enjoy it for momentary is our life and elusive the magic it brings.

Staying in Focus: Creative Writing : Watching Jess

Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge: Love in the 21st century

                                                                                                                                                                                      Watching Jess

There’s a funny thing about love. It has a wicked sense of humor.  Sometimes you can sense it speeding toward you with the power of a supersonic jet, and sometimes it slips into your heart with the deftness of a stealth bomber. Which is how it happened for me – appropriate, I suppose, as I am an Air Force pilot and I fly a stealth bomber.

It was a chance encounter on a sultry summer night in New York City. I had a three-day pass to relax and have a little fun before we were sent back to the desert. I was walking down a busy street when I first noticed Jess, sitting on the edge of a fountain, just watching the crowd go by.  I stood for a while watching Jess  watching the crowd. Then Jess turned my way and smiled. Waved a hand, beckoning me forward.  I don’t remember moving, but then there I was, sitting next to Jess, watching the crowd go by.

Eventually, we moved on. Started a conversation, laughed at each other’s silly jokes, and shared a dinner of hot dogs and soft pretzels on the steps of the Met. Found our way to Jess’s place, and didn’t budge until the hour of departure approached. When we were hungry we sent out for food, and Jess was a wiz at whipping up interesting concoctions from the white boxes of leftover meals stacked inside the fridge.

Why now? I thought. as I reluctantly dressed to go. I didn’t have time to fall in love.  We didn’t have time to know if it was love. We walked slowly toward the bus depot, each lost in our own thoughts. What was there left to say? Words of promise we could not keep?  Jess kissed me, and strolled casually away, as I stood alone, in the crowd of soldiers lining up to board the bus.  I turned to join them and suddenly Jess was there, sweeping me off my feet and kissing me, long and hard.  I dimly heard the catcalls and whistles of my comrades. “Kat Mitchell” he said in a quiet whisper, “Stay safe. And come back. I’ll be waiting.” I hefted my duffel bag and boarded the bus.

There would be a lot of time and burning desert sands before I could  see Jess again. Maybe he would wait for me. But in this women’s army, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.  And the more things change,  it seems, the more they stay the same.

Staying in Focus: Good Times, Good Friends

We had  a wonderful time in Atlanta.  Whenever old friends get together to share new experiences,  memories are made. Despite Atlanta’s best effort to snarl us in its web of  traffic  jams, we managed to tour the Road to Tara Museum, take a bus tour of historic Jonesboro, visit the Atlanta Cyclorama,  attend  a superb Braves game (we won) at Turner Field,  tour the Georgia  Aquarium, master the art of riding the MARTA, learn a card game called Nertz, and visit the Margaret Mitchell house. Not a bad showing for two and  a half days.  Here ‘s the thumbnail photo tour:

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The important part was that we took the time to get together and share some special memories.  None of us know how much time we have to  spend with  those who have become important to us as we walk this earth.  Family and friends are really the stuff life is made of, everything else pales in comparison to sharing laughter, getting a hug, recognizing a familiar face in a crowd of strangers at the airport. Our family and friends are there to share our ups and downs, support us in time of need, celebrate our moments of joy, and forgive us our transgressions.

This weekend, immersed as we were in Gone  With the Wind, I recall a scene near the end of the book.  Scarlett is running , lost in the mists and fog when she finally realizes it is Rhett she is running to, that it was Rhett all along  who supported her,  loved her , forgave her. But sadly, for Scarlett , the realization came a bit too late.   The tour guide at the Margaret Mitchell house told us that question asked most often of Margaret Mitchell was whether or not Rhett returned to Scarlett.  Her answer was that if you’ve read the book, you knew as much as she did.  However, I believe Margaret imagined them together again.  In the eventual sequel, written by Alexandria Ripley, they do reunite.  Could she  have  written it any other way? No, because the world yearned for them to find their way back to each other. Because  we are all romantics , we all yearn for a happy ending and we know, in our heart of hearts, it is those we love who matter  most.

Staying in Focus: Family

I’m back!. Despite the challenges we faced, I enjoyed the time with my mom. The chemo hit her so hard they had to suspend treatment. Right now she is just trying to regain some strength, which is hard because she can’t eat due to the sores in her mouth  She has decided not to pursue any more chemo, and we support her decision. My sister will consult with the doctor today about how to proceed.

IMG_0521 - Copy - CopyIMG_0517 - Copy - CopyGary and RobinBut despite all this she soldiered on, and attended her granddaughter’s wedding shower on Saturday and a Mother’s Day brunch supplied by my sister. Mary and her husband , Chef John, who filled us up with handmade waffles, pancakes, fresh fruit, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy. I – Hop couldn’t have done a better job!

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IMG_0563 - Copy

SIMG_0559 - Copyo we pushed all the worries to the back of our minds and centered ourselves in the moment, with family conversation, laughter and smiles. Although rain was forecast earlier, the day dawned sunny and a bit less humid, and it was a spectacular day!

I dedicate this poem to my family. I  depend on their kindness and support, far more than they  know.:


there’s nothing like having a family
to share  laughter and tears
and a shoulder to cry on
through all the years of our lives,
there’s nothing like knowing there’s someone
who’ll listen and comfort
and wisely advise
when we’re lost and unsure
and need to explore our options,
there’s nothing like having a family
to stand right beside us,
protect us and guide us
to whom we can turn
in the darkest of night
to lead us back to the joy
and the light and the laughter. – pc 2013