Sewing skills come in handy during a pandemic

April 24, 2020

I learned to sew in High School home economics class, where in I learned how to make very simple items. At the time, I never dreamed that these skills, somewhat more developed as I grew up and needed to alter dance dresses and make pillows to decorate my home, would help me get through the worst pandemic in my lifetime. As of late, I’m learning to make face masks for protection while going out into the public during this difficult period.

My first fore into making face masks didn’t go very well. Although I selected what appeared to be a straight forward pattern, complete with a how to video, I still didn’t get the final result correct. The finished product just didn’t look like the example in the video; it was too small. Taking a step back, I realized that my estimating wasn’t working; I was going to have to really measure and be accurate. Ok, so eyeballing it was the way I’d done things most of my life and this simple face mask just seemed too easy. Then again, during this trying time, my brain wasn’t working at full capacity. I guess when one is stressed the mind is so distracted that it’s harder to focus.

Home made facemask

As it was time for me to venture out for a weekly grocery run, I decided to take the masks with me. I put the five masks in the zip lock bags in my car and went off to the store. Waves of emotion came over me from embarrassment to suggest that someone take a handmade mask from me to pride that I was trying to help people who didn’t have protective gear. It made sense to me to bypass those customers already wearing masks moving on to those customers not wearing one. I asked one lady if she needed one for a family member and she refused, not even very politely. At this point I felt like she thought I had put the virus in the bag instead of a mask. Didn’t she get I was doing a good deed? Oh well, some people don’t understand the concept of helping others. Ok, keeping at it meant overcoming my own fear of rejection. On to the next person who was a lady not wearing a mask. I called out to her, “Excuse me, but would you like a mask? I’m making them” This time, the woman took it and commented that it looked very nice. Her response and acceptance made me sigh with relief both for her and for me that my efforts were ok. By the end of my grocery run I had given away four of the five masks. I took my groceries and my pride home.

I knew that my attempt to make the masks was not perfect but they actually looked pretty good. The first batch was pink, pretty much limiting my offer to women. In any case, the next day I was in the drug store and a woman actually came in looking to buy masks. I overheard her request and the clerk’s negative response, so I chimed in that I had one to give her. She initially thought that I wanted to sell it for money and I just shook my head and walked her to my car, keeping our distance. I reached into my car grabbing the last mask, handed it to her and was relieved to see her smile when she saw it. Ok, yes, it’s external gratification but sometimes it’s ok.

I’m continuing to make the masks with the material that I have and a bit more that my neighbor gave to me for this purpose. I expect that I can make 6-7 more masks which will not save lives nor make a difference in the overall death count of the country but it will keep me somewhat busy here and there. In addition, it might help a few people have some additional protection than they would have and if no more than comply with the current legal requirements for facemasks in public settings. In the end, it did make me feel like I was helping. Now I know how the women who worked in the factories during World War II felt each day as they came home. Everyone should do their part, even if it’s really small.

As always, comments are welcome.


Angels on my Shoulder

December 10, 2018

During my recent trip to Portugal I had several experiences where I felt that synchronicity was at play to the extent that it must be my angels at work helping me. The story I’m going to relate in this article is that of my day trip to the historic town of Sintra, where just when I needed help, it was available to me.

After several attempts to take a group tour on this particular Saturday during my vacation failed, I decided to go it alone. Armed with travel brochures, internet information on the key sights, and information of what not to miss, I left my hotel about 8:30 am with a very positive outlook. I had already mastered the metro system to the point of knowing where the nearest stop was and where to get off, but I didn’t know how to find the connecting train station for the out of town trip to Sintra. Buying the ticket was easy at the ticket booth which was manned with a live person, asking in English is a forte of mine as I don’t speak Portuguese.

angelThe next step was to get off the metro and find the train station. I started to inquire of my fellow metro passengers who either didn’t understand me or didn’t know. This was strange to me since it was with in a short walk of the metro stop. Everything is different when one is in another country and not familiar. On the third try I happened upon a family with an elderly gentleman who seemed to be the local resident and the others, the visitors. In asking this group about the location of the train station, I discovered they were from Poland. I chimed in that my heritage is Polish as my Mother’s father came from Poland in the early 1900s, a town called Silencia. To my surprise, I was told that they came from this same place. I was asking for help from people of my heritage land! As we got off the metro, the elderly gentleman, most likely their father, speaking no English but made to understand my goal from his relatives, pointed the way to the train station. Yes! Mission accomplished!

Having my ticket in hand I quickly found my train on the track already arrived. I barely made it into a seat before the train left so my timing was quite good. As I settled in the seat I had found after searching for one up and down several cars, I noticed French spoken near me.

 In my usual brilliant way, I asked the young woman closest to me “are you from France?” She replied, “yes, we are from Lyon”, referring to the 3 couples in her group. This brief introduction began a conversation about our day in Sintra and planned itineraries. After hearing about the place I wanted to see they changed  their plan and decided to join me. I was thrilled. We all got off the train together and for the next 6 hours became a new unit, wherein I was treated like one of them… something like being an adopted Mom. The young woman had left her 8 month old baby at home for this weekend away with her Mom so perhaps she was in a very nurturing mode.

It turned into a wonderful day for me, where at first I thought I’d be alone I was accompanied by a nice group of friendly people all day while touring interesting sights. We even stopped and had tea together. It was a very warm feeling to chat and interact with these young people for the day. About 3pm we parted company as our desires changed… with me wanting to view the inside of the Pena Palace and their only wanting to see the outside gardens.. We said goodbye with invitations from the young woman to visit Lyon.

About an hour later I walked down the hill, took the bus back to the train station, then the train to the metro and as I was coming up the stairs from the metro station I looked up in amazement… could my eyes be deceiving me? There was the same group of French people looking just as amazed! I knew then that I had been experiencing a divinely inspired day complete with angels on my shoulder to look out for me. How else could I have met the same group back in Lisbon?

Although I had a two week vacation on my own and did some organized tours during that time, some of my best moments were when I just trusted that I’d be ok on my own and went out into the great unknown. It was when I was in the hands of my guides, that I was truly guided.

Comments are always welcome.


Was it 11 dimensions or a case of abundance?

June 26, 2018

Over the weekend I was preparing to leave for a trip. On Saturday evening I wanted to wash the dishes and put a cleaning pod in the dishwasher and attempted to turn it on as usual, but nothing happened. No lights went on so I checked the various possible places that could cause a malfunction…a basket that wasn’t fully retracted, removing the pod and putting it back in, repeatedly opening and closing the door… well you get the idea. I really wanted to have clean dishes while I was away and not leave a full load of dirty dishes for a week until a service man could come out to fix the dishwasher.. or this was my thinking at the time.

After several attempts at fooling with this and that myself, I then went to the old standby… Utube and the internet…what info was there about what could go wrong with a Kitchen aide dishwasher? It wasn’t very old so the prospect of paying for a service call was quite upsetting as well as the fact that it was 8:39 pm on Saturday night before Fathers day. I had doubts that any service person would even come out on a Sunday anyway. Then I went out for the evening.

Upon my return, I decided to accept my fate that there just might have to be dirty dishes for a week and the world wouldn’t come to an end. I try to be neat and clean, but of course, situations occur and one must be flexible.  I should add a note here that in the afternoon I had gone to get my nails done and found that my nail lady’s son graduated from high school. As we have a very long and sociable history, I wrote a check to the young man as a gift for his special accomplishment. I’ll come back to this point later.

Back to the problem of the non-functioning dishwasher.  Miraculously, the dishwasher turned on. I stood back in amazement. What had I done differently? Somehow it reset and all was working. Ok so here’s where we go from the physical reality of the situation to a more spiritual view. As I believe that everything is part of a bigger plan, was I meant to have the dishwasher experience to teach me to take things as they come and when I relaxed about it, I changed the outcome from one of difficulty to one of comfort?; that is, a different dimensional outcome came into being? Or, another possibility is that my earlier action of providing the gift in abundance diverting the expense of repair from the universe to a return of abundant energy, saving me from the expense, the net again being a change in the dimensional outcome?

11dimensionsThe law of abundance provides that what we send out comes back to us multiplied. Kabballah speaks to unlimited possibilities all existing simultaneously so that we are free to select an outcome based on our choices each step of our lives.

So now you must decide for yourself. Did I just load the dishwasher wrong and when I corrected it all went right? Or, are there multiple dimensions (thought to be 11), and when I went into abundance via the graduation gift which took me from one dimension where I would have a repair into another where I wouldn’t.  A simple answer or a very deep One? It’s up to you. Comments are welcome.


How Giving Back Helped Me Pay it Forward

August 23, 2016

Little did I know when I started interacting with a new friend last winter that it would lead to my fulfilling one of my life goals; which is to give back to the community after a very rewarding professional career in IT project management.  I decided that I needed to share some of what I had learned throughout my many years in the corporate world to foster workplace performance. Not only had I never lost a project due to my well-developed PM skills, I had loyal and dedicated teams. Sure, this may sound boastful, but it’s true. Being grateful for the experience, I wanted to offer tools and techniques that I had gleaned to others as my legacy to contribute to the improvement of corporate culture.

kids

Volunteering my skills and offering workshops turned out not to be so easy. After several lengthy failed attempts involving writing proposals, offering startup funds to get my “Enlightened Leadership” concepts into my university curriculum, and then to my spiritual organization’s mindful leadership program to no avail, the successful situation actually came to me. When my friend wasn’t able to take an assignment, he suggested that I coach summer school for kids. I had co-coached with him for several months providing me with a basic understanding of how to work with the kids, but teaching multiple times per week for eight weeks was a totally different situation. After a very brief negotiation with the head mistress of the learning center, I had to design 18 classes with only 10 days’ notice. It was at this point that I decided to use the backdrop of what I had wanted to present to the older group, just on a more modified scale.

My philosophy was to start with the youth teaching the basics of interpersonal skills, time management and planning projects as a foundation for being a more informed participant in the workplace. Hopefully, these skills learned at a young age would help these students grow into adults with better emotional intelligence as well as analytical understanding of the requirements they might face later. This material was ground breaking for 6th and 7th graders. And my interactive, problem solving and team-oriented style was new to them. That said, eventually we all got used to the program; I adjusted to them and in turn, they got used to speaking to each other and thinking more analytically. By the end of the eight weeks, the kids were all writing and presenting on the elements of a project plan using a model familiar to them – the five questions: Why? Where? Who? What? When? One of my life goals is now accomplished. I did it and they did it!

As I finished the summer session, I wondered what would come next only to see a brief article in the local paper advertising for STEMS (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) volunteers to help local teachers in the school system. I applied and was quickly accepted. My training is in a few weeks. So on to the next chapter of paying it forward to give back. My experience has been both exhilarating and exhausting. I expect the next experience with coaching kids to be equally rewarding.


Reaping What You Sow

August 9, 2016

A very long time ago a great man once said, that as you sow seeds, you reap what you’ve sown! There are many ways one can interpret this expression. The first is, of course, literally. Whatever seeds you put in the ground, you can pretty much expect that plant or vegetable to grow. But as most such sayings go, they are meant to be allegorical; that is, represent more to us than the literal meaning. So here’s where it starts to get interesting.

seedsFrom the esoteric perspective, reaping what you sow also means that as we treat others, we can expect to be treated ourselves. I look at this expression in a more karmic way; that is, if we are positive in our interactions then we bring positive energy to us; whereas, if we act in a careless fashion we could very well bring negative energy our way. This is also called the Law of Cause and Effect and is applicable to our three dimensional world whether we believe in it or not. This is a really important point. Just because you don’t believe in gravity doesn’t negate the effects of gravity! The same holds true for the Law of Karma (Cause and Effect). So how does Karma impact our lives?

It’s pretty simple really, as you want others to treat you, treat them. If you want to be respected, loved, nurtured, trusted, etc. then you need to be and act that way with others. Or, if you are harsh, mean, hateful, aggressively antagonistic, etc. then at some point in this life or the next, the Law of Karma will catch up with you. As Einstein figured out, energy is neither created nor destroyed. So the negative energy we create stays in the universe until it comes back to us somehow and some way. Sometimes we wonder why there’s a person in our lives that just doesn’t seem to fit – perhaps it’s because they are here to finish a karmic debt from another place and time. Or, if it’s you that’s dishing out the junk, then maybe in the future, you can have a person come into your life to do the same to you. In any case, it’s a lot better to just be nice, considerate and caring as if everything we do really matter. Since, in the long run, it does!

 


Doing the Right Thing

March 8, 2016

Life can be complicated. Heck, it’s most often complicated. And on top of it there is usually more than one way to get things done. When we look at all the variables and the options to attack our problems, sometimes there are short cuts, ways around the issues, or even methods that may be a bit nefarious. Ah oh! What happens when we choose to cut corners, snip a bit off the end of something to save time or take the low road rather than the high road? This is called taking the easy way out and is not the spiritual way; that is, thinking or doing in this manner will not serve us in the long run. Anything that doesn’t serve us, certainly doesn’t serve our soul growth, so why do it?

This leads us to a better understanding of doing the right thing. It’s obviously not easy to do the right thing when there are other options. If there were only one option, it would be easy. But this isn’t the way the world was built. We are usually given challenges so that we come out of the situation stronger than when we went in. As souls in a body, we’re given a choice – we can move towards the higher path towards the light or take the low road towards the darkness. Without a choice, there would be no challenges and therefore no way to ever overcome difficulties; thus, we would be in a world where we wouldn’t know the difference between the light or the darkness. So when we have issues, understand that these problems are not thorns in your side, but opportunities to grow and become stronger. Without hills to climb our legs would never have a chance to know their limits for example. The same is true of our spiritual and moral bodies. Only by stretching our limits can we grow, become better people and move forward on our spiritual path.

lightdarkIn the end, doing the right thing may be harder, but it is usually more rewarding. This has been my experience. I’ve found that with challenges in my life, moving through the tunnel of difficulty eventually brings me to the light; how wonderful it feels to get there. And, often there are unexpected rewards. It’s also my experience that when we follow the light and do the right thing, goodness follows us also.


What goes around doesn’t always come around

June 24, 2015

terrierEvery once in a while although we try to be nice to those around us, still someone just doesn’t return the kind feelings. And so it went with one of my neighbors. Sadly this negative state of affairs went on for many years. Thinking back, the only instance of interaction that I can even remember is when I chatted with him, more me than him, as two new neighbors having just moved into a neighborhood. At that time, he was washing his car and I was about to head into the park to take a walk. His house is just at the end of the cul-de-sac before the steps to the walkway. Although I interpreted the brief interchange as pretty normal, he must have thought otherwise; since, from that moment onward he never spoke to me again. In fact, when I would pass him going on my walks with his little terrier, he would turn away as if I had developed the plaque. And the same would be true if he was walking with his wife. At first I wondered why he would be so abhorrent towards me and then I just figured he must have thought I had some ulterior motive in speaking to him. Isn’t it a shame that a single woman can’t approach a married man in her neighborhood without being branded a hussy? Well, of course, I’m being sarcastic, but the end result is the same – he just wouldn’t speak to me. Eventually, I accepted the situation and passed it off. Everyone is not meant to be one’s friend.

Now my philosophy is that we are constantly presented with situations that test our moral fiber, as well as opportunities to learn lessons. One of these situations came to pass during Memorial Weekend, when I went for my usual walk in the park. As I approached the bridge just before the plaza, I saw my neighbor’s dog surrounded by people – with his collar but no neighbor at the end of the leash! To confirm my suspicion I asked the lady hovering over the little dog to check his tag and sure enough, the address was my street. “That’s my street and that’s my neighbor’s dog”, I said. “I’ll walk him home”, I continued without giving it another thought or considering that I had a plan to go to an event that would have to be by-passed to complete this new mission. After all, if my pet were lost, I’d want someone to get him home too. But when I tried to take the dog back into the plaza to first look for the owner, the little guy wouldn’t budge. He seemed afraid. So I headed for home and he willingly trotted along. I asked the concerned pet lady to come too since I really wasn’t sure how my having the neighbor’s dog would be received even with my best of intentions.

Once back at the neighbor’s home, his wife was at the garage door, so I called inside, “I have your dog!” She came outside, took the leash out of my hands, barely saying any thank-you with a very surprised look on her face. I felt that I had done my neighborly duty, spiritual responsibility and just plain obligation according to my karmic belief system. I even expressed concern over the owner’s possible safety if he’d allowed the dog to get loose. Was he in poor health himself or possibly had an accident?

I decided I really wanted to finish my walk, so back I went into the park and headed down to the bridge and the plaza. At the same spot where I intercepted the dog, I walked right into the owner – now about 25 minutes later. He too had a very surprised look on his face when I said, “I walked your dog home, and your wife has him”. The neighbor, obviously frustrated from searching for the little dog, was now relieved and gave me a warm-hearted thank-you. And I walked on completing my walk not thinking more about it.

The next day, there was a knock at my door. It was the neighbor with his terrier in toe, and this time he really thanked me with great emotion in his eyes. I doubt that I will ever have an issue with this neighbor again. Even though he had directed negative energy towards me for many years, I chose to do the right thing by him. I took the high road as one would say. Now this could just be a case of coming full circle and feeling good about it. But the story doesn’t end here.

The following weekend I went on a retreat and lots of unexpected good things came my way. So not only did I create positive karma, I also was in abundance and began to reap rewards very quickly! And in the few weeks since then, other good things have come my way. Holding one’s self up to a higher standard may be difficult at times, but in the end, I certainly feel it pays off. Being a good soul has its rewards now as well as later. What goes around doesn’t always come around – sometimes it’s better.


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