Sunday, December 18, 2016

Saturday, December 17, 2016

When Christmas Colors Fade: Finding Joy in Moments

Not every Christmas is red and cozy. The vividness of the golds and greens can fade quickly to sienna when the moments of your life take an unexpected turn. Even the most stoic of believers in seasonal joy may see only grey in picture-perfect scenes when their life has been turned around.

We might ask ourselves, “What can we do to re-ignite the joy into the life of someone who has experienced sadness, grief or unexpected trauma during the holiday season?” The only answer to that question may be truly beyond our grasp. Life changing events are rarely cured quickly or managed with a few exchanges of yuletide spirit.

While some of us sit snugly in front of a warm glowing fireplace with rich foamy cups of hot cocoa, others may be pacing the halls of an Emergency Room, searching a cold empty parking lot for a stray dollar bill, or enduring a heart-wrenching farewell to a loved one. While our world is bright and shiny, another’s world may be fading. 

The hard truth is we really don’t know what is going on in the lives of all the millions of faces we see flashing by us in our world. Reality is much more than a popular show on a television or a boastful social media post. Reality is what the humans behind the millions of faces we see are dealing with every day.

Stores and kiosks are overflowing with the richest of glowing gifts, sure to light up the day of any well thought of recipient. But, what if the only gift on that recipient’s list is a visit from a loved one, a positive result from a medical test, or an answer to a prayer?

What do we tell the lost soul searching for answers he no longer believes will come? Or the parents who have just said goodbye to the greatest gift God can bestow on them? How do we fix the unfixable?

Unfortunately, the answer sometimes is that there is no answer. Life is full of the unknown. So many things are out of our control. Heartbreak happens here, while elation overflows there. By the sheer nature of our instincts, we persevere through the dense fog and cracked interiors. Holiday colors blend, change and twist in the chilly December air. We find ourselves searching for the happiness and peace we can still find in simple moments.

We feel sun shine through a closed window or see it on the glistening snow. A light in a distant window reminds us of a long ago home. We hear something funny and begin to laugh. Treasured photos are found in the box of ornaments. A calming hand is placed on our shoulder. The scratchy PA system plays a favorite holiday melody. Familiar voices call out our name. Jewelry once lost glimmers from beside the Christmas tree. A face we greatly miss appears at our door.

Life is hard. It is also sweet.

So, paint your holidays with a broad brush. Reach out. Be generous in spirit and show simple human kindness. Be understanding of all life’s moments. Like the colors on a Christmas star, they will change with reflection.

Sue Cryer
(Dedicated to my loved ones who are experiencing losses this holiday season.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New Year, Clean Slate

A Clean Slate                                      By Sue Cryer                                 January, 2016

The New Year.
All is shiny and new, at least according to the calendar hanging on the wall or popping up on our phones. Sure, appointments are scheduled and vacations planned. Uncle Stew’s 80th birthday is February 20th and Cousin Gwen is visiting in June. What we don’t have scheduled is the unexpected. We have been given a clean slate to start the year where that is concerned.
In fact, the new calendar is almost pristine in its uneventfulness. Page after page of white squares blur before our eyes as we anticipate a better year, a healthy year, a new year.
As we rip the old calendar off the wall, the pages flutter in our faces. Reminders of days we had no idea would be spent in remorse, fear, trepidation and even grief. The job we lost, the storm we never saw coming, an illness that had yet been undetected, the loss of someone dear to us. The questions linger in our minds. How did we get through that? Why did it happen? What should we have done differently?

Of course, there was elation too. Maybe there was unexpected joy in the news of a marriage or a new baby. Perhaps there was a new love in our lives, the settling of a financial hardship, or the return of someone we had greatly missed. All good reasons for elation. Yet, each event still causes nervous trepidation as the possible results trigger the fear of more changes in our lives.

For goodness sake, why can’t we just be happy? Stop worrying about what tomorrow or next week, month or year will bring? Well, we are human after all. Given a good size brain, free will and all that. We can never just be satisfied.
As a species, we crave more. We seek more. Not always in the wisest way. Just watch the news, open your newspaper, google, or peruse the posts on social media. Politicians posturing, extremists emitting, insensitive judging, privileged coveting, entitlement rising, terrorists plotting, and guns being drawn.
All because we are not satisfied. We need things. We want things. These things involve being bigger, better, stronger, thinner, healthier, and even happier.
Ah, some of those are positive things. We are human. We have free will. Keep watching, googling and reading. Families grow, artists create, good will spreads, cures are discovered, minds heal, nature rebounds, a view is breathtaking and sins are absolved.
So, adjustment can be beneficial. The new and unexpected may set us free from the worries of yesterday.
Is this true? Yes. I believe it can be.
I am sticking with that answer, because that is what my human heart is telling my human brain. Be strong. Be positive. Be flexible.
Most of all, live each day like it is a clean slate!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Taking Time

We all go through periods of monotony, days that seemingly slip into the next with no apparent life altering events intervening with the norm. The key word here is "seemingly", because life altering events are happening around us every minute of every day. It is likely we may never know or feel their impact, but wouldn't it be nice if we took that extra time to....

1.  Look your spouse or loved one in the eye before you go your separate ways.
2.  Think twice before you get annoyed at the slowness of the person driving ahead of you.
3.  Smile at the person behind the counter when they hand you a much needed cup of coffee.
4.  Pick up the keys for your co-worker who dropped them when he jumped up from his desk.
5.  Listen to the child sitting in the car with you instead of talking on your phone.
6.  Eat the meal prepared for you gratefully with no complaints.
7.  Complete a chore at home without frustration.
8.  Call a friend or relative and ask them how they are.
9.  Appreciate the sweet escape offered by your favorite movie, television show or book.
10. Be well in the knowledge that you have done your best even when you have doubt.

Because, maybe...

The tired look in your loved one's eyes reminds you he has been working late preparing for a big meeting today; the person driving ahead of you is about to take their first driver's test; the coffee server is expecting the results of her state bar exam; your co-worker just found out he is about to become a father; the child in the car wants to tell you he scored the highest grade in the class on that difficult test; a slightly burnt dinner was prepared in celebratory haste because the meeting was a success; the simple task of folding two day old laundry is re-assuring because the teenager who normally folds it is finishing the last page of her college application; the relative from far misses you and tells you they will see you soon; that sweet escape reminds you of a cherished memory; you know without a doubt that even this seemingly small and simple day is a blessing.

Take the time and God Bless.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Tribute to Angels                                                                                     November 10, 2013
By Sue Cryer

I believe in Angels,
They twinkle in the stars and whisper through the wind.

I believe in Angels,
They creep into a nightmare and create a dream instead.

I believe in Angels,
They sit there in the dark and turn the shadows into light. 

I believe in Angels,
They raise their eyes and wink at me when sorrows crowd my mind.

I believe in Angels,
They beckon me sometimes.

I believe in Angels,
God surely had a plan.

…I will not walk alone, not with angels by my side.

I believe in Angels,
Not everyone agrees.

…Rage and evil will attempt to clip their shining wings.
I believe in Angels,
Their wings are made of steel.

…The strength of a thousand lifetimes sustains their worthy souls.

I believe in Angels,
A steadfast watch they hold.

…When I am not aware, they send me subtle signs.

I believe in Angels,
They are in our midst.

…On the days when I forget this, a whisper tells me yes.

Goodnight my dear sweet angels,
Keep bright the stars above, and remain forever by our sides.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sue's Solutions: A Mother's Gift

Sue's Solutions: A Mother's Gift: The local newspapers say that the average American consumer will spend $168.94 on Mother's Day gifts this year.  That seems like a lot, ...

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Mother's Gift

The local newspapers say that the average American consumer will spend $168.94 on Mother's Day gifts this year.  That seems like a lot, even a whole paycheck for some.  When you add the gift, the card, the wrapping paper, and the bow, I guess it could all add up. Or maybe the money will be used to take mom to a nice dinner or a movie. Mom will be so happy.

Perhaps you have spent several weeks planning for this event, and have something really special planned.  Something that will go beyond average, something that tops the $168.94.  Maybe a day at a spa, followed by a nice dinner, and then a show or movie.  Now, that would well exceed the norm. Mom will remember that.

How about a surprise trip to the local art museum where your mother's favorite artist is being featured. That alone could fall a bit below the average, until you add the keepsake from the museum's gift shop and a bite to eat afterward.  Over the top once again.  But, she is your mom.  She is worth it.

Perhaps Mom is the outgoing type, and you have decided to take her hang gliding.  That will cost you, but you will both have an exciting and memorable time.  After all, she passed that adventurous gene on to you. Maybe hiking is a better choice. Either way, one for the record books. 

Of course, you may be one of the thousands who will make that quick stop at the drug store on the way to mom's house where you will be besieged with numerous choices of perfume, keepsakes, and a multitude of cards to accommodate the last minute shopper.  Mom will love it, because it is from you.

Tomorrow there will be sons and daughters all over America vying for the one thing that will make their mother smile with love and pride over the gifts her cherished offspring have offered and she will lovingly accept.

Gifts that once were handmade with pasta and glue, movies that were once only in animation, honored artwork signed in crayon, thrill rides that used to involve band aides or a trip to the urgent care, and dinners that sparked with events of the day or ended in sparks when hormones and independent streaks set in.

Mother's Day will come to an end, and it will be time to say goodbye. Mom will lovingly pat a grown up cheek, thinking of all the jelly stains she had once wiped off of it. A hug or kiss will be offered, while mom remembers the hundreds of good night kisses bestowed gently on that sleeping head. The door will be open, and out they will run with hand raised in a heartfelt goodnight. So many of those goodnights added up in a mind that still cringes in worry as they leave her side.

Mom will head back into the house, her heart full. Memories flood a brain that is tired from the day's events. The phone lights up with a text letting you know they had a great day with you, had made it home, and that they "luv u". Your heart lifts and a smile spreads on your weary face. The text is only a reminder. The secret they do not yet know is there no monetary value on the greatest gift you hold. A gift you had all along. That secret gift is the knowledge that you are loved by a child you have given your greatest give to - your heart.