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Weekly Writing Challenge: In An Instagram

Marilyn

Marilyn does not know this, but on the day I saw her sitting in a cold, folding chair in the homeless shelter, she changed my life.  She is a mousey, brown-haired, sophomore, who I later learned, comes to the shelter every Wednesday with her mother and her little brother.  She carries everything she owns in a beat-up backpack including her schoolbooks and pens.  After dinner is served, and the tables are cleaned, Marilyn gets right to work.   She spreads her notebook and her World History book out on the table and pretends that the rest of us do not exist.

My first night as a volunteer in our community shelter was eye-opening and humbling.  All the preconceived ideas I had about the type of people who frequented shelters were blown-away after ten minutes in the place.  Marilyn’s story was the most life changing.  One of my fellow volunteers shared what she knew about this young high school student with me.

It seems that Marilyn’s father died, and their house was foreclosed upon shortly after his death.  With no skills and no means to pay for the house, Marilyn’s mother moved the family in with her relatives.  When that no longer worked, they began moving from shelter to shelter every night.  Knowing that having a good education leads to better opportunity, Marilyn’s mother pushed her to keep up with her studies despite the circumstances.  Therefore, every evening, Marilyn and her family enter a community shelter, they eat dinner together, and she works on her studies.

Her classmates at school do not know that she showers, sleeps, and eats breakfast at a homeless shelter every day.  They do not know that sometimes Marilyn does not have the comforts of a TV, a phone, or a computer.  There are times when items such as clean socks or sanitary napkins are not available for this young girl.

To say that Marilyn is admirable is more than an understatement.  She is the epitome of words like courageous, determined, and invincible.  The things that she overcomes every day to be an honor student would break most people, but she perseveres.

Sometimes, we find heroes in the most unusual places.  I found mine in a homeless shelter.  It is my hope that Marilyn will finish high school and receive a scholarship to college.  A few of the volunteers at the shelter  pooled their resources together to help Marilyn and her family.  They found a permanent residence and even have had a fundraiser to help finance Marilyn’s college education.

I owe Marilyn much gratitude for changing my outlook. I clearly was ignorant.  I imagine that after you read this story, it will change yours, too.

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©Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Mind the Gap

As I sat in the backyard drinking my evening cup of coffee and listening to the neighbor kids play tag in their yard, I mused upon the topic of this week’s writing challenge. I do not usually write political statements. I stay away from controversial topics on purpose. For one, I am not very good at arguing my point in politics, and two, I am not very good at arguing. However, this challenge has made me think that maybe it is time for a little grandmother wisdom to be shared.

The Occupy Wall Street protestors seem to be a gnarly, mixed-up bunch at their best. They have received bad press from the moment their movement came on the scene. It seems to me that they are trying to force a change of the status quo, and I believe that is good.  The problem is that they have not gone about their protesting in a way that inspires most everyday working people.  I do not feel connected to their protests. They come off as a bunch of whinny, spoiled kids stomping their feet to get their way. They are not positively making people care about their goals.

This dilemma then causes the talking heads of the world to rally their constituents to come out against the “Occupy Movement” causing a push and pull effect.  Consequently, nothing is accomplished, and the people and corporations whose heads should be on the chopping block skirt free while we watch the bashing of “The Occupy Movement” once again.

Like a magician’s sleight of hand, the powers that be wave a hanky with one arm and allow the banking fiasco with the other arm.  The evening news inundates us with footage of protestors and forgets to show us that our rights are being slowly taken away, our country is fighting two wars, and people are losing their homes, jobs, and dignity.  Moreover, the information that is spewed daily only incites Americans to fight against Americans, because they do not know who the enemy is anymore.  Is it the 1%?  Is it a neighbor, a sister or brother, or the woman at the grocery store?  Wait, look over here, is it the butcher, the baker, or perhaps the candlestick maker!

In my opinion, the “Occupy Movement” has not occupied any of the things that our great country represents. It is just another magic trick provided to keep the masses looking the other way while the politicians and the corporations rape our resources and ruin our systems. Meanwhile, in an election year, we have the Republicans blaming the Democrats, the Democrats blaming the conservatives, and the liberals blaming the Tea Party.  Yet, not one thing but fighting and protesting are actually being done to solve the woes facing the country.

Therefore, after much musing and coffee drinking, I have decided that until I see something positive coming out of the “Occupy Movement” that will work to bring our country together on an issue, I will not support it. I also will not support the argumentative loud mouths who dream of creating an end to the movement.  I think that both sides are wrong, and that they are detrimental to America.  It is all just more noise in a world that really needs clarity.

President Abraham Lincoln said it best, “A house divided cannot stand.”  If Americans cannot open their eyes and find a middle ground, then the country will not continue to exist.  We need to put the UNITED back into the United States of America.  

 

 

Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

Stitches of Love

The only gift is a portion of thyself.”  

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

I put off opening my Christmas gifts until everyone had finished opening theirs.  A pile of brightly wrapped packages sat on the floor around me.  I had to be careful not to crush the boxes with the legs of the rocking chair. Basking in the happiness of watching my grandson yelp and scream as he opened his toys, I patiently waited.

When it was my turn, I opened all the little gifts first.  I received a bottle of my favorite perfume, a gift card to buy books, and a lavender-scented candle. Then there was a massive box. This was a gift from my mother and it had rested under my Christmas tree and had teased me for weeks.

When I was a little girl, the anticipation of Christmas morning drove me crazy.  Often, I peeled the tape off one of my packages to see what was hidden inside. My family has teased me since and they take care to tape my gifts extra tight alleviate the temptation.  What they do not realize is that now, I relish the anticipation.  Being surprised is better than knowing.  This package, I noticed, was lacking the usual amount of tape.  Maybe my mom had begun to believe that I no longer cheated and peeked at my gifts.

I picked up the huge box and set it on my lap. I tilted the rocking chair back a bit to arrange the box so I could open it.  I knew it must be something good, because my son-in-law was standing ready to snap pictures. My mom had called twice to see if I had opened my gifts, yet.  Anxiously, I pulled open the box and the contents spilled out across my lap.

Property of Grandmother Musings

As I palmed the beautifully stitched quilt, tears began to form.  The fabric was soft and smelled new.  The colors, bound superbly together, were perfect.  All of my favorite shades of blue and white joined with just a touch of yellow. It was a bright and sunny cover. However, what made me hiccup in tearful happiness, were the daisies. They were interwoven in the quilting and in the fabric. They told me that my mom loved me.

I know that my mom shopped for months to find the perfect fabrics and colors for my quilt.  Every winter, she takes a month-long trip and visits quilt stores all over the country.  My quilt is made from fabric from Arizona, Texas, California, to name just a few stops my mother made. She thought about me for days when she was shopping, cutting, sewing, and binding. She put her heart and soul into every stitch with only me in mind as she was creating.  What could possibly be more special?

Not only did my mom make me an heirloom quilt for Christmas, she also gave me a piece of herself.  My king-sized creation warms me at night, but more importantly, it warms my heart every time I think about the time and thought that went into making it.  It is truly a piece of art that I will treasure, forever.  The quilt is one of my favorite things, and it holds stitches of motherly love in every fiber.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Sexy Sandal Scandal

       I never wear open-toed sandals. I think my toes are ugly and my feet are too big. So when I happened upon this pair of brown, leather sandals with bronzed buttons up the center in my bedroom, I ignored them.  I kicked them into my closet, thinking they were left there by my sister who had just been visiting from out-of-town.  She would wear that kind of sandal, because she had beautiful toes.  (She should, she gets them professionally done twice a month! ).  I figured I would give them back to her when she made a return visit later in the month.

       A few  weeks later, when I was getting dressed for a night out with my husband for dinner and a concert, I came across those sandals again.  I actually picked them up and looked at them.  They were larger than my sister’s feet. She wears a size 8, and I wear a size 11.  Bigger sister, bigger feet, go figure.  They  were appealing foot wear. Whomever the owner was that had left them in my bedroom. 

       I sat down on the bed, and just for the heck of it, I slid them on my feet.  Wah-La, they fit!  They fit so perfectly that it was like they were made for my feet.  Did I have a secret Fairy- Shoe Mother who dropped the perfect sandal into my bedroom?  This was so weird.  I looked at them on my feet in the mirror.  It was like magic, because my toes looked beautiful in these shoes.  They looked sexy and young. I made up my mind. I was wearing them.

       My husband took me to dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant.  When we walked into the joint, I spied other women looking me up and down in that judgemental way that us women look at other women.  In the past, I would have checked my clothes to make sure that I didn’t have a button glaringly open or a stain on my blouse. However, that night, I didn’t believe they were looking at anything but my shoes.  I know they were admiring my feet and my magic sandals, just wishing that they, too, had a pair.

       After the Mongolian beef arrived, my husband commented on how beautiful I looked.  I was waiting for him, with bated breath, to comment on my shoes.  He didn’t disappoint me.  I knew there was a good reason why I had married him. 

       “Did you buy a new pair of sandals for tonight?” he asked.  “They are really sexy.”

       “No, “ I said and smiled at him. “I found them in our bedroom.”

       He looked confused.  “Excuse me? You found them in our bedroom?”

I explained the story of how I found the sandals. And ended with the statement, “Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers.”

       “Did you ask our daughter if they were hers?” he wanted to know.

       I had not thought about them possibly being my daughter’s.  She was the only other person I knew who wore size 11 shoes.  I scoured my mind and tried to remember her wearing the sandals. I could not recall.  However, the seed my husband placed in my head was starting to grow. 

       With dinner over and the check paid, my husband and I headed  to the concert.  Once more, people were looking at my delicious sandals and smiling.  I felt like Cinderella at the ball, and I vowed that I would never give up these sandals.  They were made for my feet.

       The following morning, my daughter and grandson came over for a visit.  As I was telling her all about dinner and the concert, I went to my closet and grabbed the sandals.  My face fell as hers lit up.

       “Oh, mom, you found my sandals!  I was looking for those everywhere.”

       She tried to take them from me, but I whipped them quickly behind my back.

       “No! You cannot have them.  They are magic and they make my feet look sexy.  Even Dad said so.”

       My daughter blew out a breath and exclaimed, “But they are mine!”

      My eyes began welling up with tears. This happens to women when they are old and they cannot have their way.  Consequently, my daughter, being the fine young lady that I raised her to be, proceeded to tell me that I could go and buy my own pair of “sexy” sandals at Target.  Defeated, I handed over the sandals and went to the bathroom to wash my face. 

       While I was in the bathroom, I heard her talking on her cell phone.  All I could hear was, “They’re mine.” and “Oh, all right, dad.”.   I collected myself and went out into the kitchen. My daughter, scowl on her face, told me to try on the sandals for her.  I put them on and another tear at the loss of these dear shoes slid down my face. 

         “Mom.” My daughter said quietly, “Those sandals look really sexy on your feet.”

         I looked up at her unbelievably.  “Really?”

         She smiled. “Really. You can have them.”  She hugged me.

         I kissed her.

        “They look too old-fashioned for me, anyway.” She kissed me back.

 

 

Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
 

 

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