Me in the Middle of Summer Reading (#FlashBack)

“There are people who are kind, and people who are not kind, among all races and cultures. It was a White man who gave me opportunity so I could realize the American dream. Our friendship transcended race, and built a positive connection between the races. We can overcome racism through friendship and positive cross-cultural relationships. “ 
~ Francis Mandewah ~ Friendship-A True Story of Adventure, Good Will and Endurance

It’s FlashBack Friday ~ A time of the month where you can republish an old post of yours that maybe didn’t get enough attention, or that you’re really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc. 

The post I’ve chosen for this month first appeared on ME IN THE MIDDLE on August 16, 2016.  To see the original comments to that post you can click on the title  ~ Me in the Middle of Summer Reading ~ below to be taken to the original post.  I chose this post because of the quote above.  It’s from one of my Guest Bloggers, Francis Mandewah, written in his memoir ~ Friendship-A True Story of Adventure, Goodwill and Endurance.  I read Francis’ story during the summer of last year (Third Book).  He wrote of his journey from the Sierra Leone to the United States.  A journey that was aided through his friendship with a white man, Tom Johnson, who he met when he was a 15-year-old teenager.

The recent events in the nearby city of Charlottesville have left me with the need to reflect on the ugliness of racism that was on display the weekend of August 11-13.  The repercussions continue to unfold.  In his memoir, Francis speaks of this awareness and his experiences of racism since he became a citizen in the USA.  He speaks of his love for this Country and his hope to contribute to its healing.  Most of all he speaks of the role that this one friend played in helping him to recognize that goodness lives in the hearts of people no matter what their color.

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Me in the Middle of Summer Reading

First Book

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This poem moved me so deeply that I followed up with a Google search and found that Dawna Markova had written a  book by the same title.  “Why are we here?” is the question she asks both herself and the reader of this wonderful book ~ I WILL NOT DIE AN UNLIVED LIFE ~.  It’s written while Dawna is on a retreat to solitude in a cabin far away from the hectic pace of modern life.  Her story travels along different paths than mine has and that’s the whole point of her book.  We’re here to follow our own passion and dreams.

“Anyone on a spiritual quest, seeking to discover their own deep wisdom, and uncover their “calling” will be enriched and energized in a powerful and gentle way……”

(Forward)

“Like the rest of the natural world, human beings go through seasons.  At one point, we are in the full bloom of summer, harvesting, committed, in abundance.  Then, naturally there is an autumnal time of falling away, disillusionment, stagnation, a shedding of what has been used up.  Then must come the fallowness and dormancy of winter, death, rest.  Eventually, as is happening right outside the window of this cabin, there is a great melting into muck and mud, which, if one can persevere, opens naturally into an abundant yellow-green time, when everything is possible and horizons open.”

~ Dawna Markova ~

“In a similar way to A Gift from the Sea, the readers of this book (I Will Not Live An Unlived Life) are invited to accompany me on a journey to come to know more intimately the value and purpose of their lives.”

~ Dawna Markova ~

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Men, Women and Happiness Cropped (2)

Ink Sketch and Watercolor by Mary Lou Q

Second Book

Gift from the Sea #3

Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book ~ GIFT FROM THE SEA ~ was shared with me by my mother back in the 90’s.  I packed myself a lunch and took a ride to the beach, setting up my chair in front of the ocean.  It was a restful day that I needed badly and I hoped to find nuggets of wisdom and truth from this book.  At the time it was difficult for me to concentrate on it.  I kept thinking ‘How can this wealthy woman whose life is so different than mine even relate to what I’m experiencing?’  It’s only been down through the years and coming across Anne’s various quotes from her book that I’ve decided to read it again.  Dawna Markova read it to inspire her book ‘I Will Not Live An Unlived Life’ and I decided to read them both this summer.

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The Introduction to the Fiftieth Anniversary Edition of Gift from the Sea (2005)  is written by Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s daughter, Reeve Lindbergh:

“I read Gift from the Sea at all Seasons of the Year and of my life.  I never once had the sense that my mother’s 1955 book has lost its freshness, or that the wisdom contained within its pages has ceased to apply, whether to my own life or to what I’ve learned , overtime, about hers.”

“Above all, I think, Gift from the Sea offers its readers an unusual kind of freedom.  It is hard to recognize, or even to describe, but I think this freedom is the real reason this book continues to be so well loved and so well read after all these years.  I am talking about the freedom that comes from choosing to remain open, as my mother did, to life itself, whatever it may bring:  Joys, sorrows, triumphs, failures, suffering, comfort and, certainly, always, change.”

Thanks, Mom!  I get it!  ❤

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A Gift from the Sea

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Third Book

Francis Friendship

Francis Mandewah is one of my Guest Bloggers

Me in the Middle introducing Guest Blogger ~ Francis

I was so inspired by what Francis wrote in his guest blog that I bought his book on Amazon Kindle and I’ve just begun reading it.  His story begins with his life as a 15 year old young man in the African country of Sierra Leone and in the heart of the African diamond zone.  His story too is a spiritual journey of trust in goodness in the world in spite of the hardships and realities that might come along.  It’s his trust in this goodness that makes it possible for Francis to be fully present when God opens a door in his life that leads him to the path of his dreams.

“As I chronicled my trials and tribulations I discovered my voice in between the lines of my story ~ a voice that was filled with faith.”

~ Francis Mandewah ~

“I suppose this dream has been the script for my life, because even as I sit, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I always feel a tinge of uncertainty, as if I’m eternally looking for a flight itinerary. I have lived a life filled with the adventure of being ushered onto stage and the turmoil of being blindfolded and locked in a cage. Through my travels, my willingness to walk to and through the door, I discovered within myself a will to not just survive, but to thrive, no matter the circumstance.”

Blood Diamond ~ Sierra Leone

 

“There are people who are kind, and people who are not kind, among all races and cultures. It was a White man who gave me opportunity so I could realize the American dream.  Our friendship transcended race, and built a positive connection between the races. We can overcome racism through friendship and positive cross-cultural relationships. 

Francis Mandewah

 

Me in the Middle of A to Z Theme Reveal 2016 (#FlashBack)

        
It’s FlashBack Friday ~ A time of the month where you can republish an old post of yours that maybe didn’t get enough attention, or that you’re really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc.  This Blog-Go-Round is hosted by Jemima Pett and originally introduced by Michael D’Agostino from A LIFE EXAMINED.  That’s where you’ll find the rest of the participants or to join up yourself.

The post I’ve chosen for this month first appeared on ME IN THE MIDDLE on March 21, 2016.  Last April was a month of non-stop blogging and commenting even though I had pre-scheduled most of my alphabet posts.  I was seeing  alphabet letters in my sleep and would wake up early in the morning to make sure my day’s post was delivered as scheduled.  The many blogger friends that I’d meet each morning became my little blogging community as we encouraged each other and praised each other for the amazing ideas picked for themes.  This year I really will miss this part of the Challenge.  I’ll still be visiting A to Z Bloggers and hoping that I’ll continue to make new friends.  

All 26 posts for the A to Z Blog Challenge, along with the comments, can be seen by clicking HERE ~ or by clicking on the Title below. 

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My Life Is My Masterpiece ~ Lessons Learned

My theme for the A to Z Blog Challenge @AprilA2Z during the month of April is ~ My Life Is My Masterpiece ~ Lessons Learned.  For each of the 26 Days (with Sundays off) I’ll be posting a word that begins with each letter of the alphabet that fits my theme.   This blog/website has become one way to share about myself to my children, my grandchildren and my extended family who are scattered all over the country and the world.  Hopefully, anyone who reads this will be in some way blessed by my throwing my words out onto the World Wide Web and into the Universe.  

 My About Page gives me the focus so that, as I age, I don’t forget what I worked so hard to learn.  It’s going to be fun and challenging!   I hope you’ll stick with me as I strive to meet my goal!!

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* Note:  My letter sketches were made from ideas I found on Google Images. *

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Blogger Users can also follow me at atozchallenge2016.blogspot.com

 

Me in the Middle of Being a Strong Woman (#FlashBack)

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It’s FlashBack Friday ~ A time of the month where you can republish an old post of yours that maybe didn’t get enough attention, or that you’re really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc.  This Blog-Go-Round is hosted by Jemima Pett and originally introduced by Michael D’Agostino from A LIFE EXAMINED.  That’s where you’ll find the rest of the participants or to join up yourself.

The post I’ve chosen for this month first appeared on ME IN THE MIDDLE on December 4, 2015.  To see the original comments to that post you can click on the title  ~ Me in the Middle Being a Strong Woman ~ below to be taken to the original post. 

I chose this post because it’s just about a week since the Women’s March on Washington on January 21st and I think we can all agree, no matter where you stand on politics, that it was impressive.  Men, women and families all joined together across the nation and beyond to voice their concern about the new leadership in our country.  People of faith and people from different political leanings all stood side by side in unity and peace to send a message of respect and mutual support.   I didn’t march and I was with them in Spirit.  I’m not a Democrat and I didn’t vote for Hillary.  I’m not a ‘feminist’ in the sense of embracing the label.  I’m for humanity and striving for a better world.   I’ve seen many advantages for me as a woman that have emerged due to the activism of dedicated women.  I might not agree with every stand that was represented on the 21st yet I was deeply moved by the peaceful coming together of people of different beliefs and different concerns.  All willing to join together in one voice.  Let’s choose a forward looking patriotism!  I think Brene Brown  says it with class and grace on her Facebook Page.

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 Me In The Middle Of Being A Strong Woman

My Word 2014 #2

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“I wish I had known from the beginning that I was born a strong woman.  What a difference it would have made!  I wish I’d known that I was born a courageous woman; I’ve spent so much of my life cowering.  How many conversations would I not only have started but finished if I had known I possessed a warrior’s heart?  I wish I’d known that I’d been born to take on the world; I wouldn’t have run from it for so long, but to it with open arms.”

~ Sarah Ban Breathnach ~

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Me in the Middle of Writing (#FlashBack)

        
It’s FlashBack Friday~ A time of the month where you can republish an old post of yours that maybe didn’t get enough attention, or that you’re really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc.  This Blog-Go-Round is hosted by Jemima Pett and originally introduced by Michael D’Agostino from A LIFE EXAMINED.  That’s where you’ll find the rest of the participants or to join up yourself.

The post I’ve chosen for this month first appeared on ME IN THE MIDDLE on November 2nd, 2015.  To see the original comments to that post you can click on the title below to be taken to the original post. 

I chose this post because I know I’m among people who also share my love for writing.  It’s so easy to forget the sense of joy and freedom we find through writing and let ourselves slip back into just thinking about it and not doing it.  This post inspires me to keep thinking about and creating through blogging. 

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The Eternal Sea of Creativity

The Eternal Sea of Creativity

© Mary Lou

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Why Do I Write? ………………. Writing 101

I write because I have a story to tell and memories to share.  The story and the memories are through my eyes and not a reflection of someone else’s perception.  Sometimes our stories can be lost or hidden from view unless we find our own voice.  Writing allows an expression of that longing to be heard when we’re surrounded by other versions, other perspectives and other agendas that can distort and embellish the validity of our own experience.

Writing has been a path to my middle ground.  It’s there at the center of my thoughts where I’m able to find that thread of continuity of my own self.  It surprises me when, after procrastinating on getting started, I find a joy and freedom that begins to awaken and I wonder why I waited to begin.  It’s an awakening that points to the whole ‘me’.

What stands out in my memory about my writing experience over the years, more than the keeping of a diary or writing a personal journal, is that writing has become a way to be able to identify the process of finding out where I fit within the middle of things …… my reality.

I remember an award I received in an Anthology of New York-New Jersey High School Essays ~ “Young America Speaks”.  I was genuinely surprised that my essay was chosen and I felt mine wasn’t as good as the other high school writers.  When I reread what I wrote at this time of my life, I can clearly see that what I wrote was helping me to find my place ……. where I belonged in the middle of things.  I belong to a family of writers ~ my father, my mother, my two brothers.  When I wrote I was saying I was a part of it all and that I belonged here.

Whenever I attempted to write poetry, it was usually at a more challenging time in my life.  When I was sorting through life’s paradoxes and finding my way through the complexities and seeking answers.  When I wasn’t able to find the words to express what was going on inside, writing poetry helped to define that struggle.

There’s value in writing!  Sharing what we write is secondary to just the pure act of putting pen to paper.  When it comes to the gifts and revelations we receive about life, both now and in the future, writing is a priceless contribution to ourselves and others.

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Me in the Middle of Looking Back (#FlashBack)

        
IT’S FLASHBACK FRIDAY – A TIME OF THE MONTH WHERE YOU CAN REPUBLISH AN OLD POST OF YOURS THAT MAYBE DIDN’T GET ENOUGH ATTENTION, OR THAT YOU’RE REALLY PROUD OF, OR YOU THINK IS STILL RELEVANT ETC. THIS BLOG-GO-ROUND IS HOSTED BY MICHAEL G D’AGOSTINO FROM A LIFE EXAMINED–THAT’S WHERE YOU’LL FIND THE REST OF THE PARTICIPANTS OR TO JOIN UP YOURSELF.

THE POST I’VE CHOSEN FOR THIS MONTH FIRST APPEARED ON ME IN THE MIDDLE ON November 20, 2015.  TO SEE THE ORIGINAL COMMENTS TO THAT POST YOU CAN CLICK ON THE TITLE BELOW TO BE TAKEN TO THE ORIGINAL POST. 

I CHOSE THIS POST BECAUSE I BELIEVE  IT’S STILL RELEVANT AND IT’S A MESSAGE THAT’S NEEDED IN TODAY’S WORLD WHERE SO MUCH SEEMS TO BE TAKING US IN THE WRONG DIRECTION:

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 Me in the Middle of a Virtual Cup of Coffee

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Writing 101 ~ Update my readers over a cup of coffee

Coffee Mug #2

 

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If we were having coffee right now …..

I’d tell you how awesome it is that we can connect this way and how much it means to me to be able to share with you.  Some of you are from all over the world and some are right here in the USA.  The ability to get to know you while sitting in my living room with a cup of coffee is fantastic!

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If we were having coffee right now …..

I’d share with you that this past week of seeing terrorism at work, has almost brought me to the place of hopelessness.  It almost brought me to a place of resignation that hate is winning over love.  I read this poem by a blogger I’m following and felt that she expressed exactly how I was feeling.  A human reaction to a violence that strikes out and destroys what people of good will strive to build.  Our hope is in the children growing up in this world.  We need to start there!  We need to show them and teach them that the courage to love is more powerful than cowardice of hate…………….

I Am Tired of Praying for This World ~ Thank you, Laura Lord

 

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If we were having coffee right now …..

I’d tell you I still believe in peace………… I still believe in love …………… I still believe in the goodness in most of us who chose to do the right thing.  We can’t be divided in these beliefs and straddle a fence between love and hate. 

At times like these I like to listen to the beautiful spirit of John Denver. Never stop dreaming …………………. ❤

John Denver ~ Peace Poem & Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream

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If we were having coffee right now …………

I’d want to hear your hopes and dreams.  I’d ask you what gives you strength during difficult times?  How you put aside fear and act on love?