Monday, January 11, 2010

We are on this Journey Together

This journey we call life can be difficult at times. I truly believe that it should be all about learning, sharing and helping others. This came to me from a person I really connected with while growing up. As I say in my book "Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male, Lessons Learned from the Fairer Sex" 

After church we would go back to my grandmother’s house for a big dinner with even more extended family. One person I really connected with was my great-grandmother, I called her Nana. The two of us could sit and talk about anything for hours. She would tell me stories about when she was growing up. At first I didn’t believe her when she told me,“We had no television, no electricity and no indoor plumbing. Living on a farm, there weren’t that many other kids around either. I spent most of my time reading and doing chores. My favorite pastime was making noodles with my mom.”
There was a feeling I got around Nana that I felt nowhere else in my life. It was calming and relaxing. Part of that came from her distinctive smell. It was a woodsy aroma, not really feminine but not overly masculine either. It reminded me of the faint, almost sweet odor of fertilizer. Nana said, “What your nose detects is years of working on a farm and then spending all summer working my gardens to make them beautiful to look at.” Whatever it was, it worked on me.
I got along so well with her that my mom would let me spend all of my summers with her and my great-grandfather up at the cottage they owned in rural Wisconsin. The smells there were special too. The air was always filled with fresh cut green grass, the charcoal scents of a hamburger cooked on an open campfire and the brackish seaweed that lay on the beaches in the early morning. It was a great place for me to be alone with my thoughts. I would spend most of the morning fishing on the small lake with him, the afternoons lying on the grassy hillside next to the cottage looking aimlessly into the sky and then the night talking to Nana as we sat in two rocking chairs on the screened-in porch that overlooked the lake. We would share the night by sharing life.
As we sat together, drinking homemade lemonade and eating special sweets that she’d made during the day, Nana became my fi rst exposure to the occult, ESP, UFO’s and the afterlife. Anything that others thought of as abnormal was normal to her.
Her lemonade was really the part I enjoyed the most. She always floated a sprig of mint on top. I hated the taste of mint, but loved the smell, so I would take the sprig out of my glass and put it in my pocket so I could enjoy it later.
On the subject of religion, she reinforced my conviction that it does not matter how or where you worship God, as long as you believed in Him. She said, “Treating people with the respect they deserve is the best way to get into heaven.”
We also had another ritual which I still do to this day. Whenever the smell of rain came to the air--you know the smell--we would wait excitedly for the storm to hit. As soon as it did, there were the two of us out dancing in the downpour. Nana told me, “Rain is the cleansing agent God sends to wipe away your sins.”
She also taught me the first lesson of my journey: “You are going to meet many people throughout your life and if you want them to remember you, you must always be a little different, you must be sincere, and you must make them feel special, especially the girls.”
She died when I was ten and I was devastated. I thought God was punishing me. First He took my father away from me and now He took the only person who truly understood me. I couldn’t understand why God would do this. I didn’t want to believe in a God who punished people so much. He was supposed to be a good and fair God. Although I desperately wanted to believe in something greater than us, I became confused. This just led me deeper into a life of withdrawal.

What I eventually learned was that we are not on this journey alone. Nana was always right there helping me make the correct decisions, sometimes not as fast as I had hoped, but she continued to watch over me and keep me on the straight and narrow. Through her, or because of her, I was able to not only believe in God but was able to experience the little thiings along the way, like the smells of the world or the hidden meanings behind roses or song lyrics or how to really treat someone special. Even when you don't know it, God is there, you just have to stop and smell the roses, and see the the world in a different light to truly appreciate what actually is there.

With that being said, I wanted to hand out a random act of kindness to someone today. So here goes...

A few weeks before the holidays I sent an e-mail to a fellow author and Facebook friend looking for some help. I was needing someone to review my book and not having a real easy time finding that person. So knowing that we are on this journey together, I reached out to Anna L. Walls. She wrote a book King by Right of Blood and Might that had been reviewed on Amazon about six times.

Not only did Anna send me her whole list of reviewers, it turned out to be over 20 pages long. So by e-mailing some of those listed I did get some very favorable reviews. Anna asked me one favor, for me to send her my list of contacts. But, I didn't have this is my way of saying thank you!

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