The Royal Bank of Time

by Deborah Owen

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For once, I have a little extra time and I want to use it wisely. I feel like a kid with a penny going into the penny candy store.

There must be a time bank. I’m going to call it the Royal Bank of Time. Every person who lives a full day can withdraw minutes or seconds according to their discretion without even leaving their house. Of course, what they do with it is their business. They can drink it or drug it away. How about you? What do you do with your time?

Barring an unforeseen accident or tragedy, your 1,440 minutes are already in your account for tomorrow. Surely you balance your checking accounts, but do you track your withdrawals from the Royal Bank of Time? This would be a good opportunity to jot down how you spend them. Right now.

For instance, tomorrow you must withdraw another 1,440 minutes – and that time will also come off your lifeline. You cannot choose to not withdraw it. You cannot choose to save it. You must spend it. All of it. And you cannot spend it early or late, so your choices can be earth-moving.

You MAY, however, budget your 1,440 minutes any way you like. You may visit a loved one, go to work, exercise, play games, argue, write, help someone else, sleep, eat, shop for clothes or food, clean your house, car or gun, worship, teach, learn, dispute politics, visit on social media, be with your family, or go hiking where no one can find you.

But then you must decide how much time you will schedule per item. Do you want to spend minutes? Hours? Or days on it? Look at your list again. If you were dying and you knew it, you would undoubtedly change your list – but that’s the crazy part. You ARE dying every minute of every day and you don’t realize it. I think the ones who know they have measured time left are the lucky ones. The hands on their clocks don’t run forward as do yours and mine. The hands on their clocks run backward, counting down to the zero hour and minute, but because you and I don’t know how much time is on deposit in the Royal Bank of Time, we fritter it away. It’s like playing Russian Roulette – only with time – hoping we can get everything worked into that unknown quantity of ticking seconds and hours.

If you really, truly, and honestly realized you are dying every minute of every day, you would make different choices. You would ask yourself if the time you invest in _________ is well spent. You would ask yourself if the time you spend with some people is a worthwhile investment.

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At some point, you will reason things out and change your values because we humans are fickle people. What attracts us today will not necessarily call as loudly tomorrow. Therefore, the value of everything we like, wait for, invite, seduce and request will fluctuate.

At which point is time most important? If you are smart enough to chart or journal your thoughts and achievements, whether they be minutes or dollars or experiences, you will learn from your mistakes and do better in the future. If there is a future. See? That’s the thing. You don’t know that. But one thing is sure – the longer your flame of life burns, the more secure you become secure in the artificial atmosphere that more remains. Surely there is more. Much more!

But maybe there isn’t. Sorry. No refunds. No do overs. No returns. All time withdrawals are final. All spent time is extremely final.

So here I am, preparing to withdraw one more day from my meager account in the Royal Bank of Time, and thinking how I will spend it. I have learned that time well-spent will come back to me in triplicate because what comes around goes around. That won’t give me any more time, but I will know I spent my time wisely. Giving back to my Creator is the most rewarding of all.

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When you meet someone – a prospective friend or love interest, let’s say – do they complete you? Or do they drain you dry? When you leave, are you pumped up? Or torn down? Do they make you feel worthwhile – or browbeat you until you can’t wait to escape? Are they worthy of the time they devour with cunning? Will the love you freely give them come back multiplied, satisfied, and worth your efforts?

I leave you with this thought. My mother is no longer among the living, but when she was, I knew what she would say before I went in her apartment. As soon as she opened the door, she would say something like, “That skirt makes your butt look too big and you should pull some bangs down on your forehead like this (tearing up hairdo). Your forehead’s too high. You look like a skinned onion.”

I thought I got used to her jabs and insults, but – not really. Every word was like a searing coal in an open eye. We took her out to eat every Friday and spent the entire day with her, getting her hair done, shopping for groceries, etc. On one such day, we sat in a restaurant. My sweet husband made a comment about my being a writer and Mom let out a belly-laugh that could be heard three tables away, and said: “Who? Her? She’s no writer!” The sarcasm was scathing, and I felt an inch tall.

Never mind that I had fantastic credentials, founded a writing school and taught writing for a living. To her, it was all a game. My husband almost went through the ceiling.

After that, I re-evaluated my friends and family, how I spent my time and how they affected my mental health, and I made the hardest decision of my life. I limited my time with Mother. I limited our phone calls. I limited our time alone. She was not at all neglected since my husband was in on the plan and filled in the gaps, but I felt relief for the first time in my life. No – I didn’t tell her. I didn’t fuss at her or stress her. I just lived my life a little differently. I wondered if I would regret it when she was gone. She died four years later at age 97.  And no, I didn’t regret a minute of it. She was lovingly cared for… and so was I. I only regret that I had to do it.

Mom once said, “Do you know why we hurt the ones we love the most? Because they are the only ones who will forgive us.”

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No one can slice you and dice you and utterly destroy you like a loved one, and you may have to cut that person out of your life (or at least limit them) for your own good. Evaluate the situation clearly. Discuss it with those you can trust and do what you must – because your account at the Royal Bank of Time is less now than it was before you started reading this article.

Spend your time wisely. When you spend it on others – be sure they are worthy of it – and save some of that most precious commodity of time for what you love most – writing.

Do loved ones make your time hell on earth? Comment below. Thanks for stopping by.

 

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Making Time for Self in 2019

by Deborah Owen

 

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Life goes by fast. Very fast. And every year goes faster. If the next one swooshes by as fast as the last, I may not have time to finish this so I’ll type faster.

Looking Back

In 1948, there were no strip malls or shopping malls. If you wanted something you couldn’t get at a drugstore or gas station, you found a little Mom & Pop place like Harry’s Market or you went downtown.

I didn’t like Harry’s Market. Old men sat in a circle of rocking chairs around a wood stove, seemingly unaware of the tobacco spittle that drooled through missing teeth into white beards while they spun yarns longer than their arms. Occasionally, one would spit at the old spittoon that sat on the floor, which was obviously missed more than hit. I gave both it and them a wide birth. Harry’s Market was both scary and amazing.

I held Daddy’s hand a little tighter in there, scared one of the old codgers would speak to me. I stared at them and they stared back at a little bit of nothing propped on skinny legs wearing a short skirt. My eyes said FEAR and theirs said WONDER, but nary a word passed between our generations in all the years I visited Harry’s Market.

When I think back on the things those men could have told me about living in the 1800’s and fighting in World War I, I could kick myself. There it was, in the palm of my hand and available for the asking and I wasn’t smart enough to recognize the treasure in front of me.

I wish I had grabbed a notebook and tape recorder and jumped on the dirtiest old man’s lap and flooded him with questions until he begged me to stop… but this blog isn’t about missed opportunities or Harry’s Market. It’s just that Harry’s Market has been stuck in the front of my brain for ages and I had to write it out so it would leave me alone. This blog is about taking control of your life. Slowing down. Doing what you really want to do.

You DO want to slow the rat race down, don’t you? You DO want to do more writing, don’t you? Then listen up and follow the leader.

I’m 77 years old. I have seen the turn of a half century, the turn of a century, invention of TVs, dishwashers, and cell phones. Seems like only a few years ago when Dad came home from work and said, “They have invented a new thing that shows moving, real people in a box and you can see whole movies in your living room.”

“That’s impossible,” Mom said.

“No. It’s the truth. I saw it with my own eyes. You plug it into a socket and somehow it brings pictures through the air.”

We thought Dad slipped a cog or two that day, but three years later he brought one of those thingamajigs home and we saw a television for the first time. There they were, people talking and singing and dancing in our very own living room. Old folks that already had one foot in Alzheimer’s slid the rest of the way quickly. One old fella said, “How do they get all those people in that little wooden box?”

In those days, all TVs were console models, meaning they were built into a cabinet and the screen was only about twelve inches across, but children whose parents owned a TV could lift their social status a full notch by letting it be known.

So, we glued our faces to the black and white screen that mesmerized us. I memorized all the TV commercials and said them aloud with the announcer without even trying. Parents had no idea how their children’s minds drank everything they saw and heard like a sponge collecting water. By the time three or four years had rolled by, everyone’s family was addicted to the boob tube.  Conversations had to wait for a commercial. Family outings began to wane.

Two years later (about 1951), Dad came in grinning like a Chessy Cat, holding something mysterious behind his back.

“Wait ‘til you see this,” he said, as proud as a peacock and he pulled a square of colored cellophane out in front of him. The top was blue, blending into a flesh color in the middle, and merging into green on the bottom. With one voice, the three of us said, “What’s that?”

“Colored TV!” he declared to the stupefied crowd. Dad dusted the TV screen with his handkerchief, and I could hear the crackle of static electricity. He pressed the cellophane against the screen and lo and behold, it stayed there, held in place by static electricity. Man, oh man! We had colored TV! Never mind that John Wayne’s hat was sky blue, black people had orange skin, and the dessert was green… WE HAD COLORED TV!

Gone were the days when the four of us huddled around the radio eagerly listening to an announcer clopping half coconut shells across his desk to represent a galloping horse. Gone was the shaking and crumpling of aluminum foil to resemble lightning. Gone were the pictures each of us painted in our own mind as the narrator read the story. Our imagination was painted for us on the TV and we collectively watched it acted out – in color! For the first time, all of us imagining the same scene in the same way and the same color. Individuality and creativity died in our house that day.

Fast forward through our children’s weddings, births of grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I turned around twice and woke up mired down to my neck in technology and a crazy world that is spinning so fast it will surely fly off its axis any time and here I am, a slow-moving, heavily loaded freight train on a super nova highway, horns blaring all around me as I try to keep up with smart phones, texting, social media, and computers.

My husband and I have been full-time RV’rs for nineteen years and I don’t even have time for a wienie roast any more! No time to cook out. No time to sit around the fire.  Heck… no time to even make a fire! My husband has retired three times. Officially, I “don’t work.” I’m a housewife – who hasn’t had one full day off work in nearly thirteen years. Now, this is just plain stupid, so I said to myself, “Self, things are going to change, and it’s up to you to do it.”

If this crazy, crashing, whining, spinning, reeling, clammering, mad world of terrorism and technology is going to engulf me and enslave me, I must build in compensations to keep my sanity and feel that my living is not in vain. I am responsible for doing this for myself. No one can do it for me! So I am doing the following:

  1. Shutting down The Writer’s Choice Newsletter and with aching heart dismissing my precious volunteer staff.
  2. I own three websites for Creative Writing Institute (.com, .org, and cwinst.com) and I am closing some of those down.
  3. I have laid off CWI tutors and am changing the courses so they are now available for only $79. For $130 extra, a student can have a tutor.
  4. I will train a few somewhat experienced writers who want to write full-time for a living. Present cost is a flat fee of $200, but I imagine that will go up quickly. I only have room for two more students at that price if you’re interested.
  5. My husband and I are going to settle down, slow down, and travel a couple of years.

YOUR TURN

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Look in the mirror and have a talk with yourself. If you’re going crazy in the swirling madness of today’s foolishness, sit down with pencil and paper and make a list of priorities. You can’t do everything you want to do, right? Life is too short. Time too pressing. But you can work two things into your life if you try hard, so decide what those two things will be. Next, see where you can trim time by combining chores or meeting both sides of the family on the same day.

Consider what you can change and what you can’t. Social media is fun, but do you have time for it? Decide how much time you should give it and literally time yourself when you get online. Opt out of groups that people invite you into without even asking. Choose your favorite social media and give up the rest. Keep the one that is most beneficial to your business and/or mental health.

When researching, don’t chase rabbits. When you find something irresistible, make a note to pursue that website another day and move one.

Most homes have no strict guidelines. Back in the day when I practiced piano, I forbid my children to interrupt me during that hour of practice unless someone was bleeding or dying – and they didn’t! Draw some hard lines in your household and make them stick if you want this madness to end.

No one can take control of your life but you. Here is my new priority list as of Feb. 1:

  1. God, worship and devotions

2. Family

3. Limited work

4. Writing

The end.

The rest of my time is my own… at long last.

There ARE ways to deal with your issues if you will just try. I know it’s tough, but you can do it – and ONLY you can it for yourself and your family.

Share your approach on time management with the rest of us in the comment section.

The Little Dead Stinkbug

The Moral  of the Stinkbug

by Deborah Owen

https://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.org

 

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Tonight I saw something on the floor. Thinking it was a piece of a leaf, I picked it up and found myself holding a dead stinkbug with his feet pointed toward the ceiling. I’m not a stinkbug fan, but neither am I scared of them. Especially dead ones. I studied him as I walked to the trash can and unceremoniously plopped him in and suddenly wondered if any of his stinkmates would miss him.

Did he have a family? His body is about to disappear from the earth and there I was wondering if his mate would miss him. And then I thought, Really, Deb? Does a stinkbug even have a brain? I supposed so. And then I wondered… if that were me… deposited in a considerably larger trash can – make that a dumpster – how much would I be missed? More importantly, what would I leave behind to speak in my absence?

Will anyone see lasting value in the items I have kept, the stories I have written, the classes I have taught? Will anyone keep the lessons I wrote? Will anyone remember me? I’m not talking about my family, mind you. They’d better miss me, or I’ll haunt them for eternity. I’m talking about neighbors, church friends, online friends with whom I have shared my life and values. Students I took an interest in, business people I have known, the tutors I have worked with. Will I leave anything of value for these folks?

In writing creative nonfiction, I have shared family secrets and cried when I wrote them, but will the tears shine through? Will the stories dearest to my heart even survive?

Other than your immediate family, who will miss you? Will anyone find value in your work? Will anyone think, “This is really good. I wonder if it ever got published.” Will they be cleaning your house out someday and one person hollers to another, “I found another story!” Will they read those stories? Will they publish them? Or will they say, “Here’s another story, but it stops at Chapter 5. Why didn’t she finish them? All of them are incomplete.”

“Throw it away?” the other person says.

“Yeah, I guess so. I told her they were good, but she wouldn’t believe me.”

You can always find an excuse for not writing. Here’s a novel idea: why don’t you just sit down and write! So what if you never get it edited? So what if you never sell it? You will have fulfilled the part of you that yearns to shout, “Hold on, world. Just hold your britches for one cotton-pickin’ minute. I’m leaving something behind that you might find interesting.”

Well, the stinkbug corpus delicti rests in my trashcan, although I’m beginning to think he deserves a proper burial in a fruit jar. He could lay there and stare at the dandelions drooping at half mast, stirred by the dim knowledge that he did his best to boost lazy, dying-on-the-vine writers.  Maybe… just maybe… that’s why he came.

Every time you think about giving up, remember the little stinkbug. Put a hand over your heart for three seconds and begin again!

 

 

 

Feeling Lost? Don’t Know Where to Begin in 2019?

 

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Well, here we are… December 29, 2018. Almost to the end of a very long year that whizzed by like a cold arctic wind. My daughter’s birthday was Dec. 27 and my anniversary is Dec. 30, so after the 30th, my plan for 2019 will kick in. How about you? Do you have a plan? He/she who aims at nothing hits same.

How do you gear up for a new year of uncertainties, unexpected upheavals, and possible tragedies? Innocently. That’s how. Hoping for something better. That’s how. Keeping your fingers crossed. At least that is how most people approach a new year, but you can do much better. When you realize you DO have the ability to shape most of your future, you are strolling down the right road.

NEXT STEP

Right now you should be examining yourself and your accomplishments in 2018. You should be reviewing your mistakes and making plans to overcome those pitfalls if they should come again. You should be planning ahead, using wisdom, facing reality, recognizing pipe dreams when you see them, and facing the future with inspiration, enthusiasm, persistence, and above all… domination over self!

RETIREMENT CALLS

I have decided to semi-retire from Creative Writing Institute. The writing courses that were $295 are now available at $79. Those who want a private tutor may have it for an additional $120; however, this lady is going to turn to full-time writing and personal tutoring before her decaying body collapses in a pile of dust.

Believe it or not, I miss the writing rejections. I miss the efforts to do my best. I miss listening to the late night muse and its rolling cadence just as I’m going to sleep. I even miss sleepily tape recording notes so I’ll remember them tomorrow. I miss going over and over my work until I’m sick of it, looking for verbiage, counting the prepositional phrases in a sentence, changing passive voice to active, and telling instead of showing. It’s time to get back to the battle.

WHAT I HAVE LEARNED

Twelve years ago, I was of the mistaken notion most new writers were begging for help but couldn’t find or afford it. Surprise! That isn’t true. Surprisingly — most writers won’t invest a nickel in their dream. (Note: I asked for money for my birthday and Christmas to buy my first writing course. Where there is a will, there is a way.)

And now, after twelve years of full-time dedication to new writers, I learned why most writers don’t make it. It isn’t because of their lack of study. It isn’t because of erratic new beginnings. The successful students invested both time and money in their dream. They are the ones who did their homework, turned their assignments in, did the rewriting tutors requested, did not argue with their instructors, put writing at the top of their priority list, and most of all – did not give up. Yes. Those are the ones. The ones who studied daily.  The ones that reviewed. The ones that bathed in every instruction like a sponge that couldn’t get full. Those are the REAL writers.

Here are a few interesting statistics:

WRITING STATISTICS

Out of 100% of the population, 80% will have a desire to write at some point in their lives. Out of that 80%, about 40% will actually write one story or article and submit it. Of those, 20% will submit a second time. Half of that 20% will submit until they sell one item, and of the remaining ten, only eight will keep submitting, keep writing, keep drinking at the well of success. You will notice the ones who DO find success are those who did NOT give up.

But still, you have to know where to go to get started, how to set up a profile, choose the right picture, gather recommendations, write a bio, and a dozen other things. This is where I can help you.

TALENT HAS LITTLE TO DO WITH IT

The truth of the matter is – talent has very little to do with it. Any average writer can be a successful seller. They can even write full time if they wish, but I grant you – there ARE a lot of secrets to learn. I don’t know all the secrets, but I have learned my share in the past 12 years.

Do you want to write for a living? Work from home in your pajamas? Go to work at 10 a.m. and quit at 3 p.m.? Work four days a week? Then pay attention:

If you have the persistence, I have the knowledge. If you are ready to devote one to two years to become a full-time writer, I can help you do it. There are, however, a few prerequisites: you must do exactly as I say, and you cannot give up.

  • You must have at least mediocre writing abilities
  • You need at least some formal training
  • You must be compliant and dedicated to your own success

Can I guarantee your success? If I lead you to the rippling, exuberant waters of the Fountain of Youth, can I make you drink?

The introductory price of personal tutoring is a flat fee of $200 and I will work with you personally.

If you are tired of failing in writing…

If you are tired of beginning over and over again…

If you mean business in 2019…

write to me at DeborahOwen@CWInst.com.

I’m looking forward to writing full-time and helping  Y O U make your dream a reality.

  • I reserve the right to select the students in which I have the most confidence.

https://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.org

 

Once Upon a Christmas – True Story – Read to your Child/Grandchild

by Caroline Grace

Just for fun… if you have a little person in your care, they might like to hear this true story of how I found my little teddy bear at age six.

The Very Worst, Very Best Christmas Ever

Once upon a long, long time ago, an almost-new little brown teddy bear started out on a great adventure with his little boy. It was a cold, rainy December day when the very worst thing and the very best thing happened to that almost-new little brown bear.

The day of the great adventure dawned dark and gloomy, but that didn’t matter to Little Boy. At first light his eyes bounced open wide. He squeezed the little brown bear and said, “Wake up, Bear! Today is the day I am going to visit Santa Claus.”

Before he could go on his great adventure Mama said Little Boy had to make his bed. And so he did. He crawled up on the bed to smooth the wrinkles away, but when he slid down to the floor, there were more wrinkles than before. But Little Boy didn’t mind.. He was going to see Santa.

After his bed was made, Mama said he had to eat his breakfast. And so he did. He chewed his bacon and toast as fast as he could until Mama made him slow down. But Little Boy didn’t mind. He was going to see Santa.

After he ate his breakfast, Mama told him to brush his teeth. And so he did. He left little drops of green toothpaste on the sink so he wiped them away with his washcloth before Mama saw them. But Little Boy didn’t mind. He was going to see Santa.

After he brushed his teeth, Mama told him to put on his coat and hat and scarf. And so he did. His scarf got tangled in the zipper of his jacket and he asked Mama to help. But Little Boy didn’t mind. He was going to see Santa.

Then Little Boy asked a question. “Mama, can I bring Bear?”

And Mama said yes. Little Boy and Bear didn’t know this was the beginning of the very worst thing.

In the car Little Boy hugged Bear tight. He had practiced being good all year and now he practiced what he would tell Santa when he sat on his lap. Little Boy whispered into Bear’s fuzzy, floppy brown ear all the things he wanted to say. Cold hard raindrops made a snapping sound as they hit the window, but Little Boy didn’t mind. He was going to see Santa.

Mama steered her blue car into the shopping center where Santa’s house sat in the corner where the sidewalks met. Little Boy looked around. Santa was having a very busy day, and Mama had to park far away. Mama and Little Boy and Bear stood together at the back of a very long line and they waited. And they waited. And they waited.

The rain kept raining and the wind kept blowing until all of them were rain-soaked and cold and tired. Little Boy started to cry, so Mama found a dry place for them to rest under a tent-like canopy outside a toy store. Mama set her bags and her purse down on the dry sidewalk under the canopy and Little Boy set Bear down in the store window sill. They all rested and waited until the rain stopped, then Mama picked up her bags and purse with one hand and took Little Boy’s hand with the other. And then the very worst thing happened; Little Boy was so excited to see Santa that he forgot to pick Bear up from the windowsill. Bear could only watch as Little Boy faded into the busy crowd.

Bear tried with all his might to throw himself off the window sill, but he couldn’t move even one inch. Bear tried to call out, but he couldn’t make even one sound. Mama and Little Boy were fading farther and farther away and Bear could only cry. Little tears fell from his plastic eyes, but he was already so wet no one could tell.

Bear waited and waited but Mama and Little Boy didn’t come. Bear was wet and cold when he had a sad thought: no one would ever call the almost-new little brown bear almost-new again. Because he wasn’t. Even if he dried out and warmed up, he feared he would never be the same. He was wet clean through to his stuffing.

The windowsill where Bear sat was close to the ground, and people on the sidewalk passed right by him without even a glance. He had never felt so alone. He hoped Little Boy and Mama would come back for him, but in his little bear heart he knew better. The rain had started up again and the wind blew cold against the windowsill where Bear sat.

Quite suddenly Bear found himself eye to eye with a little blonde, brown-eyed girl. She was tugging on the arm of the lady next to her. “Mamaw, look! A little teddy bear, and he’s all wet. Please, can I take him home and dry him off? He must be lost. If we don’t take him, what will happen to him?”

Mamaw hesitated and the little girl spoke quickly, “Please Mamaw…look how sad he is.”

“Well, honey, we don’t know where he’s been or what kind of germs he’s carrying.”

“But Mamaw, you can clean him up, can’t you?” The little girl clearly had absolute faith in her Mamaw. Bear missed his little boy but he was starting to like this little girl.

“I suppose I can.” Mamaw hesitated and the little girl grabbed Bear.

“So we can take him home with us?” the little girl asked.

If Mommy had been here she would have said, “We’ll leave him here in case his owner comes back for him.”

If Daddy had been here, he would have said, “We’re not taking that wet thing home!”

If Baby Brother had been here, he would have screamed and cried and no one would have listened to the little girl at all..

But Mommy and Daddy and Baby Brother weren’t here. Mamaw was here. And Mamaw said, “Yes, honey, we can take him home,” then turning to the bear she said, “Okay, let’s get you home and cleaned up, little fella.” Mamaw put her purchases together in one shopping bag, then swept Bear up and deposited him in the empty bag.

Bear heard the car door slam and felt the car moving, but it was dark in the bag where Mamaw had put him. Little Girl was asking if she could get him out and hold him, but Mamaw said, “Not yet.”

Then Little Girl said, “His name is Fuzzy, Mamaw. That’s because he was almost new and I can tell he was Fuzzy before he got wet,”

“That’s a good name, Honey.”

His little bear heart surged warm and he would have smiled if he could have. Fuzzy! His name was Fuzzy. He had never had a proper name before. Little Boy had just called him Bear.

When they reached Mamaw’s house, she wasted no time cleaning him up. Oh, the things she did to that little brown bear! Mamaw used sprays and powders and washcloths and towels and hair dryers until she finally pronounced him clean.

And it was then that the very best thing happened to Fuzzy. Little Girl picked him up and she never let him go. She slept with him and she dragged him from Mamaw’s house to her own house. She set him up on the bed every day so he could see when she came home from school. He met her other dollies and stuffed animals, and soon became fast friends with them. He had never been so loved in all his life.

He was so loved, in fact, that over time he lost his little red mouth. Little Girl took him to Mamaw’s and she made him a new one. And then he lost an eye. Little Girl took him to Mamaw’s and she made him a new one out of an old button. When his stuffing started coming out under one arm and then under the other, Little Girl took him to Mamaw’s and she re-stuffed him and patched his torn places with cloth the color of his fur.

Years passed as years always do, but Fuzzy and Little Girl remained the best of friends. Fuzzy began to lose his fur. And Little Girl grew up. But she still tucked the little bear into bed with her every night. Sometimes when she was sad she would hug the little bear tight and he would get wet with her tears, but he always knew just how to make her feel better.

In time, Little Grown-up Girl got married and had children of her own, but she never forgot the little brown bear. As a matter of fact, every Christmas, Little Grown-up Girl reads the story of the Very Worst, Very Best Christmas Ever to her own children.

And, to this very day, every morning when Little Grown-up Girl opens her bedroom closet, she looks up on the closet shelf and blows a kiss to Fuzzy, the old, raggedy, almost-new little brown bear and Fuzzy winks right back at her with his best button eye.

THE END

CHRISTMAS SPECIAL: $79 for any writing course. Lessons only. https://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.org Must write to me to get this unadvertised special: DeborahOwen@CWinst.com

Christmas Tree Shopping in Yesteryear

by Deborah Owen

A - Cartoon of Big Christmas Tree

Art work by Luana Spinetti

Christmas Tree Shopping in Yesteryear

While writing to a student today, I suddenly remembered how things were when I was a child. I’m talking about the stone age, people! Wow. How times have changed.

In those days, families owned one car. People stayed home at night and actually spoke to one another. No cell phones. We were lucky to have an eight-party line. That meant everyone could listen in on each other’s intimate conversations. That also meant we had to count the rings before answering. Ours was two long rings and and a short one.  Our phone number was State 9694. We didn’t have an address. We were just “Route #4,” and we lived a really long way from school down a gravel road. In later years I measured it. It was three miles. Perspective was a bit different in those days.

We used the same angel at the top of our tree every year. The poor thing got so bedraggled that Mom had a seamstress make a new dress for her. I hated that new dress. It was like putting a frilly party dress on a dirty princess.

Daddy and I (yes, I said Daddy – a precious endearing term) always picked out the Christmas tree while Mom cleaned the living room and made a place for it.

I’ll never forget what those tree shopping trips were like. I was tiny for my age. Even adult’s kneecaps towered over me (or so it seemed), and when Daddy and I walked down rows and rows of cut Christmas trees and I looked at the tops, the lights of the parking lot shone in my eyes, giving the Christmas trees the magical touch of a brilliant fairy. Daddy inevitably chose a sensible, short, fat tree. Of course, I chose the tallest, fattest tree I could find, well nourished, begging for a home with happy children. I could feel my smile envelop my whole body when I found the perfect tree.

“Daddy, look at this one!”

“Debbie, I would have to cut the trunk off. It’s way too tall. I don’t even think we could get it through the door.”

“Oh, please, Daddy. It’s just beautiful.”

“But it has a bare place over here.”

“We could put that side in the corner,” I said. “No one would see it.”

“What about this one over here?” he would say, but I was wise to his game of trying to change my mind and I was a persistent little devil. Excited beyond control, I jumped up and down in my little green coat and leggings.

(In those days, they made leggings (pants) from the same material as the coat to keep girls’ legs warm because little girls seldom wore anything but skirts and dresses. Oh, how I hated those leggings. I always took them off on the school bus and put them on just before I got off at my stop. Confession: I admit to being deceitful –  and I may have stretched the truth a little… like… every time I got the chance. Like the time I lit a cigarette and Mom came back in the house too soon… and the time I poured my milk down the sink… but those stories are for another time. Let’s just agree that I wasn’t a model little angel.)

I was so thrilled on the way home with that big tree strapped on the top of our 1949 baby blue Chevy (which my brother later wrapped around a telephone pole). It was longer than the car. When we pulled in our driveway, I ran in the house and told Mom all about it with emphatic gestures and non-stop description. Daddy dutifully followed, unstrapping the tree and patiently pulling, tugging, and pushing until that humongous green thing occupied most of our tiny living room. There it stood, its poor little head all scrunched down, praying for a ceiling eight inches taller.

“See. I told you it was too tall,” Daddy said.

I expected a temper tantrum, which was not rare in our house, but it didn’t come. He patiently tried to tug the tree outside again, take it to the garage, cut the bottom off, and then try to get it through the door one more time.

We strung popcorn, made paper chains out of construction paper, added balls, electric lights, and of course, tinsel. I was always assigned the lowest limbs and I did my duty very well. They were loaded heavy with tinsel, bubble lights, balls, strung popcorn, and all the rest. A work of art to behold that surely glittered in my little eyes until the tree came down. What fun memories.

I dreamed of Daddy a few nights ago and it was so good to see him again. And I came across the old Christmas angel Mom had covered with a new dress. I ripped that new dress off her and to my delight, found the angel still wore her original dress beneath.

Those memories are about 70 years old and they still bring joy to my heart. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for the lovely Christmases we always had. Thank you for telling us what Christmas was really all about. I still put the old manger scene under our tree, although the sheep has a broken leg now, the straw has come off the top of the barn, and one cow is missing. Everything else is there… everything but my brother, Mom and Dad. Everything but Gene Autry singing. Everything but hot, buttered popcorn and homemade peanut butter fudge. Everything but laughing and having so much fun.

Why was I in such a hurry to grow up?

I guess I never told Mom and Dad how special those Christmases were. I hope they know now.

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CHRISTMAS SPECIAL: $79 for any writing course. Lessons only. https://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.org  Must write to me to get this unadvertised special: DeborahOwen@CWinst.com

 

 

 

 

 

Re: Discrimination Article

by Deborah Owen

Dory B-day, 12-28-12 (57)

Apparently, a few people saw what they wanted to see in my article on discrimination a month or two ago. If you read the article and take nothing out of context, you will clearly see I was saying every person should have STANDARDS based on their own inclinations. It isn’t up to me to tell you what your standards should be (or vice versa). The point of the article was every person should have SOME kind of standards and live up to them because that is what responsible people do. You need to make your own list, which I referred to as discriminations to attract the public. If you will be so kind as to scroll down and reread the article, you will see I clearly referred to “discriminations” as STANDARDS.

If you knew me personally, you would know I invite strangers to join us for Thanksgiving (and so does my family); you would know all of us have worked with the homeless and I have worked with addicts as well; I also work with the grieving and those who have low self-esteem. If you knew me, you would know I love everyone, regardless of race, nationality, creed, sexual preference, or body odor.  🙂  Anything or anyone who claims otherwise is doing so falsely. If you and I disagree, that’s all right. It doesn’t make us enemies. It just means we differ. 

There are a lot of hurting people out there, and this is the time of year when hardships seem worse than usual. Take time to be kind to everyone. It won’t cost you a thing, but you will reap the reward for it.

Happy Thanksgiving, from my house to yours.

Deb