Author Archive

Oct
13

We lost a member of our Ankeny Writing Group ~ Chenita Smiley who said about our first meeting. “I was really excited to be a part AND my son has been waiting to get back to the library for some magazines he found last time.”

We will miss your vivacious smile Chenita.

She was part Native American and part Afro American and very full of love and adventure. She loved being a mother and loved poetry. I feel very blessed to have met her and very robbed to have run out of time to know her. Her son had just turned teenager and now has to carry on alone.

borrowed from the Des Moines Register 10-12-10.
WOMAN CRITICALLY INJURED BY CAR DIES. “A Des Moines woman struck by a car Oct. 5 in Windsor Heights has died of her injuries.”
“Chenita Smiley, 35, died Sunday, after five days in critical condition at Mercy Medical Center with a head injury, Windsor Heights police said. She had been hit by a car driven by Julia Kim, 60, of Waukee around 5 p.m. Oct. 5 as she walked across the intersection of 70th Street and University Avenue in Windsor Heights. Kim was cited for failing to maintain control of her vehicle and for failing to yield to a pedestrian.”
“Smiley was walking with her son, Da’Shawne Smiley,13. He narrowly avoided being hit, police said.”

Thanks to Don Kusmaul of our group who wrote this about Ms. Smiley.

Chenita seemed so vibrant and full of life. I jotted down a little biography on each person as we introduced ourselves in that first NonFiction group meeting. She said she was a Youth Development Specialist, that she had written poetry, and her area of interest was What Happens to Families in Divorce. She said she would write of her personal experience of the past 20 years and also what she believed to be the solution.
Her untimely death is a reminder of the uncertainty of life, and that we should not delay writing what is on our hearts to leave to posterity.
Don Kusmaul

Oct
25

What is fulfillment? The dictionary defines it as satisfaction or happiness as the result of fully developing one’s abilities or character. Who doesn’t want to exit this life fulfilled? How do you tap into the essence of your own character? How does one take responsibility for their life and health and happiness?

It’s a matter of acting from inspiration instead of obligation. How do you distinguish the motivation behind your actions? Are you acting from inspiration of your own character or because you feel obligated to do what someone else thinks you should do? Here is a quick test. The feeling of relief accompanies inspiration and is not available when a decision is made out of obligation.

Some say it takes a process of emptying oneself of expectation to be open to inspiration. There has been much written on living in the now and the value of being present to each moment. But how do you achieve that?

Americans have been in search of less struggle and stress in our lives. We have tried desperately to avoid pain and suffering. Maybe, just maybe, if we stop running from pain and stop to feel it, acknowledge it, allow the pain to sweep through us, we will be able to move through it to the other side where possibility is found. Haven’t we all heard that anything we resist persists?

Look around at the healthy people in your lives, especially the elders that have a long history of good health and quick recovery of set backs of good health. They acknowledge illness, fight it, recover and move on. They don’t linger in what if or what was. They embrace what is and what’s next with possibility and hope. Maybe that can only be accomplished by dropping expectation and resistance to what is.

Oct
25

What is fulfillment? The dictionary defines it as satisfaction or happiness as the result of fully developing one’s abilities or character. Who doesn’t want to exit this life fulfilled? How do you tap into the essence of your own character? How does one take responsibility for their life and health and happiness?

It’s a matter of acting from inspiration instead of obligation. How do you distinguish the motivation behind your actions? Are you acting from inspiration of your own character or because you feel obligated to do what someone else thinks you should do? Here is a quick test. The feeling of relief accompanies inspiration and is not available when a decision is made out of obligation.

Some say it takes a process of emptying oneself of expectation to be open to inspiration. There has been much written on living in the now and the value of being present to each moment. But how do you achieve that?

Americans have been in search of less struggle and stress in our lives. We have tried desperately to avoid pain and suffering. Maybe, just maybe, if we stop running from pain and stop to feel it, acknowledge it, allow the pain to sweep through us, we will be able to move through it to the other side where possibility is found. Haven’t we all heard that anything we resist persists?

Look around at the healthy people in your lives, especially the elders that have a long history of good health and quick recovery of set backs of good health. They acknowledge illness, fight it, recover and move on. They don’t linger in what if or what was. They embrace what is and what’s next with possibility and hope. Maybe that can only be accomplished by dropping expectation and resistance to what is.

Oct
23

Oh the joy of acceptance; of our authentic Selves and each other. Can you see what God sees in your neighbor?  Can you see yourself in your neighbor? I love this quote by Mother Teresa.

“Let us be very sincere in our dealings with each other, and have the courage to accept each other as we are. Do not he surprised or become preoccupied at each other’s failures – rather, see and find in each other the good, for each one of us is created in the image of God.”
~Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Peace is here!

Oct
22

Bernie Siegel inspired me to take responsibility for my health years ago and that has made a tremendous difference in my vitality and good health.  I love the quiz on his website and I challenge you to take it for yourself. Its excellent food for thought!! http://www.berniesiegelmd.co/immune_competent_personality.htm

Then check out his new montra.  I adopted it for myself. http://www.berniesiegelmd.co/bernies_mantra.htm

It is so amazing the powerful peace that follows acceptance of what is.  Like R.C. always responded, “Its just what I wanted!”  And he was healthy far past the age of 96.  Helen Hadley got a standing ovation last week at a recital when she was 100 and in excellent health. Her montra, “Be Positive.”

You know, you will always have what you want if you just want what you have.

Oct
19

My favorite comment to my last blog post was from Teri Howard who replied, “The art of aging graceful is the gift of becoming yourself.”  Oh, I love that!

In my book, Vivacious Living in the Wisdom Years, that is one of the common traits of those Elders who were living lives of good health and vitality. They were very comfortable with who they are. Why Jo Barnes even entertains others by sharing the humor of her blunders. Isn’t it fun to watch those blunder trailers after a movie? You know the scenes they cut out because the actors goofed up. The laugh at themselves. When you make a mistake, do you laugh at your authentic self? It feels good! I know I spent many years trying to cover up my mistakes so others wouldn’t notice I wasn’t perfect. :-) When I quit trying to escape from myself and learned to just laugh at myself, I felt a whole lot more freedom to just be me. What a relief!!

How do you discover yourself?  For me Silence has been a gift.  When I stopped looking for the approval of others and turned within (silence) I discovered, not only am I OK, but pretty cool in many aspects.  I would love to hear YOUR comments.  What are some of your practices to get in touch with your authentic Self?

Please post a comment so we can help each other age gracefully and share in Vivacious Living!

Oct
18

I have noticed that when I allow What Is to just reveal Itself it is far more magical than I could have imagined! It takes a great willingness to just allow life to unfold. It takes raw courage to just let go of your anticipated expectations and desires to control the outcome and just trust. It takes a willingness to be curious and watchful.  I have found silence to be very helpful. Remember that old Simon and Garfunkle song, “The Sound of Silence”? There is a space where if we are quiet enough, we allow wisdom to penetrate into our hearts and speak to us.

Just think, what is it causing you stress? Is it your own life, wishing it was some other way? Is it someone you love and care about, wishing life could be different for them? I suggest you try an experiment. Just for one day, give up wishing it was different and embrace the mystery of that situation. Just for one day, allow yourself to be curious about the outcome, trusting that Life may reveal something to you that you couldn’t possibly have imagined.  What have you got to loose? Just allow yourself one day of freedom from worry.  Just one day experience the Precious Present.  Tomorrow you can go back to your old ways of worry and suffering knowing there is another way to look at life.  You will have an interesting contrast to refer back to.

You may even want to journal how effective your worrying about a situation has been for you.  I have found that those times when I can place myself in acceptance of the way things are, I create a space for inspiration to come to me that gives me direction on action steps to take where I can make a difference! Who was it that sang “Silence is Golden”? I guess it was The Tremeloes.

I was recently on a bit of a treacherous walk with a 92 year old friend of mine. My sister and several other people I care deeply about were along also. It was lightly raining and we had strayed way off the beaten path into the woods where recently only wildlife had trod. It was muddy, slippery and rough terrain. I was filled with concern for my friend as she stumbled along, my sister, who is typically frightened about her walking ability, my niece who had a lovely pair of white sneakers on, how much time we had, how we would all get back in one piece, etc. ~ There was a noticable absence of complaints. ~ There was a silence, as we all seemed to trust the mystery of the hour. We worked together, noticing the beauty hidden deep within the woods, holding on to one another. We turned around and retraced our footsteps and safely arrived back where we had started. We were muddy, wet, hot and tired but we all took something away from that experience.  I think it was a Curious Contentment that maybe life is perfect, just the way it is!

We all had a sense of accomplishment. My sister, admitted that she would never have put herself in that predicament knowingly but that she was so glad she was along. She came away with a new belief in herself and her own abilities.  My Elder friend has decided to take her doctor’s advise and walk more to build up her stamina. I encouraged her to rest afterwards, but instead she took a shower and jumped back into Life’s activities, grateful for the lesson she has just learned. Praise God for Sisterhood, for possibility and for willingness to look at something with a new perspective!

Jun
28

Consider the possibility of being courageous enough to freely embrace letting go, then having access to loving each moment.

On Friday, June 26, 2009, we bid our Earthly farewell to our best Canine friend, roommate, guard dog, teacher, playmate and loving soul, Allie. Actually she was Taber’s dog and TedDi’s mother but we all loved her so. She was unique in many ways but she taught us much about love and life and letting go.

I have noticed that the healthy Elders around me, the human kind ones, seem to be adept at letting go. When we try to hold too tight to something we can suffocate it. They say Allie had cancer but I guess we’ll never know for sure. She seemed to suffer from separation anxiety since she was a small puppy. This time her suffering was preventing her from eating, running and breathing with ease.

I know the decision to ease her suffering and help her let go was tormentuous. As I have been actively practicing feeling my way, using my feelings as my internal guidance system, this one put my trust to the test. Initially it didn’t feel right, and then something changed. I was trying to read what she was communicating and allow that to flow through me. Being able to distinguish between inspiration and obligation is beginning to become easier for me. I know I have to begin with “I don’t know.” When I am completely blank and unattached to any outcome the inspiration has a place to enter.

When I let go and empty myself of expectation, then I am open to inspiration. The feeling of relief accompanies inspiration and is not available when a decision is made out of obligation. It’s not the lack of pain. I think I may have been expecting that? Allowing the pain to sweep through us gives it a door to escape.

I see TedDi playing in delight when there is reason to. Then he takes moments to just lay on his mothers pillow with his eyes wide open and allow the grief to pass through him. I can almost see the pain of her loss sweeping over him like a wave in the ocean. He doesn’t resist it or deny it. He just allows it. When I go to him and stroke his fur he just allows that. He doesn’t acknowledge it or resist it. Nature seems to be helping heal his heart.

I, with all my human thoughts, trying to reason away the pain, get caught up in second-guessing myself and justifying why it had to be done. I think I will learn to imitate my TedDi dog and simply allow all of life, the joy the sorrow, the pain and the promise to flow through me naturally and keep my editorial thoughts out of it!

I remember all my life no matter what you gave my father, R.C., for a gift; it was always, “Just what I wanted!” I have learned from my Canine friends, Allie and TedDi, to approach each moment with that sense of allowing. As I am practicing mastery of letting go of each prior moment and being open to each present moment for whatever it has to offer ~ and embracing the Perfect Present as “Just what I wanted” I am beginning to experience a fulfilled quality of life that I notice in my Elders.

Thank you Allie, and all those that have gone before us, for all your blessings! We are grateful!

May
07

Don’t you wonder how some people just continue to amaze others with their energy and activities? Most of my Elder friends are far busier than most people I know and have full schedules. They are always eager to spend time enjoying life with me but I need to schedule time in between their other activities. However the most remarkable common characteristics I have noticed is they have no resistance to adversity. They have an ability to laugh it off and move on. This has resulted in my healthy attitude friends enjoying far better health than their similar aged friends who spend time worrying or holding on too tightly to the past.  One of my Elderly acquaintances has this tag line on the end of his email messages. “Worry is the darkroom where negatives are developed.”

My recommended prescription for good health is to hang out with any octogenarian or older who is experiencing good health and notice their attitude. Its almost like my puppy TedDi. “Oops, I got in trouble, sorry, now will you play with me? Wag wag, dance dance!”

Then notice the contrast of an Elder who is wishing they were still young or things were the way they “used to be”. Its a lot like my old dog Allie. “Oh poor me, I’m getting too old to be playing like a puppy, I wish you still wanted to play with me, I guess I’ll just go lay down in this corner by myself”.

The good news is: That old dog really does still want to play and with just a little bit of encouragement to spark her fire, she will join in on the fun.  The same goes for the Elders in our lives. Just ask them to tell a few chapters of their story and watch their health improve.

Helen, just turned 104 on Sunday and when I commented on her health she says she has always tried to look on the bright side of things. We started asking her some fishing and traveling stories and she got up and walked into the next room to demonstrate two sweaters made from the hair of a muskox! This retired teacher, who renewed her teaching certificate at the age of 65 because their was a shortage of teachers during the war, took the time and energy to teach me about a lovely animal I’d not heard of.

The even better news is: Those of us who are wondering what this aging process is all about have some very glamorous role models to follow! Just ask them to tell their stories!

Full of Life and Inspiration, Dorothy Mathis

However the most remarkable common characteristics I have noticed is they have no resistance to adversity. They have an ability to laugh it off and move on. This has resulted in my healthy attitude friends enjoying far better health than their similar aged friends who spend time worrying or holding on too tightly to the past.  One of my Elderly acquaintances has this tag line on the end of his email messages. “Worry is the darkroom where negatives are developed.”

My recommended prescription for good health is to hang out with any octogenarian or older who is experiencing good health and notice their attitude. Its almost like my puppy TedDi. “Oops, I got in trouble, sorry, now will you play with me? Wag wag, dance dance!”

Then notice the contrast of an Elder who is wishing they were still young or things were the way they “used to be”. Its a lot like my old dog Allie. “Oh poor me, I’m getting too old to be playing like a puppy, I wish you still wanted to play with me, I guess I’ll just go lay down in this corner by myself”.

The good news is: That old dog really does still want to play and with just a little bit of encouragement to spark her fire, she will join in on the fun.  The same goes for the Elders in our lives. Just ask them to tell a few chapters of their story and watch their health improve.

Helen, just turned 104 on Sunday and when I commented on her health she says she has always tried to look on the bright side of things. We started asking her some fishing and traveling stories and she got up and walked into the next room to demonstrate two sweaters made from the hair of a muskox! This retired teacher, who renewed her teaching certificate at the age of 65 because their was a shortage of teachers during the war, took the time and energy to teach me about a lovely animal I’d not heard of.

The even better news is: Those of us who are wondering what this aging process is all about have some very glamorous role models to follow! Just ask them to tell their stories!

Full of Life and Inspiration, Dorothy Mathis