Posts Tagged With: hard times

It’s Raining Twenties From Heaven

Pennies from Heaven?

Pennies from Heaven?

Thirteen years ago, this month, MSH had just landed a contract out-of-state at a facility that had something or other to do with the airplane industry. He’d had a ton of gigs that lasted various lengths of time and I seldom kept track of what exactly each involved. On the morning of September 11 he called me, told me to turn on the TV, and the world changed. A couple of weeks later he drove back home, his contract ended abruptly along with hundreds of other contractors and employees. A similar scene unfolded all over the country that fall and winter.

Months and months and months and months later, I forget now how long, no other contracts came available, no other work opened up. All our reserves siphoned away, all our options dried and cracked like a Phoenix river bed.

I took a sales position that brought in enough to cover a couple of the utilities. I took on other manual labor as well. MSH took what work he could get, but it utilized none of his decades of experience in the computer industry. Not a nice memory to look back on, I can assure you.

Surprisingly, a few bright spots shine through the dark, hopeless feeling of that time.

One ray of light in particular stays with me.

Occasionally, unpredictably, an envelope would show up taped to our door, a twenty-dollar bill tucked inside. No writing on the envelope. No clues whatsoever where it came from.

Twenties from Heaven

Twenties from Heaven

Twenty dollars bought a grocery cart full of fresh produce where I shopped. Gratefully that’s usually how we used that gift.

Tucked inside that envelope, along with the crisp or crinkled bill, a bit of hope and a sliver of love. I never had any way of thanking whoever thought to send such caring our way. The timing of it always caught me off guard, usually on a day of discouragement and exhaustion.

If I didn’t already believe in angels before those twenties started showing up on my door, I certainly became a believer afterwards.

Whoever sacrificed that amount for us and taped it to our door may not have had wings or known how to fly, but they most surely wore a halo shining with human kindness and glowing with sensitivity.

Almost every time I use a twenty-dollar bill all these years later, I’m reminded of those twenties that blessedly and magically came our way.

When I start to think that the world holds little of goodness in it, or I get discouraged by life in general, I simply remember back to those envelopes on my door and feel grateful for good people, the real gifts from heaven.

~~~

This song kept rolling through my head as I wrote today… Might have something to do with the record rainfall we’ve had today in the Phoenix area. Or it could have been a message I needed to hear. I’ve included the original version by Bing Crosby as well as a cover by more recent artists.

I’m wondering if it needs to make a comeback.

Enjoy.

Or if you prefer a more current rendition here’s the Paul Anka and Michael Buble cover of Pennies from Heaven.

(Here’s the lyrics.) 

A long time ago
A million years BC
The best things in life
Were absolutely free.
But no one appreciated
A sky that was always blue.
And no one congratulated
A moon that was always new.
So it was planned that they would vanish now and them
And you must pay before you get them back again.
That’s what storms were made for
And you shouldn’t be afraid for

Every time it rains it rains
Pennies from heaven.
Don’t you know each cloud contains
Pennies from heaven.
You’ll find yor fortune falling
All over town.
Be sure that your umbrella is upside down.
Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers.
If you want the things you love
You must have showers.
So when you hear it thunder
Don’t run under a tree.
There’ll be pennies from heaven for you and me

~Arthur Johnston and Johnny Burke

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Categories: Hope, Mondaze | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Putting on a Game Face, Going Through the Motions

Have you ever had a preconceived notion blasted out of existence?

I find myself guilty  of making assumptions about people and situations way too often.

And then, the reality I was so certain of gets blown out of the water. Usually, it’s me being small and covetous. Being judgmental is just me wishing the crud in my life wasn’t. It’s me thinking life isn’t fair.

Most of us put on our game face, our fake smile,  and do our best to look perky, energetic and do what needs doing regardless of how crappy we might feel or how heavy the world weighs on us that day.

A few people will see through our façade. But we manage to fool most of them and think our life is great.

You gotta figure everyone else does what you and I do. Everyone else has on a game face for the world to see. At home, the reality could be filled with tears, anger, and worry, much sadder and more desperate than we could even imagine.

That perfect little family down the street might be struggling with someone dying of cancer. The co-worker who seems to have it all together may be losing everything he’s ever worked for. The adorable Barbie-figured woman who jogs past your house every morning may be on her last gasp before running away from it all. The quiet, unassuming kid behind the counter who’s always polite to everyone, might have plans later that end it all.

Ah. You never know. Until it’s too late. Even then, you  may not know.

Poker

Poker (Photo credit: maorix)

The cards we get dealt in life are ours to play however we choose. We can let everyone see what hand we have.
We can hold ’em close to our chest and not divulge a thing. We can have a poker face that discloses nothing.We can bluff our way through and have everyone fooled. Only we know what we’re playing with.

Why I’m using a card metaphor, I’m not sure. I think it’s a big cliché’. And, I’m a lousy poker player. And, I only play for chips, for fun, for the laughter. Hopefully, I play out my life better than I play cards, or write.

I’m reminded today that I can’t guess at what anyone else has in their hands, in their hearts, behind their door. I can only wish them the best, help when I can and be kind to strangers.

What’s that quote? It’s attributed to a few different people. But whoever said it, said it well and was wise.

Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

I, for one, am going to try to be a little less judgmental, a little kinder, a bit more gentle. I want to give others credit for thinking through their circumstances and doing the best they can with what they have.

Maybe you’re the one fighting the hard battle. If so, you can be kind to yourself. Give yourself some slack, do a little something that feeds your heart and mind and soul.

If you’re one of those fighting a hard battle today, know that you are not the only one doing so. I don’t know if that helps or hurts. I do know that I wish you strength, energy, hope, happiness, coping ability, love, recognition of small joys, and the perseverance to keep moving forward.

Crop: I try. I fail. I don't give up

(Photo credit: juliejordanscott)

Don’t give up.

It will get better.

You are not alone.

Categories: Mental Health, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Weeds and Wildflowers

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m thankful for the tiny green shoots of wildflowers I have popping out all over my front yard.  There’s a promise in those sprouting weed-like growths. I know even though they look like weeds, and grow like weeds, they aren’t weeds. They’re going to produce masses of yellow and orange African Daisies and bunches of satiny orange California Poppies in another four to six weeks.

To appease the HOA I set out a couple of signs that say, “Wildflowers Under Construction.” I don’t really want to pay a fine for my “weeds” or get out some mean weed killing chemical.  I want to see the yard burst into golden waves of color.

wildflowers under constructionI find the symbolism of these flowers particularly appropriate for the challenges I face in my life, large or small.  What appears as something terrible, something troublesome, with time, often, not always, but often, in the long run becomes something positive and memorable.  I’m not about to proclaim gratitude for trials, oh no, not me. But I am willing to concede that I learn from going through hard times.

There’s a beautiful song, written by Stephen Foster, which I found particularly moving a few years back when the tides of trouble breached all levees and inundated my life.  It became an anthem for me of sorts, or a prayer, which I still hum often and think out loud and verbalize while on my knees.

“Let us pause in life’s pleasures to count its many tears,

While we all sup sorrow with the poor;

There’s a song that will linger forever in our ears;

Oh hard times come again no more.

Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,

Hard times, hard times, come again no more.

Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;

Oh hard times, come again no more.”

For me, as for many, if not all, hard times are not a one time event.  Hard things press in on us and weigh us down with a weight that is unfathomable. Finding a small thing like the shoots of wildflowers pushing through the weight of rocky soil can bring hope and send a song through the air that lifts the weight ever so slightly.

Looking For Signs

I look for signs of hope all around me. Not just in springtime harbingers, but in everyday life.  A newborn’s mewling cry. A teen’s energetic laughter. An older couple holding hands. Help being offered when a need presents itself. Kindness extended, smiles proffered, handshakes offered. Birds chirping. A toddler’s rowdy chaos. Blue skies.

The lyrics of this haunting song continue:

“While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay,

There are frail forms fainting at the door;

Their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say

Oh hard times come again no more.

Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave,

Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore

Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave

Oh hard times come again no more.”

I want to put a “Wildflowers Under Construction” sign on the doors of certain houses that I know.  I wish them vision to see the shoots of green that are pushing tentatively up through the rocky ground they’re walking on.  I want them to hear the song of hope, however quietly it may lilt in the air. I pray they feel a gentle tug of hope encircle and lift when all seems lost.

I watch for hope, for signs of life and laughter and good things to come.  Being small, they aren’t always easy to see. You have to look closely. They’re everywhere, can you see them?

Mark O’Connor, James Taylor, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer – performing “Hard Times Come Again No More”

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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