Looking for answers to life's questions

Archive for January, 2021

Contribution

This prompt had me think about my contribution to society and family. I obviously made choices in my life that failed to leave buckets of money that can be spread far and wide to benefit the world. It forced me to look at contribution in a different light.

We all matter or we wouldn’t be here

I think everyone makes a contribution in some way. There are those that teach others, those that take care of others, some contribute by making art, food, music or interesting literature. My quilt group and I made quilts for several organizations in need. It helped us all.

A fun way to give. Saw this somewhere on the internet.

Children contribute by showing us what joy looks like. There are those that contribute by showing us what we don’t want in our life. Contrast is essential for our growth, like it or not. It makes us work harder to find out how we want to be expressing in the world.

Borrowed this from somewhere. It made me smile too.

I’ve always thought I fell a little short in the area of contribution for many years. I wanted to do more and give more. Most of my life we were lucky to have our very basic needs met though there were plenty in my world who had less. Those are the people that give us the opportunity to contribute a helping hand, a listening ear, or just pay for their lunch when you can see they can’t. Small, simple things are valued by some as much as the bigger things.

I personally, like to make things and give them away. It’s my way of letting people know they are thought of with a caring heart. I’ve donated to animal shelters, given away fabric, books, clothing and household goods that were in good condition for someone else to use. I have enough of everything now and need less.

I’ve also come to believe that the more you give, the more good comes your way. Not necessarily in the same form but often in surprising ways. It took a few years of careful observation to come to that conclusion but I eventually had enough evidence to make that a fact. Give freely without expectation and it just boomerangs back in such subtle ways.

Are your views on contribution similar or vastly different? How do you feel you contribute in the world?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

What’s Missing

My first thought when I read this prompt was the old phrase “of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” ~ Mark Twain

I looked at my daughter and asked if I was missing anything in my life. Her reply took seconds. I miss my original language.

Missing something implies possible regret. Missed opportunities. I think my life unfolded exactly as it should. I have had a world of experiences and two children that grew into honest, honorable and kind adults. What more could I ask for?

It seems I’ve been talking about fully learning the language of my birth more than I realized. I have even started looking at YouTube classes to refresh my memory. Was it even worth the bother at my age? What are the chances I’ll ever get back there?

Still living in Germany Age 4

I left Germany at 4 ½ years of age, starting kindergarten in Kansas City. We moved twice the next year, then went back to Germany for three more years. I attended a base school that included a class on German language to help the kids that had never been there. My playmates were mostly the German neighbors. They didn’t taunt me even though my German was not up to standards even to them.

Kindergarten photo. The top knot brought lots of taunts.

While we originally lived in Germany, my dad, with the US army, spoke to me in English and I answered in German. We understood each other. Once we landed in the US my mother ‘earned’ her citizenship with study and testing. She stated to me that this was where we lived now, this is where our money came from and this was the only language we would speak. I was only to hear words in German if she did not know I was in range. They were usually muttered to herself, never outside our home. At that time in history, we were not well received here.

I traveled to Germany twice with my mother after their retirement. The first time was on a group tour with other military couples when my dad’ decided it was too much for him. Mom needed company. We were with Americans and that was primarily what was spoken on that trip.

Me and mom’s online friends. They spoke NO English.

The second time we went alone on her last trip, to all the places she had been with my dad and to visit some new online friends. Mom was struggling with pulmonary fibrosis and the trip was grueling. We rented a car and I did all the driving trying to understand road signs and rules. Mom had forgotten most of her German but I seem to find mine out of sheer need. Each occasion requiring information brought up words from the deep dark reaches of my mind. Mom would look at me and ask how I knew those words. I could only shrug and marvel at their appearance with gratitude.

In the city of my birth, mom found old friends that remembered her.

 

The building where my grandparents last lived. Arm swollen from lack of oxygen.

I think that brought on the desire to relearn what I had lost and build on it. I used to think in German and translate to English. Now I think in English and work very hard to translate to German. I’m not certain I’ll get the level of mastery where I can converse fluently but it would be so nice to go there, immerse myself for a few months and then once again, dream in my first language.

Do you feel there is anything still missing in your life? How would you go about finding it?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

Work

My second prompt was about work and I had a hard time with this one. Hence the late arrival.

Everyone needs work to do. It can build self esteem under optimal conditions. Which is why working at something you feel passionately about is essential. There are even animals that love to work. It’s built into us.

Growing up, we were instilled with an extra strong work ethic to the point that I found myself unable to be still unless I was reading a book which rarely was allowed. My parents always found work for us to do. Sitting and playing was never an option.

I’ll do the hard work

My dream of becoming a teacher never materialized. I hold teachers in the highest esteem. Without them, there would be no doctors, lawyers, or even actors and athletes. There are good teachers and then there are exceptional teachers. I was lucky enough to get at least one exceptional teacher. Her work changed my life.

Never afraid of hard work and I fit underneath better.

I am no longer in the work force but I’ve done so many different kinds of work in the different stages of my life. I’ve been an after school sitter and dinner maker, waitress, carhop, retail supervisor, hairdresser, secretary and switchboard operator for a security company where I had a phone at both ears. For a short time, I worked for Bell telephone in the IBM card reading department. I failed the eye test to work switchboard so they thought I’d do better reading tiny holes in cards. I wound up doing the job of two people working 12-hour days.  Each one of those jobs were about survival. I gave them all my very best efforts.

Mom and me, senior year of high school. Mom has the cigarette.

When my daughter was an infant, I went to a cocktail party with the husband for his work. One of his  coworkers was introduced to me and she asked what I did? I replied that I was raising two children and taking care of our home. She asked what else I did. Coming from another woman, I was stunned silent. That this is work that is not valued by other women made me question myself.

My favorite job in the world.

I learned about Color and Image consulting after the children were grown and gone. I studied for a year loving every minute. It was the first work I had ever done for myself. Now understand that I am not a fashion person. I found this method helped enhance individual personality in how you dressed and the colors you wore. It helped each person discover so much about themselves that had laid dormant.

I didn’t care about fancy dress. I cared about authenticity. Finding colors and styles that showed others who was really stepping in front of them was exciting. It couldn’t have been a job because I pretty much gave away most of my services for the pure delight of it. It was the second-best work I’ve ever done.

The best work I’ve ever had in my life was raising my children and giving them a voracious appetite for reading anything and everything. In our family, books are the gift of choice all the way around.

A most precious moment caught on film

Helping children read is my greatest passion and work in this world. Being brought up bilingual, I had a difficult time with words. For a short time when my dad was around, he taught me how to discern the spelling and meaning of words I did not know so that no one could speak above my level of understanding again. He did that with a GED earned while in the army.

What was some of your most interesting work through the years?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself