Tag Archives: “positive attitude”

The Gifts Of A Terrible Day

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet shed on the heel that has crushed it. -Mark Twain

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet shed on the heel that has crushed it.
-Mark Twain

Special note to my followers:  The very talented Cathleen Townsend, author of the recently released, ‘Dragon Hoard and Other Tales of Faerie’ has done an interview with yours truly to be released on the 17th of Dec. – Please click the link below to read: http://cathleentownsend.com/2015/12/17/interview-with-christina-barnes

Now, onto the gifts of a terrible day….

Gigi stared out over the ocean at the giant, full moon rising. The pageantry of clouds lit up, dancing slowly to the music of the evening breeze. She was ready to scream.

The same storm front had kept her in bed late that morning. It seemed cozier with the clouds, so she stayed a while longer to enjoy it. She finally arose, joyfully as usual, eager to see what the day would have in store for her. She prepared herself a ginger and celery smoothie before checking in with Gotu.

Gigi called the troop leader—her boss—Gotu. Gotu was surly, complaining about the weather and in a foul mood. He complained about everything and everyone, and he promptly assigned her a mountain of tasks that were his responsibility. So dreary and detailed they were, she doubted she would ever get through them. Gotu announced he would be playing golf and lunching with clients. Maybe if there was time they’d do a happy hour somewhere, while she covered for him, as usual.
“What a team they were!” Gotu pronounced, unconvincingly.
She felt her ears turn red as she filled with resentment.

Six hours into the first task on her list, her computer screen froze. Gigi couldn’t get it to do anything. She felt the tingle of panic rising from her feet as she realized she had not remembered to back up her work. How could she have been so careless? She frantically punched at the keyboard. But there was no magic key that would unlock the screen. The screen crashed into blackness. Six hours of work gone—poof! Gotu was going to be furious. She poured despair on top of her resentment like chocolate sauce.

She decided to leave the computer off and go to lunch. A break would do her good. She spied a cute little place she had not noticed before and thought she’d be adventurous and try it. She found a nice table with a view of the ocean. She plunked down in her seat, helped by the weight of the world on her shoulders. She observed the surrounding guests enjoying the tasty-looking dishes in front of them as she waited for her server. And she waited. She noticed a server on the other side of the patio. He was deeply involved in an animated conversation with a table of eight celebrating patrons. Surely someone would notice her sitting there with no menu, utensils or water.

More time ticked by when a whir of activity and loud voices behind her got her attention. Two of the staff were quarrelling as a glass crashed to the ground and shattered. One of them caught her staring at them, his eyes wide.
“Have you been helped sweetie?” he said, with a big, insincere smile.
Gigi raised her hands, palms up, presenting her empty table as she returned an equally fake smile. He hurriedly brought her a menu. No greeting, no water, no silver. He was gone in a flash to continue the heated discussion, now in a hushed voice. His opponent turned and walked away from him, surrendering his hands to the sky and shaking his head. Her server threw his towel down and came to take her order.
“Mediterranean salad,” Gigi blurted out before he could leave again.

The beautiful salad arrived—no silver, no dressing and nothing to drink. She looked around for him, but he was nowhere to be found. More angry and frustrated than hungry now, she pushed the salad to the center of the table, and got up and left.

With a frozen computer and no energy or inclination to start over, Gigi dubbed the work day “over.” She dragged herself up to her favorite spot on the cliff.
“I have accomplished nothing today; the day has been a total waste,” she told the ocean. She went to this same spot on the cliff often. She enjoyed sitting and meditating about her day, although today she was not sure it would do any good. It had been a terrible day. Gigi sat quietly as she thought about the day, how she had started it filled with joy.

Her stomach growled. She thought about the waiter. Her anger rose as she replayed the scene in her mind. She thought about times when she had been consumed by a conflict with someone. She admitted she was not very good at focusing on much else during those times. She thought about it and decided he’d done the best he could—he was very, very upset. After all, it had nothing to do with her—she was just caught in the crossfire.

Her mind wandered to Gotu as she took a deep breath. Gigi exploded, “How dare he dump all his work on me?”
She felt her teeth clenching and her lips lock around them. Her heart raced as she thought about her six hours of vaporized work. Nobody to blame but herself for that.
“But he threw all of his responsibilities on me while he went off to play!” she yelled at the moon. He was always doing that. He felt entitled as the troop leader to do as he pleased. She simmered in thought. She had done his work for him for so long. He probably didn’t even know how to do it himself. After all, he never had. He just looked like a troop leader. He bragged and threw his weight around; he knew how to schmooze. She thought about how much she had learned by doing his work for him. The tasks were things she never would have learned had he not had his attitude of superiority. What a gift, she decided. With all her knowledge, she would start her own troop!

As she felt the gentle breeze blow through her, her emotions became small clouds drifting through her sky of joy. They were not all of her, as she had felt earlier in the day. Yet they were all a necessary part of her. She realized each emotion, no matter how unpleasant, taught her something about herself. She needed to love and accept each one as she asked herself two questions: Why was the feeling present? And what did she need to understand to make it go away? She felt gratitude for her anger, despair, resentment and frustrations. They were replaced with compassion and an empowering enthusiasm for her new path. Tomorrow was now full of inspiring possibilities!

Her stomach growled a long rumble as she took a deep breath. She released a soft sigh and a little chuckle at the wonder of it all. Yes, this day was a gift after all.

These pains you feel are messengers, listen to them.

-Rumi

Always A Race Horse

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”
-Mark Twain

Savannah was beginning to feel the gloom of her surroundings. Only a week ago she was living on a preschool playground with lots of friends. That was until the gang member kidnapped her as part of his initiation. Only no ransom would be demanded. It was over—everyone laughed at how clever he’d been.

Life in the “cave,” as they called the long since abandoned building, was depressing. They came there in the evening to do drugs and put out their cigarettes on her. They strutted around displaying various acts of bravado fueled by lots of liquid courage. Then, the grand crescendo, smashing their bottles against the back wall. Mostly they got into fights with each other and tagged the walls.

She missed the playground with its lush trees and laughing children. The children had called her the Race Horse. It made her feel invincible. Obviously, there was more to being invincible, Savannah decided. She had to keep believing that was still who she was, even if nothing else around her indicated that.

As she looked around at the graffiti, she began to appreciate some of it as being quite artistic. Some with very vibrant colors and 3D effects. But the messages all of it sent were the same, some more blunt than others. Hatred, fear, despair, jealousy, insecurity, lots of anger, blame, hopelessness and no love for themselves or the world. Some she didn’t understand at all. Surely they had once been just like the children at the preschool. Full of joy, excitement and the wonder of life. Somewhere they had gotten abandoned, or worse—just like the building they gravitated to. Here they were, all of them together. They had found each other, like magnets, drawn to one another. All wanting from the others what they couldn’t give themselves—unconditional love. She felt compassion for all of them. The garbage smelled.

If she closed her eyes, she could imagine herself back on the playground. She could hear peals of laughter as the kids bantered over whose turn it was to ride the Race Horse. She imagined herself, a white Arabian horse, galloping on the beach, kicking up sand in the ocean air. She did not have to be her environment. Savannah realized she was the same inside, no matter where she was. She was still the Race Horse, because that’s what made her happiest.

The night stretched into the wee hours. It degenerated into gunfire into the desert sky as they all moved outside to shoot beer bottles. A typical raucous night with her new family. All had gone quiet as the gang dissipated, going their separate ways. A few hours later, Savannah heard a large vehicle just outside. Its headlights shining into the little windowless hole in the wall. It was very early morning, still dark. Something was up.

Three men with hard hats and flashlights entered the cave. Three beams of light painted the walls every which way.
“We might be able to salvage the bricks and resell them,” the tallest one said, looking around. “This will come down pretty fast, and I do think we could get something for the bricks. The paint might even make them sell better to some ‘artsy fartsy’ people.” They laughed.

Savannah felt panic shoot through her as she realized they were talking about tearing down the building! Just when she didn’t think her life could get more challenging, it did.
“Hey, check this out! Pretty cool—I’m going to take it home for the kids and clean it up,” the youngest one said. It took Savannah a minute before she realized she had been saved. “Help me get her on the truck, will you?”

Savannah felt herself being hoisted up and out into the dizzying fresh air. She gulped fresh air deeply, breathing out, ahhh… no garbage. They set her down on the bed of the truck and secured her with straps so she would be safe. Yes, they knew how to take care of a Race Horse, she giggled to herself. She sat in the back of the truck for another hour as they surveyed the rest of the building. She grew anxious waiting. Finally they all came out and piled into the truck.
After a bumpy ride, they stopped abruptly and the engine went quiet. A cloud of dust from the dirt road enveloped her. She couldn’t see a thing but she could hear.

“Daddy, Daddy, Daddy! Is that a horse? Is that for us?”
Several young voices were all talking excitedly over each other. As the dust settled, she could see three young girls and one quiet, overwhelmed little boy. Eyes transfixed on Savannah. They all gathered around as the men lifted her down off the truck and carried her to the garage.

Savannah sat there in the garage for the rest of the day with an occasional visit from one of the children. That evening they watched their Daddy as he carefully cleaned the dust off Savannah. He filled her cigarette holes with putty. He sanded and applied matching white paint to the wounds. Just for fun, he grabbed some tar paper and crafted little blinders for the side of each eye. One little girl said in hushed amazement, “Daddy, she looks just like a race horse!”
Savannah knew she was home.

                                                                                      Be as you wish to seem. – Socrates

Illusions

"Drag your thoughts away from your troubles...by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it." -Mark Twain

“Drag your thoughts away from your troubles…by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.” -Mark Twain

Maisie tasted the dirt coating her tongue as she tore away at the earth beneath her twitching paws. Rocks, twigs and roots were hurled aside as she pulled the earth up like flimsy wall-to-wall carpet.

Maisie was lost in her dream world where she was in charge. Again in foster care, again ignored and given minimal attention. Food, water and a pat on the head. She was left to her own imagination during the frequent naps she took to entertain herself.

People always said, “Oh, is she a pit bull? That’s scary,” blah, blah, blah… She had been adopted three times by someone wanting her to fight other dogs. She had become a very adept escape artist, but her survival skills fell short. Here she was in foster care again. It was the same movie. She wasn’t mean. The mean people wanted her to be mean, to fight with other dogs for money. She couldn’t do it—she was a lover.

There were four other dogs in the foster pack. Millie, a four year old red Queensland heeler, who was adorable and truly was mean. Mandy, a quiet, sweet mix of shepherd and at least three other breeds. She had a soft, long, golden coat and was afraid of her own shadow. Sadie, a working girl always looking for something to do, was a Catahoula. Maisie had not seen a Catahoula before. Her short coat was covered with different colored spots in all shapes and sizes from head to toe. She was also very bright, fearless, and a smart conversationalist. And lastly, Banjo. A big, handsome mixed guy with one floppy ear and stripes like a tiger. All the dogs loved him, and he loved them. But the problem was people. He snarled a snaggled tooth grin and growled when they came near him—then laughed as they ran away. They never hung around to hear him laugh at his silly game. He meant nothing by it.

Maisie had seen several other dogs get adopted during her stay. She longed to get adopted by someone kind who would love her and make her a member of their family. She didn’t know how to be loved. She always had to figure out how to survive her owners—and escape.

The doorbell sounded. Chimes echoed through the house. She watched as the foster mom distractedly fixed her dark hair in an invisible mirror, and opened the door. She adjusted her tight shirt, pulling it down over her belly as she ushered in the smiling young couple. Maisie didn’t move from her spot in the corner. She had a perfect vantage point to see all the commotion. The others rushed the nice couple, jumping on them, barking and competing for attention.

Except for Mandy. She sat in front of them, quietly, with her deep brown eyes focused like lasers on the woman. She never took her eyes off her. Maisie felt invisible as she watched. The foster mom was extra charming as Millie nipped the woman’s calf. The woman was still smiling but rubbing her calf as she locked eyes with Mandy. Banjo growled, sending mixed messages with his tail wagging. Sadie tugged at the man’s pant leg in an effort to herd him somewhere. The couple seemed to like Mandy’s ladylike demeanor, and soon asked what the next step would be. As they separated Mandy from the pack, she seemed a mix of nerves and excitement. Her tail whipped back and forth as she walked out the front door with all the humans. The others quickly stopped the performance and went back to what they had been doing. Bone chewing, sleeping, grooming. Mandy was brought back in after a few more minutes, and the next day they came to take her home. Score for Mandy!

Maisie pondered how Mandy had created her future by being totally different from the others. She had quietly let her focus do the work. She created a new life for herself with just her thoughts! She focused on what she wanted. Not on what she didn’t want. She acted like it was a done deal. Maisie realized she had been focused on the fear that another mean person would adopt her, and that was what always happened. How could she learn to do what Mandy did? After all, she was still a “scary pit bull.” Maybe she could make herself look “not” scary?

A couple of days went by before another prospect arrived with the chiming of the bell. Maisie felt she was ready as she focused on the life she wanted. An attractive woman in yoga togs, and a similarly attired little girl—about seven years old—with beautiful red curls entered. They seemed nervous as they followed the foster mom into the house. Maisie got up from her corner and slowly walked towards them, letting the others rush them as usual. Suddenly Millie had pummeled the little girl to the floor. The little girl burst into tears, filling the room with high pitched screams of terror and lots of barking at Millie.

Maisie walked over to the little girl with her biggest, goofiest dog grin and started to gently lick her tears. The little girl hesitantly started to giggle, alternating between a pouty mouth and a smile trying to break through. Pretty soon she was laughing. She wrapped her little arms around Maisie’s neck, announcing loudly, “Mommy, this is the one. She’s so sweet!”

Maisie’s grin got even goofier. The girl’s mother watched the bonding episode with a smile on her face. Then, the smile was gone.
“Oh, is that a pit bull? They scare me.”
Maisie kept her grin as she leaned into her new pal and gave her another sweet kiss, watching the girl’s brow furrow with worry.
“Mommy, I love her! She’s not scary—she kissed my tears and made me laugh!”

Maisie watched the mother’s face now as it softened, unable to see fear in the gaping, coast-to-coast grin. She knew she’d won her over!

The woman turned to the foster mom and said, “That dog clearly loves Maggie and Maggie loves her. There’s nothing left to do but take her home!”

Maisie reclined on the overstuffed, buttery soft leather couch in her new home. Her head resting in the lap of her beloved Maggie as she stroked her ears. Maisie thought about what had happened. The journey of her short life up to this point. How it seemed like a series of lessons, each one necessary. Up until the point she realized that as long as she had the same thoughts, she would keep having the same life. What power she had! She had created a whole new life simply by deciding what she wanted, staying focused, and taking action to get there. So it was all an illusion, like her dreams, created by her thoughts and perceptions.

Maggie asked, “Maisie, do you want to go outside and play?”
Maisie rushed the door with her paws dancing on a hot griddle of excitement. And they played with reckless abandon.