A Tree Of Life

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I was walking through our house and noticed a framed drawing painted by someone years ago hanging on the wall. It has a trunk and limbs and leaves, plus other items growing on the limbs. This brought about thoughts about my tree of life and perhaps yours.

I believe we each begin as a thought of God. We enter this world headfirst. Somebody pats us, and we take in that first breath of life, and that is when our soul enters. We are turned right side up, and so much begins to happen. Hopefully, loving arms are ready to help us enter a family we chose while still in Heaven. We choose the family we choose for what we are to learn here on this earth. We have a “tree of life” and are added to other relatives’ and friends’ trees along the way.

My tree includes past and present relatives plus extended family plus friends along the way that became a part of our family during my time with them. My tree encompasses an amazing lifetime. I invite you to think about your tree of life. Being 80, having four children, spouses, grandchildren, and those that came before this time of life, I had past life experiences on the tree. I added my grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends that have been like sisters and brothers, teachers that touched my life, and all in my past on my tree that represented all of the love that I have had in my past. I also added some that I never had the opportunity to meet because their stories touched my life. I even put a few relatives and a spouse that hurt me and allowed me to learn more about myself on my tree. They went on a limb alongside a few that gave me the skills to heal.

In my late 40’s, I was asked to speak at a seminar to be held at the Civic Center in Oklahoma City. While waiting for my turn, a friend asked me, “Are you more enmeshed with your mother or your father”? I said, “I do not know.” She turned and casually said, “Do this. Write down the issues that you have had in this lifetime and are still having. Next, write down your Dad’s issues in this lifetime and what your Mother’s issues were before she died. Even look back to your grandparents if you know some of their issues. Now look to see which side of the family you are most enmeshed with.” All of that only took about twelve minutes. I always thought I was most enmeshed with my mother and her side of the family, but I quickly found out that I was enmeshed with my Dad and his side. She quickly said, “You have the opportunity to heal all of the issues you wrote down, and it will make everything better for all of those that are on your “tree of life” today and all that will be coming in the next seven generations.

That was all we did, for I was the next up to speak. Walking onto that stage in front of those people, I had difficulty focusing on the present. I felt like I needed to go home and get to work on myself. This information I just received about my life so quickly had inspired me to go further with what I had been doing to improve my life. So rather than inspire them to keep on keeping on and give them ideas about what might be good to do to help their own lives, I wanted to go home. However, I did get it together, and my talk turned out to be helpful for them. I took my list of issues home when I left and went to work on reorganizing my life and what I could do to work on those issues that were handed down to my Dad and then to me. I knew I had to rid myself of each issue. I must heal my past to change my future. The paths for healing everything from money problems to checking my beliefs began to open. It felt like my whole tree was flourishing as I changed.

Today I wish I had spent more time listening in my life. I wish I had spent more time talking to and listening to my grandparents, great-grandparents, and even parents. I wish I had asked them questions about what they saw their issues in life were. What did they see happen in their grandparents’ lives, etc. What were their happiest moments? What were the most difficult times? Instead, it was much more important for me to play or go to work, make more money, or visit my cousins or friends. I see our own children and grandchildren doing the same thing. And I imagine this is in every generation. Interestingly enough, I did not see this on the reservation when we visited, perhaps because they did not have as much stuff as we all do.

My next blog is going to be Part II of the Tree of Life. It will be about the Tree that I see in my mind when I think of the Tree of Life.

LESSON:

Our Tree Of Life brings us so much more information than we expect. Listen and think about all of those people that are part of your tree. When you have an opportunity to talk to someone older than you, listen. Watch to see if younger ones are having some of the same issues as you have mode through. If it is possible to visit with them, do so. We cannot change anyone else, but we can tell stories, and perhaps they will have a seed planted within through a story.

GIFTS:

The amazement with all the meaning of a Tree of Life when focusing on one, imagining all the leaves, or perhaps drawing one yourself.

Appreciation for all of those before me that have touched my life and appreciation for all of those that are in my life today.

Love within and without.

Positive Thinking

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What is positive thinking? Positive thinking is having thoughts of hope and thoughts of a bright future of possibilities. It is not focusing solely on the negative. It is thinking about the good that might appear around the next corner of your life. It is creating your life. Negative thinking can also create your life. Positive thinking will draw blessings to you. Negative thinking draws negative. You can control your thoughts and your words. When I was in a negative space and was having a negative thought, I learned to go back and create four positive thoughts to make up for the one negative thought. This, I found, helped to overcome the negative! Eventually, I did not have to do this often as I learned more about myself and my reactions, and my life straightened out. I learned how to see the positive in most situations even though it appeared negative initially.

Eventually, I learned about an electromagnetic energy field. That was about forty years ago. I became fascinated with the subject. I found very little information about it at the time but began my own experiments. Now more information is finally coming out about “the electromagnetic energy field we each have. It is actually being shared with some nurses to help them understand how they might increase healing for patients in a hospital setting by checking themselves and their energy field before stepping inside a patient’s room. They expand their electromagnetic energy field by thinking about something positive and then carry peace into the patient’s room. Every one of us has this electromagnetic energy field. When improving our thoughts and words, our energy field expands. This energy field we carry can touch many lives besides our own as we enter a room or spend time with others! It also will help us draw to us what is truly ours. As our inner habits change, our soul even becomes happier.

Positive thinking definitely expands your electromagnetic energy field, which helps you in every part of your life. You feel more confident and secure in life with a good energy field, and you draw good to your life. When you are thinking about something ho-hum, but not negative, your normal energy field is about 18″ or so around your body. However, if you are thinking about something negative, it disappears. When your thought is focused on something outstanding in your life, it expands far beyond that 18″ limit. Know that your energy field will affect others you pass by also. I have been thinking about what we could do if more of us think more positively. It appears to me that we could greatly affect “peace” within and “peace” without. In other words, we could bring Heaven to Earth as is stated in the Bible.

I had an example of positive thinking to follow. My mother stayed positive even though she learned that she had diabetes when she was pregnant with me. They did not know nearly as much about diabetes as they do now. I was born in January 1941, and from that time on, we struggled. Many times things were challenging in our home. You see, at that time, they canceled one’s insurance due to diabetes. Yes, they used to do that. She would do fine for a while and then be in the hospital a week or so. She was my best friend. They advised her not to get pregnant again. She did her best but did get pregnant with my little sister, who was born three months early and weighed only one pound, six ounces. No one expected her to live, but she showed them! I was six when she was born. My father thought he could begin his own window business. Hospital bills for my mother and sister seemed never to allow him to get ahead. After being in an incubator for months with no touch, Mamma and Daddy could bring her home. I was so excited.

Even with money problems, health problems, and much debt, life felt good. We lived in a three-bedroom, one-bath home, and my mother saw that we were happy. I attribute that to her positive thinking. We were also going to a church that taught God had unconditional love for each of us. The minister taught faith, hope, love, and the belief that good will always overcome evil. Everyone left every Sunday feeling like they could face the week inspired. That included me. Yes, we had lots of stress and tension in our family due to misunderstandings, such as Daddy getting home late and being unable to telephone unless he stopped, not having enough money, and other such things. With all of this, I felt that we were happy, plus “hope” made me believe that something good was coming just around the corner.

During my formative years and grade school, I became “the peacemaker” in the family. I was fascinated when my sister threw temper tantrums and could get her way. That did not work for me by any means. Instead, I tried my best to keep the peace. During those many years, I also watched my mother closely to ensure that she was not going into a reaction that would sometimes lead her into a coma. My caretaking skills increased. While growing up and then going to college and getting married, I transferred my actions at home to my personal life and became a great and sick codependent.

My best lesson during life was how to stay happy even through the most difficult times. I heard my Dad repeatedly say to me when times got tough, and he caught me not smiling, “Susie, where is that smile? Go inside, clear down to your belly button, and feel a smile. Then move that smile move up, up, up until it comes to your face!” Try this! You will be surprised. When I was upset, I sometimes had to smile a couple of times, but it did help and usually worked. I used it in college, walking across campus when I felt “out of sorts.” I used it through marriages. I did my best when I was going through my first 17-year marriage, the terminal cancer experience with my husband until his death, and then that second difficult marriage that brought me to my knees with not many smiles. The gift of that marriage was that I had many lessons and was taught how not to repeat my mistakes.

As that second marriage got worse and the emotional abuse got worse, I tried to stay focused on faith, positive thinking, and affirmations to face the world every day when I worked. Finally, this brought me to my knees and began my search for God’s answers, not mine. I had lost myself. The same positive thinking that I talked about and taught in New Mexico came to the forefront with nothing working in my life. It helped me to release fear, look at new beliefs, and move forward on a path of my own. Positive thinking and opening to what I was being shown allowed me to acquire counseling. That did feel awkward since I had been an administrator and built a large mental health center in New Mexico. I added fasting for a month, one day a week, to acquire further guidance. I had always been closed to the idea of fasting but was watching for God’s answers that were coming to me. God brought this answer through a man I did not know on a ski lift as he shared about fasting. I listened and opened to the possibility. I was desperate for answers. That lead me to Al-Anon, where I gained some wonderful tools we can all use when upset. Al-Anon brought me back to being my “Self.” Every seminar I did for the United States Department of Education included positive thinking. During that ten-year period in Oklahoma working on me, I began doing seminars in Oklahoma and always included “positive thinking.” Then when I married John after being single for ten years (a twenty-seven-year marriage so far), I went from doing seminars for institutions, associations, and businesses to doing seminars for individuals wanting to improve positive thinking techniques and become more open to all of life! So think positively, expand your energy field to help you, and know what you are doing to reclaim positive thinking is helping others!

LESSON: Watch blessings come to you as you learn how to stay more positive. Know you have help from the invisible world. Be happy. Smile more. God and Spirit are always with you, waiting for you to ask. Know that sometimes answers take time. Watch for little and big gifts and be grateful! Give what you want to receive, and have no fear about giving.

GIFTS:

Three years after my divorce, my life turned around. I practiced positive thinking did affirmations, simplified by making many changes in my life during those three years. Today life is amazing. In fact, it always has been. I can now see how my life’s timeline and all that I did brought me a huge change in life. I attribute much of this to feeling positive. My thinking, words, and actions tend to remain positive, smiling, and loving. Sometimes I do slip just like we all do. It only lasts a short time, though! Try all of these suggestions I put into my blogs, and smile as you watch what comes back to you. At the same time, do allow yourself to grieve when you have a big loss. Even during that time, It will help your health if you can have some good thoughts or unexpectedly have a good laugh!

Another gift is that I have a God that I talk to about everything. I began a close relationship with God and God became my partner in creating the life I have today.

Letting go of beliefs that no longer work brought amazing answers and new beliefs God showed me.

An amazing and appreciated relationship with all four of our children and grandchildren

Many unexpected gifts my whole life! As I look back, I can see how God and Spirit worked with me through every loss and gain. Unbelievable and surprising gifts came at times when I most needed them.

I gained wisdom about making it through the most difficult times in life knowing something better does come!

When asked, I can then help others move through their most difficult times.

Are We Unteachable?

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Apparently, I sometimes am! Or am I just slow to catch on? For instance, I am now 80 years old and did something today at lunch for the first time. Am I a slow learner or just slow to change patterns in my life? Am I teachable? Yes, but maybe I have a harder time with my answers when they are not given to me, and I have to figure it out for my Self! Here is what happened. John and I went to a Chinese restaurant that we enjoy. Usually, a waiter asks what we want to drink. Me: “I want mine with no ice, please.” John: “I also want water, but with ice.” Then we go to the buffet and acquire the food. I sit back down at our booth and see my napkin with a spoon and a fork inside. Realizing that I need a knife to cut my broccoli, and I do not know where the knives are, I try to get the waiter’s attention. I have done this every time I have gone into this restaurant. Sometimes I get frustrated because I cannot acquire the waiters’ attention. Suddenly, John and I talked about patterns, simple ones; I realized I could help the waiter by asking for a knife when I tell him what I want to drink. I began eating in this restaurant years ago, and I just now figured this out! Yes, I have had the previous pattern for years! It was my pattern! Ha! Today, though, I asked for the knife initially, and when I sat down and looked, my water was there, and my napkin with a spoon and fork rolled neatly inside. The waiter had nearly placed the knife with the blade resting on the napkin not to have it on the table was neatly placed. How great! No more frustration! It is difficult to change patterns, and this was a straightforward one. Think how difficult it is to break bigger patterns.

How long do people live with emotional or physical abusers before taking steps to change a pattern? Someone on the outside can clearly see that something is wrong, but it is much more difficult to admit to ”self” that we can improve life if we are willing to change our own pattern rather than trying “to control” someone else’s behavior. So how do we become aware and take steps forward?

Sometimes we go back to the way we have been taught. We choose books to read that might help us. That is the way I began a huge transformation in my life. I turned to books. I told God I would listen for the name of a book, and when I heard it three times, I would buy it and read it. We have always had teachers who taught by reading books or memorizing what we needed to know. That gives us book knowledge.

Perhaps I was ready for another type of teaching and was guided to the Native American path that John and I were both on for twelve years. I will never forget when I stepped onto my first reservation experience for a ceremony and walked up a hill to find a seat on the ground to listen to the Elder and leader of the ceremony. I heard someone say as we were walking, “Listen carefully, we are going to receive a teaching.” I expected something quite different from what we got. No paper or pencil, no pages passed out that we could have for a guide, no instruction.

Their way of teaching is to ask you a question, tell you a story, or perhaps later send you out on a task. They do not come back and quiz you on what you learned. Instead, they watch! One of the things that they are doing is to distinguish between the people attending the ceremony. There will be true teachers, and then there are others that are “would-be teachers.” There are also people that “think they know it” but do not.

This Native American teaching is never meant to be definitive. Their whole way of teaching is for you to learn the answers! You will never be taught more than 80% of a particular story or teaching. The teaching they give always leaves room for you to fill in the blanks. This Native American way of teaching is a medium for you to find your truth within YOU!

A true teacher, in this way, will never tell you that you are wrong or argue a point with you. The purpose is for you to find your truth within yourself. It is not to make you over in the image of your teacher. The true teacher is to help you find out who you are and see what talents, gifts, and skills you can discover and develop within. The whole purpose of their teaching is to assist you in finding your Self! The fact that I am passing this along is not for you to go out and teach others this as great teaching…because this is only my understanding of how they taught us.

I truly thought I was unteachable at first. I did not understand the point of the stories, nor did I understand why they were sending me on some of the errands they asked me to do. I began to understand a little when a ceremonial leader would ask me a question like, “What did you learn when you went to collect the sap from the tree? What did you learn about yourself? What did you think about when you were collecting the sap?” I was much more used to my teaching from reading books and what people told me. You know, parents, preachers, and others. I took everything literally. For these answers, I had to look within. Slowly, I learned about why someone suddenly told me a story on the reservation. Sometimes it took me quite a while before I got the “aha” and received my teaching from the story!

I thank all of the teachers in my lifetime, everybody from parents, relatives, and even those that brought me my most difficult times (they were great teachers on what not to do or what not to choose ever again). I love life. We may all think we are unteachable, but we are not! We can learn. We learn from without, but learning from within is amazing!

LESSON: When a teacher appears in life that is a true teacher, listen. Listen to the four parts of Self, the Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual part or, in other words, body, mind, heart, and soul. If the teacher is good, it will be great. Know the teacher will eventually no longer be in your life once you have learned!

GIFTS:

Gaining new patterns and new understandings about my life as well as all life!

Gaining more compassion and empathy for self and everyone else!

Gaining a relationship with nature and all within and upon this earth!

Appreciation for all teachers that taught me!

Maybe I am still open and teachable since I am now “asking for a knife along with my water” in both the Chinese restaurant today and when I go to the Mexican Restaurant where I generally ask for a knife to cut the tortilla on the bottom of my chalupa! New patterns, a simple change. It makes it easier for me as well as the waiter!

Openness To Possibilities

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I had a dream a few nights ago about a cousin that I could ask for advice following the death of my mother. Her name was Margaret, and she had a sister named Julia. I always knew that they were both there for me when I needed them. They both were from Pauls Valley, and I loved growing up going to their houses to visit, playing with their children that were my cousins, having fun. Margaret and Julia drove from Oklahoma to New Mexico when Don died. I came home from the funeral home one day, and there they were, both sitting on the floor of my bedroom, looking at pictures. That surprise lightened my day. Margaret came back into my life in a big way when I returned to Oklahoma while in a bad marriage, filed for divorce in l986, and then had to sell my house in l989 and move into an apartment. To my surprise, Margaret moved from the apartment where she lived into an apartment in my apartment complex.

Margaret seemed to have less fear than normal, a positive attitude, and was interesting to watch. I attribute that to her family and their unconditional love. She married young, had a baby (another of my favorite cousins, Judy.) As it turned out, Margaret’s young, good-looking husband was an alcoholic. Having enough of his escapades, she picked up their baby and turned to her family. When women did not get a divorce, and not many women worked, she divorced, got a job with a bank, and went to work to help support both she and Judy. Eventually, she became involved with her sister’s brother-in-law and married again. This time she stayed married for years until he finally said enough of the wrong things to her. The last ugly thing he said to her caused her to stop in the middle of cooking dinner. She turned off the stove, packed a bag, and left. She was 65 then. I was on the phone with her daughter Judy, who lived not far from my apartment in Norman when the doorbell rang. Judy returned to the phone saying, “Susanne, Mother is here with her suitcase. Apparently, she left J.D. and is going to file for divorce. I better get off the phone and see about this.” It was true. After owning her own business and leaving everything behind, Margaret began looking for jobs that she, sixty-five years of age, could qualify for the next day. She planned to begin again! J.D. begged her to return to him, but she was not about to do so. As soon as possible, she moved into her own apartment. Not liking her apartment, she decided to move into the complex I was now living in.

After moving into the apartment downstairs, she was asked to be the house mother for the Chi Omega house at Oklahoma University. This job brought her a raise and more vacation, plus she loved the girls. Are you noticing that she had no fear of change? She definitely was also open to new possibilities with every step forward she chose to make. She encouraged me to keep stepping forward and was the inspiration I needed for my losses. I met Al, who lived upstairs two doors from me. I soon noticed that Margaret was visiting me more. She had noticed Al. Al was from the Isle of Man. He called himself a Buddhist Christian, was about Margaret’s age, and I introduced them. The two of them were talking for hours at a time. Eventually, she and Al called, asking for a meeting with Judy and me. They wanted our permission to move in together, explaining how much money they could each save. Both had come from two bad marriages. Judy and I both said, “Yes.” They were living together by the following week! That was quick. This was in the late l980’s. Margaret was in her late 70’s. Al was a little older. They explained that, at their age, they needed to hurry if they were going to try this! Margaret’s siblings got quite upset. They thought they were living in sin. This was in the late ’80s. Margaret and Al did marry about a year later and lived happily married until Al died five years later.

John and I married, and I moved to Pauls Valley. Not long after Al died, Margaret decided to move back to Pauls Valley. She rented a house suggested by a rental agency here. It was across the street from us. Several years later, and having some health problems, she decided to move into an assisted living center here in Pauls Valley, the Willows. When moving, she telephoned John. She said that she wanted to bring us some jelly. John said, “Come on.” She walked over and brought KY Jelly, not the jelly we were expecting. We laughed and laughed about that. She lived in the Willows until she ran out of money, completely out. She next moved in with Judy. With neither of them liking this, she moved into the nursing home in Norman, not far from Judy’s. Margaret was beginning to have problems with dementia but could cover that up pretty well. After moving into the nursing home, she began telling stories about her life with Al. She kept saying that they used to go whaling. It was not true, but she told an amazing story to all of the people sitting at her table and to others, including her doctor. The story had so much detail that everyone believed her. John, Judy, and I did not realize people believed her stories. But then Sandy, her granddaughter, received a telephone call from the doctor. She grabbed the phone because he rarely called, and she feared the worse. But here is what he said, “Sandy, your grandmother told me that you were writing a book about Al’s adventures in whaling. Do you have a copy? I want to read it.” We were amazed that he thought it was true! Margaret thought her stories were so true that she convinced others they were true. Amazing!

Al was in a mustard pot. When Al died five years after they married, he was cremated. His children spread his ashes. However, Margaret kept some of his ashes to mix with hers when she died. She did not know what to do with them. John and I gave her a mustard pot, a small crock, that perfectly held the ashes. She filled it and put it in her cupboard in the kitchen, moving it every time she moved. When moving into the Willows, she left Al and telephoned us, saying, “Will you bring Al to bring me? He is sitting on the kitchen counter.” We did take him to her. When she moved from the Willows to Judy’s and then to the nursing home, she lost Al somewhere along the way. We all looked for him and eventually found him. I took him to the nursing home. By the time she died at 98 at the nursing home, no one could find Al again. Where is Al?

Obviously, Margaret had ups and downs, but she remained “open” to new possibilities throughout her life. She called one day and asked what I was doing for lunch. I told her that I had plans to go to lunch with a young friend who asked to talk with me. She announced that she was going with us. I reluctantly agreed but decided my young friend might gain something like “a bit of wisdom” from Margaret. Sure enough, this young lady posed a question to Margaret. She asked, “When in your life were you the happiest?” Margaret replied quickly, “From 80 to 85. It took me that long to take the time to learn about me, which then helped me lose negative patterns and gain new ways of having a great marriage.” This young lady was surprised that she said from 80 to 85 were her happiest years. She also stated that at 85, she was still learning and growing and could not wait to see what new possibilities God would bring next.

LESSON: Pay attention to what God sends and stay open to new ideas and new possibilities. Do new things. Go to a seminar that might bring new “aha’s” or “new ideas.” (Margaret even came to a few of my seminars in her late 70’s.”) In her 80’s, she and three others in their 80’s went to Colorado and hired a guide to take them on a one-day river rafting trip. The guide almost backed out when he saw who hired him.

GIFTS:

Margaret was an Elder cousin/friend that showed me how one could have ups and downs at any age, set new goals, be open to what might come next, and remain happy within.

She was a gift. I do not know if she intended to stay close to me and then to John and me or if God just kept opening the space for her to be close.

I had the opportunity to do things for both John’s Mom and Margaret that I could not do with my own mother since she died when I was in my late 20’s. I took them to doctor appointments, for emergency room visits, etc. They were both a joy to be around even when they felt bad.

A positive attitude and opening to the joy we each have within is a huge help for our own health and happiness in life. I had a good example of a person that did this and had the courage to be true to herself!

I had the opportunity to attend her marriage to Al, officiate Al’s funeral, and then co-officiate with another cousin Margaret’s funeral.

God-Given Tools For Stress

We have to have some stress in our lives to keep going forward. However, when we have too many negatives in too short a period of time, our stress level greatly increases! I have been watching how I react to major changes in my life. First, I hold myself together to take care of and help others. I encourage others, love others, and help others. When I was in my early 30’s, my mother died. I did great helping my Dad until I left Oklahoma City and started home. While driving, I became so sick that I had to stop in New Mexico for two hours at a relatives’ home before meeting Don and our children in Ruidoso. When I arrived, he took me straight to the hospital to get a shot to help me. I slept over twenty-four hours. I was 38 when Don died. I already had taken off six weeks to help him while he died. The funeral was over, and I felt pressure to get back to work. After all, Dawn and Johnny had to go to school, and I was now the sole supporter. Two years later came a five-year negative marriage and divorce. With the divorce over and still not believing that I made such a mistake, I went to bed and did not awaken for over 24 hours! Now Pearce died, the brother that we helped out of diabetic reactions in the middle of the night, in the daytime, anywhere that we discovered him “out.” It was non-stop until the funeral and stayed non-stop with all that had to be done following the funeral. Again, I was forced to look back to myself and take care of myself, because after two weeks of non-stop, I had problems! Between John’s eye surgery on June 10th, which was stressful enough, and then his brother’s unexpected death on June 11th, I held myself together again for two weeks before becoming ill. With too much stress, our immune system suffers. How could I be sick?

I had to drive John to many appointments! I knew what I had to do. I encouraged others to do this in seminars for years. First, balance me every morning by doing prayer and at least ten minutes of meditation or by reading something inspirational for ten minutes, then pay attention to what I was putting in my mouth. Was it junk food that we are all tempted to use when stressed or healthy snacks? I needed to force myself to go toward health, lessen my caffeine intake, regain more balance in my life, and allow God to take over how to do some things rather than me. In other words. Later in the day, I would sit down and make prayers rather than running all over, I could get out of God’s way, and God/Spirit/Angels could help us with all we still had to do. Eventually, I went to see my doctor and followed the doctor’s orders. It has now been two weeks of being sick, and I am finally better since I got the crud. I feel like me again

Since I strongly believe in the “power of prayer,” so I easily turned to prayer. I pray every day for everyone else. Suddenly realizing John and I were at the bottom of my prayers, I moved John and myself to the top of the list for healing his eye and getting rid of my nasty, nasty cough. I also consciously watched every word being said in my prayers for the two of us and others. There is power in every word we say and every thought we have, so I also became more focused on positive, healing thoughts, words, and visual pictures when praying for us and everyone else. These are only a few of the God-given tools I used. I watched for signs as to what to do to help my Self.

We had so much to do, and we had stopped watching movies in the evening and relaxing. The television had not been turned on “at all” for three weeks. Finally, we picked out a movie we knew nothing about to watch. Would it be good? Who knows! The messages in it were great! There was no coincidence that this movie is what we picked, but what was my sign? Was I to be more grateful? Was I to release negativity? The movie we watched was titled “The Dreamseller” on Netflix. There was one line in it that movie John and I both loved. It is “The first to benefit from forgiveness is the one who forgives. Not the forgiven.” That immediately took me into our past and into some of the healing ceremonies that we attended. The person requesting the healing was always asked, “Is there anyone that you need to forgive or anyone you still resent?” If the answer was yes, the medicine person said that he would reschedule the remainder of the healing until the person receiving the healing took the time to take care of “his or her forgiveness and resentment of the person mentioned.” “When you let that go, releasing the negativity in you, we will complete this healing.” I always returned to watch the healing be complete and the miracles following the healing. Others not willing to let go of resentment or forgive sometimes improved, but I did not see the complete healing like took place with those who went to work on releasing negativity. John and I loved that movie so much that we watched it completely again the following night to stop feeling resentment within. If you decide to watch, listen to the words carefully and read the subtitles. It does have subtitles, but it is so worth watching!

How can one release the resentment towards someone that hurt them badly with their words and what they did in your life? When I was hurt and felt some resentment towards a person, I had a mentor suggest to me, “Get on your knees every day and pray for that person that hurt you and that you resent. Ask every morning first thing for what you want for you that day, only ask it for the person you are angry with that hurt you, not you.” I put the shoes I was to wear under my bed, so I would have to get on my knees in the morning. (Today, I use a chair rather than get on my knees.) I could hardly get the words out initially, praying for someone that hurt me so badly. A short time went by. I began to feel different. Slowly, every muscle in my body changed when I said my prayer, and I eventually felt peace within, which later brought peace without. At the end of thirty days, I put her in the God Box. All negativity was gone, and I could wait to see the results. I watched the change in her! Today, we are great friends. I had practice, especially with that bad marriage. Now I do it when need be.

I also knew that I needed to re-energize to keep going because there is still so much to do. Sometimes we have to step back and re-energize. We have a perfect example of prayer and stepping back in the Bible with Jesus. How could I do this? Before getting sick, I went into every meeting with John everywhere he wanted to go. I answered the phone and talked on the phone all day sometimes. That takes energy also! For the last two weeks, except for one of his doctor’s appointments, I remained in the car and did nothing while he took care of his business. A great time to pray! I created positive thoughts for both of us and prayed for us and others. For instance, I visualized a strong tree? Do you know that you can go to a tree when you get frustrated or angry, place your hand on its bark, and give the tree your anger? Think about it being “The Giving Tree.”

Visualize moving the negativity within you out, through the tree, on up to the top, and disperse for those in Heaven to help you heal. I have done that at several gatherings. I also have done it before some talks. Some find me strange! Ha! Focusing on nature, season changes, etc., which we often follow without paying attention, I realized that today we are all in the heat of summer, halfway through the year. This is a good time to work on relationships close to you or changes to make when the leaves fall off the trees. It is a great time to think about “Are there any beliefs that are no longer working in my life that has been passed down to me? “Are there any perspectives about life I need to change? What irritates me that I can release? What fears do I have that I need to let go of? Do I need to reduce the time I spend on my iPad or watch television or video games instead of relationships in person? I can do all the things I know to increase faith in my life (meditate, personal prayer life, use my God Box more, make prayer ties). Perhaps this will give me the courage to be true to myself at all times and pay more attention to what I value in life.

Remember what I said in an earlier blog. With every loss, my faith became stronger due to what I learned. The spiritual part of Self increased. Each loss taught me so much! I learned more about flowing and waiting to see what God/Spirit brought next. I have been with money in my past and without money, feeling like I had many friends and then feeling alone in life. I have had life turn upside down on me and then put into divine order. I used everything I could to help me remain positive about possibilities that will come in the future. This helped me stop pushing against the stream and taught me to flow more through life rather than forcing it, trying to control it, or meet everyone else’s expectations of me. Instead, I could still set goals and allow everything to happen in its own time. I learned more about how to flow, giving God and Spirit time to create and do the work while I did my part to gently and carefully step forward!

Life today is amazing. John and I started life over again together. My life with John is fantastic. We have amazing friends. Our children are wonderful. We love our relatives, all of them. All of this came after those stepping stones of loss taught me so much, and I finally spent the time to “look within” for peace so that I could bring “peace without” for me and hopefully be a guide for others. Our security is within, not without. Our treasure from Heaven is also within, not without. It is not money. We each have it within! When found, one can be happy with or without and can go through a negative in a new way!

LESSON: Learn to appreciate the negative and the positive! Take steps to release what is negative. Watch for “your” signs. The more you listen and spend time gaining inspiration from what you, yourself, hear through others and dreams or a Holy Book, or through an amazing thought that comes to you. Listen for God/Jesus/Spirit. You may get a “literal sign” on a highway that speaks to a thought you have been thinking. Pay attention is the lesson! Watch what happens in your life as the season changes, as a loss takes place. Watch it all! Soon you will appreciate the negative as well as the positive, and all will be well again.

GIFTS:

I received major reminders that I “must” go back to the basics of what I have done to relieve stress.

I got well, and John is slowly getting better. He does not have Chron’s disease. Prayers we all have said works. Thank you! Those many prayers were a huge gift! Please keep those prayers up. He is still the one-eyed John and cannot yet see out of the eye he had surgery on!

My gift was a surprise that so many people commented on the blog about “it”! Amazing that so many are now reading my blog. I heard from relatives, friends, and people that I did not know! My prayer has been from the beginning that my grandchildren will eventually read my blog and that this blog will perhaps touch someone’s life.

Grateful for my life and for yours!

What Happens When “It” Happens

Normally June is filled with celebrations of birthdays for two children, three different grandchildren, and remembering John’s brothers. Even if we are not with them, we buy gifts, try to mail cards, and make calls. Last month, the month of June began with special dinners with special people. June also brought a scheduled endoscopy and colonoscopy for John, where we learned a cat scan was being set up for John to acquire more information. On Monday, June 7th, John and I had a routine eye exam. And “It” began. There was a surgery on June 10th and a death on June 11th.

A few days before the appointment, John noticed one eye was having a problem, but there was a scheduled appointment to see both of us in only a few days. When Dr. Mendel walked into the examination room to check on my eyes, I said, “Dr. Mendel, I hope you are taking care of John’s eyes. He needs to be able to drive at night because I no longer can.” Dr. Mendel: “Susanne, I was going to wait to tell you, but John has a bad eye. He has a hole in one eye. I have just set him up to see a specialist. As soon as you get out of this chair, you need to take him to Edmond to the doctor for the emergency appointment I just made.” I was stunned! My thoughts consisted of “Why had we not insisted on John seeing Dr. Mendel when we casually stopped by and upped our appointment by a few days? Why didn’t we tell the receptionist what John was experiencing with his eye? Then I switched to mad at Dr. Mendel and John for not telling me there was a problem six months ago after his last appointment. Why was Dr. Mendel not checking more often on the problem Dr. Mendel noticed at that time?” You know, it is always easier to blame someone else.

I canceled my afternoon plans, and off we went. On this challenge of quickly driving to the specialist’s office in Edmond, I thought about some of the stages of change I taught in every seminar on change! First, I was shocked when John told me a problem he was having with one eye but was more shocked when Dr. Mendel told me there was a hole! (so first, shock) Then I apparently denied (next, denial) to myself a serious situation we were facing. Dr. Mendel told me the problem. My attitude changed. I became angry (anger with others and with Self) with myself for not paying attention to what John said the previous week about a problem with his eye. He did not seem worried, so I did not worry. We arrived at the office in Edmond. The receptionist was waiting for our arrival. However, the doctor was with another patient. We had a seat and waited. I was totally disgusted with myself for not insisting John pull into Dr. Mendel’s office the previous week and tell him his sight was diminishing. So now I had not only blaming Dr. Mendel and John but also myself (blame). It is also easy for self-pity to set in and perhaps depression. (next one might have self-pity or depression). Or one can begin to focus on actions to move forward and make the best of every day even though they’re in pain. It is good to allow time for grief which I did not do when my first husband died. However, when people go through “it,” many never get past the stage of self-pity and anger. Next, behavior improves (attitude changes) as we begin to think rationally about our situation and create a plan for ourselves. With a look within Self at the situation, we begin to use new knowledge, understanding, and skills to accept where we are at present (acceptance).

Yes, I was sitting in a doctor’s office thinking about all of the stages we go through when faced with the challenge of change. While waiting, I also thought about when my first husband, Don, died and how long it took for me to move through the stages between the doctor in Mayo telling us that he had cancer and then six months later, death. It took time to let go, accept it, and heal. Death, divorce, any life-changing accident or event, or maybe even losing sight in one eye can bring about change. The time it takes for each person to move through the stages is different for everyone. After Don died, I ran away from my life, thinking that would relieve some of my feeling of “not fitting” and the pain of loss within. I made some big mistakes. Hold onto faith that you can and will move through this. Hold onto that trust and belief that tomorrow will be better and life will eventually become better.

The doctor called us in. By the end of the meeting with the doctor, we gained a plan, a scheduled surgery for Thursday, the 10th of June. Due to my inability to see at night and having to leave at 4:00 a.m. for the surgery, a fantastic friend drove us to Edmond so that John could acquire his surgery. After surgery, we received follow-up instructions. John was to lie on his stomach for three days with his head facing the floor. Also, he was to return the following day for a follow-up. We understood that John could not drive. I was now to be the appointed driver until he could hopefully see again with his bad eye. Well, we got home about 2 o’clock. All went well until 5 a.m. the next morning when our sister-in-law telephoned and yelled into the phone, “John, you and Susanne get over here. I need you. Pearce is dead.” Who was Pearce? He was John’s older brother. John had literally jumped out of bed when the phone rang, answered it. As he sat the phone down, he immediately ran downstairs, telling me not to bother getting dressed. We arrived at their house, which, by the way, is not far from us. There were many police cars, an ambulance, and unmarked cars. The home was filled with police, EMTs, and others. Martha was in shock. John stood and visited with the police and others that he knew from being a Judge. Another friend, that is more like family, offered to drive John to his follow-up appointment for his eye surgery. I needed to remain with Martha. Did John keep his head down? No. So from the time of Pearce’s death, John did not do anything he was supposed to do. Thus, they might have to redo the surgery if it had been ruined. By the grace of God, he was still alright. Al helped John, and I was able to stay with Martha and help her digest what just happened unexpectedly to Pearce and to her!

Needless to say, June was not turning out to be a normal June. We had two “it’s,” one right after the other. When difficult situations arise in our life, change takes place. Sometimes we choose to change our priorities, and then there are times when we are forced to have a huge change in life. We need to remember that all is being put in divine order in every situation we are in! To keep going, it is good to keep our eyes on “small miracles” that take place. Sometimes our lives are turned upside down, and we do not understand; however, when we look back a few years later, we can see all we learned from what we went through and the positives brought forth. Many times our compassion for others is increased, and empathy is gained.

When “it” arrives in life, know it is normal to go through these stages and grieve for our old way of life. However, get up and know each day is a new day. Watch for those small miracles that arrive unexpectedly to you to help you through. It may be as simple as a smile someone has for you as you pass by, a telephone call that you needed, or a cloud passing overhead that is shaped like an Angel. Know that there is a divine plan for you, and you will see what God has planned for you next when it arrives. It takes time.

We will not know if John’s eyes are okay with all he did after the death of Pearce, nor do I know how long I will need to be John’s driver. What I do know is that I changed my priorities with all of this happening. I changed commitments that I had made from “yes” to “no.” I did not do my blog for several weeks. And I may still be a little sporadic because now we are learning some of our children and grandchildren will be coming and going the rest of the summer. Always remember that relationships are more important than “things.” Love is the answer.

LESSON: DIfficult lessons of change teach us to look within. We might gain the opportunity to change our perspectives about life. What we learn will perhaps show us that it is time to let go of a belief that no longer is working in our life or that there is help out there we can call upon when we need it.

GIFTS: After the death of Don, I was still helping everyone else and found myself two years later married to a great teacher. I then began stepping back and learned how to help myself. First, I got counseling. Then I began studying codependency and attended Ali-Anon. I finally began taking care of myself. I had literally lost “Self” following Don’s death. The study of Self brought new answers and a kinder me. I was kinder to myself as well as others.

I learned to build on lessons in the past to not move to the dark side of life again. I wanted my light to shine brighter than it had ever shined as I moved forward in life. My life lightened!

I taught other people how to flow rather than fight the stream of life. A difficult time is a great time to practice flowing. I practiced.

I attempted to be “like the bird that sings when the dawn is still dark” every day! Some days I failed at this but took care of my Self on those days.

I was single ten years and then I met someone I love dearly that brought a new experience to me. We have a peaceful, wonderful marriage that I would not have had if those difficult times had not forced me to my knees and made me get to work on my Self!!! So I love the negative in my life as much as my positive in life! My prayer every morning is to turn whatever appears negative into a positive!

Lunch With Rick Cheney

Here is the story of Rick Cheney. On the way to church, John asked if I would like to go to Legend’s in Norman for lunch and then to Oklahoma City for an event we discussed over breakfast. I happily agreed. As we turned off Highway 19 on the outskirts of Pauls Valley, driving up the ramp entering I-35, we saw a clean-looking man hitchhiking that looked unbelievably hot standing with his thumb out. He only had a small bag in his other hand. I thought about the times my car had broken down during my lifetime, and some kind person stopped to help me in some manner. I wanted us to pick him up but was still thinking when John said, “Do you think we should pick him up?” “Yes!”

As soon as he settled into the back seat of our car, I began asking questions about where he was going and a few questions about his life. He shared that his granddad taught him carpentry in his past.  He earned his money to make this trip by working for a woodworking business in Austin, Texas. Now he was on his way to see his parents and a newborn grandbaby. It had taken several days to get this far. His first ride was with a young couple that he thought was nice, but when they stopped for gas, he decided to take the opportunity to go to the bathroom quickly. When he returned to the car, it was gone. They took his suitcase, money he saved from his carpentry work, clothes, everything, and cell phone. That was hard for him to digest. That led to a discussion about letting go, how God works, and my book, “When Spirit Speaks.” He asked for a copy. I said that I would be happy to send him one, so he gave me his Dad’s address and telephone number where he planned to be in Michigan.

By the time we got to Norman, we had invited him to go to Legend’s Restaurant with us. He was hesitant but said that he would be grateful. In Legend’s, as we went on visiting, Rick shared, “I have to tell you two something. I have been in prison. He was quite afraid that what he shared would have a negative reaction from us. However, I smiled and responded with, “That is okay, Rick; we have other friends that have been in prison.” I went on to share that John was a retired Judge. He thought that was interesting because his second ride was with a retired Sheriff. We took him onto Oklahoma City and dropped him off far North on I-35, where it might be easier to find another ride. We also gave him a small amount of money to help. When I got home, I telephoned his father. He was reticent at first but finally figured out that I was okay. I explained we picked Rick up,, and he was still fine and on his way. His mother called me back a few days later, wanting me to know their prayer group that met once a week was so happy we telephoned them. She said their whole prayer group wanted to make certain I knew how much they appreciated that telephone call because they had been praying every week in their group for Rick for years. After Rick visited with them for a few weeks and then left their home…vsited for the return trip, she wrote me a letter that I treasure. 

That was gift enough for me, but guess what happened. Our minister requested John present a sermon at church. John quickly decided to speak about Rick and did so. He talked about scripture in the Bible and how generosity is given to others and often returns to us from the oddest places. During regular conversations the next few weeks, we learned that people hearing his sermon had gone into a restaurant and purchased someone else’s meal as a gift anonymously. A few months following John’s presentation, we went to Legend’s again. We ate well and then ordered a dessert and coffee. When John asked for the ticket, the waitress said that someone else in the restaurant had taken care of it.

I asked if it was a friend of ours that was also eating there. She said it was not. Pretty soon, almost all within the restaurant had left. We were in a great discussion. Only one other couple that was still there. I asked the waitress again if it happened to be a couple sitting not far from us. She would not say but smiled and nodded yes. I went over as we left and thanked them. It was so great. They were younger and said they had been watching us and just wanted us to have a great afternoon. Interestingly, they were Native Americans. Little did they know how much we had the opportunity to give on the reservation and did so many times. Our Native American experiences came into my heart with this gift of a beautiful meal at Legend’s Restaurant. They had no idea of our connection. How wonderful!

LESSON: Listen to both your gut and heart when making a decision. If the answer is yes, no matter how unusual it seems, follow that answer within that was received. We picked up a stranger that we later learned was a carpenter and had also been in prison. It reminded us of the story of the “good samaritan” in the Bible and Jesus.

GIFT: All three of our lives were touched. And that energy continued as I made contact with his Dad and later with his Mom. They, in turn, touched other peoples’ lives through their prayer group that had been praying for Rick.

It felt so good to have helped someone. Then when that young couple in Legend’s treated us, wow! My theory has always been “when you give to someone; eventually, you receive.”

When John was asked to do a sermon, he told our story about Rick. He also shared our philosophy of “To Love Is To Love All” and give. Buy someone’s lunch anonymously or unexpectedly. Pay for the person going through the line that you have never met, etc. Later, when you need it the most, watch what happens! God and Spirit are watching. It is an amazing life we have been given the opportunity to live!

The Recipe

In 1965, I was living in Marysville, Missouri, when I decided to make biscuits. I liked rolls, not biscuits. However, I had watched my mother, grandmother, and aunts make biscuits at different times. Biscuits seemed so fast to make and so easy. After looking through several of my recipe books and making a few long-distance telephone calls, I did try, and I did not like any of them. Finally, while living in Las Cruces, NM, in the late ’60s, I made biscuits that all four of us in our family really liked! Finally!

When we lived in Portales, NM, I came home from work one day and looked to see what I could make for supper. With it being time to go to the store, it would be creamed tuna over biscuits. This was one of our favorites, with a few vegetables along the side. We had just finished eating when the phone rang. A friend, Nancy, wanted to know if I could take the boys to Boy Scouts? I, of course, said “certainly.” On the way to Scouts, I asked my friend’s son, Matt, “Why is your Mom not driving to scouts tonight?” He explained that she was taking all of her baked goods into competition at the fair with others. My mind began whirring. “Hmmm, I had cooked biscuits for dinner. Suppose I could enter my biscuits in the competition?”

When I got home, I called the Fair Barn and, to my surprise, someone answered, and after a polite greeting, I asked, “Is it too late to enter biscuits into the competition?” The lady’s answer was, “No, but you only have thirty more minutes.” I then explained I wanted to bring biscuits and wondered how many I should bring. She said, “Bring four.” When I hung up, I quickly looked at my biscuits. I had three uneaten ones left, but I needed four. I decided to look in the trash to see if I could gather one up that might not be too bad and quickly take it to the fair barn. There was one at the top of the trash with one bite taken from it. I brushed it off and arranged the four biscuits on a plate, and I was off. The one with the bite out just made the biscuits look tempting. To my surprise and my friend’s surprise, my entry won 1st place! They were then blue ribbon biscuits.

Years later, my daughter was living in San Francisco and was working in a five-star restaurant, Gary Danko’s, when she telephoned one morning and said, “Mom, I just made your biscuits to take to the staff today since it is a holiday and we all have to work.” My children and our grandchildren love these biscuits. A month or two later, she telephoned and said that the pastry chef had asked for my recipe and wanted to make them for her family at Christmas. When the pastry chef returned, she went to Gary Danko and asked him if they could start serving these biscuits on the menu. Now Gary has won the James Beard award several times. I know him because Dawn worked with him for so many years, doing his training and working in almost every position serving customers. She next took on the role of maitre de’ several nights a week. Gary agreed. Biscuits were served with lobster soup.

Dawn had fun with our biscuits being on the menu. One night as a couple left the restaurant, Dawn said, “Did you enjoy the meal?” The lady replied, “Yes, but my favorite was those biscuits! Do you think the Chef let me have the recipe?” Dawn replied, “Those are my Mom’s biscuits, her recipe.” She could not wait to tell me the response of the lady and others about our biscuits. So the life of these biscuits went from a blue ribbon win in Portales to being served in a five-star restaurant.

Here is the recipe:

Sift together 2 cups flour, 4 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 2 teaspoons sugar. Now cut in one long stick (8 tablespoons) butter until everything looks crumbly. Pour in 2/3 cup of milk and stir. Turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently. It just takes a minute or less. Now pat out the dough to about 1/2 inch thickness and cut it into the size wanted with a glass or biscuit cutter. Cook in the preheated 450-degree oven for about ten or twelve minutes. This makes enough biscuits to fill one long casserole glass dish, 12 to 16. If they are not brown on the top, cook a few minutes longer. Delicious! When there are six people to eat more, I usually make 1 1/2 the amount. Sometimes I double the recipe. Even if there are leftover biscuits, they can be warmed and served again.

LESSON: Sometimes it takes multiple tries to get it right! But when it is right, it can become a family favorite and even a favorite of others.

Gifts: Every time I make biscuits, I think of my grandmother, my mother, and my favorite aunts.

People were shocked that I won the Blue Ribbon in Portales and that I made biscuits that were good enough for a five-star restaurant. They knew I worked hard and traveled in my job some, had two children that I had fun with, a husband I supported in his endeavors, and I believe they were shocked that I cooked! I cooked lots until Don got sick. I did not begin cooking again very much until John and I married. Then the biscuits were back! Now I have four children that love my biscuits, as well as a great husband that appreciates them

Killers Of The Flower Moon

This movie is currently being shot right here in Oklahoma’s Osage County and adapted from the book “Killers Of The Flower Moon by David Grann. Eric Roth wrote the screenplay. Both book and screenplay tell the story of the Osage murders and the struggles of the birth of the FBI. The book was only released on April 18, 2017, and quickly became one of the top fiction books of 2017. The movie is an American crime drama produced and directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, with Robert De Niro playing a major role. It is an excellent book, and I look forward to seeing this film.

In 2017, John’s fraternity’s class from DePauw University had a reunion in Savannah, Georgia, and we went. It had only been six months since the book was released, but we were the only ones attending the reunion that had not read the book. They were horrified that we had not read the book and were even from Oklahoma. Everyone asked John about Osage County and if he knew about the murders of the Osage people for their oil wealth in the 1920s. Soon after we returned home, our cousin Jona Kay brought John this book as a present for his birthday in October. John read it cover to cover. I had great difficulty reading it because we spent lots of time on the Rosebud reservation, and this book pulled pain up in me whenever I read it. One reason is that I have great empathy and compassion for Native Americans. Whenever we were first going to the reservation, it felt like we were entering a foreign land. The joy that came from our experiences on the Rosebud Reservation that brought gifts and understanding to us. We saw how many of them live hard lives and have no way out, even today. There are no jobs to be had, the automobiles they have do not work, or perhaps they did not own one at all. One has to spend time there to see why and how this has all come about. It is much like being in a third-world country. Not many have the ability to leave even if they choose to do so. Problems can be traced back to those that took advantage of them or made poor decisions for them, and most were whites.

Another reason this story was difficult for me is that I do not usually enjoy murder mysteries. This true story basically presents devious schemes of murder and tells what murderous white men did to acquire vast wealth being generated for Native Americans with oil rights. This Osage Indian murder mystery is interwoven with the story of the newly formed FBI and its new director, J. Edgar Hoover. It also brings in the history of the Texas Rangers as they applied their frontier skills as lawmen of the Old West. The Rangers use their honed investigative skills as lawmen to assist the newly formed suit-wearing pencil pushers from Washington, D.C.

Of particular interest to me was the author returned from New York City to Osage country several years after doing investigations and interviews of people about past events. The reason for the return trip was to attend a ceremony. He describes an Osage/Ponca Dance, a ceremony of the Osage/Ponca people. In the mid-1880s, the Osage received this dance, traditions, and drum from the Ponca people. It is a dance that is religious in nature and is called In-Lon-Schka. It takes place yearly. While John and I were attending and doing Native American ceremonies, we met an Osage elder named Abe Conklin and his wife, Vickie. Abe attended many ceremonies with us. He also attended meetings in my apartment to learn the Lakota language and gain more information about the Lakotas. We were honored to meet our friend Abe, the Osage Fancy Dancer and Elder. Apparently, it was mutual. Before John and I were married, Abe adopted John as a brother and me as a sister. One day Abe telephoned and said he entered a statement “All Roads Are Good” to people making decisions about what to put over the door of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York. Abe could not hide his delight when he learned that his statement “All Roads Are Good” was chosen!

It was our friend, Abe Conklin, that invited us to Gray Horse for a ceremony. He mentioned it to us several times. We were honored to be invited, and when we arrived, we were honored to sit with the family. To our surprise, Abe called John and me to come to the center of the dance circle where drumming, singing, and dancing took place. We were then each presented with an Indian blanket properly draped around us, and we were shown how to wear it. We both knew it was a great honor to be gifted a blanket in this way and were happy they showed us the proper wearing of it. We had learned there are several ways to wear a blanket as a form of communication. It can be worn around the waist, over the shoulders, or in several other positions. Each position conveys to others the well-understood meaning of anger, agreement, hostility, openness, and so many other ways that I do not know or understand. I do know this. We were honored, delighted, and humbled by our treatment and acceptance as Abe and Vicki danced us around the circle in front of all in attendance at Gray Horse before leaving the center of the ceremony. Part of our experience in that room included the living descendants of the Osage people portrayed in the book, which made the book’s reading all the more meaningful and personal. It also brought back memories of that day at Gray Horse.

John and I were fortunate to have similar experiences with elders of the Taos Pueblo, the Kiowa, and the Rosebud Lakota Sioux. This book brought up wonderful adventures we were lucky enough to have had that now seems like a dream.

When John and I married in 1995, we asked Abe to officiate a Native American Blessing Ceremony for John and me one month following our marriage. He laughed and said, “Well, it seems a little strange to bless the marriage of my brother and my sister, but I will be happy to do this.” He brought together a fantastic ceremony.

LESSON: When carrying love in our mind and heart when entering foreign territory, it is good to remember that every person we meet also has love and God’s light at their center. If they act like they initially do not accept or appreciate your presence, keep that warmth of love within and continue to be kind. Blessings do eventually surround you!

GIFTS: Abe’s saying, “All roads are good.” When we were being honored at the Gray Horse Ceremony by the ancestors of the people the book portrayed, people that suffered at the hands of non-Indians, I experienced their qualities of compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, and healing. I saw wounds and injuries could be righted and healed as these qualities transcend the differences in culture from which we all arise.

All roads are indeed good and so are the people who travel them.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is a great book demonstrating greed and much more! A book to be read.

Lunch With Ford, Dinner With Reagan

Photo by Aaron Kittredge on Pexels.com

Unbeknownst to me, my first husband, Don, drove from Portales, NM, to Albuquerque, NM, and back to Portales in one day. Then he told me that he had just filed to run for US Congress from our district in New Mexico. I was so upset. We had lived only two years in New Mexico and were essentially unknown in the political world. Yes, we had discussed that someday we would get involved, but surely not when we had two children who needed our attention, were still paying for his Ph.D., and were living in a rent house we did not like. How ridiculous! is what I thought. Plus, I was also about to explode because there was no discussion. He let me rant and then said that I could either come along and enjoy this adventure or stay mad. Which would it be? He suggested I calm down and we go to get ice cream whenever I was ready.

This was the beginning of Don’s political career. I was still in my position with the ENMU Drug Prevention Center and loved all that I was learning about what kind of help people with mental health problems needed, not just drug abuse. I also was taking two classes a semester towards a degree. Don began campaigning on the weekends and then all of the time. A very awkward situation took place while he was gone at our house. It was a pretty Saturday morning. I was in the tub taking a quick bath. Expecting my cousin Lawanda, I left the front door open to come in when she arrived. When a knock came on the door, I expected it to be Lawanda. I said, “Come on in.” Then I heard the door open, and someone entered our living room. I called, “Lawanda, I am almost finished.” Then I heard a man’s voice say, “I am not Lawanda, but I will wait?” I was mortified. I had left the bathroom door open so that I could hear the kids playing outside, and thought “Is he where he can see me from the living room if I step out of the tub?” I intended to wrap a towel around me and go to my bedroom, but now what?” Thank goodness! I heard Lawanda’s voice. She was introducing herself to the unknown man.

I said, “Lawanda, can you come into the bathroom?” She did so and laughed when she saw my quandary! She then went into the bedroom and grabbed my robe for me to put on. I finally was able to get out of the tub. With a full-length robe on, I entered the living room to speak to the man that had to let himself in. It was State Senator Colin McMillan, head of the Republican Senate in New Mexico. He told us that he drove from out of town to see who this person no one knew of was that now is running on the Republican ticket for U.S. Congress! This visit became more embarrassing. We visited for a short time before he invited Don and me to a reception to meet others. It was to be held in Roswell, New Mexico, in a few weeks. He was then ready to leave. We stepped onto the front porch with him, saying, “Thank you for coming.” As he visited a few minutes more before leaving and was looking right at me, I leaned against the pillar on the front porch of our rental house, and the pillar fell off the porch. That wasn’t very pleasant. That did it. I planned to find a house to buy. I did find one just being finished and dealt directly with the builder. I also found a way to buy it. Don was stunned when he called home a few days later. I told him about Senator McMillan’s visit and said, “I am moving. I just made arrangements to purchase a home by trading the piece of land you previously bought(without telling me) in hopes of us building a home at a later date. You need to drop by home and sign some loan papers.” He knew not to say anything, and he did get home a few days later to sign those papers. Within a few weeks, the house was finished. Dawn, Johnny, and I moved ourselves to our new home.

We had only been in that home for a short while when a letter arrived from President Ford. The letter was addressed to Dr. and Mrs. Donald Trubey, so I opened it. We were invited to a week-long training for candidates running for Congress or Senate. Next, an invitation arrived in the mail personally inviting spouses to attend the training and a White House luncheon with President Ford. This all sounded like a great learning experience, and meeting President Ford at the White House would be an excellent experience. We both attended every single training they offered, and I was right. I had a great time the entire week. Spouses had our own training, and mentors critiqued us on our speaking. They made suggestions, such as I might want to change my party from Democrat to Republican. They also had us make presentations on subjects of their choosing. I was provided material to study before presenting. I disagreed with the material I read and objected to what they wanted me to say. My mentor helping me said, “You will need to know this because what you will be presenting what it is that your husband will be supporting with us.” Not wanting to offend Don, I relented and presented the source of information even though I did not believe what I was saying. It did not feel right. I wondered how many go to those offices and go against their own beliefs.

June 23, 1976, was the day of the luncheon, and I was excited. When it was time, a bus took our group to the White House. We got off the bus and walked to those stairs leading up to the door that I always saw on television. When we got to the top, Don said, “Wait here. I am going to find a bathroom and will come right back. Wait so that we can go upstairs together.” I said, “Go on, I will wait.” Then I turned around and watched as others were getting off the bus and heading up the stairs. Suddenly, I got a fun idea. “I can pretend to be the First Lady welcoming people to the White House.” I immediately imagined myself that way and began seeing what it might feel like to be “The First Lady.” I began shaking everyone’s hand, smiling and trying to help them feel more comfortable entering the White House. The soldier standing at attention leaned over me and said, “You know that you are not supposed to be doing this, don”t you?” I responded, “I assumed I was not, but I will only do it until my husband returns.” I continued welcoming each person, and he stepped back into position. That new energy moved through me, and apparently, I did take on a new facade while greeting each person preparing to enter the White House. Don returned and said, “What are you doing?” I smiled and said, “Pretending.” When I was going through the buffet line, several people looked at me and suddenly realized that I was the one standing at the door. Each one was stunned when they realized it was me that welcomed them. All commented on being with me the last four days and evenings and then not recognizing me “at all” when I greeted them. Some said they thought I was the First Lady or someone special. It worked. It was a great beginning.

Upstairs, Don and I entered a large room with a beautiful buffet prepared and ready for our luncheon. We each got a chance to visit with President Ford. Something fun happened when we were introduced. We both got tickled! He was questioning me, and I began questioning him. Something I said made him laugh. A gentleman then interrupted us and said that we had to stop talking because so many others were waiting to speak with him. I saw him only once more. A group of us wanted to eat dinner together that evening for memory’s sake, and no one seemed to be able to get a reservation within walking distance from the White House. I began talking to the Chef and others serving the buffet about where to go. The chef suggested a restaurant had previously turned us down. I shared that information, and the chef instructed me to go into the kitchen and tell them that he said I was to use the phone. They would help me. The cooks in the kitchen gave me the restaurant’s number to call and said, “I am calling from the White House and … ” when they first answered. I did just as they said. Immediately, they took my reservation under my name. As I hung up, I saw President Ford and his Secret Service men stepping into an elevator out of sight of others attending the luncheon. He tried to step off the elevator to come to finish our talk, but they would not let him do so. He called to me loud enough that I could hear him say, “Goodbye and thank you.” So that was my lunch and my meeting with President Ford.

Later during the campaign, Don ended up with what they thought was a bleeding ulcer. He happened to be at home. I took him to the hospital, and he was transferred to a larger one almost twenty minutes away in Clovis. He almost died. It was the beginning of cancer that he fought for the next five years of his life. However, we did not know that until six months before he really did die of cancer. The phone rang in his hospital room. He was to attend a dinner the next evening in Albuquerque, NM. It was a fundraiser, and Don was to receive part of the funds. People were expecting him. Understanding how bad he was, they asked if I could come. I did not want to leave him and go, but Don also wanted me to attend in his place. They said they would send a plane for me and see that I got to come home immediately after dinner. I made arrangements at work and for sitters to be with Dawn and Johnny and reluctantly went. I felt certain that I would be seeing Representative Manuel and Jean Lujan, and others that I recently met. Our US Senator, Pete Domenici, might also be there. When I arrived, I was quickly escorted to the downtown Hilton Hotel. They were sorry I did not get to come in time to attend the $1,000 cocktail party held earlier. Next, they showed me where to stand in line. Everyone that was to be in line was already in their position to enter the room—all but me. Someone said, “You will go in right before…and then I saw him… Ronald Reagan.” I had no idea he was going to be at the dinner. They introduced me to him. We shook hands and smiled. Then the ones ahead of us began entering as the M.C. announced their names. The ballroom where the $100 a plate dinner took place was well lit. I noted that we would have to walk across the entire ballroom to get to the stairs to go up on the stage. When it was my turn, I was surprised when they turned all of the lights off in the entire room. It was dark. Then they put a spotlight on me the entire way across the floor as they played “If You Knew Susie Like I Knew Susie…” At the time, I was going by Susie as I had done from the time I was a few months old. (I did not switch to “Susanne” until I got out of that bad second marriage. I wanted to go back to my pure self and began by going back to the name on my birth certificate, which was “Susanne.”)

After I got onto the stage, a gentleman directed me to my chair next to the empty one by the podium. Next, I watched as the lights came back on, and Ronald Reagan walked across the room to his music. To this day, I do not know why I got the spotlight on me. Ronald Reagan sat by my side next to the podium. He was to be the main speaker for the evening. We visited lots during dinner. He had no one on his other side, so it was only me or be silent. W had fun. We talked about everything from marriage to taxes to children. Ronald Reagan told me that he brought California out of a bad situation, but he had to raise taxes to do it. He also shared that he had been studying taxes on bread. He said that it would only cost pennies if we could eliminate all of the taxes on bread. We left that discussion and visited about his love for Nancy. Then he looked at me and said out of the clear blue sky, “Nancy has an excellent astrologer. In fact, Susie, I use her when I am stumped and have needed to make a difficult decision. She has been a great help.” I thought that was very interesting. I remembered his words, and in l988, I had my first reading by an astrologer and thought of Ronald Reagan as I was trying to figure out some of my most difficult choices in life and why I made them. I learned that she had written many books. She became a great friend when we both lived in Norman. She is an excellent person as well as an excellent astrologer. Gloria Star is her name.

Don died at midnight November 30th/December 1st. Sixteen years later, after marrying John and moving back to Pauls Valley, where I was born and where so many relatives live or have lived and where both sets of grandparents lived, I went to the courthouse and changed back to Democrat as I was beginning to see how beliefs were changing in the Republican party. Do we really need something that labels us? We are all God’s children, and we are all unique.

LESSON: When we begin seeing Self differently, we can do wonders. When our mind begins to agree with our heart and soul, miracles happen! (I would not ever have gotten that position at ENMU at the drug abuse center if I had not followed my boss’s advice in Iowa City and started seeing myself as “executive” material. Seeing myself that way involved turning down four other jobs first as I waited for an executive position. (My mind worked fast to give me a new energy surge and different energy as I played the role of “First Lady at the door, which was just absolutely fun.”) Of course, I was doing a simple affirmation in my mind “I am First Lady, and I am welcoming my guests.”

GIFTS: I got to meet President Ford and watch how personable he was as he related to people. When I think of him, he makes me smile. This whole week of Ford’s training was a gift to me. I learned about, participated in, and actually watched the training for congressional candidates and spouses. This training gave me opportunities to plant seeds in the minds of those running for office about the need for mental health funds from the federal level to every state, talking about how it would help individuals and their families and our law enforcement officers.

Dawn and Johnny were with a great couple they liked for the week. I did not have to worry about them. (I was generally the one to stay home and take care of Dawn or find a babysitter to take care of them, if necessary, to meet Don on the weekends to help his campaign. I attempted to keep the family intact, attend children’s events if possible, and worked to support the family financially. Not having his salary was hard during both of his campaigns.

I was stunned when I looked up and saw that Ronald Reagan was right behind me in line and that it was him that helped guide me about what I was to do. After Don’s death, Ronald Reagan mailed a 9 x 11 color picture of us talking after dinner to me. The picture included him, our friend Congressman Manuel Lujan, and me. Ronald Reagan signed the picture and wrote a note on the back. Manuel also signed it. When he became President a few months after signing that picture. Manuel Lujan, Jr., became Secretary for the Interior under him. I received a letter asking if I would be interested in a position in his administration. I wrote back something like: “No because I feel like I need to remain in Portales and maintain a stable home for Dawn and Johnny until they finish high school.” Ha! A year later, that changed. Ask my children about those next years with dating and a marriage that was “not good.” They had anything but a stable environment! Lessons are hard; they do teach us!

Being at that event and visiting with Ronald Reagan was not only a great diversion from sitting in the hospital room watching Don while he was in so much pain, but it turned into a delightful evening that I did not think I would enjoy until I got there. We never missed another dinner. I was always with Don at the head table.