I had the honor and privilege of being asked to have a book signing at my FAVORITE bookstore, along with it’s owner, David Cheezem: Fireside Books, in Palmer, AK. The moment I step in the door, I feel like I have been transported back in time. The smell of books permeates the air, and the way the shop is arranged is so “Alaskan”, so “real”, and so NOT “franchise/box store”, which I LOVE!
As a bonus today, I got to watch an artist BACKWARDS paint free-handed, the words to a poem along with painting a lovely picture, to celebrate April as National Poetry Month. Poetry is big in Alaska. I LOVE that the schools take it seriously. The words that come from the mouths of babes are amazing and full of life and sincerity.
Fireside Books, is a bookstore that has both new and used books, filed by category. They even have a section where authors who have done book signings have a section called “Author’s Favorite Reads”. The coffee pot and tea kettle are always full, so you are able to find a spot, sit down and envelope your soul into a good book,. Maybe you will peruse one or two books you are consider buying, or maybe you have arranged to meet up to enjoy the warmth of a cuppa with a friend, catching up since your last encounters together.
Today was a special day. It was a day that the town of Palmer rolled out their finest red carpet and was celebrated the CAREGIVERS, FAMILIES, FRIENDS and ASSOCIATES (and yes, the person battling/surviving/conquering) the ugly word: cancer. Each person was given a bright orange tote FILLED with coupons and goodies – from paint brushes to coupons for gallery paintings and more.
From one end of town to another, over 3 dozen merchants participated: demonstrations, storytelling, music playing, bread broken together, books signed (hmmm – wonder which one?!) to an area full of resources available that one might otherwise not known about. There was free transportation donated by the Mat-Su Senior Services for those who needed it (it can be quite a day if you are going in and out of shoppes, and up and down the roads!) It was fun to be a “fly on the wall” at the far end of town, hearing the delighted tails of what a fun and awesome day people had experienced, and how grateful they were that the merchants focused not just on the person battling cancer, but those who battle, sometimes harder, alongside them.
Friends reunited, spring was in the air, the sun was shining and yes, even a bit of snow was still on the mountains to remind us, alebit an unusually warm winter, we DID live in Alaska!
I wouldn’t wish cancer on my worst enemy. But I will share this nugget: I wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had, the friendships I’ve made, the opportunities and adventures I have encountered if I HADN’T had cancer. No fooling!
Enjoy Poetry Month!
’m finding that the more “mature” (aka: OLDER) I am getting, I am watching the generations as they fly by.
I talk to my Unc, one of the few surviving World War II vets, who, without all his ‘tech’ help, my books, my book, Loose Screws and Skinned Knees, and in edit form And Yet Another Day, and blogs would not be possible. With Barb, his wonderful and equally wise wife, at his side, they give me sage advice I need for the days ahead, as well as putting pieces of my past and the pieces that I missed, together. I cherish our chats – I just wish we didn’t live in opposite corners of the U.S. ! Thanks, Unc and Barb, for everything. I’ll never be the same.
I watch my older sister’s generation – in a sense almost a generation older than me. She has different takes, different styles, different understandings of how things are or maybe might be. After all, she grew up when most of us had “Leave It To Beaver” homes, where respect and obeying your elders was a given, and not questioned. She didn’t know what it was like to come home to an empty house when both parents were working. She and my brother grew up in the throes of the Vietnam War, while I came at the tail end. Even those experiences are felt a bit different – after all, she knew the heartache of loved ones being drafted. But, we all knew loved ones lost.
My generation? One word comes to mind: “fluid”. We learned to go with the flow, as the 60’s ended and 70’s emerged. We tested our parents and elders and pushed them to their limits, I’m sure! In many ways, we still are. At a recent reunion, is was good to see that as ‘fluid’ as we are, we are still the same. We have remained true to ourselves, and true to our values.
As our kids came along, the boundaries began to blur. Technology was in its infancy, and they were the generation to begin to be raised to be comfortable with it. (Even though both my kids say they are LIGHT YEARS behind today’s kids!) With technology came the expansion of knowledge. (I wish it could be said it was all good.) But, for the most part, it has. It has enlightened, enlarged, empowered…….but it has also brought a sense of everything “fast”: fast food, instant potatoes vs. baked; GPS, self-driving cars – who knows where it will take us in the future?
And that’s what brought me to today’s words. When I read them this morning, they LEAPT off the page. We are at a cross-road: are we going to keep living our lives totally expecting things to be “Microwaved” (and grateful for its instantaneous cooking!) or will we find the balance and the unlimited flavor combinations of marinating our lives? Will we expect things in our lives to be fixed “instantly” with our kids or in our relationships or marriages? Will we keep rushing around faster and faster like the speed of new I-phones?
Or maybe, just maybe, will we see the Wisdom when the Word and our lives say: slow down; think; smell; sleep; wonder; or read? Maybe marinate for a bit and work towards our passion and dreams yet unrealized;and maybe give yourself permission to do ‘nothing at all’ for a day?
What’s is going to be? Will we be the ones to teach the present and future generations the meaning of MARINATE or MICROWAVE?
I was so struck by words that my friend Andy White shared today, (plus adding a few tidbits – sorry Andy!) that I feel it would be an injustice NOT to share them with you. The words filled me with affirmation, confirmation, as well as admonishing/keister kicking me, especially with the projects I am working on now. I hope they do the same for YOU!
* Don’t chase the check (or money order, or the almighty ‘buck’)! Rainbows and memories are priceless!
* Don’t compromise what YOU know to be TRUE – for YOU!
* Don’t put YOUR dream into someone else’s hand!
* Don’t let yourself be ‘held hostage’ : to any ‘THING’ or any ‘ONE’! Take time to be FREE!
* If something makes you feel like it is NOT “real”, most likely it isn’t.
* Above all: DON’T SELL OUT!! Listen to the “real deal”: your heart and soul!
Lessons we were reminded of from our 6 month old grandson as he spent his first “overnight” with Grandma and Grandpa:
1. Know your priorities. “Self” comes first! Sometimes we get so caught up in taking care of everyone else, ‘we’ get lost in the shuffle!
2. Know your needs – take care of them ASAP: whether that be a change of close appropriate for the need, food for nourishment, hugs for happiness or naps WHENEVER you KNOW you need them, preferably before you resort to tears. Rubbing eyes and finding your fingers works well! If you don’t let someone knows of your needs, who will?
3. Know who the IMPORTANT people are in your life, and make them a priority: “MAMA, DAD, Wrigley (my dog), Grandpa and Grandma’s , and don’t forget my giraffe, moose and crinkle book. (AND: let them KNOW they are special!! Even a smile or coy giggle works wonders!)
4. It’s ok to get messy: ESPECIALLY when sweet potatoes are involved! Who cares if you have a couple people get messy with you, in the process – it’s NOT life-threatening!! (And besides tasting good, we won’t melt with a little clean-up! )
5. A good night’s sleep (try 11 hours straight – it works wonders!) makes for a bright eyed and bushy tail morning!
6. You can never smile enough, be hugged enough, snuggle enough or play enough.
7. When you are having fun, the time goes too fast, so enjoy each moment and take photos! Life is too short!! Play hard!! Have FUN!
Care Tuk is a nationally known speaker, educator, and retreat/workshop leader. She has been a school, hospital, and home health occupational therapist for more than 30 years. She has been named as a Top Business Woman in America and recognized for her work with youth, disability outreach and awareness, and the American Cancer Society.