Surrendering: the stories we tell

Surrender the Stories: charcoal by bernadette rose smith

Surrender • charcoal on Bernadette’s Pages substrate; page 63
by Bernadette Rose Smith


Ever listen to your thoughts and marvel at how persistently they weave into stories you tell yourself? Stories that do not serve you well? Especially in times of transition?

How happy would your dreams become if you were not the one who gave the “proper role” to every figure which the dream contained. – A Course In Miracles

I woke up this morning with a thought.

“Surrender that.“ whispered the angel.

“What?” I asked.

That ‘My God, sideswiped again, I’m not enough’ story.” chuckled the angel.

“Oh? You mean the ‘How could I have missed this, how dense am I that it took another eighteen years of marriage to figure this out, I’m alone again thought?” I snapped.

“My dear, you had so many more thoughts attached to that one. You didn’t notice the storyteller revving up? You were on Chapter 14 before I could get a word in edgewise.” announced another angelic chuckle.

“How can you laugh?” I asked, somewhat irked. “You were around in ’94. Don’t you think this is a little ridiculous for two people to be this far off base with each other?”

“What? Ridiculous to forgive? To accept the things you cannot change? To move on amicably? To still love and support each other as you embrace your new lives?” A wing fluttered by.

“Well, yeah, that’s a view. But I was more concerned with looking at the part where I am a middle-aged woman who lost herself again – even after she swore she Read more

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My Life as Ephemera

Ephemera Bits & Pieces

ephemera  1. something that is transitory and without lasting significance  2. a range of collectable items that were originally designated to be short-lived

I have a secret, long-time love affair with ephemera.

If you traveled back in time with me and rummaged through one of the bedroom closets from my childhood, we would find shoe boxes (neatly stacked, of course) filled with cast-offs and found objects.

Plastic flower pieces. (Yes, I grew up in the plastic flower era.) Broken bits of jewelry. Belt buckles. Assorted rocks and seashells. Coins from mysterious foreign lands. (Okay, Canadian coins from across the river.) Bits of lace and embroidery thread. Odd buttons. Aluminum foil scraps and colored tissue paper. And a clothespin or two.

If we fast-forward to one of my bedroom closets, say around the age of sixteen, we would find bigger boxes with cast off clothing.

Grandma Doll’s crocheted aprons. (Waiting to be converted to vests and halter-tops.) Mom’s 50’s pearl-buttoned sweaters and jackets. (Waiting to be worn with my favorite hip-hugger bell bottom jeans – the pair with the chessboard appliqué on the butt stitched by yours truly.) Grandma Smith’s Greta Garbo-esque satin wedding dress. (Too precious to cut up but a definite inspiration.) An older  cousin’s 40’s taffeta and organdy party dress. Gloves in assorted shades of white to ivory. A black Cossack-style coat. And a velvet hand-beaded by somebody in the family purse.

If we fast-forward just a little more, we’d find a freshly married Bernadette merging with life in the fast lane – a life that left her no time for the magical meanderings ephemera encouraged.

•  •  •  •  •

Ephemera Bits 1

The creation story portrays the love of a creative God lifting beauty and order out of the chaos. – Sr. Macrina Weiderkehr O.S.B.

Now, lets visit one more Bernadette. The one who, when swept to the curb, scrambled to salvage bits of her broken dreams before they washed into the storm drain as her life and marriage shattered into the unrecognizable rubble that some might consider ephemera. Read more

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Holiday Traditions Colliding with Life?



Do you get lost in a blur of expectations? Life does not stop for the Kodak moments of the past to catch up with the present.

One of the stressful aspects of holidays is when traditions collide with life circumstances. Add to that the expectations exalted by the media for a ho-ho-holiday and you have the recipe for stress and the ho-hum-holiday blues.

If your life looks anything like mine, you find the picture shifts – not so predictably – from one year to the next. All sorts of transitions can occur in a year’s time. Re-locations. Job changes. Children leaving home. Children moving back in. (Yipes!) Aging parents. You name it. Life does not stop for the Kodak moments of the past to catch up with the present.

With all that in mind, I want to share a little secret that has maneuvered me through many holidays with low to no stress.

Ritual-making. The kind of ritual-making that supports tradition but does not need tradition for its power. Add a dash of creativity to the mix and you will uncover Read more

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A Fortune in Dough

Footprints in Sand

Forgive it Forward: Follow Those Footprints

Sometimes it helps to follow in someone’s footsteps – even if only for a short while. For that reason, Ray and I have started this series; a virtual footprint forum for muses with stories, ideas and tips that we think worth sharing. We hope your ‘walk’ with them makes your day a little lighter and brighter –and that you leave with something that inspires you to forgive it forward, backward, upward and downward!

This story is being shared under the category of forgiveness as a reminder. In the flurry of day-to-day living, it is moments like these, shared between a young boy and his mother, that capture the heart and are worthy of our capacity for memory – not the ones that disappoint. And when someone we love loses their ability to remember, these are the ones that we hold for them as well as ourselves. Which is why we found “A Fortune in Dough” by Ray Harwell priceless. So, sit back and pour yourself a cup of coffee, or tea if you prefer, and travel back in time with us as we share a precious memory in the making.

GUEST MUSINGS BY: Ray Harwell, Agricultural Research Assistant

“Tell me the story, Momma.” It had been a while since the last time I had asked and I knew that if I asked too often she would say no. She acted as though she hadn’t heard a word I had said. I stood behind her, over near the fireplace, watching as she prepared her work on the breakfast meal. I stuck a thumb in my mouth and contemplated whether or not she had, in fact, heard me. This was somewhat dangerous ground. One false move here and there would be no story this morning. Why, it may even be days if I pushed too hard. In a flurry of action she had turned on the stove eyes and the oven, gotten stuff out of the fridgedair and had made several trips to and from the sink. I had to act soon. Making my way around the table (it was an extremely large table where all members of the family had a designated seat) I saddled up close to her right side. She looked down at me and in those big beautiful brown eyes I could actually see the love pour out and down on me.

“Oh, not this morning!” she said turning once again to her work. “Your daddy will be in from the barn soon and I need to have things ready.” It was time for a bold move. Removing the thumb from my mouth and wiping it on my shirt, I started tugging on one of the many straight-backed chairs that surrounded that Read more

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Forgive That #!@&!#!? Why?

Who is Homeless?

Photo – Courtesy of Casa Dresden

When I posted this article back in 2008, little did I know where THAT little forgiveness project would lead. The concept of Forgive it Forward could not have been further from my mind! I am re-posting this to share how important it is to pay attention to those little nudges we get along the path … including those to forgive. You never know where they will lead or, in this case, WHEN they will take seed and lead.

This Year, International Forgiveness Day is August 8, 2010

This original article was posted: August 1, 2008

Sunday, August 3, 2008 is International Forgiveness Day. An article by Michael E. McCullough, entitled Vengeance 101 in the July/August issue of Spirituality & Health lists projects that can be implemented in the spirit of encouraging the world to be a more forgiving place. Those of you who know Ray and me know this is a big topic for us. Neither of us would be here today were it not for our willingness to forgive and our willingness to accept forgiveness.

So, we cannot let this day go by without support. We are picking Project #4 on the list – with our own twist, of course. It states, “Promote a climate of apology and compensation in your family, neighborhood, congregation, or place of work.” We wish to promote a climate for consideration, contemplation, and conversation – if you care to join in – as to where our lives would be without the willingness to forgive and accept forgiveness.

When we say forgiveness, we are not talking about the “pardoning” kind. (The kind that says, “You’ve done me wrong. You’ve hurt me bad. You’ve altered me. I will suffer with this pain forever but I will forgive you.”) Yes, pardoning is a starting point. But pardoning, at best, offers a compromised peace. A peace that teeters atop past offenses, stashed yet never forgotten. Throw a few more offenses on top of the pile and this version of forgiveness crumbles rapidly. Pardoning would never have gotten Ray and I around the block after our reconciliation.

When we say forgiveness, we are talking about the kind that erases the “offense” forever; the kind that shifts our perception, converts the offense to a classroom, the offender to a teacher, the experience to an opportunity for growth. A growth that allows us to say, ” I forgive you.” with the subtext being, “I see this differently. I was mistaken when I thought you harmed me. Look at what I have learned. Look who I have grown to be. Look who I have uncovered. I’m okay. There is nothing to forgive here.” This kind of forgiveness does not crumble. Read more

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