Coffeegirl63's Blog

Writing Letters the Old-Fashioned Way October 23, 2011

Filed under: Friends,Introspection,Writing — coffeegirl63 @ 9:02 pm

I’m just curious about something and hope to hear some feedback from you. (But if I don’t get any feedback… well, you’ll see.)

Do people write personal letters any more? I do, but it seems since Facebook status and texting has taken over so many forms of communication, few people write what I think of as “real” letters any more. Before texting, people who missed each other, or just enjoyed each other’s company on a personal level, used to email each other or talk to each other on the phone. Before we had cell phones with free long distance, phone calls were usually purposeful and fairly short. In the days of expensive long-distance calls, and before that, we wrote letters using a pen and paper.

When my sister’s fiancé at the time (now husband) was in Air Force Basic Training, she wrote to him every day. She always sprayed the letter with perfume and mailed it in a purple envelope with a lipstick kiss where she sealed it closed. Every day at mail call, when the other airmen saw that purple envelope, they’d smell it as it was passed back to my brother-in-law. I think those are important memories. People always saved love letters.

Sometimes, I still write letters the old-fashioned way: with pen and paper. I just think there is something about seeing a letter mixed in with all the bills and the junk that elicits a smile. I don’t write nearly as many pen-and-paper letters as I wish I did. Most of my letter writing is in the form of personal emails.

What’s difficult is that most of the letters I write (whether pen-and-paper or email) go unanswered. Sometimes that means I just don’t get a letter back, sometimes (with email) there is a response, but not to anything I’ve said or asked. Now, I understand that I tend to be a bit “particular” (some would say peculiar) in the way I live my life. When I get an email (I can’t remember the last time I got a letter), I tend to reply item by item. It seems to me that if someone asked questions or took the time to tell me specific details about his or her life, that person would like a response on those questions/details. Am I wrong or over analyzing?

My challenge: Many times in my letter writing, I struggle with things to say. I mean, there is always something to talk about, but what do I say without asking questions, without having anything to say in response to someone else? Do you ever struggle with this? How do you handle it? Sometimes I write away ignoring that fact that there will be no reply. I ask questions. I talk about what I’ve done that day or that week. Unfortunately, that can make me feel like I’m talking to myself, and that just makes me question my sanity. Sometimes, usually just in the emails, I ask question I genuinely want, or even need, the answer to. Do I send another email with just the one question, hoping the recipient will respond?

Another question: When sending a letter or email to a loved one, what do you use for a closing? Very few people even use a closing any more. When I write to my kids, I usually sign, “I love you, Mommy” or “I love you soooooooo much, Mommy” or “I love you, Mama” or “I love you, Mama Bear.” (I know, but they’ll always be my babies, so can’t I always be their mommy, at least in writing? Anyway, they’ve never told me to knock it off.) Some emails (when writing to my boyfriend, who doesn’t live in CO), I sign, “Your… Joni” or “Missing you… Joni” or “Anticipating seeing you in however many days… Joni” or something like that. When I write notes to my parents, I usually just sign it, “Your favorite” because I know it’s true. 😉

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Do you have, or have you had, any experience with writing letters or personal emails? Do you think this post will have any influence on your future correspondence?

Please let me hear from you.

Affectionately yours,
Joni

Advertisements
 

What Stirs Your Heart? October 17, 2011

Filed under: Busyness,Introspection,My kids,Relationships,Times with My Family — coffeegirl63 @ 9:40 pm

I apologize for the long absence. Shortly after I wrote last, I went on 4 trips over the course of a few weeks. And then I got busy at work–partly catching up from being away, and partly because this is about when work gets busy for me anyway.

This evening, I had an experience that stirred my heart so deeply that it started me thinking about the phenomenon of how a heart is stirred. My first thought, when I have introspective moments, is to process through writing.

Recently, I have been trying some new things. I was in Keystone, CO, for a Human Resources conference the last few days of September. Before I went, I had decided that I wanted to go on a hike when I was there. This may seem rather commonplace for many of you, and I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t been hiking before. However… I had never hiked by myself before! Weird, right? Here I am, 48 years old, and I’d never gone on a hike by myself. There have been very few things that I have done alone. But I’ve been changing that. Granted, I didn’t want to just head out on my own and find myself so deeply in the mountains that I’d be wandering there still. I got suggestions from the conference center in Keystone, and I texted someone from the trailhead to let him know where I would be. The beauty of nature stirs my heart. There are times, when I’m getting ready for work in the morning and I see the sunrise out my East-facing windows, that I’ll say something like, “Oh, that’s good one! Thank you!!” The first time I said that, I wondered if it was disrespectful… too familiar, or something. But I wasn’t being disrespectful or flippant. To see something as amazing as the sunrise with all its colors and textures elicited an instant response of awe in the only One Who could create something so beautiful, and then graciously give me the privilege of getting to see it. Here are a couple examples:   and here are a couple pictures from my hike:         I know there are a lot of pictures there, but I couldn’t decide. I have heard people say they don’t believe in God because they can’t prove God exists. When I see things like this, I can’t doubt His existence. The beauty of nature stirs my heart.

Some music stirs my heart. Les Miserable (but only the Royal Albert Music Hall, 10th Anniversary version–here’s a sample) never fails to move me. I’m not sure what my neighbors think when I’m cleaning house and belting out the songs along with the soundtrack on my stereo (I am kind enough to make sure that the stereo drowns out any belting I might be doing!), but I just can’t help it. The story of grace, choices, and redemption moves me deeply every time I hear it… and I’ve been listening to it regularly for almost 20 years (and, yes, my children pretty much have it memorized). The power of music stirs my heart.

Time with friends thrills me. I have friendships on a variety of levels, and they are each precious to me. I wrote about some of my relationships recently–you can read it here: Relationships–so I won’t repeat the stories, but suffice it to say the joys of friendship stir my heart.

A few minutes ago, I heard a song that I haven’t heard for years. It’s called Letters From War, and it’s by Mark Schultz. You can hear it here–Letters From War–but be warned… it had me crying like a little girl. Most of you reading this know me, and you know that my son, Johnny, is in the army. Here we are at his graduation from Basic Training:  and here he is on his way from Ft. Lee (Phase 1 of AIT–Advanced Individual Training) to Eglin AFB (Phase 2):  Now, I’m pretty sure that a logical person would not listen to a song called “Letters from War” when her son is in school for EOD training–Explosive Ordnance Disposal–but who ever said that mothering was a profession for the highly logical? Besides, it’s not like I sought the song out… It just popped up on my playlist. I love my kids, and I would protect them with my life if I needed to, but I never want them to compromise their passion so they can live a life of safety. Seeing my kids live their lives purposefully and with passion stirs my heart! Sometimes my emotions overwhelm me–joy, fear of not being strong enough when they need me, love, pride, astonishment that I got to have the four best kids in the history of the world, and the absolute hilarity that we experience when we’re all together. The prevailing emotion over all, however, is absolute love. The depth of my feelings for my four children stirs my heart.

So there you have my thoughts… all elicited by one song that surprised me with emotions I didn’t know were so close to the surface. Thank you for letting me share with you. And now, before my day ends, I must go finish making the dinner I was working on when I was so struck with the need to process…

 

By the way, in case you’re interested, I’ve started a couple professional blogs, as well. I would love for you to check them out. Visit cppjoni.wordpress.com for my thoughts on the payroll world and http://sphrjoni.wordpress.com/ for my thoughts on the world of human resources.

 

Dreaming Dreams August 3, 2011

Filed under: Introspection,Life Questions — coffeegirl63 @ 7:15 pm

I’ve been thinking… lucky, you, huh? 😉

I’ve been thinking about dreams. Have you ever had a dream that seemed a direct reflection of your previous 24 hours? a dream that, in retrospect, seemed prescient? a dream that seemed a result of too much pizza and beer?

Last year, my friend Brenda was diagnosed with lung cancer. Her prognosis was not good. Delicate as she is, she has been the core that holds her family–husband and two adult sons–together; her middle son had passed away from cancer five years ago. Brenda has been, understandably, distressed by the diagnosis. The day after Brenda was informed by the doctors of her condition, she told me about a dream she’d had the night before. She had dreamed that her youngest son and I had announced our engagement. Her son and I were friends, but we had not dated in over two years. She begged me to make her dream come true, to make her son marry me. I understand that Brenda was trying to tie up all her loose ends; her son was not making good choices in his life, and she wanted to die in peace knowing that he would be taken care of.

Is it safe to say that we’ve all had the standard dreams of falling, of trying to flee danger but being unable to scream or to get away, of being able to fly? There are online sites that give general interpretations, at no charge, of your dreams. There are paid options, as well. I, myself, have two very good friends who are adept at interpreting dreams, and I draw on their experience when a dream baffles me. Freud, who wrote a book on dream interpretation, may or may not have actually said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” but I take this to mean that sometimes a dream does not actually merit or require interpretation.

Sixteen years ago, I dreamed that my youngest, Julia (2 years old at the time), had died. I had these dreams several days in a row. In each dream, I found Julia face down in water… in a pool, in the bathtub, in a lake, etc. Many mornings, I woke up crying, and I was very concerned about her safety. I talked to my friend Toni (a beautiful writer–see her blog at http://themothersheart.wordpress.com/) who helped me see that Julia was the age of a friend’s daughter, who had drowned two years earlier. I don’t know why I had those dreams, and I do not in any way understand the life-long burden that must come with losing a child, but understanding the connection, I could pray for my friend, give my fears to God, and move forward in mothering peace.

In March of this year, I had a dream that elicited strong feelings in me: I was in a situation where someone had to shoot an arrow specifically into his assigned place, and I had to stand in just my assigned place. I was sort of a combination of William Tell and the sight on a rifle. However, it was difficult for me to hold still, as I was in labor. The feelings in my dream: My purpose as a sight was to guide the one shooting the arrow. My purpose in labor was to bring safe delivery of the new baby. If I’d had this dream even a year ago, I would have experienced, in my dream and in my awakened state, stress and fear. The responsibility of having to make sure my charge succeeded in hitting the target, combined with the impending birth, would have been too much. What if I fail? What if I can’t make everything happen the way it’s supposed to? Having to juggle two responsibilities at once, the fate of two lives at once, would have all but debilitated me… which, in itself, would have increased the pressure. However, as I’ve been explaining in my writings lately, a lot of things have changed in the last year. I have been working on setting healthy boundaries. March seemed to mark a rather definite turn in my life. In my dream, I felt that we each had our responsibilities–that we were there to help each other, but we were not responsible for each other’s tasks. I knew that I could be that guide I was called to be, but I also had a distinct responsibility to make sure that my new baby was born in a safe and healthy environment. This time, I turned to my friend Julie (http://glutenfreeveganfam.blogspot.com/). We “talk” most days on IM, so I described my dream to her and asked her what she thought. Her thoughts were: guide–I was realizing a sense of responsibility, possibly partly for Julia in her last year living “in the nest” and partly understanding separation of responsibilities; labor–I was embarking on new beginnings in my life. In retrospect, I know that I’m becoming much stronger in setting healthy boundaries (letting good in, keeping bad out, defining relationships). I have had more than one new beginning. For example, I passed my Certified Payroll Professional exam which led to a major change in my career, and I have begun new interests in my personal life–performing in a short film and a couple commercials, dating a special man, the positive turn in my writings, and next month I will take up my flute again for the first time in 30 years. Professionally, my life will only grow and improve from this point. Personally, I am continuing to try new things. I do not purport that I will become any great talent as an actor, but I will continue as long as it is fun… and as long as I am asked. I will continue writing for the rest of my life, doing my best to write honestly and positively. My flute playing will be another creative outlet that I hope to enjoy for some time. As for the man, maybe it’s too soon to know?

My ex-husband almost never remembered his dreams. One time, he was working hard on a computer class–back in the mid-80’s when computers were just barely beyond the card-reader stage. For weeks, he’d been having trouble with one particular program. One night, he sat bolt upright in bed, and said, “that’s it! it’s in the maze!!” The next morning, I asked him what he’d been dreaming about. He didn’t remember dreaming. I told him what he’d said, and he said, “That’s it!!!” He left immediately for the computer lab, and he was able to solve his problem that day.

Anyway, as I said, I’ve been thinking. Have you had dreams you have wondered about? How much stock do you put in them? Are you working through events you haven’t been able to solve or understand in your daily life? Are you getting a glimpse of what is yet to come? Are they just a dream–”just a cigar”? Do you try to interpret your dreams? Do you mystify or spiritualize them? Do you even remember them when you awake?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on dreams and their meanings.