Don’t say it!!! Rather let us say thank you!

“The line between ‘normal’ and ‘neurotic’ begins to appear when
any activity becomes compulsive –
that is, when the person feels pushed to perform the act because
it habitually allays his anxiety rather than because of any intrinsic wish
to perform the act.”

Rollo May


(the roses are blooming despite our current quell of life / Julie Cook / 2020)

Don’t say it!

I don’t think I can bear hearing it one more time…

“new normal”

There is no such thing.

There is either normal….or there is its antithesis…not normal
‘New normal’ is not a thing.

We are either normal or we are not….end of sentence.

If I suffer a stroke and my current way of life is suddenly altered, I will work to make
it normal again—what I know to be normal.
I may struggle, things will obviously be altered but I will work toward normal.
I will not give up or give in–I will do my best to be what I know to be normal.
I may or may not make it—but I will strive for what I know as normal.

“New normal” is a compromise, a ‘less than’ sort of approach.
A settling.
Settling for something less and “other than.”

So to all those ‘powers that be’ who keep trying to tell us that we are to now live
a new normal…to accept life as a new normal…
I say NO!

We will not settle.
We will not settle for ‘less than.’

Rather we will strive for what we know to be normal.

And we will do so with wisdom, patience, and prudence…
we can and we will be normal again.

Our armed forces…those men and women who have bravely fought and also
sadly died throughout this near 250-year history of our nation…
those who have fought defending this great nation of ours did not give their all,
they did not offer up their limbs and lives, for a nation that simply settles.

They knew, just as I know, that we are an exceptional nation.
We will not accept “less than.”
They have taught us this on each and every beachhead, unfriendly sky, dense jungle,
tumultuous sea and savage battlefield.

And so today of all days, we owe a deep sense of gratitude to our veterans and
their valiant sacrifices—
We owe it to each and every last one of them to continue to strive to be ‘better than’
rather than ‘less than’.

So let us, this day, take the opportunity to thank those who have served and continue to serve…
thanking them for reminding us that we are indeed a nation worth fighting for!

These are challenging days and precarious times…and yet we have faced challenges before…
And each and every time we have faced the seemingly insurmountable,
we have risen to the challenge and we have overcome.

And we will do so again.

We will do so not by settling but by fighting for what we hold dear and cherish…
that being our liberties and freedom—the very ideals our servicemen and women have
sacrificed their very lives for.

Today, we offer our gratitude.
Tomorrow we move onward and upward!

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

the sound of silence…can break the heart

“In the silence of the heart God speaks.
If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.
Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness,
your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

Mother Teresa, In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers


(courtesy the web)

The school year has finally ended and thus our little extended family clan headed home
yesterday for good.

And I cried like nobody’s business.

There is now such a deafening silence that neither my husband nor I find comfortable.

No shrieks, no cries, no shouts, no laughter, no bumps nor bangs…

March 15th until May 22nd.
Holidays, birthdays, milestones, and seasons have all came and gone.

And now they are gone…

And there is still a Pandemic, a lockdown, a ‘new’ normal…
The silence isn’t helping…


(the attack of Da / Julie Cook / 2020)


(a warm spring day /Julie Cook/ 2020)


(snuggle bug siblings / Abby Cook/ 2020)


(a first hair cut / Julie Cook / 2020)


(the last morning with “mom” / Julie Cook / 2020)

ALMIGHTY God, heavenly Father, who hast blessed us with the joy and care of children;
Give us light and strength so to train them,
that they may love whatsoever things are true and pure and lovely and of good report,
following the example of their Saviour Jesus Christ.
Amen.

1928 Book of Common Prayer

piece of cake

“Help me to journey beyond the familiar and into the unknown.
Give me the faith to leave old ways and break fresh ground with You.”

St. Brendan


(the wildflowers are now blooming / Julie Cook / 2020)

Oh, how the words of St. Brendan have touched my heart today–
(today, for me, being Monday and yesterday for you).

Walking into the unknown.
Journeying beyond the familiar.
Needing faith, as well as hope, while we leave the old ways, the old life, far behind.

Now left feeling helpless while trying to navigate uncharted waters…
Murky waters leading into something vastly different and to
something surreally new.

This is not to be a temporary change—not a momentary glitch to a set pattern or routine.
Such hiccups in life are not always pleasant but are made manageable in that we know they are
not meant to last…as in, not forever.

But this is not that.
This is not a slight bump or pothole in the road.

I think in all of this that what it boils down to is my simply yearning for what was…

And if the truth is really told, I think it is the feeling of freedom that I long for,
as well as pine over, the most.

To come and go as I once did…without worry or fear.

To hug an old friend who I’ve run into in a store.

To take a spontaneous road trip.

To save for, to plot and then plan a special vacation.

To actually linger in a garden shop…feasting on the colors and breathing in
the heavenly scents of beauty…free of masks or strips of tape that
keep me at a certain distance.

To simply being able to finally go back to the dentist for the new crown for my broken tooth.

Yet all those things are deemed “non-essential”, unnecessary to the basic day to day living.

So instead, I am left to precariously gather weekly supplies while spraying myself
with the sole sacred can of Lysol.
I tend to wee grandchildren as their parents now work and teach from home.
We cook, we eat, we clean, we wash, we huddle together and we wonder what tomorrow
will bring.

And so yes, I pray that God will give me the faith to leave what was known and trusted
behind as we all now embark on a journey into the new…of that which is
untrodden fresh ground.

If I walk hand in hand with my Father…that which is unknown, will be a piece of cake.

You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you,
that you may live, and that it may go well with you,
and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.

Deuteronomy 5:33

keep going…by all means, keep going…

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
Winston Churchill


(my Penley of Winston Chruchill /Julie Cook/ 2020)

My best-laid plans…

I started this post about 4 days ago…
such is my life right now…

Such is most of our lives right now…

So maybe I need a little pep talk.

Maybe you need a little pep talk.

I think that I might rather prefer a slight swift kick in the pants…

Swift kicks seem to leave a more lasting impression.
Plus they make for immediate forward motion.

I know we are all sick and tired of living in these “uncertain” times.
All you have to do is watch any commercial…be it for cars to credit cards…
every last one now speaks of ” these uncertain times.”

Some of them may use the word uncertain while others use challenging
and some opt for difficult or trying
but no matter what, it is all most precarious.

But if you ask me, ever since that little apple-eating incident, we’ve long been in
“uncertain times”…but I digress.

If you don’t already know this about me, I live in Georgia.
And our governor announced earlier in the week a plan to begin “re-opening” our state
starting this Friday.

Now there is a tremendous amount of brouhaha ensuing following this executive decision.
All the way from the national level to a local level—
Georgia is now being scrutinized.

Are we crazy?
Have we lost our minds?

I, myself, am a bit torn about it all…yet I am all for jumpstarting our economy.

I’m torn mainly because a stagnant economy makes for a stagnant people,
and a stagnant people makes for a stagnant nation…and a stagnant nation makes
for a sitting duck.

And the flip to jumpstarting an economy is that of our health and wellbeing.

Start or wait then start?
Too soon?
Too late?

The apocalypse, of which was forecast in all of this, did not materialize.

No trumpets.
No horsemen.
No booming voices from on high.

However we do know that people have gotten sick, people have suffered and people have died.

So I’ll admit that we do need to go about all of this mess aggressively but also very smartly…
However, we as a people and as a nation, don’t want to knee jerk ourselves into a fetal position
of Henny Penny, the sky is falling and the end is near.

That’s not who we are.
We are home of the brave remember.

We know those who have suffered…those who have lost jobs…
those who have lost loved ones and those who have simply lost their sense of security—
all from a virus…
And thus for some, there seems to be no solace…
and that, my friend, is one key reason as to why we need to propel ourselves forward…

Yet—we are afraid.

We are fearful.
And frighteningly enough, there are those of us who are even afraid to breathe…
as in literally breathing… as we are fearful of what is in the air.

But at some point, we will have to breathe, otherwise, we will all die.

So I wonder… where will we find the correct balance?

Do we press forward or do we continue to wait?

I’d like to think we need to press forward…
but at what cost, what time?

And so that is when I recall those immortal words…
‘when you find yourself in hell, [you mustn’t stop but instead]
you must keep going!’

Those of you who know me, know that Winston Churchill is a bit of a hero of mine.

So when life, be it my own or the larger collective thing we call Life,
proves to be difficult, daunting, trying, or even challenging, I often recall the
wisdom, tenacity, and even the panache of dear old’ Winston.

I will find myself imagining what Winston might do given the same circumstance…

So while I currently find myself so very tired, worried, bewildered, confused
and even mad about the current circumstance for which we are now finding ourselves,
I imagine Winston would bellow gruffly that we must trudge forward…
because forward is the ONLY way to go.

So while I was perusing several articles about dear old Winne,
I found an interesting piece written 8 years ago by Geoff Loftus for Forbes Magazine.
The gist of the article was written basically for business management and overcoming
various obstacles but I found it most applicable to our current world…
I’ve offered a portion of the article but the link to the full
article is listed below…

May 9, 2012

Seventy-two years ago tomorrow, a chubby, stoop-shouldered,
funny faced man with a speech impediment took a new job.
The man was 65-years old and until a year earlier was generally considered
to be a crackpot and a political has-been.
His taking the new job was one of the most momentous events of the entire 20th Century.

The man was Winston Churchill, and the job was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
On May 10, 1940, the British looked to be finished.
They stood alone against the vicious and victorious Nazis.

Two weeks after Churchill came into power, France was knocked out of the war,
and 340,000 British troops had to scramble to escape over the beaches at Dunkirk.
The Germans had absolute control of all of Europe.
It seemed impossible that Britain could survive.

In other words, his plan for success: Complete and total defiance.

“We shall never surrender.”
When you have nothing left but defiance, commit to it with everything you have.
Like Prince Hal in Shakespeare’s Henry V,
Churchill used language to rouse the fighting spirit he believed was
still alive in the British people, saying, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
And the line that summed up his personal career and the spirit that led
the British people to victory:
“Never, never, never give up.”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/geoffloftus/2012/05/09/if-youre-going-through-hell-keep-going-winston-churchill/#5ed52e2d5490


(one of my several chalk filled figurenes and collectables of Winston)

And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit,
interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

1 Corinthians 2:13

Contrasts

Never to suffer would never to have been blessed.
Edgar Allan Poe


(Getty image)

For whatever reason, I get daily Travel and Leisure as well as Conde Nash travel emails.
I suppose it’s because once upon a time, I most likely subscribed to something.

Yet during this time of quarantine, I have not much cared to be a virtual traveler.
I might be an armchair quarterback when watching my beloved college football
but I definitely prefer to be a real-life traveler.

And so I’ve pretty much trashed all the travel notices I’ve received these oh so many weeks,
as I’ve wondered if travel will ever be what it was.

While scrolling through emails yesterday, something interesting actually piqued my curiosity.

It was an article with 21 pictures of what a locked-down Italy looked like.

If you’ve ever been to Italy then you know it seems as if the country is comprised of
more tourists than local residents.

Tourism has gotten so overwhelming that the Italian government was having to issue hefty
fines to bring a bit of calm amongst the throngs of madness.
It is said that there are very few real Venetians or even Florentines who still remain
in their collective overrun cities.

And so I was curious as to what a mostly deserted Itlay might look like.

The images were eerily serene.
However, knowing of the death toll that Itlay has experienced and the hardship this tiny country
has endured, viewing the images was not necessarily for a cursory glance on a rainy
Sunday afternoon.

There was a poignancy found in the images.
An emptiness.
A sadness.

There was the image of a single figure, a pope, clad in white and sitting alone in a darkened and
empty St Peter’s square observing the solemnity of the Easter Vigil…

To the ruins of the Coliseum surreally quiet and alone for the first time in centuries.

The empty gondolas bobbing up and down in eerily empty canals…

Yet I think it was the image (seen above) of the small church in Venice with photographs of
its parishioners taped to the pews that touched me the most as to how this pandemic has effected our
collective human family.

The small parish priest had asked his parishioners to please mail or email him
their pictures so he could, in turn, tape them to the pews in order that they could “be in attendance”
with him…there in the quiet and still little church, as he conducted Easter mass…alone.

Since all church services were canceled this Easter,
one pastor in Venice asked his parishioners for their photographs,
then placed them in the sanctuary and performed Mass for them on Easter Sunday.

https://www.cntraveler.com/gallery/photos-of-italy-on-lockdown-from-a-vacant-colosseum-to-empty-churches-on-easter?utm_source=nl&utm_brand=cnt&utm_mailing=CNT_Daily_PM_041920&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_medium=email

I next read a heartbreaking story of a woman who was unable to visit her dying father in the
the hospital due to the quarantine.
The hospital was only five miles from her home, but her dad had contracted the virus
after having to go to the hospital following a fall at home.

He had been in good health up to his fall and was expected to be fine.
But while in the hospital, he developed a cough and fever…with the hospital realizing its greatest fear…
their patients were contracting the virus within the hospital itself.

The story is difficult to read as it is helplessly sad.

One of his four grown children relays how she and her siblings
stayed on the phone with their father for his final 36 hours of life
simply listening to his labored breathing before finally, there was no more sound.

‘We hear you, Dad’: A daughter stays on the phone for hours and hours as
her father dies alone from coronavirus

https://www.yahoo.com/news/hear-dad-daughter-stays-phone-120345094.html

And yet the enormity of all of this heartbreak, sorrow, isolation and emptiness is contrasted
by petty partisan politics.

Following the first two articles, I read two very different types of articles.
Articles by Newt Gingrich.

Mr. Gingrich is indeed a very smart and astute man.
He is currently on lockdown in Itlay as his wife is US Ambassador to the Vatican.
A position the late journalist Cokie Robert’s mother once held.

The former Speaker of the House was expressing his frustration with the current speaker,
Speaker Pelosi, and the squabbles she is currently having with the President over passing
a bill intended to bring financial aid to small businesses.

If anyone is hurting right now, it is our small businesses.
They have had to either shutter their doors or operate
very sparingly.
They have had to let go of employees.
Many cannot contiue paying their bills with no business to be had.

Yet the Speaker continues to refuse to work with the President.

The impeachment fiasco was bad enough…but we now have real people,
not celebrities, not high-end athletes, not entertainers, not politicians, but real people…t
he you and me kind of people..who need help— and they need it now!

And yet…we have people like Madame Speaker who continues to want to play cat and mouse.

Madame Speaker was being interviewed from her home by a late-night talk show host.
It seems she was standing in her kitchen in front of her two rather fancy Wolf sub-zero
refrigerators while babbling on about having to spend 58 dollars for 5 pints of ice cream as she
desperately needed to restock what she and her husband had already eaten.

58 bucks on high end ice cream while there are folks who can’t pay their bills
because they’ve lost their livelihood or worse, their health.

Something is wrong in all of this.

When we need help–many of the very people we elected to help us, choose to eat
expensive ice cream instead.
No wonder Speaker Gingrich sees the correlation between Marie Antoinette telling
a starving French population to simply eat cake while our Speaker of the house
eats her posh ice cream—as a President is trying desperately to bring aid
to those in desperate need.

Newt Gingrich: Coronavirus crisis makes some leaders believe they have god-like decision-making capacity

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/newt-gingrich-coronavirus-crisis-makes-some-leaders-believe-they-have-god-like-decision-making-capacity

Newt Gingrich: Like Marie Antoinette, Princess Pelosi enjoys luxuries but ignores needs of desperate people

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/newt-gingrich-the-job-killing-democrats

We joke, we laugh, we speculate…but…

“Will you come with me to the mountains?
It will hurt at first, until your feet are hardened.
Reality is harsh to the feet of shadows.
But will you come?”

C.S. Lewis


(the blooming quince / Julie Cook / 2020)

I can’t say how this will all play out…how it will all end.

I think, however, I can speak for all of us in saying that we beg that it end.

We laugh at those online videos, those memes shared…
because we know that misery loves company.

We try so desperately to make light while trying so hard to laugh in our
seemingly unified endless misery.

Yet throughout all of this we must remember…
there are those who have suffered.

Those who have…
Suffered the loss of income.
Suffered the loss of livelihood.
Suffered the loss of stability.
Suffered the loss of wellbeing.
Suffered the loss of health.
Suffered the loss of life.

Let us keep in our prayers and hearts those who have lost…

Now when Jesus saw the crowds,
he went up on a mountainside and sat down.
His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes
He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you,
persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,
for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:1-12

yeah…

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”
Charles Dickens

A friend sent me this little quarantine meme a couple of weeks back.
It was the first week into our time of sequestering.

I laughed.

Now, a month in…I am the seal.

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter,
and your lips with shouting.

Job 8:21