Seriously Grateful

Blog and Photos by Dale Parsons

I followed the WordPress Discovery Prompts for 30 days. The last prompt was the word grateful. Rather than writing something serious, I chose to make it light and goofy. For example, saying I’m grateful my name isn’t Sigmund. Sigmund isn’t a bad name, I’m just grateful it’s not mine. I should have taken more time and expressed serious gratitude for so many things, and people. I’m doing that now.

Grateful means one thing to me. Family. It isn’t possible to put everything family means in a post like this. Or a book. Or a series of books. People spend lifetimes putting together scrapbooks of black and white photos, then Polaroid color photos, then color photos developed by Kodak, then printed digital photos, and now they’re viewed on a tiny screen, thousands of them, stored in a little flat box not much bigger than a business card you carry in your pocket. Not only that, but you talk to people with your camera now, and you can watch TV, listen to the radio, and look up all kinds of things. The one great thing about it is that instead of your family photos being stuffed in large books on a shelf at home, you carry everything with you all the time.

I don’t know if we ever dreamed we would have eight (at this point) grandchildren, but we do. We have reached the point where getting everyone together in one place is difficult. They’re all so busy with their families and work. Life recycles. When we were younger we had to travel to see my family and my wife’s family. Now it’s happening again. We’re the ones who often travel to see everyone. We love it.

These guys are our closest buddies, just a few miles from where we live. The photo is a few years old. The one in the middle is now taller than I am, and I’m 6’3”. At least I used to be.

This is what always happens to me at some point or other. I didn’t find out until years later the little guy on the left was copying me. He’s not really sleeping!

The little one I’m holding just celebrated her 1st birthday. Our son’s family lives in the Chicago area where he is an adjunct professor of Philosophy.

This young man will carry on the tradition of model railroading. We passed the family Lionel trains to him.

The little man in my wife’s arms is the youngest of our grandchildren. He lives with his family in the Nashville area where his mom and dad are on staff at a great church.

This is so cute!!

We are so grateful for an amazing son-in-law, and three beautiful daughters-in-law. They are all incredible, talented people. We are so blessed they are all part of our family.

Stories don’t make it. Photos only try. Just one word.

Grateful.

The Pleasures of Traveling

Do you love to travel? Do you have a long list of the places you plan to visit?

We have had the privilege of traveling to all but ten states in the Country. Unlike many people I read about, I don’t dream of visiting other countries and then saying I’ve travelled. I have loved traveling across the United States.

A few of the career opportunities we have had through the years came with many miles of travel and some very nice accommodations. Probably the best, though, has to be Waikiki. I was conducting a brain-storming session for the sales team at our company. During a lull in the action, I kept writing on the white board until suggestions started again from the group. I wrote “Send Dale and Mary to Hawaii” on the list, and thought nothing more of it. Later, during a dinner trip into town with the team, the owner of the company said to me, “If you’ll visit a few places for me while you’re there, I’ll send you and Mary to Hawaii for a week.” Shocked, I said, “Are you kidding me?” “You suggested it, didn’t you?” he asked. “Yes!” He said, “Done.” We spent a week on the beautiful sands of Oahu and Maui. Amazing. Truly incredible was our introduction to Kona coffee. Oh, wow!!

I always said the best job in the world would be traveling to places and not having to do anything when you get there. I imagine that being a company pilot might be like that, but I’ve come pretty close in recent years. I just enjoy getting out and going places.

With one group we worked for, I was thrilled to pick up a brand new custom luxury van and drive it to Florida from Texas. This was in the 70s, so it was one of those big vans with the cushy seats, paneling, colored lights inside, a fold-down couch, a sink, and a fridge. Oh, and a CB radio! Man, that was living in those days!

On one trip that included flying, I got on board with the boss, he “turned left” (to first-class) and I turned right. I didn’t care, we were flying. On another flight we were both bumped to first class because of a ticketing error. I wasn’t paying, so I didn’t care about that either!

The first long trip in my life was in 1967 when my older brother and I accompanied our grandparents on a cross-country trip on historic Route 66 to California. I wish I had paid more attention to the route and taken lots of pictures. I have been to California many times since, never dreaming at the time I would ever be back. All that is left of Route 66 is stories and old photos.

Now we don’t have to go far to enjoy the trip. It doesn’t have to be someplace new. The drive can include sights we seen many times and we like it just as much. Many good miles don’t include distance.

Where did I leave my coffee?

Staying Sane in Isolation

Everyone likes a little alone-time, at least once in a while, but this is ridiculous. Even for those who are introverts, this command to stay home is a challenge.

If we’re going to stay sane while all this is happening to our country and the world, we have to find ways to break up the weeks, days, and hours. If we don’t, the minutes are going to drag by and misery will be a constant companion.

We may have projects we’ve been wanting to complete, but now that we have extra time, can’t find the motivation to actually do it. So, an answer might be to try something totally out of your normal experience. Are you a dancer? No? Then give it a try. Put some music on, (maybe start with something slow and soft so you don’t break anything, either furniture or bones), and let yourself go. You may create something totally new. If you feel inhibited, even better. Press on! Let your imagination be your partner. You might really surprise yourself.

Are you a builder? No? Then go out in the garage and find some scrap pieces of wood, and build something. Anything! Even if it’s just a frame with four pieces of wood nailed together so it’s square.

Are you a writer? No? Then get busy writing. “What should I write about?” you ask? Anything! Write about how your toothpaste tastes. Write about blades of grass and how you love seeing it beginning to grow in the spring but hate to mow it once it gets tall enough. Write about an ant named Bob. Bob is shorter than the other ants his age because he has a condition that hinders his growth. He also has hair on his head. No ants have hair.

Do you sew? No? Here’s a huge challenge. Find an old shirt or blouse that you’ll never wear again, and carefully cut it apart on the seams. Cut the sleeves off, the buttons, and the collar. Now, put it all back together. If you don’t have a sewing machine, all the better. Find a needle and thread and do it by hand.

Photo by Lum3n on Pexels.com

Do you draw? No? Get a piece of paper and a pencil and start drawing. The challenge is not to say, “That looks stupid.” Just do it. Keep your self-doubt voice quiet. You may discover you’re a natural.

Do you have boxes and boxes of photos? Sort them in some meaningful order. Put all vacation pictures together. Put family reunion pictures together. Or, put photos together by colors people are wearing.

Use your imagination. You can come up with something, a project, a plan, a design, a dream. You might come out of this isolation with a new way of thinking that could really change your life.