Thursday, December 1, 2016

Emily and Cecily

Emily Dickinson is seen as one of the greatest poets of all time.  She's certainly one of my favorites.  She's been a great inspiration, and, in some ways, I feel like she's my soul mate.  Here we are at about the same age.

Most of her poems were composed in her bedroom in her parent's home in Amherst, Massachusetts.  Emily was a recluse but she sent poems to friends and relatives, sometimes fashioning them into little books she made herself.

But only ten of her poems were published in her lifetime - all anonymously.  Just think about that in terms of the  Facebook/Kardashian world in which we live.

Emily Dickinson wrote about personal things, like death and faith and relationships.  Her poems contained excellent practical advice.  Many are short and pithy.

"Faith" is a fine invention
For Gentlemen who see!
But Microscopes are prudent
In an Emergency! 

- Emily Dickinson

I'm not the person I'm going to be
                     But I'm getting to be
                                  Getting free

-Cecily Crossman


Sanity Saving Poems

A couple of days ago I was talking with a neighbor who was having difficulty communicating with her husband.  She said he's too busy for her.  He's "out saving the world."  When that happened with my husband, Ken, I sometimes wrote a poem about it.


You were hours late for dinner
The egg rolls I had worked on all afternoon,
     Were limp.
Contrasting my rigid demeanor.

Our dinner guest,
A psychiatrist,
Seemed bemused,
And appeared to be 
Mentally taking notes,
On the unfolding of this,
All to frequent,
Domestic drama.

I remained calm
Throughout the description,
Of your last minute gallant efforts
To save a public official's job.

But the part about rescuing,
The man in the wheelchair,
Trapped in the revolving door,
Was just too much!

Why can't you ever,
Just stop off
For a few drinks,
Like a normal person?

Cecily Crossman


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Did I Really Come From France?

I look a lot like my dad.  He told me we were French Canadian.  But as I grew older I wondered because he had been abandoned as a baby.  How did he know he was French or Canadian?

All I knew is that I looked a little different.  When I lived in South Florida I was occasionally asked if I was Hispanic.  Later on some of my kids were certain that we were part Native American.  That sounded good.

The truth is that most of us Americans are mutts.  We're a DNA stew.  So for the last forty years or so I've just been happy to be that.

Then I started seeing those ads.  The folks seem to be so happy and surprised with their results.  I sent away for the DNA kit.  It's easy as pie to fill up the little vile with saliva, send it off and await the big news.  You don't have to join to get the DNA results. The entire experience, kit, website results, etc. is $99.

Here are my very surprising results:

  • 33%  Western Europe
  • 24%   Ireland (What?  I'm Irish?)
  • 17%  Great Britain
  •  7%  Scandinavia  (Never saw that coming)
  •  6%  Mali (This is an African nation formerly under French colonial rule but I don't think we can extrapolate out the French connection from that little bit of info.)

That's 87%.  The other 13% is "trace" and ( says) not reliable.  It's eight additional countries, including Russia, Cameroon and South Asia (a third continent!).

After digesting this information how do I feel?  Great!  I feel like that guy in the ad who turns in his kilt for lederhosen.  And now I want to join since they're telling me I have a couple of first cousins I didn't know about.

And, since I'm neither French Canadian nor Native American, I'm a whole different person than I thought I was.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Joan of Arc

1923 film The Passion of Joan
of Arc
In 2006 Dave and I took the most romantic trip you could imagine.  We cruised the Seine River from Paris to La havre.  About half way we stopped at the ancient town of Rouen.  This is where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake.

I didn't know much about Joan at the time.  But we went to the lectures and visited the church that has been built at the old market place, right on the spot where Joan was martyred in 143l.  What I remember most was that "dressing like a man" was one of her big crimes, but she was burned by the church for being a heretic.

One of many performances of
"Voices of Light"
Last night we went to the Rollins College campus to see a sold out performance of "Voices of Light," performed by the Bach Festival Society, presented in partnership with Gladdening Light, an initiative that explores the connection of art and spirituality.

Me saying hi to Dave. 

The different and amazing thing about "Voices of Light" is that it presents the 1928 silent film, "The Passion of Joan of Arc," which depicts her trial and execution using actual transcripts,  along with the magnificent music of the Bach Choir, orchestra end Rollins College Choir.  Many people were weeping during the performance.

Joan saw visions, was a teenage military leader (hence the men's clothing that protected her;) was judged to be a heretic, was martyred in the most despicable and brutal way - and then was made a saint.

I was grateful to have this solemn, magnificent, spiritual experience last night.  And I was grateful eight years ago to have had one of the first of my many awesome trips with Dave.  After our  2009 cruise in France, we spent a few extra days in Paris.  We stayed at the very small, very French, Hotel Jeanne D' Arc.

The French love their Joan.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Healthy Bodies and Brains

Throw This Away
Yesterday Dave and I attended a lecture by Marian Chase.  She owns Pro-Active Health Orlando and, as such, is an expert on heading off bad health stuff at the pass.  Yesterday she was emphasizing brain health, but her presentation applies to everybody.

While I picked up (and have acted on) some of her ideas, others are just too hard.  I don't know how any regular person could accomplish it.  Here are some examples from her handout.


  • Wild cold water fish, salmon, anchovies, sardines
  • Free Range beef and pork 
  • Wild blueberries, cranberries, blackberries
  • Green veggies
  • Deeply colored fruits
  • Organic eggs
  • Coconut oil, olive oil
  • Nuts, seeds

Most of this seems doable to me and I have revised my grocery list.  However, the next part does not seem doable.


  • Processed food
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Store bought cookies, cakes, breads, crackers and cereal (everything that comes in a box)
  • All wheat products (unless you get your wheat from Europe)
  • Aluminum, including baking soda, pots, deodorant, antacids
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Glad plug ins, scented candles, dryer sheets, hand sanitizer, antibacterial soaps

We all know I am never again going to bake a cake or cookies, and I'm certainly not going to make our own cereal.  So I never have them again?  Very sad for me.  I can't wear deodorant?  Very sad for you.

There were some good suggestions for getting enough sunshine, exercise, sleep, prayer and meditation.  Also know your numbers. Dave and I already do these things pretty well.

She had great suggestions for supplements but we'd have to be richy, rich to use all of them.

I know Marian Chase is right about most everything but until our culture accepts these new paradigms I don't know how we can go it alone.

Here's my take-away.  We can eat even more fruits and veggies.  Today we had sandwiches but I bought fresh, thin sliced bread from the bakery.  I'm thinking about replacing some of our pans with stainless steel but it's expensive and everything sticks to the bottom.

In the meantime, I think I'll just hang with the Apostle Paul's, "All things in moderation."


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Do You Have a Mentor?

Monday night my amazing Forum group met for dinner with a group of young adults - who call themselves Kinfolk - to discuss mentoring. I had the privilege of telling a short story about a time when someone mentored me in a powerful way.

Here it is.

In 1969 my husband, Ken, graduated from Candler, the Methodist seminary at Emory University in Atlanta.  We were immediately sent to Florida where he would be the associate pastor at  Park Temple Methodist Church in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

I had just spent the prior year working at Emory, earning a P.H.T. (Putting Hubby Through.)  We had two little kids - and I was pregnant.  And I was tired.  However, I was feeling like there was something more I should be doing with my life.  I had no idea what.

Soon this couple befriended our family.  They were older, elegant, southerners.  He was quiet and dignified but an excellent leader in the church and, most important to me, a great encourager.

For instance, I didn't have a car so they invited me to use their son's car for the summer since he was away.  I declined, telling them I couldn't drive a stick shift.  My friends' reply was, "Of course you can."  And the next day they delivered the car to my door.  I drove it all summer.

At some point a hand full of folks asked me to start a new adult Sunday school class.  At that time the Methodist Church had just come out with new material.  I loved it.  It was interactive and exciting.  Instead of a person standing in front lecturing, we broke up into discussion groups and asked each other questions (and listened to the answers.)  What a concept.  I was totally energized.  The class grew and I grew.  (Not only was I growing as a person but I was growing another person inside me who turned out to be Sarah.)

Then one day my friend called and asked if I would come to his company and do the series we'd just finished in class for his staff.  What?  Of course I would.  I wasn't nervous.  I was excited.  And when it was over I knew I'd experienced a significant life change.  But I didn't know exactly how.

But my friend wasn't finished with me.  A few weeks later he called to ask when I would be submitting my bill.  What?  So he mentored me through that process as well.
Forum and Kinfolk last Monday night.
And for 30 years, besides being the wife of a high powered, high maintenance Methodist minister, the mother of four children, and teaching adult Sunday school almost every week, I had a career as a consultant and platform speaker in churches and non-profits, and corporations and conventions - pretty much doing the same kinds of things we did in that first Sunday school class.

I'm so grateful my friend saw my potential and mentored me - and I have spent a lifetime trying to do the same for others.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Kappy's USA

After listening to a loving, unifying sermon this morning Dave and I went - for the very first time - to Kappy's for a Philly cheese steak sandwich.   Kappy's, which is right up the street from some of the most yuppie places you can imagine (unless you live in Seattle,) and about a mile from our house is - by their definition, a downscale landmark.

Dave Placing Our Order
A diner, built in 1969 and backing up to the railroad tracks, it's been unchanged for 50 years.  The owner, Bob Caplan's, motto is "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

It's tiny, with maybe a dozen bar stools inside and four picnic tables in the parking lot.  I drive by it all the time.  Sometimes the parking lot has a few Harleys and pickups along side one or two Volvos.

We sat outside (in the parking lot.)  Across from us were two attractive young women.  They could have been two "Maitland Soccer Moms."  That's what the women who live in Maitland and live a certain lifestyle are affectionately called.

But I don't think so.  The one sitting opposite me was wearing a pink camouflage cap and her t-shirt had a drawing of the outline of Florida but was actually a semi-automatic weapon.  Below it was "Welcome to the Gunshine State."

The cheese steak sandwich was really, really good.