Lessons

The Wisdom Within Each Moment


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The Beatles (first published January 2014)

As I write this there is a lot of discussion about the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. In February of 1964 I was ten years old. That Sunday night my family had returned from church as usual and again, as usual my parents had sat down in the living room in front of the TV. I was playing in my room and my teenage sisters were doing whatever teenagers did in those days, probably listening to the radio and arguing with each other. Mother called to all of us and told us to come in there. Reluctantly we all moseyed into the room, and I was wondering what I’d done. She said she wanted us to watch the TV. On most nights my father only watched Westerns, but I guess she’d pulled rank on him too. We all fussed a bit – watching TV with the folks did not appeal to any of us. She insisted we sit down. I remember she said something like we needed to see this. It was important and would change the world. Great, her opinion of what was important did not necessarily jive with mine. I expected to be bored.  People can continually surprise you. Just when you think you have someone all figured out they do something so extraordinary it blows your preconceived ideas right out of the water. My sisters and I hadn’t even heard of the Beatles yet, but somehow Mother – who was in my opinion not in touch with the popular culture, knew, and I witnessed one of the most significant events in my lifetime.

Teresa Sue McAdams, co-creator of “Today’s Journey Tarot”, co-author of “Today’s Journey Tarot, A Traveler’s Guide”, co-author of “Tarot Meditations, A Journal for Self Discovery”, and author of “Lessons, The Wisdom Within Each Moment”

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You Have To Be Carefully Taught – New Lessons

When I was a child, my grandparents owned a small grocery store in our town. My dad worked there as the butcher. They were the only regular employees, so it was very much a family affair. Until I was about twelve and the store was sold, it was the only place our groceries came from. My mother never went to another store. Dad brought home everything that she needed. There were a couple of other stores in town, but my father was adamant that no one in his family ever go to them. As a matter of fact, he forbid any of us to set foot in another store. He had reasons. One store was “too dirty”, another cheated people with high prices, and of course there was the obvious competition among the stores. This was drilled into my head so often as a child I began to believe that the other groceries were bad places and something awful would happen to me if I went in them.

I remember one time spending the night with a friend whose father was the manager of another store. The only reason I was allowed to go to their home was because they were members of our church. I guess that made up for where the father worked. Anyway, imagine my terror when the girl’s mother announced that we were going to run to the store to get something for our supper. I didn’t protest, but I worried all the way there about what would happen to me when I got there and even worse what would happen to me when Dad found out where I’d gone!

At the store, my friend and I played in her dad’s office while her mom shopped. Much to my surprise, nothing bad happened at all and I had a good time. I decided not to tell my dad where I’d been. That one experience was not enough to convince me that other stores were safe.

After my grandfather died and our store closed, life changed drastically in many ways. One of them was, my mother had to grocery shop for the first time in 20 years. I don’t think I appreciated at the time how awkward that was for her and how out of practice she was. It was weird for me too, going with her. It was okay to shop in a store that had been so taboo before.

When I grew up and began to buy groceries for myself, it was still weird. Our store had been closed for seven or eight years by then and I was shopping in another town, but I felt intimidated by the task and was not a very good at it. To be honest, I’m still not. I spend as little time as possible in the grocery store and every once in a while feel like I’m not supposed to be there at all.

Ridiculous isn’t it? Such a silly childhood rule that had nothing to do with me can still creep in and make me uncomfortable. I know now that it was my father’s insecurity that made him fearful of the other stores. At any time my grandfather could close the store and Dad would be out of a job. Dad was only a salaried employee after all and made barely enough money there to provide for us. But it was his version of security.

There are always reasons why children are taught the things they are taught. I think most of the time, adults believe they are doing the right thing. They must. How could a loving parent teach their child something that is harmful to that child or others in our society? Maybe the better question is, why do they?

Teresa Sue McAdams, co-creator of “Today’s Journey Tarot”, co-author of “Today’s Journey Tarot, A Traveler’s Guide”, co-author of “Tarot Meditations, A Journal for Self Discovery”, and author of “Lessons, The Wisdom Within Each Moment”

Lily


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The Quality of Christmas (first published 2013)

Everyone worries about the quality of Christmas. They are afraid the economy or other unforeseen circumstances will put a damper on the festivities. But you know what I remember as the best holiday memories from the past? Every year as a child I practiced with the church choir for weeks. And then the Sunday before Christmas we performed our cantata. The chills and beauty of unpolished voices raised in the harmony of beautiful music. I remember the smell of the sack of oranges, apples and peanuts that were our treat after we performed. I remember gatherings of friends over the years – the faces have changed – but the coming together remains one of the true joys of the holiday season. I think about my first tree after I left my parents’ home. No money. No tinsel. Just two college students, some construction paper and lots of popcorn and laughter. I remember my daughter being discharged from the hospital on Christmas Day when she was eight years old after nearly dying from a ruptured appendix. No Christmas dinner that year. And oh how we didn’t mind. I think about a particularly difficult holiday meal with my family and coming home to find that my husband, Ben had cleaned the apartment from top to bottom and fixed a huge bowl of fresh strawberries – my favorite. So honestly I don’t think the economy enters into my holiday spirit at all. I don’t remember the gifts I’ve received over the years or the ones bought for others. I just know that every day is filled with blessings and why should the holiday season be any different?

Teresa Sue McAdams, co-creator of “Today’s Journey Tarot”, co-author of “Today’s Journey Tarot, A Traveler’s Guide”, co-author of “Tarot Meditations, A Journal for Self Discovery”, and author of “Lessons, The Wisdom Within Each Moment”

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Sound and Fury – New Lessons

Years ago we had three cats. Two of them did not get along. Actually that is understating the problem. These two cats, if left to their own devices, would have ripped each other apart until one or both of them were dead. There were several trips to the vet over the years when they injured each other. It was a real problem for us. We loved both cats and separately they were good, sweet and loving. The third cat seemed to be immune to the wrath from either of the others. None of these circumstances made any sense to us. After many attempts to solve the problem, we decided to just try to keep them separated. We spent eight years opening and closing doors in our home. They each had their safe spaces and took turns being out among the rest of the family. If not the ideal situation, at least it kept them both safe. For us however, it was a constant struggle and sometimes they were still able to fight.

When one of the cats died rather young from diabetes, we decided we would not get another cat as long as the survivor of the cat wars lived. He lived for almost 21 years, outliving our third cat by five years. Although we loved and cherished him, sometimes we would discuss getting another cat.  We always decided in the end though, that we would not risk bringing another cat into our home as long as he lived. He was old and we didn’t want to upset him or put another cat at risk.

Soon after he passed away the house became unbearably empty and quiet. We began our search for the next generation of kitties. We wanted two, and the theory was, if we got them as kittens and brought them home around the same time, raised together, they would get along fine. I wanted another Siamese boy and I had a dream about a little pink nosed girl, so that was what we were looking for. Fate stepped in and we ended up bringing home a six week old Siamese boy from a breeder and an eight week old girl with a pink nose from a shelter, on the same day. Thai and Lily got along wonderfully at first. They slept in the same bed and played all day long. Finally we had exactly what we wanted, two beautiful cats who loved each other. But Thai was a bit more rambunctious than Lily and by the time they were almost grown, she was beginning to reject his playful attitude. You could say they were exact opposites. Thai was a high energy Gemini and Lily a more sedated Taurus. The trouble began.

Thai jumps on Lily, expecting her to play, and Lily will have none of it. She screams as if he were killing her. This doesn’t happen all the time. Most of the time they co-exist just fine.  At first we were very upset at this change in behavior and tried to dissuade Thai from bothering her, but once he has something on his mind, he will not be swayed.  He will stalk her for hours, waiting for the right moment to pounce. And over the years Lily began to tease him – leaving a safe place to go where he was and then the jumping and screaming would occur. She also hisses at him for no reason just because he passes her in the hall. I want to make it clear that Thai has never hurt Lily. He slobbers on her a bit and she is obviously uncomfortable, but not in physical danger. They still sleep on the same bed, within inches of each other or sit side by side looking out the front door.  Also we are pretty sure this does not happen when we are not at home, so part of it is for our benefit. She usually breaks free from him and runs screaming under a table or something.

I do not know why this happens. But several times a week we have to endure this spectacle. For a long time, I felt so sorry for Lily and I admit I became angry with Thai. But now I watch with some indifference. It is just a sick game they play. Oh, I’ll break them up whenever it starts and check to see if she’s alright, but other than mild annoyance, I have accepted that this is the way it is going to be. It means nothing. It changes nothing and no one is really fighting, just making a big stink. It could be avoided, but Lily eggs it on. Thai could just ignore her but he is too gullible and gets baited every time.

As Shakespeare said, “all sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Sometimes they remind me of humans.

Teresa Sue McAdams, co-creator of “Today’s Journey Tarot”, co-author of “Today’s Journey Tarot, A Traveler’s Guide”, co-author of “Tarot Meditations, A Journal for Self Discovery”, and author of “Lessons, The Wisdom Within Each Moment”

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Let It Begin With Me – first published 2016

Music has always been a huge part of my life. I was named for a popular singer (Teresa Brewer), took piano lessons throughout my childhood, sang in the church choir and played in the school band. It was rare that the radio was not playing in my mother’s kitchen and she always sang along. Just a couple of years after I was born, a song was published that I probably heard for the first time sitting around a campfire at church camp. It was a song that could be sung in rounds, a popular campfire pastime. Also the band played it every year during the high school graduation ceremony, so we practiced it a lot. That song, “Let There Be Peace On Earth” has been playing in my head lately and it has taken on a slightly different meaning. The words, “Let it begin with me” always gave me comfort in my youth. In my ignorance, I believed that they were talking about other people. After all, I was peaceful. I was definitely against war and violence – a societal theme of my childhood. I didn’t hate anybody. But now that I know the root causes of these atrocities, I must admit I am a violent person. I feel anger.  Not as much as I did when I was younger, but when my son-in-law, Joe died it flared up in me with a ferocity that frightened me. I am judgmental. All Virgos are “blessed” with this trait that leads to criticism and can blossom into feelings of superiority. I’ve never thought of myself as prejudiced, but I grew up in a town that was all white, all protestant and at a time when difference was unacceptable. Some of that must still be inside of me. I fear the unknown, the unidentifiable. Fear is the greatest violence of all because it causes us to strike out without reason. These are just a few examples I can easily identify within myself. Perhaps some of these traits are not my fault. I was born with them or absorbed them though the examples of others. They are, however my responsibility. If peace begins with me, and I truly believe it does, I must work to identify and eliminate the violence that begins with me also. I must be aware of the thoughts, words and deeds that I project into an over-saturated with violence world. I must be the one who stops contributing negativity and practice, practice, practice only sharing peace until I never again pollute the world with any form of violence. It won’t be easy. But, “let peace begin with me. Let this be the moment now. With every step I take, let this be my solemn vow. To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally. Let there be peace on Earth. And let it begin with me.”

Teresa Sue McAdams, co-creator of “Today’s Journey Tarot”, co-author of “Today’s Journey Tarot, A Traveler’s Guide”, co-author of “Tarot Meditations, A Journal for Self Discovery”, and author of “Lessons, The Wisdom Within Each Moment”


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Buster and Company – New Lessons

Around ten year ago, our neighbors moved and left three outside kitties, who were mostly feral. The neighbors had asked us to feed them before they left and had already captured and re-homed several others, so they did make an effort to see that the cats were taken care of. The bottom line is though after they left, three cats remained. I did not want the responsibility of cats who lived outside. My cats had always been indoor, pampered, members of the family. At the time we could not bring these cats inside because we had a twenty year old, who hated other cats. It would not have been fair or humane to subject him to three feral cats.

There was no choice but to take care of them outside. The first evening, they were on our doorstep, asking for food as if they had been told where to go. There were two yellow/orange sisters and a gray boy, who had wandered in at some point and made a regular appearance at feeding times. Over the years we have fed and watered them, provided a house with straw and a heater in winter, and worried ourselves crazy when they were missing or seemed unwell. We knew the girls had been spayed, so there was no worry about more cats, other than the few neighborhood refugees who have drifted in and out.

The girls, Kitty and Whitey, stay close most of the time. But the boy, Buster we call him, comes and goes. He is sometimes gone for days at a time. I have often thought that this time he would never be back. I don’t know where he goes but he must have a route and perhaps other people who share food with him. When he does come back, he’s often in pretty rough shape, like he’s fought every cat in town. Sometimes he’s bloody or limping. He is usually very skinny.  He won’t let us get too near, so we watch from a distance as he stays here long enough to heal. Every time he’s been gone I’m always surprised to see him again and as soon as I catch a glimpse I quickly take him fresh food and water.

I know this situation is not ideal. We have had many discussions on doing something different, but the alternative seems to be to take all three cats to a shelter. That is, if we could catch them. The girls are a bonded pair, always looking out for each other and even walking together with their tails entwined. I cannot bear to think of them separated. And Buster, well he’s a free spirit who would not survive long in captivity. Besides, being feral and already past their prime, they are not good candidates for adoption and would unlikely be in the 30 percent who are placed in loving homes.

As I look back I think about all the days and nights, snowstorms, wind and rain, wild animals, dogs, injury and disease, and the biggest threat, human beings that could have taken their lives. Buster has always been the most vulnerable as he’s wandered the neighborhood. I supposed we would feed them for a year or two and then they would be gone. Cats aren’t supposed to be able to survive outside. They should not be healthy and happy in the only life they’ve ever known. They should be miserable and want more. It’s a good thing there’s no such things as should or supposed to. Everything is exactly as it is and should be.

Teresa Sue McAdams, co-creator of “Today’s Journey Tarot”, co-author of “Today’s Journey Tarot, A Traveler’s Guide”, co-author of “Tarot Meditations, A Journal for Self Discovery”, and author of “Lessons, The Wisdom Within Each Moment”

20150920_175503Ms. Kitty20150820_181240


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Teenage Girls – First published 3-11-15

This is not a story I thought I’d ever tell.  I’m not sure how it even came up.  I was talking with friends about the issues of teenage girls. I blurted this out and my friend, Jay got such a kick out of it that I later thought maybe there was something here to share. So this is for you, Jay. By the time I was thirteen I didn’t like my parents one bit. I didn’t want to spend any time with them. I can’t tell you why exactly, but back then I had a million reasons. One night at supper my father announced that he was taking his first vacation in seventeen years. They were going to a cabin on Lake Michigan (owned by some relatives I didn’t know) for a week and I was to come along. I instantly and loudly protested this idea. I thought I should be allowed to stay home. After all, both of my sisters were in town; one home from college for the summer and the other married and living just a few blocks away. I thought that was more than adequate supervision. My parents thought otherwise. We argued back and forth for days before the departure and finally I got a great idea. I just wouldn’t talk to them at all! Even so, I was packed up and ordered to the back seat of the car. Once you start something like that, when do you stop? I didn’t speak to my parents once during the whole trip. They tried everything to bring me out of it, I’m sure. I was not budging.  I sullenly sat without making a sound. As I recall, it wasn’t always easy to maintain my silence. I was and still am very fond of talking. I almost slipped a couple of times. After we returned home I slowly resumed my speech after a few days. I’m sure the first words I said were not pleasant or courteous. Interestingly, my parents decided to take the “see no evil” approach and nothing more was ever said about it.  For many years I justified my actions (they should have left me home) but now I admit I am rather ashamed of my behavior. I ruined their vacation for sure. Years later my father began telling this story and he brought it up time and time again. It was the first story about me he told my husband before we were married. A warning perhaps? Just so we’re clear, I never did this again. I’m still trying to figure out all the lessons that occurred during this episode of my life. You can say I was a child and didn’t know what I was doing, but I did. I knew that what I wanted was more important than anything else in the world. I thought nothing, no one else, mattered.  Today, that thought frightens me.

Teresa Sue McAdams, co-creator of “Today’s Journey Tarot”, co-author of “Today’s Journey Tarot, A Traveler’s Guide”, co-author of “Tarot Meditations, A Journal for Self Discovery”, and author of “Lessons, The Wisdom Within Each Moment”