Lessons

The Wisdom Within Each Moment


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New Lessons -The Cherry Tree

The term laundry day had real meaning when I was a child. Laundry was truly a chore that took a whole day to complete. Today, we throw a load into the washer any old time. It is not a major commitment. My mother had a wringer washer and a large two compartment metal tub on wheels.  On laundry day one compartment was filled with clean water. After the clothes swished around in the washer for a while, they had to be wrung out through the wringer of course and put in the tub to rinse.  They were then wrung out again and carried up the basement stairs to the outside clothes line and hung up to dry. There were five of us in my family, so that added up to quite a bit of laundry.  It was all heavy and time consuming work. The clothes line was in the back yard along one side. It ran perpendicular to the house, so it stretched from the house, down a slight hill to practically the end of the property. The clothes line had two rows, higher than my mother could comfortably reach. She would start hanging the clothes near the house and eventually down both lines, depending on how many clothes she had. My usual job was to bring the clothes in as they dried, most of which would then be ironed.

Near the beginning of the clothesline, where the most clothes hung, was a large wild cherry tree. It was a great tree for climbing because it had low branches I could grab and hoist myself up (until I was caught, since I was forbidden to climb trees). If I was lucky, I could sit up there quite a long time while Mother was busy in the house. It was really Dad who enforced the no tree climbing rule anyway and he was usually at work. I loved it up in that tree. Many pretend adventures materialized there.

Every year the same thing happened. Sooner or later, that wild cherry tree blossomed with wild cherries. I knew to stay out of the tree then or I’d be stained with red berry juice – a dead giveaway to what I’d been doing. Mother always went about her usual routine until one day she would become very upset because the birds had been feasting on the berries. As they left the tree, they did what birds do, all over her clean clothes. Every year clothes would be ruined with bright red stains or at the very least, need to be rewashed. My parents discussed for hours it seemed, what could be done. In the end, nothing. The tree was actually over the property line and belonged to our neighbor and he was not going to let it be cut down. Only a few branches extended over our yard. Secretly I was glad.

I was just a kid and didn’t know much, but I always wondered why, when the berries came she didn’t just move the laundry further down the lines. It would have been a bit inconvenient, but definitely not as much work as doing the whole thing over. It was like she either didn’t see the berries or hoped against hope that this year her clothes would not become ruined. Humans can really make things more difficult that they need to 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”

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Church Camp – First posted 2013

It is very hard for people to change. Whatever was taught to us in our childhood stays as the foundation of our beliefs. When I was a child, I went to church camp in rural Indiana almost every summer. Most of those times, my mother was there too as a counselor. One year when I was eight or nine, there was a lovely young woman who also volunteered as a counselor. I don’t know how she came to be there. She happened to be African-American (the only one at the camp who was). There were no African-American people in my county, or the surrounding counties, when I was growing up. This young woman was very popular at the camp that year. Although she was not my counselor (I probably had my mother as usual), she had a positive impact on the entire camp. She was vivacious and talented, and sang like an angel. At the end of camp, one of the other counselors from our church invited her to come home with us and sing at our Sunday services. Although I was too young to understand what was happening, I’ll never forget the emotions at the church that Sunday. There was fear, outrage, hatred, distrust, and all of the other negative emotions that make up bigotry. Everyone was in a quandary because there was a law on the books in our county that no African-American person could be there after 6:00 pm. The lovely young woman was hurriedly and unceremoniously rushed away. I never heard another word about her. This is the atmosphere I was raised in. But there was a difference for me. A difference that I think made all the difference in my beliefs. My mother cried that day.

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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Oz Oddities – New Lessons

Our youngest cat, Oz has made many adjustments since we adopted him last September.  He was about six months old then, so he had lived a considerable part of his life without the benefit of a loving family. He was frightened of everything and didn’t seem to know about the everyday sights and sounds of life. We have discovered that he also developed some rather odd habits somewhere along the line. Most of them have to do with food and water.

We had some soft little cloth balls for our cats to play with and Oz took to them right away. He batted them about the house and carried them around in his mouth. It wasn’t long before we noticed what I soon began calling his experiments. He would put one of the balls in his water dish (not unheard of for a cat), take it out and drop it into his food dish. Rarely one of the wet balls would be deposited in his litter box too, but that experiment didn’t seem to prove satisfactory. Eventually all three food dishes, which are kept full of dry food, were blessed with balls. Oz seemed to put them in (one at a time) and then eat around them as if he could not eat without the ball present. The water experiments continued as well. Oz graduated to sticking his paws in the water dish and then licking the water off. Sometimes he paddles, as if he were swimming or he just liked the waves he was making (and the mess).  Needless to say the other cats were not thrilled with having balls in their food and a wet floor all around their water bowl. Princess Lily especially does not like her food compromised in any way. I seemed to spend all day picking balls out of the food and putting them back in the toy basket. Within minutes, Oz would return a ball to one of the food dishes.  I racked my brain trying to figure out what to do. Oz loved the balls so much and somehow there was comfort for him in what he was doing.

Then one day it occurred to me that I could just leave the balls where they were. The other cats weren’t starving. They soon learned to eat around the balls. Lily was still a bit miffed, but it didn’t hurt her to miss a snack or two when the balls were in the food. I had to clean up a little spilled water now and then but that was no big deal. Oz was different. I don’t know what he’d been through or why he did what he did, but his behavior didn’t hurt anyone or cause any major upheaval.

Cats are like people. No two are alike. They are formed by genetics and the environment. Oz has some peculiar habits. So what? He’s not like other cats. Who cares? He is interesting and unique and also beautiful and sweet. He developed these habits out of need or because he was taught that way. I’ve decided to accept him just the way he is, since it is impossible to change a cat anyway – or a human for that matter.

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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Rosebud – first published 2012

The bravest cat I ever knew was our dear friend Rosebud. Rosie has been gone a long time now and she only lived for eight short years but she had a lot to teach us. She came from a humane society shelter. We were looking through the room with all the cages and I noticed that my husband had stopped in his tracks. When I went back to him, he said this one is it. I looked at the cat in the cage. She was a beautiful short hair with gray, orange and ivory fur. She had big amber eyes. The tone in his voice told me not to question this choice. Something in him was very sure. They had bonded instantly. We brought her home and were not disappointed. She was an affectionate one year old lap cat who fit into our family instantly. I can still see her lying under the Christmas tree every year and dancing around the kitchen, begging for treats – which she always got. When Rosie started getting sick, I didn’t expect anything too dire, but when the tests came back, she tested positive for diabetes. At first we gave her pills everyday – not an easy thing but manageable. Soon though, the disease progressed until we were up to two shots a day. I never dreamed I could give a shot to anyone but all of us did – even our daughter, who was still a child – so that Rosebud would always be taken care of on time. You would have never known she was sick. She went about her life with an attitude of gratefulness that amazed us all. Whenever Rosie lay down on something, she would always scoot to the edge and hang her head over the side of whatever she was lying on. It was her trademark stance. We used to laugh and say she was getting a new perspective that way. Maybe she was. She had been abandoned and discarded early in her life. Now she was very ill at times. But from her perspective she was with a family that loved her and took care of her. I think from that point of view, nothing else mattered. Maybe perspective is all that matters.

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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The Spring of Our Discontent – New Lessons

I am the first to admit it. I did not enjoy the prolonged winter weather we endured this spring. Like everyone else, I complained and got grumpy every time the temperature dipped down, and snow began to fall again. But one cold day in April, I suddenly realized I was more disgruntled with being disgruntled than I was about the weather. Everywhere I’d go, people were complaining, practically depressed because warmer temperatures and sunshine had not yet arrived. With long faces and sullen voices they expressed their displeasure. It was the only thing on most everyone’s mind, including mine. If I turned on the television, it was the lead story on the news! People seemed paralyzed with discontent.

I started thinking, I mean seriously thinking about it. In the first place, complaining about the weather is just about the most useless waste of anyone’s time. We can’t change it. Allowing it to dictate our world however is our choice. What is really the big deal? I know we all like spring and the renewal of spirit that it brings, but why do we let bad weather affect us to the point that we can barely function? In the second place, weather is not bad nor good. It just is. It is something we have to deal with and for most of us with warm homes and winter coats, it isn’t a life or death problem. We just make it seem as if it is.

All of that productive time we waste dreaming of what will be could be spent on much better things. The energy that goes into feeling grumpy and droopy could be used much more creatively. I have decided that I don’t want to buy into that negative energy. From now on I am accepting the weather just as it is –at least until November when we’re still wearing summer clothes and sandals.

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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One Last Dance – first published 5-23-15

When she was younger, our beautiful kitty friend, Ariel used to do this very special thing that made us laugh and endeared her totally to our hearts. Being a Manx, she was somewhat less graceful than other cats. She had only a stump of a tail so her balance was not perfect. Her back legs and hind quarters were shaped more like a rabbit than a cat. She had large back feet that could hop across a room faster than most cats could run. But if she found a tiny piece of lint or paper on the floor, she would elegantly rise up on those big back feet as if she were on her toes and delicately bat that paper with her right front paw while holding her left paw out for balance. We called it her ballet. It had to be a small piece of paper because Miss Ariel was very shy and anything very big frightened her. After the first performance, we often tore up little pieces of paper for further shows. But as she got older she danced less frequently. She still loved to play but mostly lying on the bed, while I ran around and chased the toys she batted. I honestly don’t remember the last time we saw her dance…until…

Ariel was not herself. We were worried sick. Countless trips to the vet. Try this, try that. Pills. Shots. She was so strong and brave. For an elderly kitty she was still doing a lot of the things she always did. She had the loudest purr. She loved sitting on our laps. But we knew. And then one day my husband and I were working in the home office, sitting on either side of the desk. The closet door was open because that is where we kept our files. We heard a sound and looked toward the closet. There was Miss Ariel dancing her way out of the closet with a little piece of paper that she’d found. We both gasped and then cried. The dance lasted only seconds. For just a few seconds she was a kitten again. In those few seconds she took us back through all the years – sixteen of them – that we had shared with her. At first I thought – oh, she must be feeling better; she’s doing her ballet! And then I realized she wasn’t playing with a tiny piece of paper. She was giving us a gift – a gift that I will cherish forever. When I think of her now I don’t see the illness that took her. I see one last ballet.

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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Bumps in the Night – New Lessons

My father loved to rearrange the furniture in our house. The furniture would be changed so often, that you didn’t dare walk through in the dark for fear of bumping in to something that wasn’t there before. Not quite so often, but a least once a year he rotated bedrooms. There were three in the house – one for me, one for my older sisters, and one for my parents. I particularly enjoyed the bedroom in the front of the house because there was so much to see out of the front window. I could watch the neighbors come and go and the traffic that was always motoring up and down the street. The other two bedrooms were at the side and back of the house. Not nearly as much going on.

One time however, when I was happily living in the front bedroom, things turned not so happy. Several nights in row, after I had gone to bed, something or someone scratched on my adored front window screen. I hesitated to tell my parents at first, since they were not keen on my stories and always accused me of making things up for attention or to delay going to bed. But after several sleepless and frightened nights, I couldn’t cope with it any longer. I just knew something was trying to get me. I called them into my room and told them my plight. At first, as expected, they doubted my story. To my delight though, the scratching began – with them in the room! My father bolted out the door to the front of the house. A few minutes later he returned with a frond cut from the bush in front of my window. Here’s your scratcher, he said! I was so relieved and felt foolish for being so frightened over nothing, but at the time it sure felt like something to me.

A few weeks later, I heard the phone ring in the middle of the night; then my father’s hushed voice as he stood in the hall and quietly responded. I must have rationalized that it was a wrong number. No one ever called in the night. I woke as usual the next morning, but before I could get out of bed, my mother came in and sat down beside me. She explained that my grandfather had died in his sleep. My dad went there to help his mother. She said I didn’t have to go to school.

Two events. What I feared and worried about for days was nothing. The real tragedy came out of nowhere without worry, without warning. I think that’s how things usually are. We worry and fear things that never come to pass and rarely see the real monster coming. Perhaps we shouldn’t waste that energy over nothing, so we have more strength to defeat the monster when it does come.

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”