Lessons

The Wisdom Within Each Moment


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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”

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The Journey of Oz – New Lessons

It has been a year now, since we brought Oz home from a humane society two hours away. Oz is our youngest kitty. He was approximately six months old when we rescued him. We know very little about what happened in those six months. He must have started out in a home somewhere. He does appear to be a full blooded Siamese. For some reason though, he ended up outside, alone and hungry. We also don’t know how long he was in this state; how long he wandered in fear, or what he may have encountered in the unfamiliar world he found himself.

Things didn’t get much better once he was picked up by a stranger and brought to the shelter. Oh, they were good to him at the shelter. All of his needs were met. But he quickly contracted every virus or infection that was rampant among the strays. By the time I first saw his picture on the internet and we frantically began calling about him, (I just “knew” he was mine) he was a pretty sick kitten. He was being treated of course and they assured us he would be okay and finally, that he would be ours officially as soon as he was well enough to go home (I think they just wanted us to stop calling). We drove to see him. He was a pitiful sight, alone in “isolation” – a cage by himself in the tack room of a barn. There were no windows. If there had been, and I could have seen him better, I’m not sure what I would have done. His eyes were swollen almost shut, he had a fever mask which caused his dark muzzle to turn grey, his ears were full of gunk, and although there was plenty of food, it was untouched. We paid his fees, signed the paper work and made the long drive home without him.

Within a few days, they finally said we could bring him home. He was still sick but some improved and they hoped he was on the road to recovery. They also knew we could and would continue medicine and subcutaneous fluids if needed. We made the drive back. When they brought him to us, he was wet and oh so skinny. They had bathed him! I kind of grabbed him and held him close to me for warmth. I never let him go until we got home. He purred so loud.

It required several trips to the vet and she was amazing (after scolding us for bringing home a sick kitten).  After a couple of weeks, Oz was greatly improved. He was finally able to meet his new siblings and begin his new life. A year later, he is a sweet, smart and loving cat. The only problem is his past trauma has obviously left its mark. Most cats are timid at first, careful of their new environment and people, but Oz seems to have flash backs. He is friendly and happy one day and then cowers in a corner the next. He doesn’t seem to know how to jump or meow and he plays very little. When he does play it is alone games like putting his ball in his food or splashing the water out of his bowl. He’s just beginning to become curious about our world, but doesn’t do the usual stuff like open cabinet doors or explore a different part of the house than he’s used to. He breaks our heart when he responds to us in fear and runs under the bed for no apparent reason.

You see, Oz is a cat. Not human like you and me. He can’t use his mind to tell him that everything is alright now. He can’t choose to think of the past as passed. He can’t differentiate “good” people from “bad” people by the behavior they demonstrate. Oz is a victim of his instincts. He responds based on past experience and his past experience was the worst it could be. It will get better, it has gotten better, but it may take a long time for those instincts to be completely replaced by the much loved, healthy, comfortable, forever home he has today. We are so much luckier than Oz. We can use our reason to erase instinctual behaviors. No matter what has happened to us in the past.

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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What’s in a Name – New Lessons

It doesn’t seem to take much to cause a long standing controversy among people. It just takes each side believing, knowing that their position is right. History teaches us that the past is a relative thing and the truth of it cannot be known. What we believe, however, is absolute.

I grew up in a small town and lived on the same street all of my childhood. My parents had the house built shortly after they married in 1938, so at the time it was a fairly new neighborhood. All the streets in the neighborhood were named after prominent people in the community. I’m not sure how that happened, but I imagine at a town council meeting several of the town’s finest were chosen for the honor. Some of those people I never heard of, but the street names declared their contributions to the town so they must have been well known at one time or other.

That’s the way it was for our street, Hyland. I had no idea who it was named for, not ever hearing of that name among the people in the town, and I never thought to ask. I didn’t even realize the streets were named for people until I was practically grown.  I imagine I would have never given the subject much thought at all if it wasn’t for the controversy. You see, Hyland, H-y-l-a-n-d, was the proper spelling of the name of my street. Period. Everybody knew that – or so it was believed. At some point the street was lengthened across the highway which divided our town.   I don’t know how this happened either, but the street signs produced for this section of the street read Highland, H-i-g-h-l-a-n-d.  Someone must have really not been paying attention.  Whether it was due to funding or just indifference, no one saw to it that these signs were ever fixed and so it began.  My parents and many of the people on our side of the highway were outraged and spent many hours discussing it over the back fence. There was never an all-out protest or anything. They just complained and remained irritated that they had to put up with it.  Of course they continued to use the original spelling. It didn’t matter much to the post office. Our postman was the same for all of my childhood. Letters were often delivered with only the name and town – no street address at all.

I was encouraged to continue writing my address Hyland Street and I did. I was also encouraged to correct anyone who “misspelled” the name of our street. The people on the other side of the highway were perfectly happy writing their street as Highland. After all, most of the streets on that side of town were named for trees, like Walnut or Cherry, so obviously they didn’t have a lot invested in the names.

This went on for many years until the elementary school a block from my house needed a name. The school had always been known as just the elementary school.  It was the only one in town. But the town grew and began to incorporate some of the township schools scattered throughout the county. They all had names according to their townships and I guess it didn’t seem right that the town’s elementary school was called by the name of the town when they were all part of the same community. The elementary was named Highland Elementary even though technically it was on our side of the highway, on Hyland Street. Whoever made this decision, probably didn’t know or care about the conflict. Highland was the logical spelling and just made things easier.

I had already left home by this time so I didn’t hear the discussion among my parents and longtime neighbors, but I bet it was riveting. My parents lived in that house until they died and always used the original spelling even though more and more street signs were changed as they needed replacing. It was a subtle revolution. I suspect it wasn’t worth it to anyone to question hold outs like my parents. Things like that are tolerated in a small town.  I don’t go back there anymore, because the neighborhood is quite different now and I prefer to remember it as it was and for whomever it had been named, Hyland Street.

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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Melody’s Tummy – first published 2015

Just two weeks after we brought our youngest cat at the time, Melody home, she became seriously ill. I have written about her illness and the remarkable recovery, but the lasting effects have been very difficult for us to deal with. Melody was poked, prodded, hauled back and forth to three different vets and generally manhandled by so many people that she developed an aversion to being touched. Touch to her meant pain. When we try to pick her up, she fights like a tiger to get free and slinks away from being petted or loved. Now I am a firm believer that cats are meant to be cuddled and our other cats are huge snugglers. We have tried everything over the last year and a half to reassure her. While brushing the other cats one day, Ben noticed that Mel was curious and began to brush her. This has progressed to her demanding to be brushed at least once a day.  But it has always been on her terms; no touching and she remains tense throughout the experience. Then the other day I was brushing her. She rolled on her back for me to do her tummy. Now I don’t know about you, but a kitty tummy is not easy for me to resist. I wanted to rub her little belly so bad but I knew if I did she would start kicking those long legs of hers like a bug on its back! Then I noticed that she had relaxed her legs – totally into the brushing. I took advantage of the opportunity and began to gently rub and scratch her tummy. It was so round and soft, like fine silk. I was in heaven. It didn’t last long. After a minute or two she realized what was going on and flopped over and trotted away. But it did happen. With patience, persistence and love anything is possible.

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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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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