Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites

TGIF:  A Reflection on This Week

#1 in my new series of Friday Favorites

 

  Friday is always a good day to pause and reflect

on the week that is almost behind us.

 

What is YOUR FRIDAY FAVORITE REFLECTION for this week?

Does one bright and shining moment stand out to you?

I’d love to hear about it – you can leave a message for me at the end of this post.

 

 

My Friday Favorite Reflection is:

“Primavera: When Spring Break is Over,”

was published.

for the first time this week by Editor, Ron Harton, NatureWriting Literary Magazine.

 

I wrote this poem in 2015. I revised it recently and sent it out for consideration to this editor.

It is a collage or collection of events, people, and stories  from many Spring Break trips to Puerto Rico. I combined these things with my imagination to create a memorable poem.

 Read my poem and see a photo of a tropical waterfall by going to this link, on NatureWriting.  

Click here to read my poem on Naturewriting

 

Do you take photographs or write in a journal when you are on a trip? 

You can turn them  into a poem or non-fiction essay.

Poetry is a good way to share your life experiences with an audience.

 When you look back over this week, can you find some special people, events, travels or opportunities that just happened to pop up on your horizon? Friday is a great day to think about what you experienced this week.

What do you have to be thankful for this Friday?

I am thankful for good editors who make it possible for writers to share their work with a wide audience.

Write what comes to your mind today.  

 

 

____________________

Western Pennsylvania author, Lynda McKinney Lambert, writes full-time from her rural home since her retirement from teaching in 2008.

Lynda’s 2 full-length hybrid books:

Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage, 2003, Kota Press.

Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems, 2017 DLD Books.

_Nominated for “Skirt Best of the Net for 2016-2017” for her issay, “Knitting a Life Back Together.” This essay  was published in Spirit Fire Review, 2016.

_2018 Proverse (Hong Kong) Poetry Publication Prize for, “Red December,” published in Mingled Voices #2. Available on Amazon.com.

_ “first snow,” her first chapbook, now available for publication opportunities.

_Lynda’s career featured in the new book, Artful Alchemy, editor, Anne Copeland,2017.

_Lynda’s work appears in Indiana Voice Journal; Spirit Fire Review, Magnets & Ladders, Breath & Shadow, Poetry Quarterly, Tana Society of America (Spent Blossoms, Anthology 2016), Plum Tree Tavern, NatureWriting, The Avocet, Plinth, blue Unicorn, Pro Christo, Proteus, No Limits, Kaleidoscope, Wordgathering, Proverse (Hong Kong) Poetry Prize & publication in Mingled Voices 2, Anthology),  and more.

Lynda loves a rural lifestyle; walking through a meadow of wild flowers and thistles; gazing at a star-strewn sky; spending solitary winter days with her husband, Bob, their 2 rescued cats and 2 rescued dogs.  Lynda is an avid knitter who designs wearable art. She creates award-winning Talismans and art works of encrusted beadwork.

 

Lynda’s newest work:

_ first snow.  This chapbook is ready for publication.

_Star Signs: New & Selected Poems, Full-length book is now ready for publication.

 Copyright 2018. Lynda McKinney Lambert. All rights reserved.

Contact Lynda at riverroad@zoominternet.net

 

 

 

Thursday Travels

Post #80

May 16, 2018

Thursday Travels:  Venice, Italy

I sat on a bench and drew  in my sketchbook.

My annual weekends in Venice were nearly always in July.  I came to celebrate Redentore Festival.

Link to Redentore Festival, 2018 schedule

I was usually outside on the streets most of the day when I was in Venice. There is so much to see and enjoy. I didn’t want to miss a bit of it.

  I enjoyed watching the city come to life each day.

There is a feeling you have in Venice that is different than any place I’ve ever visited.  Elegance, history, and beauty surround you any time of day or night.

First, the street sweepers  arrived before dawn.

They begin cleaning the streets of  accumulations from the day and night before. Each morning  the streets are renewed by a team of street sweepers.  They work quickly and I love watching them. This morning ritual was like watching a lyrical dance on a stage.

Next, the people who live in  the buildings that surround the campos arrive.

Some scurry off to work; others are opening their shops; some to church services; others, to sit quietly and talk toge.  You have the feeling that this activity has not hcanged over the centuries – it is a ritual of awakening each day in such an historic place.

I always carried my sketchbook with me on my excursions. 

I sketched; wrote poems; snapped photos. 

This photo captures life in Venice, Italy. 

PHOTO:  The 2 Venetian women never saw me sitting nearby  for they were absorbed in conversation.

This is their  hood.

___________

Thank you for visiting my SCAN blog today!

How I appreciate all of you!

This essay and photograph is brought to you by the author, Lynda McKinney Lambert.

View Publications Page for updates on my stories and poems being published.

Walking by Inner Vision.

Lynda’s Author ‘s Page

this blog post is the property of Lynda McKinney Lambert.

Copyright May 17, 2018. Lynda McKinney Lambert. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Solitude

When from our better selves we have too long
Been parted by the hurrying world, and droop,
Sick of its business, of its pleasures tired,
How gracious, how benign is Solitude!  

—Hermit

 

I arrived at the Hambidge Center  in Rabun Gap, GA in the summer of 1988. It was late at night.  In the darkness, I drove into the driveway after my long journey from western Pennsylvania. I walked  to the main house where I met the manager  who would take me to where I would live  for the next month. I was going to be doing a Residency  and would be given a studio and place to live where I could do my art every day.  It was a great opportunity and a dream come true for me.

My guide  said, “I hope you like isolation.” My reply was, “Oh, yes! I love isolation.” The fact is, I did not have an inkling what isolation was but it sounded good to me.

Of course, I had no idea what isolation truly was for I had just arrived at this isolated art colony deep in the Georgia mountains. My normal life was back in Pennsylvania where I managed my busy home and family.  I cooked meals from scratch every day for my husband and 5 children. My homemade pies were famous among the ladies at my church.   The first thing I did each morning was 3 loads of Laundry.  In between the layers of  the business of taking care of husband, kids, dogs, cats, and anything else that came up, I was a non-traditional student pursuing the Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree.  Every spare moment I could find, I painted.  Painting was my obsession.

Driving up the steep mountain road, I followed his car.  Then we turned onto a pathway to the isolated little house where I would be living and working.  After the man left me there, alone, in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains – in utter darkness – I began to get an idea of what solitude would be like. While I was excited to be there, to have this opportunity, I was also stuck with the reality (and fear) of solitude.

My life was changing. I was diagnosed with breast cancer just 2 months before this trip.  And, my father died 2 weeks before the day I found myself alone at night in a strange place where I would live for the next month. My nerves were a frazzle.

 

But, the month I spent there, away from everyone and everything that was my normal life  was one of the most productive times in my creative life.  In this mountain solitude,  I was united with my “better self.”  Twenty-nine years later, I remain at peace  and solidly united with my “better self.”

Article and Photography by Lunda McKinney Lambert.

Copyright, May 16, 2017. Lynda McKinney Lambert. All rights reserved.

Lynda  McKinney Lambert

.Front Cover

Blogger:

Author:

Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage (Kota Press), 2002.

   

Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems, DLD Books, 2017 

Lynda is a Peer Adviser  and writes articles on sight loss and blindness for  Vision Aware Blog

CONTACT ME: riverwoman@zoominternet.net

 Author – Blogger – Visual Artist

Envision a Ship Coming In

Envision  a Ship Coming In

by Lynda Lambert

People often say, “I hope my ship comes in.”

In other words, they WANT to have something good come to them in some unexpected way. It usually means they need  a financial windfall  or help with something material they want to come to them. Definitely, this phrase expresses a need in their life and a longing for a quick fix.

The phrase also signifies a person feels helpless and really doubts that anything will change for them. It feels a bit helpless when you hear this longing desire for “somehthing,” doesn’t it? It makes me sad.

There is a universal law known as “SOWING & REAPING.”

When we are in need of a HARVEST, we must first plant the seeds for it.

Without the actions of preparing the soil and planting the seend, there is seldom a harvest.

As I hear a person  wondering if their ship will come in, I have to ask:

How many ships did you SEND OUT?

 

I send out a LOT of ships, so I can live in the expectation that many ships will come in for me.  And, just like we ENVISION, they DO come in – or come BACK ,  in DUE time.

Often my SHIPS come back through the mail. When my husband brings in the mail each day, I ask him:  “Did a ship come in the mailbox today?”

What DOES your SHIP LOOK LIKE? 

My SHIPS come in the form of CHECKS that arrive by MAIL Some  ships come in the form of INVITATIONS to important events that I will enjoy.

Occasionally ships come in the disguise of AWARDS for work I have done in writing and art. That is what I DO, it’s my profession. When I do it extremely well, I get paid with MONEY, FRIENDSHIPS,  LOVE, RESPECT, AWARDS, Publications   or  PUBLIC RECOGNITION.

 

Ships can arrive in dreams, in the middle of the night.  Ships will  come in conversations with others. Ideas for new projects or answers to difficult questions we are wrestling with can come unexpectedly.

 

Ships can be SENT OUT anywhere and at any time.

Ships can COME IN anywhere and at any time, too!

best-of-show-ribbon2

 Many years ago, I read a book by a well-known California pastor, Rev. Robert Schuller.

He spoke on reaping a harvest from God for our work. He said to CELEBRATE every award we receive, put those AWARD ribbons and plaques on our WALL and LOOK at them EVERY DAY – to remember that all our harvests come from GOD.

In my art studio, a wall is covered from ceiling to floor with colorful satin ribbons from all over the world –  they inspire me to do MORE and they affirm that what I do has been recognized by colleagues in my field. Each award is an affirmation by an expert in my field that my work passed the test and came in as a winner.

Likewise, in my office where I write; the walls are adorned  with plaques and framed recognition certificates I have received over the years  from  organizations I  served.  My diplomas from universities  where I earned 3 degrees push me forward to stay focused on what is important in my pursuit of  life-long learning.  I plan to do research and share my gifts with others even more in the years ahead. Diplomas are far more than a piece of paper. They are ships that vrought me through years of personal effort and dedication. When I look at them now, I feel like they are anchors that hold my ship fast  in any storm and keep me on course.

How about you?  

You may have many ships  yet to come in but if you have not yet sent them out, you will never be able to say, “My ship came in!”

When your SHIP does come IN, be sure to thank God for it, put the award ribbon or plaque on your wall, cash your checks, see your work in publications, and send off more ships – plant more seeds for an abundant harvest.

And, yes, stand proud and take a bow and pause to recognize your harvest.

 

OH, I almost forgot to share a ship that returned to me this morning.  You can read my wonderful NEWS today at this link:

http://www.visionaware.org/info/emotional-support/personal-stories/recreation-and-leisure-personal-stories/introducing-lynda-lambert-seasoned-writer-and-artist/1235

Please LIKE my  POST and offer me some comments. I enjoy it so much.

 

____

Copyright 2016. Lynda McKinney Lambert. All rights reserved.

 

Contact Lynda: riverroad@zoominternet.net

Lynda’s newest book, “Walking by Inner Vision” will soon be published.

She is the author of “Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage,” by Kota Press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Home: Advice to a New Expat

Meet my Guest Blogger for November:

Carrie Delecourt

November 1, 2016

 

Finding Home: Advice to a New Expat

Every man has two countries, his own and France.  (Thomas Jefferson)

America is my country and Paris is my hometown.  (Gertrude Stein)

When good Americans die, they go to Paris.  (Oscar Wilde)

 

Expat in Paris. The words conjure up an image of Ernest Hemingway sitting in a smoky café on the boulevard du Montparnasse, scribbling in a well-worn notebook while rain beats steadily upon the sidewalk. Or maybe the words bring to mind the Lost Generation — Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, T.S. Eliot, John Steinbeck, Henry Miller, and all the other novelists and poets who came to Paris after the First World War to find themselves. And then there’s me.

My story is fairly typical. I grew up in the suburbs of Orange County, California, home to endless beaches, palm trees, and Disneyland. Full-time sun and eternally blue skies, frequent heat waves, vast freeways, shorts, flip-flops, and surfers in wetsuits. So you can imagine how exotic Paris seemed when I spent my junior year studying at the Université de Paris Sorbonne. Oh, the thrill! The adventure! Winter coats and gloves and wool scarves! Real French people!

The grass was definitely greener in Paris. Every day was sparkling and fresh, and I discovered something new and exciting around every corner. Lectures were held in the ancient Amphithéâtre Richelieu at the Sorbonne, and grammar classes met in classrooms with old-fashioned wooden desks with inkwells. I sat in cafés in the Latin Quarter with fellow students of different nationalities and discussed worldly matters over doll-size cups of strong, thick coffee. I visited friends in their tiny chambres de bonne — maids’ rooms — on the top floor of buildings without elevators. I went to the theater and to concerts and saw intellectual French films in art-house cinemas. It was all so different from California.

Paris was a feast of glorious sensations: the mouth-watering odor of baking croissants wafting out of a boulangerie and the salty smell of seafood laid out on ice in front of a restaurant; the taste of farm-fresh butter and apricot jam spread on half a baguette, the warmth of a warm patch of sun on a frosty day; the melodic ringing of church bells on the hour; the buzz of scooters dodging cars like matadors; and the cacophony of car horns, sounding like Gershwin. I wanted to soak it all up and bottle it, like an essence that would fade with time.

The year went by in a blur, and suddenly it was time to pack my bags and head home to California. So it was with a heavy heart that I returned to my former life. But as soon as I got back I discovered that California had not changed, but I had. I was the same person, and yet I was not. Something was wrong, something was missing. I felt out of place, and I was filled with a sense of longing. And I knew why.

Paris kept whispering my name, and every heartbeat urged me to go back. I felt I had no choice. Six months after I graduated I emptied my savings account and bought a one-way ticket to Paris. With my whole life crammed into two overstuffed suitcases, I pulled up my roots and left my family and friends for the land of over a thousand different types of cheese, where I joined the approximately 100,000 Americans who call France their home. I was going to pick up where I had left off during my year abroad. I was determined to Frenchify myself and embrace the French way of life. A new chapter — a whole new book — in my life was about to begin. I was on the road to becoming a witty and cultivated citizen of the world.

At first I was star-struck, then reality struck me like a brick on the head. Once the honeymoon was over, once the novelty and excitement of living and working in Paris had worn off, I realized that, unlike the carefree student life I had led, expat life was a challenge. It wasn’t always la vie en rose, and my rose-colored glasses slipped right off my nose.

The romanticized Paris you see in the movies or read about in books or on someone’s Facebook page, that picture-perfect city you visited during your European holiday, does not paint the whole picture. Despite what you might imagine, living in Paris is not always glamorous or fun. Unlike tourists who spend a week in Paris, or a student who stays for a semester or two, when you pack up all your worldly belongings and move to a foreign country you have to adapt to a whole new way of thinking. You are rebuilding your life from scratch, and it’s not always easy to come to terms with being a foreigner. As an expat you are expected to understand all the unspoken rules, those tricky “do’s and don’ts” of another culture. You don’t spend the afternoon people-watching and discussing existentialism in a sidewalk café, or strolling along the banks of the Seine while accordion music plays in the background. In the real world there are errands to run, and you can’t just pop into a big U.S.-style store and pick up everything on your list. There are sheets to wash and hang up to dry, toothpaste to buy, the utility company to wait for, long lines to stand in. Life goes on, just like back home, only in Paris everything is more complicated.

Life just seems harder here, and the frustrations of everyday living can be an exercise in patience. Nothing is simple or straightforward, and many things are downright mind-boggling. Everything is time-consuming, and the smallest of errands seems to take forever. So you learn to be patient, especially when it comes to the seemingly insurmountable administrative red tape you find yourself battling. Sometimes it feels like you are being asked to leap through a flaming hoop. Your wallet swells with five, six, seven oversize photo identity cards. Official papers needing your immediate attention pile up alarmingly on your desk. The woman behind the counter sends you away because you are missing a vital paper that was not on the list of documents needed. The only way to get through it, I’ve learned, is to do like the French: give a good Gallic shrug and tell yourself: c’est la vie. French people know this, hence the shrugging.

There are times when you miss the convenience of America. Everything in Paris is so much smaller — apartments, refrigerators, washing machines, soft drinks and coffee cups — and a lot more expensive. Shops close early and on Sundays, and many are shuttered up during lunch, so you have to plan ahead. There are frequent strikes — transit workers, Air France, the post office, sanitation workers, radio stations, administrations — and there are pot-banging and megaphone-blasting protest marches through the streets, turning whole neighborhoods into gridlock. Truckers and taxi drivers and farmers with livestock block the freeways. Streets are chaos; there are no stop signs, only yield signs and traffic signals at intersections. Pedestrians and drivers fight for the right-of-way, and cars, motorcycles and scooters are parked helter-skelter on the sidewalks and in crosswalks. Everyone smokes. You find yourself longing for tumble dryers, public drinking fountains, customer service, ice cubes, window screens and air conditioning. But these are little things, minor inconveniences. Annoyances. And when you think about it, do they really matter?

I don’t think they do. Paris may not be perfect, but it is a great city, perhaps the greatest city in the world. Paris is a mixture of ancient and modern, a vibrant and unique place that continually delights and surprises. Paris is the Ville Lumière, the city of enlightenment, rich in history and culture, renown for its breathtaking beauty, its statues, museums, monuments, and parks. Paris is the world capital of fashion and chic, and even French dogs have a certain je ne sais quoi when they trot down the sidewalk in their winter trench coats with their heads held high.

Paris is a morning walk through the mist in the Jardin des Tuileries, a hot chocolate with whipped cream on a cold winter’s day, a Vivaldi concert in a centuries-old church, or a moment sitting on a bench in a hidden square listening to the birds enjoying themselves. These are times when Paris really does belong to you.

There is a certain art de vivre here. Even though they can be as harried as other big-city dwellers, Parisians know how to pause and enjoy the little pleasures of life, things that really matter, like friends, family and good food. Sit-down meals are still the norm. They can last several hours, especially on Sundays, when the whole family gathers around the table. Food is savored and commented upon, wineglasses are held up to the light, and wine is sipped slowly, with pleasure. Cooking is taken seriously, and most people do their shopping daily. Neighborhood markets teem with fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables arranged in perfect pyramids like works of art. There is fresh butter, milk, cream, and flats of brown eggs straight from the farm. At the fromagerie there are dozens of different types of artisanal cheese to choose from. Some are pungent, some are delicate, some come in individual wooden boxes, while others are cut like slices of pie from enormous wheels. Legs of ham and strings of sausages hang from beams above the charcutier’s stall. And where else in the world can you walk to the boulangerie around the corner and buy a warm, just-cooked baguette or a pain au chocolat?

Southern California weather is predictably sunny, so the changing seasons in Paris are a delight. Summer brings warm thundershowers and daylight until almost 11 p.m. The city sleeps through August, when Parisians flee to the countryside; Paris slows down and you can stroll along the sidewalks and navigate narrow store aisles without getting jostled. In autumn the days are crisp and dry leaves crunch underfoot as you cut across the park. Street-sweepers gather up fallen leaves with fluorescent-green plastic brooms, and the city smells of roasting chestnuts and sweet crêpes. But nothing compares to the joyous feeling of the first rays of the springtime sun after a long, bleak winter. Parisians sit outside on café terraces, loosen their scarves, and turn their faces up to the sun like flowers. Birds serenade the early morning light, forsythias explode into bloom, and tulips and daffodils poke their heads out of the earth. Your mood lifts instantly and you are glad to be alive and living in Paris.

For me, Paris is not just a home away from home. I have put out roots and built a life here. I have my own family here. But I often feel tugged in both directions, split in two, with one foot in France and the other in the U.S. Sometimes I wonder if I am still considered a “true” American. Actually, I’m not exactly sure what I am. I have the blue passport, I file my U.S. income tax, I vote in the U.S. elections, I celebrate Thanksgiving with turkey cutlets and gravy, and I read and write and think in English. I wouldn’t miss my American news podcasts for anything. But there are times when I feel more French than American.

I’m far from being a Parisienne, but I have picked up a few French customs over the years. I’m no longer a fashion faux pas — I can drape a silk scarf around my neck without it looking like a noose, I wear good shoes whenever I go out, and my wardrobe comprises mostly black clothing. I kiss my friends on the cheeks when I greet them, and when I’m annoyed I have been known to mutter, “Oh là là,” which the French really do say. I drink my coffee bitter and black. I have even tried (once) the breakfast ritual from the north of France, which consists of dipping bread and strong-smelling Maroilles cheese into a bowl of coffee. My English fails me sometimes; I accidentally insert French words into English sentences, or I’ll forget an English word and give a dismissive wave of the hand to fill in the blank. I have never bungee-jumped or explored the Amazon rainforest, but I’m more adventurous, in my own way. I have done a lot of exploring — and getting lost — so I know the city and the métro like the back of my hand. I prepare French dishes (with variable results), and I have eaten veal head and sea snails and frogs’ legs and various other creepy-crawlies. I can pick out the best camembert by gently palpating it, and I’m learning how to appreciate fine wine. All these things are part of me now. Although this country often leaves me scratching my head, and even though there will always be a part of me in California, I feel at home here.

People often ask me, “Don’t you ever get homesick?” and I tell them I do. Of course I do. Like most expats, I miss my family and my friends back in California. I miss out on all the milestones and the celebrations. I miss Thanksgiving and Halloween and the Fourth of July. When a loved one is ill or going through a hard time, I am filled with sense of guilt and selfishness for not being there. Sometimes I would like to reach out and give a hug, but I can’t. When people ask, “Would you ever move back home permanently?” I tell them the truth, that I don’t know. I really don’t.

Anyway, where is home for me? Many expats ponder this question. What exactly defines “home”? When I say “home,” do I mean California, where I grew up? Or is it France, where I have spent so many years? Is home the address on your passport? Is it where you were born? Is it where you keep your toothbrush and hang your hat? Is it the place where you sigh and put your feet up? Is it, like Robert Frost said, “the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in”? What if your heart is torn between two places? Does one’s heart have room for more than one home? Must I choose one place over the other?

These are difficult questions and I don’t think there is a simple answer. The way I see it, home is not just a house, a physical place with four walls and a roof on top. Home is not a geographical location, an address on a mailbox, or a thumbtack stuck in a map on a wall. Home is a feeling. It is where you want to be when you are not there. It is the place you can count on, the place where you are happy, the refuge where you feel safe, whether it’s California, Paris, or Timbuktu. Home is where you are surrounded by loved ones who understand you, and where you have built lasting memories. Maybe the answer is that home is within you, wherever you happen to be.

When I visit my family in the States, California is a mixture of foreign and familiar. I’m disoriented and a more than a little overwhelmed. I feel like a tourist from the planet Mars, an outsider who doesn’t know a thing other than the language. Being able to wear a silk scarf, or eat chicken wings with a knife and fork, is no help. I’m completely out of the loop — I don’t know the latest local news, the slang, or the celebrities. New stores have popped up, old favorites have closed. Hearing English all around me makes me feel like I’m hallucinating. I don’t know how to do the simplest tasks, like swipe my Visa card, bank at an ATM, or how to tip in a restaurant. Everything is enormous. Supermarkets are chock-full of items you need and don’t need, and the shelves are well stocked, the wide aisles free of boxes of merchandise being unloaded. It feels wrong to eat barbecued ribs with my fingers, but I can eat my fries with ketchup instead of mayonnaise without being teased. I hand over euro coins instead of nickels and dimes. I’m amazed you can buy medicine or Band-Aids after 8 p.m., or pick up a forgotten item at the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon. The whole world seems upside-down, and by the time I have started to turn myself right-side up, it’s time to go back to Paris.

Being an expat is not always easy, but I would never trade it for another way of life. Yes, it was tough in the beginning, and still is sometimes, but following my passion and living abroad is has been an enriching and rewarding experience. It has shaped me and changed me into what I hope is a better person. I don’t look at things in the same way I would if I had stayed in California. I have expanded my horizons and developed a broader view of the world. Being an expat allows you to see America in a different light, and you understand and appreciate it even more. I have discovered a lot about myself as well. I am more accepting and respectful of other cultures. I have grown stronger, more self-confident, and independent. I have learned to be humble and how to open my heart. And I have changed my priorities. I know how to slow down, let go of things, and make do with less. I have learned to focus on the positive and embrace new experiences. I feel blessed to have met incredible people, and I am thankful to have two places to call home.

If you are an expat struggling with culture shock or feelings of loneliness, whatever you do, don’t be too hard on yourself. If you are homesick, know that it’s perfectly normal. Homesickness is something almost every expat experiences; it’s part and parcel of living in a foreign country. Remember, it takes time to adapt to another way of life and bloom where you are planted. It helps to be curious, flexible, and open-minded. Don’t compare countries. Laugh whenever you can. Be brave, challenge yourself and climb out of that box in your comfort zone, but don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it. Try to speak French whenever you can. Make small talk, even if you mangle your words and your accent is cringeworthy. Eat everything on your plate and always carry an umbrella. Banish all negativity, find joy in everyday things and be delighted by what you find. Even though not everything makes sense in the beginning, when you are feeling lost, as though you are standing on the other side of the Great Wall of China, know that some days are tougher than others. Nothing in life is ever a smooth ride, no matter where you are. There are ups and downs and not everything goes according to plan. But if you are patient and willing to learn from your experiences, good or bad, I believe the journey is worth it. If you take it one day at a time, eventually things will start to fall into place, and one morning you just might wake up and realize that Paris, too, is home.

_____

My guest Blogger  for November is Carrie Delecourt , a writer who lives in Paris.

carrie.delecourt@memoirsofanordinarygirl.org

@carrieinparis

This guest blog is provided by courtesy of Lynda McKinney Lambert. All rights to this essay belong to Carrie Delecourt, Paris, France.

I present this piece with gratitude to Carrie for her generosity in sharing her thoughts with SCANdalous-Recollections Blog. Thank you, Carrie!

_____

Contact Lynda Lambert:  riverwoman@zoominternet.net

Website:  www.lyndalambert.com

 

Lynda’s Travel Tips

What is so important that I had to

get up at 4 a.m. to write a blog ?

 

I’m leaving for Louisville, Kentucky tomorrow.

I’ll attend the American Printing House for the Blind Conference.

Why am I going? It’s because my art work is in the annual international art exhibition and I won a prize. I’ll be a guest at the conference along with other artists, and I’ll get a tour of the facilities, attend a reception for the art show, and even attend the banquet where I’ll receive an award for my work. All super exciting.  And, best of all, three of my daughters will be with me on this trip.  It will take us about 8 hours to get there and we will leave tomorrow morning.

Have I packed yet?

Of course, NOT!

 

photo_16_travel-bag

If I pack too soon then I’ll have second thoughts and make myself crazy by selecting and de-selecting everything I picked out for the trip. It’s hard for me to FOCUS with so many choices available. I have to order the chaos.

I’ll force myself to pack my little weekender bag. It’s such a cute one in hot pinks and oranges – happy colors for happy packing, I guess.
Later today – I love to travel but I hate packing for a trip. I’d like to have someone come and make the selections for me, and SECRETLY pack my bag. Let someone else make my choices for me – select the clothing, jewelry, and all. Secretly. Then, when I arrive, I ‘ll be surprised at what I brought
But, I have my own way of making choices. I begin with what is most important for me.
First, I select the kick-A** jewelry I want to wear while I am away. Yep, the jewelry comes FIRST. After that, I go to the closet and find the clothing that will best show off the jewelry. Finally, I pick a pair of shoes that will WORK with it all. Keep it simple. Just one small bag.
But there is one thing I have done in anticipation for this journey. I bought the snacks! But, there’s a problem with buying the snacks too soon, too. Three of the super large size candy bars I bought for the trip are now missing. Well, my friend Rosella once told me that if you stand at the sink and eat, the food has no calories. So, I did.

Symbols of Advwent – The Candle of Joy

Symbols of Advent

Part 3- Week 3

The Candle of Joy

Also known as  the Shepherd Candle

 by Lynda McKinney Lambert

 

GET READY!

LIGHT the 3rd  candle of ADVENT

A miraculous world-changing event will take place.

For a Christmas delight, click on the link below to listen to a Christmas song.  JOY  to you today.

 

Listen to _While Shepherds Watched Their Flock by Night”

Kings Choir performance

One thing I know for sure is this:

God comes us  in ordinary and everyday events.

 

We can be visited in unexpected times and in unique ways.  I have experiences visitations and deliverance many times in my seventy-two years of life. I bet you have, too! Pay attention to how God comes to YOU in the mundane activities of your life.

Begin to have a consciousness of God’s presence in the ordinary!

For the birth of Jesus, historical documents and texts show that  God prepared this event in advance.  We saw that preparation in last weeks Symbol of Advent – the Candle of Preparation.  Week 2 _Candle of Preparation

 

For Week 3 of Advent, we see that  sent ANGELS  to make an announcement to  LOCAL SHEPHERDS as they were working at night in the fields near Bethlehem.   Just another silent night in the fields!  An ORDINARY night, so they believed.  But then, the MIRACULOUS came to visit them. It would become a night that the  entire world would remember. Even now, over 2,000 years after the event people all over the world stop to remember it.

Blog_2014_PHOTO_Shepherds

A miraculous visitation of ANGELS, sent from the Divine, happened without warning.  The humble shepherds  were summoned to leave their fields.   The destination of their God-directed trip was a stable in Bethlehem  where the shepherds would see a newborn baby.

My extensive background in art and art history leads me to look for a connecting thread from one event in history to another. Historical context is what I seek to understand contemporary events and life in the 21st Century.

 

The one thread connecting every character in this ADVENT story is that each person was required to make an unexpected, unplanned, trip from one place to another.  Every single one!

I feel the  underlying loneliness that underlies  this miraculous story – everyone had to give up something that was familiar  and travel to an unfamiliar place to do unfamiliar things, with unfamiliar people.

Travel – Journey – Go – Trip – Excursion – Passage – Flight

 

Mary and Joseph had to leave their home at a time when no pregnant woman would choose to be going anywhere on a trip – especially by foot and by donkey. Yet, the trip was mandated by the LAW  and they had no choice but to go.

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When I was nineteen, I gave birth to my first child.  Eighteen months later, the second daughter was born. At age twenty-five, our third daughter was born. For all of those births, I was living in a comfortable home with my husband.  I had a local doctor, and when the time came, he delivered our daughters in our local hospital just 2 miles from our home. And, I remember how frightening it was – every time – when the pains of labor were intense enough that I was bent over double, unable to even stand up straight and I knew it was time to leave for the hospital and give birth.

OH, how did young Mary bear the long days of rugged travels when her body was heavy with her baby boy?

How did Mary  straddle the back of a donkey and ride those many miles with her bones and her muscles aching and cramping?

How did Joseph bear it to see her pain during the long journey to Bethlehem?

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Dear Mary,

Oh, Mary! As a mother living in the comfort of my own time in history, my  heart is sad when I remember  that you did not even have a warm bed or the comfort of your family  that night in a barn, in a city that had no room for you. You must have been so frightened – your first birth, your unfamiliar circumstances, your willingness to be obedient to the visitation you had from the Divine.

Mary, you knew you were carrying God in your womb, but how you must have wondered “why” you had to be so far from h home, so lonely, and in such a strange  place as a barn that night.

Mary, when I need strength to meet the demands of my ordinary life, I remember you.  Your courage, your love, and your obedience to God are more than enough to bring me through in victory from very inconvenience, every strange journey, every lonely day, and night.  Mary, I hold  you in my heart today as I write this letter to you, across the centuries.

_____

I know that in art through the ages, in songs, and now, in contemporary depictions of the Nativity, we see Angels, the Holy Family, Shepherds, and Three Kings all there together with the animals. Yet, when I read the ancient scriptures that record this event, what we see in the depictions of it are not at all accurate.

The nostalgic Christmas card scene has been pieced together over the years into a fantasy world that never existed in that way.  The centuries of lore have put together a very odd mixture of Christian history mingled with pagan practices, ideas, superstitions, and myths.  And, then add to this mixture, the cultural and racial confusion that exists to add to the fantasy.

_____

One evening in October 1997, I heard Him whisper to me, “Come away, my beloved!” I turned, and walked towards Him, and as I walked, I remembered the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “When Christ calls a man (woman); he bids him (her) to come and die.”  Like one of the shepherd’s in the fields near Bethlehem, I too became a shepherd who came to see, the infant who would one day be known as “The Good Shepherd.”

_____

There were only a very few worshippers around the manger in Bethlehem – just a handful of shepherds.  Oh, yes, the Three Kings were on the way, most likely, but it would be quite a long time before they traveled the distance and bowed before the little boy.

_____


Luke 2:7

“[Mary] gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

A lonely birth. There were no midwives, no assistance to Mary at all. The Bible doesn’t even mention that Joseph was present. Perhaps he was, but if he was typical of first-time fathers, he would have been of little help to Mary. She was basically on her own.

 


Unlikely Testimony

Luke 2:8-20 describes the experience of the shepherds when Jesus was born. Think about that for a moment. Out of the whole of Jerusalem society, God picked a band of shepherds to hear the news of Jesus’ birth. That’s intriguing because shepherds were among the lowest and most despised social groups.

The very nature of shepherds’ work kept them from entering into the mainstream of Israel’s society. They couldn’t maintain the ceremonial washings and observe all the religious festivals and feasts, yet these shepherds, just a few miles from Jerusalem, were undoubtedly caring for sheep that someday would be used as sacrifices in the temple. How fitting it is that they were the first to know of the Lamb of God!

More significant, they came to see Him the night he was born. No one else did. Though the shepherds went back and told everyone what they had seen and heard, and though “all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds” (v. 18), not one other person came to see firsthand.

We are left to wonder when we search the historical, scripture accounts – about the shepherds.  We don’t   how they knew where to go. I imagine they just came into Bethlehem and began walking about, asking, “Do you know where a baby has been born tonight?” The important thing for us to know is that they came!  They came because angels had visited them while they were taking care of their flocks at night. They had a visit from God, and they left their fields and followed the direction of the angels to go find the baby.  The shepherds became that night, the first Christian evangelists. They went out from the manger, and they told others what they had found.

***

Well, now that I have talked my way through the meaning of the shepherds, I can better understand Psalm 28. (NIV) and, here is where I find the connection between “joy” and the journey of the shepherds. I wish you a joyous journey to the Christ Child tonight, too.

 

 My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.

The Lord is the strength of his people,
a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
be their shepherd and carry them forever.

_____

As you complete this essay, you will LOVE the music and video I have placed here for you today – Check here!

 Come, Let us adore him, Christ the Lord

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Link to Week 1 – The Candle of Hope at this link:

Go To Week 1 – the Candle of HOPE

Link to Week 2 – The Candle of Preparation (The Bethlehem Candle)

The Candle of Preparation (Bethlehem candle)

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Note: Photos by Lynda McKinney Lambert. Copyright 2015. All Rights Reserved.

This essay was written by Lynda McKinney Lambert.  Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

Please share it with your friends! Thanks!

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Next week:

Look for Week 4 – The Candle of Love (The  Angel Candle).

_____

Lynda McKinney Lambert is the author of “Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage” published by  Kota Press. She authors two blogs on writing, the humanities, arts, and faith.  She is a freelance writer and her poetry and essays appear in numerous books and literary journals.  She is a retired professor of fine arts and humanities and she exhibits her fiber arts in exhibitions worldwide.
 Currently, she has two books in development for publication in 2016.

Nine Post Cards from Prague

Blog15_Aug8_Moldau_Smetana_PHOTO2

You can click on this link and listen to The Moldau as you read my poem, Nine Postcards from Prague today:

Listen to The Moldau

Nine Post Cards From Prague

 

I

Sapphire light mingles with deep red violet

Rolled out behind the spiky black twin spires

Like a futuristic vision.

My neck aches from bending backwards

My soul leaps forward to embrace them.

Evening comes to Prague

Like a dark, warm wool blanket

That wraps a weary traveler’s body

At the end of a long journey.

Blog15_Aug8_Moldau_SmetanaPHOTOII

Tonight, walking along hard stone paths

The dark Moldau sang to me.

Her voice lifted me up from the street

Like a duet of a finely tuned violin

And a velvet throated cello

As we crossed the wide bridge

Keeping inside the dark shadows.

I watched a long gray pigeon

Quietly fly through the last ray of light

Coming home for rest

We continued searching

For the way back

To where the night begins.

III

Here in Prague.

Store windows dazzle

With ample treasures of amber,

Garnets and Bohemian glass.

They bulge with heavy burdens of color

And ask me to return again tomorrow.

Come.  Walk inside of me.

Touch. Hold.  Buy.

I ask “what is the price?”

How will I carry the large glass flowers home?

How will they look when I place them

In a thick orange vase

From West Virginia?

IV

A small ink drawing hangs

On the wall in room 428.

This familiar artist’s style

Catches my eye again.

His drawings hang

In my Pennsylvania home.

Last year, in Prague

The artist stood alone

Displaying his drawings

On Sunday morning.

A proud businessman.

I bought several.

The price was too low.

V

I sit alone

On the edge of the spiral tide

In the center of this night

My thoughts turn like a labyrinth

Made of ocean waves.

Soon you will embrace me

And we will walk away together.

VI

One by one

He looked at each passport

He wears two stars on each shoulder

An Eight-pointed star on his chest

A gun on his right hip.

Foolish students giggle in the back of the bus

One asks if he speaks English

He asks if they speak Czech

All laugh at his joke

He is thin and young

And departs with an English “Good Bye.”

We occupied seven minutes of his day.

VII

It rains now

as we get our final glimpse of Prague

the translucent gray sky

softens the deep golden fields to mauve.

distant trees turn from yellow-green

to blue wine mist.

VIII

Prostitutes take their places along the

road to Prague

they kneel down on the grass

wave at the tourists

arrange their few possessions.

IX

The late summer rains

swept away all our dreams.

**

Note:

Published in the book, “Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage,” by Lynda McKinney Lambert.  Kota Press, 2002.Published in “Kudzu Literary Review,” 2003.

Something More:

You can listen to one of my favorite compositions by the Czech composer Bedrich Smetana by clicking on this link.

The Moldau, by Bedrich Smetana

**

Prague_ChangingGuard

Photo by Lynda McKinney Lambert – Changing of the guard at the Palace in Prague.

Essay and photo, Copyright 2015. Lynda McKinney Lambert. All rights reserved.

Published on SCANdalous- Reflections Blog, August 8, 2015.

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Lynda McKinney Lambert is the author of “Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage” published by  Kota Press. She authors two blogs on writing, the humanities, arts, and faith.  She is a free lance writer and her poetry and essays appear in numerous books and literary journals.  She is a retired professor of fine arts and humanities and she exhibits her fiber arts in exhibitions world-wide.
 Currently she has two books in development for publication in 2016.

The Candle of Preparation

Advent – Week 2

GET READY!

So, yes, this day begins the SECOND WEEK OF ADVENT and now the second Advent candle will be lit!  A miraculous world changing event will   take place..

Black_Madonna

The second Advent candle represents how God prepared to send a Savior into the world and how God kept his promise of a Savior who would be born in Bethlehem.  Yet, before a promise can be realized, special and careful preparations must be laid in advance. We can find the announcement of what God had in mind long before the actual birth of Christ.

blog_2014_Advent2_3Kings_HOTO

As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: ‘A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation.‘ (Luke 3:4-6)

As a vital part of keeping the promise, preparations were made by God in advance. Three kings were summoned to take a journey that would end up in Bethlehem, in a stable, where they would see the promised child.

blog_2014_Advent2_3KingsMary_Photo

Three Kings  prepared for their journey by selecting precious, costly gifts;  they intended to offer the gifts to this child-king. The gifts were selected, and their long journey by night began as they traveled  towards Bethlehem. The traveling kings  had  the best GPS system of all –  the bright, enormous star  in the heavens!

“An old idea must die.  The three wise men had to give up the present world view when they embraced Christianity,”  T.S. Eliot said.

***

Currently, I’ve been  reading The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck, MD. I read the book when it was first  published in the late 1970’s.  The book is  so successful that he  revised it in honor of the 25th year of the first publication.   I read the revised  book two more times, this month.

As I work on this series of essays on ADVENT, I find Peck’s  thoughts on  miracles timely. I am certain we must have a consciousness of miracles to understand the Christmas story. And, where do we find this kind of belief in the twenty-first century world view?

***

Peck  wrote:

“I am certain that miracle abound.

We are assisted in miraculous ways.

If we remain open, then we will see miracles.

If we routinely look at ordinary experiences, we will begin to see the miraculous.”

***

Sometimes, I am making art all night long in my dreams. There have been nights when,  in my dreams, I was shown how to do a new technique I had never seen before, or, I was  given exciting ideas for a work of art. At times, I saw myself from a vantage point above, apart from my artist self who was creating a painting. It was as though  I was given lessons and shown how to do it by my dreaming self.  M. Scott Peck, MD.  wrote of such dreams  and dream-instructions that originate from deep within our subconscious mind.  The subconscious part of our mind, he contends,  is over 90 percent of our brain. That leaves only 10 percent of our brain for the conscious level that we use and are aware of continuously.

I have a hunch that it was through the subconscious mind  (Peck says it is  where the SPIRIT dwells in humans)  that the three kings were inspired to start out on this most unusual journey.  Were they shown images of what they would discover when they arrived? I think, maybe so! They definitely had Divine guidance and perfect timing.    Was this the place from which the wise men were guided as they looked into the miraculous night sky with the star that was there as a visual landmark for them to follow?  Miracles are found when we are open to the ordinary and everyday. From the beginning o9f the Bible, In Genesis, we are told repeatedly to look towards the heavens for miraculous events in the Sun, Moon, and Stars.  I intend to keep looking!

***

Preparation means to “get ready.”  God takes our passions and our desires and He makes a way for us to live the life we were meant to have from the beginning.   The   Three KINGS had no “Plan B” – no “back-up plan.” I am sure of it!  They were on a mission and it was “Plan A” all the way! What are your plans? What have you been preparing for? What are your dreams?  Bring them to the one who has a PLAN A for you life.

***

Far away from Bethlehem, on  an island in the Atlantic Ocean, Christians celebrate Christmas and Epiphany in Puerto Rico.  They commemorate the ancient journey to Bethlehem.

One of the most exciting courses I had the privilege of teaching at Geneva College, in Pennsylvania, was a team –taught course. This travel/study course  focused on Puerto Rico  culture. Our teaching team consisted of a  variety of colleagues from numerous disciplines in Humanities and the sciences. We  offered the course every spring semester. As part of that course, students traveled with us to Puerto Rico.  Once we arrived, we spent ten days working in various cities and locations on the island.

One of the  traditions that thrilled me is the making of SANTOS by Puerto Rican artisans. I  came  back home every year with some new ones I purchased on the trip.  One of the themes that is very popular for SANTOS is the THREE KINGS.  I bought the SANTOS in local stores and in museum gift shops on the island  and they have a prominent place in my home.

GE DIGITAL CAMERASANTOS  are  hand carved  religious sculptures, of saints. Most are  painted wood statues. They are traditionally twelve  inches or less in height.  Each is signed by the artist who made it, and each is one-of-a-kind art.

For the theme of Advent this week, I thought about the many steps of PREPARATION that an artist takes when she decides  to make a painting. Decisions must be made about what to paint it picture on?  What kind of paints to use?  What colors will be best to create a mood?  What utensils will  do the best effect?  What size should it be? Preparations lead the way to what will become a work of art, eventually.  The artist begins the journey after the plans are set for the painting.

Blog_2014_Advent2_TheThreeKingsPhotoThe final thing I want to share with you today is  music that celebrates the Preparation and Hope of the two Advent candles we have lit. You can continue, below, and find some links to music and art.

Light  the 2nd candle and think about the meaning of it this week.

Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xtpJ4Q_Q-444

This link will take you to a performance of the same Christmas Carol and there are images of Medieval stained glass windows. Be sure to watch the images with the music and you will see many ways a rose has been depicted in them. We discovered the meaing of the Rose in my previous essay for the Fist Week of Advent – symbolic of Hope.

Roses appear  in the hair and halo of women;  in bouquets; and clothing ornaments  in the colorful mosaic  pictures

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q6iesplJRM

You may love to visit another blog and see more about Puerto Rico and how Christmas is celebrated on that island. If so, you can visit, “Day by Day with Maria.”  It’s  a blog by  María de Lourdes Ruiz Scaperlanda

http://daybydaywithmaria.blogspot.com/2013/01/los-tres-santos-reyes.html

On January 6, in Puerto Rico, the Christians will celebrate the arrival of the THREE KINGS who reached their travel’s end in Bethlehem.

Here is a song of celebration that the Christians in Puerto Rico sing on January 6th

http://daybydaywithmaria.blogspot.com/2013/01/los-tres-santos-reyes.html