Grateful for Peace

Peace. Even if we aren’t beauty pageant contestants, most of us at one time or another have professed to want world peace. We march for peace. We blog for peace. We pray for peace. When we see photos of war in far away places, our hearts go out to the victims. And yet, and yet . . .

All this stated desire for peace makes it seem as if we live in an uneasy world, but according to researchers Bethany Lacina and Nils Petter Gleditsch of the Peace Research Institute Oslo, deaths caused directly by war-related violence in the 21st century have averaged about 55,000 per year worldwide. Compare that to 1.2 million traffic fatalities per year worldwide. Or 295,000 deaths from natural catastrophes worldwide in  2010. Or compare it to 300,000 USA deaths from obesity per year. Or 30,000 USA suicides per year. Lots of dying going on, and very little of it from a lack of world peace. (Though it seems as if we could use more inner peace.)

Still, even with all the “we want world peace” rhetoric and all the war talk and heart-rending photos in the media, we take peace for granted. Most of go to sleep at night secure in the knowledge that unless we were to have a health crisis or get hit by a natural disaster or have a car drive through our bedroom, we will wake up in the morning and be able to go about our daily lives without soldiers sniping at us.

So today (and every day) I will be grateful the peace that is. Which is why I blog for peace every year with Mimi Lenox. She started the Blog Blast for Peace because words are powerful, so blogging for peace is important. If you’re interested in joining us this November 4th, you can read all about it here: I’m going to Blog for Peace. Will You?

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Collect For Club Women

I was a guest at a local women’s civic club luncheon, and quite inadvertently I became a member. Not so odd, that, since I find myself going along with most of what people suggest — it’s how I’ve managed to get so involved in the community so quickly.

At the beginning of the meeting, they recited a non-denominational prayer, creed, or collect (as the author, Mary Stewart, named it). Although I was taken with the sentiment of the collect, I hesitated to print it here, not wanting to infringe on anyone’s copyright, so I researched the piece.

It turns out this “Collect for Club Women” was written by Mary Stewart, a principal of Longmont High School in Colorado, in 1904 because she “felt that women working together with wide interests for large ends had a need for special petition and meditation of their own.” This must be true for the Collect has found its way about the world, especially wherever English speaking women get together, such as the United States, Canada, and Britain. It was even read into the Congressional Record in 1949.

The collect below is as important today as it was 115 years ago, not just for women, and not just for those who believe in God, but for anyone who strives to spread light in a troubled world.

Keep us, O God, from pettiness; let us be large in thought, in word, in deed. 

Let us be done with fault-finding and leave off self-seeking. 

May we put away all pretense and meet each other face to face — without self-pity and without prejudice. 

May we never be hasty in judgment and always generous. 

Let us take time for all things; make us to grow calm, serene, gentle. 

Teach us to put into action our better impulses, straightforward and unafraid. 

Grant that we may realize it is the little things that create differences, that in the big things of life we are at one. 

And may we strive to touch and to know the great, common human heart of us all, and O Lord God, let us forget not to be kind. 

–Mary Stewart

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

A Dirty Little Tale

I used to love wall-to-wall carpets. I grew up with wooden floors in the bedroom, and even with bedside rugs, oh, were those floors cold in the Colorado winter! As an adult, I always had carpets. Carpeting not only made the floors warmer, but seemed to give rooms a warm, welcoming feeling.

The first time I wondered about carpets was after the carpets in my dad’s house were cleaned before putting house on the market. The dark areas in doorways and at the base of sofas came clean, but then, though the carpet cleaner bragged about his expensive, top-of-the-line, sucks-everything-up machinery, it took only a few days before the dirt started rising to the surface.

Then, after moving into the room where I lived for a couple of years before moving back to Colorado, I really wondered. That room had a truly filthy carpet. It had supposedly been cleaned before I moved in, but walking on it made the soles of my feet turn black. After a few months of my complaints, the landlord had the carpet cleaned. It looked great for a day or two, then the dirt again became apparent. Finally, he hired a professional. And the same thing happened. Looked good for a couple of days, then they went back to looking as dirty as they had before cleaning. And that triple-cleaned carpet still turned my feet black, so even in the heat of the desert summer, I had to wear something on my feet while in my room.

This house I bought seven months ago doesn’t have carpets. At first, I worried about freezing my feet, but so far there hasn’t been a problem.

What is surprising is how dirty the floors get.

It’s been just a few days since I last cleaned, but this morning, I dusted, swept and dry mopped (turning the dust mop black with dirt), then I damp mopped with Murphy’s Oil and a dash of Old English lemon oil. And the damp mop turned black, too.

The dirt isn’t a problem. Although I live alone without pets, change the furnace filter, don’t wear shoes in the house, and have a sort of mud area to put on and take off shoes, this is an old, house, it’s a windy area, and dirt happens. Luckily, the floors are easy to clean.

What shocks me every time I clean, though, is what a difference a carpet would make. All that dirt I can easily clean up would get ground into a carpet, and from my experience, vacuuming and even steam cleaning does not remove any but the surface dirt. In addition to that, carpets emit fabric dust and can emit toxic fumes.

Yikes.

So now, suddenly, I have an entirely different view of carpets.

And — not so suddenly — I have developed a fondness for my very warm-looking (and clean!) antique hardwood floor.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

I’m going to Blog for Peace. Will You?

 

If words are powerful, then this matters.

 

One month from today, on November 4th, people all over the world will blog for peace. Blog4Peace was created and founded by Mimi Lenox, who believes that because words are powerful, blogging for peace is important.

Mimi began blogging for peace in November, 2006. Thirteen years and thousands of peace bloggers later she — and all those she inspired — are still blogging for peace. On every continent. In 214 countries and territories. In war-torn countries and peaceful villages. Whole families. Babies in utero (yes, really!) Teenagers. Senior citizens. Veterans of war. Poets and singers. Teachers. Classrooms. Authors and artists. Doctors. Lawyers. Cats (many, many cat bloggers). Dogs. Gerbils. Birds. Goats and Bunnies. Scientists. Designers. Researchers. Stay-at-home-parents. Kids. Baby Boomers. From the Netherlands to Kansas. And everywhere in between.

I joined the peace bloggers in 2012. And I still blog for peace. 

This year’s theme is “Change your climate,” and that is a theme I can adopt. Although I do not believe in the possibility of world peace (because war and stressful times are never our personal choice but are fostered by others or foisted on us by circumstances) I do believe in personal peace, in finding peace within ourselves — in changing our inner climate — no matter what happens to provoke us into chaos.

And yes, words are powerful. And yes, this matters.

How To Blog For Peace:

  1. Choose a graphic from the peace globe gallery http://peaceglobegallery.blogspot.com/p/get-your-own-peace-globe.htmlor from the photos on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BlogBlastForPeace#!/BlogBlastForPeace/app_153284594738391 Right click and Save. Decorate it and sign it, or leave as is.
  2. Send the finished globe to blog4peace@yahoo.com
  3. Post it anywhere online November 4 and title your post Dona Nobis Pacem (Latin for Grant us Peace)

Sounds cool, doesn’t it? See you on November 4!

 

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

From a Junker to a Gem

Four years ago today, I picked up my newly restored VW bug. Painted, polished hubcaps, new dual exhaust pipes, new headliner, new upholstery, new seals on the windows and doors. So much had been done, I barely recognized my old rattletrap.

I just stared at the car. It looked so pristine, it seemed to have crept out of a time machine from the 1970s into the here. And yet it was still my vehicle, the only one I had ever owned.

For a long time, I was afraid of driving the vehicle, worried I would ding it or that it would fade in the sun or that something would happen to it.

Well, something did happen to it . . . four years.

Despite the years, it still looks awesome, though not quite as new and shiny as it did four years ago. There are chips in the paint from gravel on the road during my many trips, a ding from when someone’s car door slammed into my fender, a small area that got discolored from gas drippage, rust on the tailpipes. And it needs a bath. And tires.

But it still makes me happy to see it. It still makes others happy to see it.

I remember when I was trying to decide if I wanted to buy a new car (mine seemed like such a junker), my mechanic told me that if I bought a new car, in five years, it would be a piece of junk, but if I put that same money into my car, in five years, the bug would be a little gem. I was still on the fence until the appraiser, who came to look at my father’s house when we placed it on the market, said the same thing, in almost the same words.

So I made the appointment to have the car de-rusted and painted. It was supposed to take three weeks, but it took six months. As frustrating as those six months were, in retrospect, they were wonderful months since I spent some of those months with a dear friend. Not only did we have a great visit, but she would drop me off at the beginning of a hiking trail in the Redwood Forest or along the Pacific Ocean, and then pick me up at the end of the trail. A truly halcyon time.

Whether my bug is a gem or not, it’s still going. Luckily, I’ve found a mechanic who loves working on my car. (Compared to modern cars, it’s simple and easy to work on — if you know what you’re doing.)

Soon, perhaps, I will have a garage worthy of the car. Well, I do have a garage, but it needs a new foundation, a new floor, and new paint.

I’m looking forward to that! After all the years of service, my lovely little bug deserves a good place to rest when it’s not in use.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Ribbons!

Every fall, this county holds a Harvest Festival to celebrate what used to be a major event in this rural community — the harvest, of course — but now the event itself is the celebration.

A friend talked me into entering the show, so I entered my goose gourd more, I think, to prove to myself that it was as silly as I thought it rather than the acceptable bit artistry others saw.

Well, obviously, I was proven wrong. Not only did it win first in the food painting division, but it also got a grand champion reserve ribbon.

I still think the goose is silly, and the painting is not at all as professional-looking as I would have liked, but I admit, having a blue ribbon around its neck does add a bit of cachet to the gourd.

I don’t remember ever winning a ribbon before, so winning two at once was a special thrill. And the reserve grand champion ribbon comes with a cash prize! Thirteen dollars, if I read the program correctly.

I just might take myself out to dinner to celebrate this harvest of ribbons.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

 

 

Press Release for Grief: The Inside Story

I’m trying to write a press release. Grief: The Inside Story is an important book that has helped many people, but it needs to find a wider readership. To that end, I’d like to send out a press release.

A press release sometimes prompts newspapers to contact the author for more information. Sometimes the newspaper will print the item as a whole if they need a filler. Either way, the release needs to be compelling. Short, but compelling.

Since I am not well known, the press release has to depend on factors other than name-recognition to make it newsworthy. This is what I have so far:

Death is No Longer a Fact of Life

Death used to be a fact of everyday life. Today, however, the average American has a life expectancy almost a decade longer than it was in the 1970s. That’s great news, but as Toby Scott, head of communications at Hospice UK, a charity for end-of-life care says: “It is rare now for anyone to experience being with someone who they know is dying let alone anyone who has recently died.”

For the boomer generation, often the first time they experience death is when their parents begin to fade. It’s no wonder that few people understand grief, know what to expect, have the skills to cope with the emotional upheaval.

Not only do boomers have little firsthand experience of death to prepare them for the many ways grief affects them, but the complex and painful experience of grief for a spouse, life mate, soul mate is not something people regularly see on television shows, in movies, or read about in novels. So, like others of her generation, when author Pat Bertram lost her husband, the very presence of grief shocked her.

In the United States a death occurs approximately every twelve seconds. And almost every one of those deaths leaves someone behind who is shocked and bewildered by what they are feeling.

How long does grief last? What can I do to help myself? Are there really five stages of grief? Why can’t other people understand how I feel? Will I ever be happy again?

In Grief: The Inside Story, Pat Bertram, author and grief survivor, answers these and other big questions in a straightforward manner. Bertram acknowledges the pain that others so often try to hide, shows how important grieving is, and gives hope that yes, there is happiness on the other side of grief.

Grief the Inside Story by Pat Bertram is available on Amazon (www.amazon.com/dp/0368039668), and through all good bookstores.

Any comments? Suggestions?

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Event Adventure

I attended a community event yesterday geared toward addressing opioid addiction in the area.

The woman I went with has to take opioids for her severe pain, and hasn’t become addicted. Neither did I become addicted when taking opioids after I destroyed my arm. In fact, back then, the doctor told me I wouldn’t get addicted even though I was on super-high dosages. One thing no one has ever explained is why some people get addicted, some don’t, and how to tell the difference. Despite all the hype, opioids aren’t a problem for everyone, and if those opposed to the drugs manage to get them banned, a whole lot of people will be in a whole lot of pain.

But that wasn’t what the event was about. It was more for those who need the services of the community to help with their present addiction. One big focus was the use of Narcan. A couple of local youths put on a brief skit about how to use Narcan and to show that there are no effects for someone who doesn’t need it. One sober youth fell to the ground. The other went to the rescue, opened the Narcan, and squirted the Narcan up his nose.

(My murder-mystery brain went into overdrive, and I immediately imagined they had killed the poor fellow. He was fine, even though he’d accidentally been given a double dose, but in a future book, he won’t be. Poor guy doesn’t even know he’s going to be murdered in absentia. Not by Narcan, of course, but by some drug that had been substituted by nefarious folk.)

After that sixty-second training course, we were given boxes of Narcan to use on all our drug-addicted friends. So, if you come to my house and fall down in a drugged stupor, I’ll be able to revive you — unless I murder you first for bringing drugs (and bad karma) into my house.

Although we were told that Narcan is safe, I can’t imagine there is any drug that is perfectly safe for everyone, so if by chance you did come to my place and collapse from your addiction, and if by chance I allow you to live, I won’t give you the Narcan. I wouldn’t want it to interfere with all the legal drugs the doctors have you taking.

To be honest, I was more interested in the coloring book that was being given out at one of the booths. I remember when coloring books were for children — now they are for adults. Apparently, kids have better things to do than color someone else’s artwork.

Oddly, many years before the adult coloring fad hit, Jeff and I thought coloring might be a soothing activity, so we got coloring books and crayons. Despite the intriguing designs in the books, we were both bored out of our skulls. So, if you do come to visit, and if you don’t expire from drugs (or from me), you can color in what is sure to be a still-pristine coloring book.

By far the most interesting thing about the evening is that while we were standing in line to be served dinner (free to all of us who attended), two different people came and talked to me as if they knew me, though I had never seen either of them before.

One of the people, wearing a shirt saying, “Don’t meth with me,” mentioned he always saw me walking by his house, and another asked about my car. Admittedly, I do sort of stand out, what with my hats and my vintage vehicle; nevertheless, it’s discomfiting to find out that I know fewer people than who know me.

And here I thought that by settling down my adventurous days would be over. Who knew community events in small towns are their own adventure!

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Free Shipping!

Free shipping is so hard to resist.

I’ve placed a few orders for bulbs, more, probably, than I have the energy to plant, but after each order, I found a coupon (or was e-mailed a coupon) for free shipping, and so the madness continued.

I’ve been doing well resisting all the pretty flowers on my facebook feed (hint: if you want prettier things in your feed than the discord our current political climate brings, start googling bulb and seed companies). Then today, I got a coupon in the mail for free shipping this weekend on a $15 order.

What to do? What to do?

I could, of course, do nothing but, oh — free shipping!

So, what will it be?

Orange lilies?

Purple lilies?

Poppies?

Iris?

Peach-colored tulips and narcissus?

Or something else?

I’ve already ordered tulips and daffodils, anemones and bluebells, and a variety pack that include crocuses and a few allium.

As you can see, I don’t really need anything, but . . .

Free shipping!

(The photos come from the bulb company and are used without permission. I presume they won’t mind since this is free advertising, so let’s hope I’m right so I don’t end up with a hefty plagiarism fine that would negate the benefits of free shipping.)

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

On A Streak!

WordPress notified me that I’m on a three-day blogging streak. Is three days a streak? It seems more like a dash or a hyphen, but today’s blog makes four days, so that comes closer to a streak.

I’m also on a streak of spending time with people, joining them for community meals (which is playing havoc with my so far unstated challenge of eating more nutritious foods), but I suppose from a health standpoint, it could be argued that an unhealthy diet with people is as bad as eating good food alone — at least that’s what recent studies seem to indicate.

I’ve taken this opportunity of being among people to poll them about the tarantula migration. The local newspaper, as well as the newspapers in the big cities on the front range of the Rockies (Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo) have all printed near hysterical articles on the vast number of tarantulas that are supposed to be roaming the area.

And yet . . .

I haven’t seen any. I overheard a fellow in the grocery store lamenting that he took his grandsons out to see tartantulas, and didn’t see any. The reporter who wrote the article for the paper went out to get a photo, and he didn’t see a tarantula, either. My neighbor saw one lone creature crossing the highway in the early morning hours.

My informal poll elicited all sorts of information about the tarantulas, where to go to look for them, where they hang out, where people have seen them, (further questioning shows that their information comes from the newspapers, what people have said over the years, and what they themselves have seen in previous years.

But except for that neighbor, no one has seen any this year, and a single sighting of a single tarantula does not make a migration. So basically, the tarantula migration seems to be another case of fake news or of an attempt to induce hysteria in an unwary public. (Though truly, since few people see the creatures or care to see them, no one gets upset by the articles as they do with harder news.)

It’s possible, since the weather is still relatively warm, that these bird-eating spiders or Theraphosids are still cozy in their burrows and not ready to face what they might consider a human migration (from their point of view, the humans out looking for them might seem like some sort of annual people migration).

I suppose the bigger question here is whether it is better to eat alone, or to eat with others and ruin everyone’s appetite with spider stories, or is it better to eat alone and keeps one’s spider-induced questions to oneself.

So what does any of this have to do with anything?

Not a darn thing.

But it’s a blog, and I am on a streak.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.