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Introspective Sojourner

The journey inward following Christ’s path to that person I was uniquely created to be.

Anatomy of a Non-Hugger

There is a hidden group within our midst, the non-hugger.  I can count myself in their numbers.  We have a different anatomy than most.  You see non-huggers have a bubble.  You can’t see it unless you are very perceptive towards our body language.  Ok, that’s a lie.  Everyone notices our body language, they just respond to it differently.  You can peg a person with a bubble, or personal space issue quickly when you go to hug them.  We have our coping skills, the pup tent hug, the side hug, the three second, pat your back and let go hug, or occasionally we get a handshake in to block the hug.  If you get a wave, or the slight backup movement, sorry, that’s a defense mechanism.  We like to hide out amongst the extreme introverts and germaphobes.  They don’t want to hug either, for their own reasons.  Introverts who are huggers do exist, they just won’t hug you unless you are in their inner circle of people.  I am not in their numbers.  The germaphobe has to make a choice between touching hands or hugging, neither of which is comfortable for them.  They also can be mistaken for the non-hugger, bubble people, as they do have a bubble but their mindset is different and I can’t begin to speak to it.

Being a person with an extra sensitive bubble and need for personal space, who is not an introvert, and is very compassionate, I have had to do some soul searching on this issue.  I’m from a great small town, very safe, and very friendly.  I talk to strangers, much to my family’s dismay.  I have been a Stephen Minister at our church.  This lay person’s job is to come along side someone in a crisis and support them, for as long as they need.  You could consider it a one on one deacon.  My point being that I am compassionate, empathetic and caring.  I can be warm and bubbly, not to be confused with my personal space bubble.  Nonetheless, I am NOT a hugger.  I come from a long line of undemonstrative people, some of which are also very personable and loving.  I can’t say my personal space issue is a result of environment or just how I am designed.  I have not lived in that small town since I was a child, and there are an awful lot of huggers out here.  My intuition tells me that my bubble issue is more of a design thing.  I only call it an issue because this is a hugger’s world.  I am not broken.

First, I have to describe the hugger to the best of my observations.  The hugger shows their compassion, love and any other host of emotions via their hug.  “I haven’t seen you in a whole week”, I should hug you.  “You are upset over an event”, I should hug you.  “You just got a new job”, I should hug you.  “I just flat out love you”, I should hug you.  It’s the obligatory “passing of the peace” or “I should hug you” time in church, so I should hug you.  Additionally, huggers get their needs met via their hugs as well.  “I’m excited about something God has blessed me with”, I need to be hugged.  “I’m upset about a trying or sad event”, I need a hug.  “We just heard a horribly emotional story”, I need a hug.  “You shared with me and let yourself be vulnerable about a situation in your life which touches my heart”, I need to hug you to show you I understand and care.  “I haven’t seen you in a whole week and I love you”, I need to hug you to show you that love.  “I’m feeling a little needy or vulnerable myself”, I need a hug to know your acceptance and to receive the gift of your love and compassion.  You see, huggers freely give the gift they have in abundance, the gift behind the hugs.  Those gifts include love, compassion, empathy, acceptance and acknowledgment of an inner circle of friends.  Huggers receive those same gifts from giving a hug, it is a two-way delivery system for them.

Huggers receive energy from a hug.  It is a positive exchange for them.  It fills their tank.  That tank can become empty, and require hugs to be filled.  Hugs initiated by others, gives more energy than those initiated by themselves but most of the time they don’t realize they beat you to the punch anyway.  You even have your super huggers who hold you so tight and for so long until that gift they are giving you is fully received and returned.  It’s a super power much like Superman’s gift of flight, or Captain America’s inability to age.  The super huggers receive healing with their super powers, and are positive you will as well, if you just fully embrace the hug.  They can fill their tanks quickly but prefer a tank that is overflowing so that they can give to others freely.  We avoid you, unless you are in our inner circle. 

There are a lot of huggers in this world, or at least in America, as I have barely left this country in my lifetime.  At very least there are a lot of huggers, who hug those who are at least in their inner circles.  The degree of circle to hug intensity is often relational.  Since introverts can also be huggers, that leaves the non-huggers in the very large minority.

Let me describe the non-hugger now.  The non-hugger requires you to use your imagination to understand.  The non-hugger has a bubble of personal space that they maintain at all times.  Keeping the bubble intact requires the least amount of energy.  It’s a little like the old moat around a castle.  A non-hugger has to expend energy to allow you into their bubble.  The draw bridge has to be lowered.  It acknowledges that you are accepted or loved.  Just lowering the bubble, is a gift from the non-hugger, as well as a drain on our energy.  It does not refill our tank to hug you.  Let me repeat that, we do not get energy from hugging you.  We do receive the gift of love, compassion and empathy.  What appears to be the biggest difference from my point of view, is that we do not receive energy from it.  Much like the introvert who goes to a party and comes home drained.  They may have even had a great time, but they are exhausted, it does not build up their stores. 

The non-hugger is offering you the olive branch by simply lowering the bubble.  The longer the bubble remains down, the more energy the non-hugger has to expend.  It is a choice that we make because we live in a hugger world.  We know that huggers take the side hug, or the handshake move offensively.  We know that you can tell we hug you stiffly.  We may need that pup-tent space to keep from being completely drained.  We may only have three seconds of energy to give.  Our worst moments are when we care for someone so very dearly, who only wants to comfort us, but we do not have enough energy in our tanks to lower the bubble.  We feel your pain.  We know that you also have a need to hug us.  We have experienced this hugger world our entire life.  We are perceptive enough to know that our lack of energy feels like rejection to you.  It is not.  It is self-care.   We simply may not have the energy needed to give to you what you need.  We are used to being the giver.  That may shock you. 

It has been expected of us to choose to let down our bubble because of your needs.  We face that forced choice regularly.  No one would force a child with autism to hug them.  We understand that you are hurting that child not helping them or loving them.  We understand that to love that child, you meet them how they can receive.  Non-huggers do not get this understanding.  We get looks of hurt, judgement and dismissal when we make the choice to not expend our energy.  That choice may have nothing to do with our relationship with you, though it often takes far more energy to lower the bubble for those outside our inner circles.  Yet, the responses we get, regularly reinforces, that to make that choice we will offend you.  If we have chosen that, it was most likely not lightly.  We don’t like the judgement either.  We are perceptive enough to know, unlike the child with autism.  If we care about you, it hurts us even more.  That is a sign!  If you are in our inner circle of friends and family, and we are incapable of lowering our bubble, our tank is flat empty.  We have nothing to give you.  We will not receive the love, empathy or compassion that you are trying to give us to fill up our tanks, because we don’t have enough energy to maintain the bubble’s integrity.  It is not a positive exchange any longer for us.  That has nothing to do with our relationship with you, but with our own energy stores within our very spirit.

The East Coast has a tradition of torturing grieving families, called “Visitation Hours”.  This terrible tradition lines a grieving family up so that you can share in their grief and support them.  Which may work wonderfully for huggers, but is a lot like a nightmare for a non-hugger.  My dad was a very loved man in the small town I grew up in.  It’s a much larger town when you are forced to be in the receiving line at visitation hours.  Approximately 500 people came through those receiving lines.  Each with stories of how they knew my dad, and loved him.  Each with the offering, the gift of their shared grief in our loss; most of them huggers.  After the first ten or so people, my tank was beyond empty.  There was no longer any room for my own grief.  Luckily my oldest son arrived half way through, he was able to be light hearted and perhaps inappropriately silly with me.  I had nothing left to give those who came by that time.  It was a lot like immersion therapy.  It changed me.  My bubble was irreparably damaged, not necessarily a bad thing.  While the night itself was the worst thing I can imagine doing to a non-hugger, it has opened up an ability to receive the gift huggers have long been extending to me.  I have been known to initiate a hug since that night!  It’s quite the transformation, but only for my inner circle.  If I have hugged you, initiated the hug, that was a gift.  Not only did I lower the bubble, which still exists, but has changed, but I extended and received the gift of love, compassion and empathy that huggers intend.  Now if you aren’t in my inner circle, sorry that part of my bubble regenerated. 

So, my advice for huggers is to not immediately be offended by the pup tent hug, the side hug, the three second hug or the stiff hug.  You can go ahead and be slightly offended by the quick handshake or wave.  Instead if you know the person well, especially if you are in their inner circle, look for a deeper reason.  Maybe this person is a non-hugger.  Maybe this person’s tank is running empty for circumstances you are unaware of.  Understanding our emptiness with that overflowing compassion you can tap into, is greatly appreciated.  We know in those instances, it’s harder for you not to hug.  Choosing to help us maintain our energy stores, our depleted tank, is more loving.  Instead offer a prayer, or a simple touch on our arm or shoulder.  We will receive the intended hug.  We will appreciate, if not immediately, it will occur to us when our tank is replenished, that you respected our needs.  You see, it doesn’t happen often, so even if we are too drained to notice immediately, we will remember.  But most importantly appreciate the choice we make to show you how much we love you, when we do hug you.  You are special to us, worthy of our energy stores.  You are worthy to be given to, without a return for us.  The reasons for our bubble can be numerous.  Our anatomy remains much the same, it’s just that you can’t see part of it.  That bubble, and the energy store required to maintain it are just as real as our tears, our limbs, or our heart.  It excludes us, we wouldn’t keep it if we had a real choice.  We would choose to receive what you receive with a hug if we could.  Yet, we are not broken, we are designed differently.  We only ask for understanding and acceptance, like everyone else.  Dismissing, or making fun of our bubble is the opposite of what we would prefer, even if we acknowledge and make fun of it ourselves.  So, continue to offer us hugs.  Hug us as long as we allow, and as hard as we can return.  Nonetheless, do not take offense, we have offered all we can.

 

Signed

The Non-Hugger.

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

Feel Free to Say

On Veteran’s Day in the wake of a close election, in a divided country, I am grateful for my freedoms.  As we realize that our friends, coworkers, fellow service men, and family, even our parents, spouses and children believe differently than we do; even vehemently different, rejoice in that freedom.  Because our beliefs, no matter what the topic, we do not have to be retrained.  Celebrate that right.   Value the ability to share differing opinions openly without reserve and without fear of retribution.

California had 17 propositions on the ballot, from an educational state bond, to legalizing marijuana and taxing cigarettes.  We had two plastic bag propositions, three propositions on incarceration and the death penalty, and one to limit guns and ammo.  While the debates over what passed in the propositions still hotly continue, thank you to those who serve so we have that right.

I am pleased that my children feel safe enough to argue their differing views, whether or not we should be kinder or more gentle with our words.  It matters less that we perhaps should choose our words more carefully than our ability to feel heard and validated by those with like views.  It does us good to be challenged about what we think by those with opposing views. 

It is a privilege paid for in blood. The blood of good men and woman who believe in that freedom. Morals aside, it is our constitutional right to have and speak our views freely.  The ability to argue tooth and nail for our beliefs, is a gift. 

On this Veteran’s Day, I thank all of my fellow service men, who serve today, in the past and those who will in the future.  You make America great, by allowing all Americans to be themselves.

God Bless America.

By Vicki L. Pugliese, U.S.N

My Father’s Daughter

I miss being my father’s daughter.  Dad has been gone two years and days over six months.  Most times I love to talk about him.  Some memories still bring tears.  Sweet tears.

I miss calling him.  Though anyone who knows me just laughed.  I’d rather chew off an arm than talk on the phone.  Nonetheless I miss his voice; his corny jokes even his pointed questions.  I miss making him proud.  I didn’t do that enough.

All that to point out how amazing it is to be a daughter.  Even when you could be closer, it’s a privilege.  One we take for granted until we no longer are our fathers daughter.  One we search for when that relationship is failed.  One we long for as a child from a broken home.  Daddy’s girl is no joke.  It’s a thing we girls covet.  It’s a thing many treasure and some miss.

Its so important that we make fun of it, as if that could possibly make it less important.  It does not.  We know.

As I think about missing my own father, I look at my daughter and my husband and my oldest son and his daughters, and I know how amazing being loved like that is.      My husband and son have done a better job.  Perhaps they have better daughters.

But I am still a daughter.  Though my own dad is gone and perhaps let me down in life as perhaps I did him.  I have the ultimate father, Abba Father.

I don’t call Him enough either.  I take Him for granted too.  But he doesn’t disappoint me and He isn’t disappointed in me. Satan may try to tell me different.  Satan may have loved that I got separated from my own dad from time to time in my life.  Separated emotionally as well as by miles.  Satan can only lie and hope I’ll fall for his lies when it comes to my Abba Father.

Christ understood the importance of that relationship.  He uses that name when the woman touches his cloak.  You may not know this story.  It’s in Mark Chapter 5.  They had just crossed the water after sending demons into a herd of pigs.  This was so amazing and scary that the people sent Him away.  They could not handle this person who is Christ.  There were crowds around when a ruler Jairus comes running in and begs Christ to come.  Begs for his daughter who was near death. She’s just 12 years old.  Still a child but in those days, almost not.  She’s still his baby girl.  He ran to beg for Jesus to come and heal her.  He’s a man of faith.  A leader in the synagogue.

And Jesus gets up to go.  The crowd pushing in on all sides just to get a glimpse.  So much so that when the woman reaches out and touches his cloak, the disciples completely dismiss Jesus when he asks who touched me.  Completely dismiss the notion that they could even determine who did.

But Christ knows power has gone out of him, healing.  The woman has been ill for 12 years, every year Jairus’ daughter has been alive.  She’s got a bleeding disease.  Technically that makes her unclean in Jewish culture and anyone who she touches or touches her is defiled by her touch.  Except Christ.  She is healed and made clean by His touch.  It goes the other direction there.  Instead of Him being made unclean she is made whole!  She knows it instantly too.  You can’t be sick, probably horribly anemic for 12 years, and when you are healed entirely, not know.  She knows and drops to His feet, afraid.  She’s been called out, Jesus knows.  No getting out of this now.  She had previously spent all of her money on doctors to no avail.  She’s desperate enough, yet has a tiny amount of faith.  She thought if I could just touch His cloak… but now she’s exposed.  And just like the defilement could not touch Him, and only good flowed out, He does not judge or cause her any shame.  Instead He calls her “Daughter”. The most precious word in the world.  She’s no longer an outsider and an outcast but wholly accepted by Him.

Abba Father means the same to His other daughters.  He’s not ashamed of us.  Though we may deserve that.  He does not label us outcasts, outsiders or unworthy.  He should.  He calls us not only child, but daughter.  Such a precious gift to be His daughter.  We are made whole, He is not made low by us.

Jairus’ daughter passes away it takes so long to get there.  Christ is rebuked by the family for saying otherwise.  He kicks everyone but her parents out.  Her dad is there but Christ knows she’s His daughter too. He heals her as well.  She was that ripe kind of dead too.  Jesus makes her whole.  No one questioned she was dead until Jesus says she’s just sleeping.  Why do they never believe Him?

Not only does He heal her returning her to her family, and to her dad.   Maybe to prove she isn’t a ghost or something, He tells them to feed her!  He cares for her health in multiple ways.  There before her dad.  Christ got how important it is to be the daughter.  How loved and special that title is.

Our Abba Father understands our need for that kind of care and love.  That kind of status of being adored.  He adores us.  Just as we are.  He heals us, makes us clean without shame.  Instead He adores us.  We must NOT listen to Satan.  Good flows out of Christ, evil does not touch Him.  Though we should never take this love for granted either.  Unlike my dad,  Christ will never leave us or forsake us. He will never let me down.  The perfect family umbrella.

Christ calls me daughter.  How sweet the sound of that word.  How amazing to be whole and clean.  Nothing I could do will drive Him away nor make Him love me anymore!  I am cherished.  Daddy’s girl.  No love can surpass this one.

Still I really should call to Him more…

 

Miss you Dad!

By Vicki L Pugliese

I guess it’s time?

She was just four and a half pounds.  There was nothing left of her except her big beautiful personality.  Half her full weight. She had been in continent for a couple of years now.  She couldn’t see and could barely hear.  She struggled to breathe at times and slept a lot.  But she got up and nudged me at exactly the time I was supposed to leave for her final appointment.  Tears streaming down my face, I asked her, instead of telling her.  “I guess it’s time?”

She just wanted to be held.  I was putting things away, dilly dallying.

I’d spent the day trying to make sure everything would be perfect when I brought her home.  Her headstone and burial box all ready.  I should have spent it holding her but I couldn’t.  The vet commented that her box was set up like a princess.  She’d been our only female dog and indeed was a tiny princess.

She didn’t mind wearing a sweater as long as it was fluffy and pretty.  She walked with a girly swagger.  We’d even had her nails painted once and she loved it.

What she got annoyed with were the boys, our other dogs.  A couple of them just barely smarter than rocks but bubbly, they just didn’t get that she was the princess.  And that can be so annoying!  Especially in the end, when she would snap at them like, “I’m sleeping here!”  But I got it.

I made her a silk pillow and blanket.  I decorated the box and headstone.  She’d be laid to rest like the princess she was.  We had picked a nice spot under a tree.  Seemed like a great idea until we started hitting roots.  We would have hit rocks elsewhere on our property, so it didn’t probably matter.

She got up from where she was napping and came over to be held.  I had planned on using a dog carrier in the car.  She doesn’t ride in the car well.  She was no trouble today.  She just laid across my arm.  Struggling to breathe occasionally.

I sat in the car until our appointment time, unable to go in a minute early.

In a quiet darkened room, she fell asleep against my heart.  Her breath slowed.  The vet reappeared.  “I guess it’s time.”  I said barely audible, tears covered my face.  “She looks peaceful.” The tech said.  A few minutes later I gently laid her on her pillow in her box and brought her home.  Where she belongs.  Though this friend I’ve known for fourteen plus years will always be a sweet memory in my heart.  A heart so filled with sorrow right now.  A heart she laid her head against in her final moments.  A heart that loved this tiny little princess to her final breath and beyond.

Rest in Peace my sweet Roxy.  Rest in Peace.

 

By Vicki L Pugliese

Did you know?

Did you know when you split our church, we’d end up feeling lost and disconnected?  Did it occur to you that your actions would cause so much pain?  When you planned and strategized how to push that train of change off its tracks, did you care that souls would bleed?  Holding on so tightly to a way to beat the vote, did you remember it was the majority?  Those you had worshipped with for years, decades even, did you pause?  Did you reject a possibility that your actions might hurt more than you anticipated? Or did you just not care?

The strong moved on.  Your actions just a bump in the road.  Their faith never wavered.  They shed the ties to just a place, and held fast to their beliefs and each other.  They never looked back, like Lot leaving Sodom and Gamorah.  They did their best to start new as they felt led.

But some of us faltered.  Some of us just ended in between.  Not looking back but not moving forward.  Somehow disconnected.  Searching for that home.  Searching for community.  Faltering.  Struggling to hang on to that need and desire to have a church home.  Wandering in and out.  Watching friends leave for good.  Fighting to survive by shutting down parts that care or were connected.  Did you even pause?  Did you foresee the aftermath of community torn.  Or selfishly cut your losses?

God will lead us.  We will get up and dust ourselves off.  Knocked down by the sucker punch you threw.  Slower to bounce back than some.  Wounded more deeply perhaps.  Though wandering and searching, still moving.  Not out yet.  <God lead us.>< God heal us.>. <Your will be done.>

When wounded soldiers are left behind, angels cry.

 

By Vicki L Pugliese

What’s Wrong with Anticipation?

The act of anticipation keeps us from living our present fully.  We look forward to going to school, turning 16, graduating High School or turning 21.  We long for finding that special someone, having children.  Once we have children, we can’t wait until the crawl or walk or talk.  We look forward to them going to school finally.

We get excited about the stages of their life that are in the near future for them.  We dream about the kind of people they will become.  We invest our thoughts in a new job or promotion and how that would affect our lives.  We day dream about getting new cars or a new house.  We even get caught up in holidays.  We anticipate how the holiday will be with family and presents and what food we will eat.  We think about the conversations we will have.  Sometimes down to what we will say if we are asked an uncomfortable question, that we don’t really want to answer.  We know exactly what the other person is supposed to respond, don’t we?!  They never do respond that way though.

We fantasize about what retirement will be like, or winning the lottery even.  We yearn for “empty nest-er” days.  We worry about every little detail that “could” happen.  We refuse to believe something good actually is coming our way until there is no other way for the other shoe to drop.  We are cynical in nature some of us, believing the worst probably will happen.  Meanwhile our thoughts may give us hope but keep us from really enjoying exactly where we are now.

We don’t have any reference when we are children, but we spend less time truly thinking “What if”, when we are kids.  As adults we can spend a significant amount of time, thinking about it, day dreaming or worrying about it.  We get dissatisfied with the here and now, as we propel ourselves into the future in our thoughts.  We pray and long for God to assist us in accomplishing our dreams and hopes.  We ask if He could just help us with this one thing that we are worrying about.  We can even pray fervently for a positive outcome that will occur in the future.

Now there is nothing wrong with those prayers.  We are told to stand before Him and ask, even to ask fervently, and to be persistent.  The issue I have with all of this anticipation, with all of this day dreaming is that, at least for myself, it pulls me out of the here and now.  Sometimes that’s what I think I want.  Things get hard and I would rather dream about how it will be.  That dream is often a lot like those conversations where we give someone else their lines.  Our dream view of the future leaves out all of the things that will make that less than ideal.  We leave out all the bills that come with that great house that we want or having to work harder to earn the mortgage.  We pray, “Could I just win the lottery this once?”  We all know the math behind the lottery.  They wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t tilted heavily in their favor.  Your chances of accidental death are most likely better than your chances of winning.

What is a problem in this, even in the Christian version where you pray fervently for an outcome or to be rescued from some issue, expecting great things from God?  We forget to focus on being grateful for what you have.  Now I have been in places in my life that felt like there was no way I could be grateful for anything, it was so overwhelming.  We are instructed in the Bible to pray fervently as well, to knock on the door until it is opened.  We are told to expect great things from a God who loves us dearly.

But we forget that little part where we ask God, not my will but thine.  I think I’m not a big fan of that concept, but God has shown me over and over that his plan is better than mine.  It may be more painful in some ways but when I look back in hindsight, I can easily see where His plan far surpasses my own.

Trusting in Him is hard.  Occasionally those periods of time in my life that are extremely difficult produce blessings that later are some of the best in my life. I have been blessed by the friends I found during times of struggle; the characteristics in my personality that changed dramatically, the goals I obtained to remove myself from a situation.  All of those are blessings in disguise, where God used a struggle to produce great outcomes.  I would not have chosen that for myself but I’m glad I am who I have become.

Perhaps today, I could anticipate tomorrow a little less and just enjoy today.  I will choose to focus on the many blessings in my life instead of the strife.  I will remember they often happen in tandem.  Even some of the most memorable stories in the Bible show that struggle and blessings may occur in tandem.  He is good.  He is able.  Today though, what He has already given me is enough.  I will worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

The “Hat Lady” – my friend

We knew her first as the “hat lady”. She was a breath of high society at our little Presbyterian church.  She wore a different and fabulous hat with amazing coordinating earrings every weekend to earn herself such a title from my family!  She came every week with her granddaughter Stephanie, who was beautiful, well behaved and a quiet child.

Margaret later joined the choir and we became fast friends even though there’s an age gap. It was quite a sacrifice for her to give up her hats but she loved to sing.  I enjoyed immensely her marvelous snarky sense of humor.  Margaret always had a smile on her face.  It was clear as well that she adored her granddaughter Stephanie.  Where ever one went the other went as well.  Although Stephanie never joined the choir, that was her grandmother’s thing.  Nonetheless they did attend services together through-out the years.

Margaret volunteered in many ways over the years. She was even our children’s choir director until an accident nearly “did her in”.  She tripped over a stray child, who wasn’t where they were supposed to be.  I don’t believe she was ever truly sturdy again, although she never complained.  Only she could make a cane a true fashion accessory!

In this last year or so Margaret has not been able to attend our church and yet we have become closer than ever via Facebook. As was her nature, she quickly volunteered to assist me in editing my blog.  My family had had about enough of forced reading of things I had written.  They were tired of missing commas, run on sentences, and inappropriate lead in words.  Margaret was ever diligent at reading and editing my work.  She always had a cheerful demeanor and was gentle in her corrections.  Once I even sent an email late at night, assuming she would find it in the morning.  She was still up. She stayed up to finish editing before calling it quits for the night.  She had been an executive secretary.  Some habits die hard.  She amazed me always.

She would privately message me stories about her beloved husband and some of their adventures. She always spoke kindly of her family and adoringly of her granddaughter.  I stole… **&^%*^^^^  ooops I fell off my brag box from her, with her permission of course.  She took great pleasure in me using her ideas and phrases.  She was an excellent editor.

Mostly Margaret was a dear and sweet friend that I will treasure forever. I know my blogs will be plagued with missing commas, run on sentences and other grammar and punctuation issues.  More importantly I know she is with our Savior right now demanding better hats with more unique accessories!  She was one of a kind.  She was inspiring.  She was my friend.  Rest in Peace Margaret Ascue.  You were loved.  Save me a spot at the good table!

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

Unabandoned

She ignored the words of others,

Accepting abandoned lots, abandoned lives.

She saw beyond what others saw, what most could see.

She tended, pruned, cared for, and loved with all that she had, with her own two hands.

She took something wild, and weedy, and full of thorns.

She gently, and slowly transformed them.

With a master gardener’s sight, she watched and waited.

She patiently oversaw tiny growth that others missed.

And now what once was fallow, no longer is.

Both gardens and lives, quite plain to see.

Vibrantly blooming beyond all promise, all we believed.

A sweet fragrance of love from her own two hands.

Now and forever Unabandoned they stand.

 

by Vicki L. Pugliese

 

 

You Take You With You

She cast her eyes down and attempted to dissolve into the woodwork, removing herself from the line that had been moving her steadily toward the ticketing window. Only the man behind her, even briefly looked up as she wandered away counting her cash. She had been so sure this was the answer to the downward spiral her life had recently taken. She just wanted to run away, start over. She could picture so vividly her beloved grandfather’s porch and the rocking chairs facing the quiet small town road. Hardwood chairs with small tables beside them for your tea, with barely any room to pass. No frills, just peace and quiet and no judgment. A twinge hit her heart as she realized that her grandfather would no longer occupy the other chair. His passing was actually one of the catalysts to the events in her spiral. It hit her hard. She hadn’t been prepared.

Now her strong desire to run to that quiet place and start over gave her pause. Not that her grandmother would turn her away, but she could hear her grandfather’s voice. “You know, no matter how far you run, you take you with you.”

He had been such a wise man. He knew her so well. He gave her time to think, but nudged her in the right direction when it was time to go. Could she really start over? She had had just a little more than enough. She would indeed still take herself with her. She’d made such a mess of things since his passing. All of her relationships were strained. Now she had lost another dead end job. She just needed a break. Life didn’t like to give us that did it.

She could just sit and watch the neighbors go by with a cup of tea, but it wouldn’t be the same. The fog she had been in, that numbness might be worse near his things. Maybe that was being extravagant with her money. Tears started to roll down her cheeks. Somehow she had wandered upon a bench and she sat down, facing the busy street. The buses pulled out in front of her as she struggled with what to do.

A homeless man that was sitting facing her smiled. She thought how she should just get up and hike to her parents’ home. It would be a long trek and not a pleasant welcome. Sure they would lecture, but they would get her on her feet. She realized the little more than bus fare in her hands and some grace was all the difference between her and the man in rags before her.

Silently she cried out in her heart, “God help me! Please just tell me what to do!”

Almost immediately the homeless man spoke to her through a toothless smile, “God goes with you too.” He said. “Wherever you run. God’s still there.”

Tears streamed now as she looked at him with soft eyes and a quivering lip. She peeled the extra ten off of the exact bus fare to her grandmother’s handing it to him as she left to get back in line.

 

By Vicki L Pugliese

 

Story and characters are fiction any resemblance is purely coincidental.

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