I am a perennial student, always learning and willing to seek knowledge and peace. It seems to be in demand lately as the world is slowly slipping into hate and vitriol so that peace is out of reach. It isn’t. Just keep it simple.
Yesterday I found peace, unequivocally and without pretense. I found it in Peace Valley Park in avant-garde Bucks County. It has been a solace for me for a very long time and feeling pressure, I headed out there to experience the beauty of nature and serenity. I find it there especially during the week when it is relatively quiet. I took a small picnic, but ate none of it, so engrossed was I with the calmness of the water and mostly people with their dogs. There were all shapes and sizes, running, strolling, jumping with joy – the people as well as the dogs! I love to watch them as they epitomize unconditional love.
They Smile at Upper Dublin Library
Peace Valley Park is a given, proven over the years to be a treasure. We visited with children, then grandchildren, to walk, to run, to splash in the summer water. So now I was searching for more places that would warm my soul and my aching heart. I counted that I had mentioned the Upper Dublin Library in three of my blog posts so I set out to discover the magic of this place. It was a very strange event, the first time I walked into this calm and yet vibrant place. Being an avid reader, I am familiar with the libraries and bookstores in the area and to be honest, I don’t quite know how I ended up there.
From the first moment I walked into Upper Dublin Library, I felt a calmness and yet a powerful energy. It happens each time I go there. The visual is one of brightness, strong colors, books, posters – all over the place and the most important – smiles from those who work there. Over the years, when entering a school, a college, a business, a police department, a support organization, I can ascertain the personality of who is in charge – the BOSS. Without meeting the Chief Librarian, Cherilyn Fiory, I knew the kind of person she would be. It starts at the top and stands as a beacon for those who are members of staff. I learned with no surprise, she encourages people to follow their bliss. Each has their own section to deal with in any way they choose. So, I telephoned the library and asked if I could interview a member of staff whilst sitting in the library, observing. I am very good at people watching! Permission was granted.
The first appointment in my book to meet with Kay Klocho was incorrect. I wrote 12 noon. She had 11.a.m. Graciously she rescheduled the appointment and I wrote it down in front of her this time. Kay is the head of Reference and Digital literacy. Oh goodness – I do hope I have that right. The word digital throws me off track. Anything remotely technical stuns me. I sat at a table with her and the first thing I asked her was, “Why do I feel the way I do about this library?”, as I certainly didn’t know. She looked at me quizzically and told me she thought it was the staff.
She is right in one respect. They smile, the volunteers are remarkable. They are patient with this woman, the pathetic look on her face when she tries to log onto the computer to register the books she is taking out. They take pity and do it for me; so kind to deal with the afflicted, and they smile too. I did not find that in other libraries especially one that is on my ‘do not visit’ list. A smile there is rare. Volunteers log up about 250 hours and teen volunteers, 150 hours. They, too, follow their passions. I have always believed that volunteers are the backbone of any Agency, nonprofit, not for profit (I know, I don’t get the difference either) and support of any kind.
Kay continued in an attempt to deal with my grasshopper brain, and told me about all the fascinating programs the library offers. You name it, they have it and if by some mischance they do not, they’ll make it available somehow. I was told about Science and Technology Lab, Arts, Math, to name but a few. Then there’s the Fabrioholics. As I sat there with her, I noticed the activity in the library and in particular the smiling welcome everyone received. There were mothers with young children who were so excited to have the book they wanted. Nobody said “shush”. It was a joyful sound. The computers were in full use and I learned that there are computer courses, second language instruction, and coaching for various educational tests. What was amazing was how many of the staff was involved. In other libraries I discovered people were left to fend for themselves – not here. Kay told me there was a brochure available or would be “soon-ish”. She has a great personality and obviously is in love with her profession and this library in particular.
There is so much information in this peaceful yet vibrant place that I cannot absorb it all. Being a mystery buff, particularly British whodunits, I was impressed with the enormous selection of books. Kay told me they didn’t have the largest collection in the County but I was more than satisfied with what I saw. Maybe it was the layout of the building which had previously been inhabited by the local Council. So there were some activities that enchanted me. The Fabriolics is so unique to me and it was created for people who want to be involved with their crafts in other environments. As Kay says, “They can’t take their sewing machines on the road.”, so they gather together. It’s so comforting to know that this library’s staff is cognizant of the requirements of all kinds of people. There is so much more. Try it, you’ll like it. UPPER DUBLIN LIBRARY. Really, a beautiful place.
Where else can one find peace? Anywhere I please. One of the most creative human assets is imagination. It is far stronger than any instruction. Imagination can take one on a journey to peaceful surroundings of one’s memories. It also can help with some kinds of pain, by imagining you are somewhere that has brought serenity in the past.
I am often asked about my tattoos – did it really hurt? Well being drawn on by a needle is bound to cause some discomfort. What do I do? I take myself off to a favorite cottage in Ireland, where we stayed twice. It had a huge bedroom and a dining/kitchen area which was crammed with a large wooden table and four chairs. We literally had to climb over the chairs to get to the stove and we loved it. So that’s where my imagination takes me when things get tough. There are other places in serene Ireland that take my fancy during times of stress. Some call it escapism – what’s their point? So what if it is for that time, flying on a magic carpet called Aer Lingus! For that time, it does its magic.
Today was a great example of peace. When I awoke, I felt it was one of those days that I couldn’t bear without John. I didn’t quite know how to handle it as there was nowhere for me to go and even if I had been asked, would have refused. This past week or so has been filled with other people’s intense grief. The work is my passion and lately with so many deaths from overdoses, it is very painful. Saw two bereaved mothers and one woman whose husband had died unexpectedly. Another was a family whose child had died after a long illness. I was on call for that one. I have been asked on many occasions whether I felt my work is morbid. No and no. A thousand times. It is inspiring to be with people whose love is unending. They teach me a lot.
Another common statement I get is, “After doing this work for so many years, you must get used to it.” If so, I’ll remove myself and never do it again. Can I be emotionally detached? Absolutely not. Have others in my profession remonstrated with me that it is unethical. So it is – bite me, which is my highly professional, diplomatic and oh so British response. Strangely enough this leads me back to today and waking as I did.
I have a list of what to do and intended to do it today as it is a holiday and some stores are open. So I took the list and put it in the trash. That was the beginning. I do recall that there was a prescription at the pharmacy which I needed to collect and as they are open until 5:00, I thought I’d go at 4:00. Wrong. It can wait until tomorrow. I made breakfast and ate it slowly. Then I started to watch a marathon of Murder She Wrote on Hallmark. I love soppy Hallmark Murder Mysteries. I solve most of them halfway through. I fed all the cats special treats and had chats with them. Truly, if my cats could talk I’d have to leave the country although I have a tea towel with a cat on it and the words are, “If cats could talk, they wouldn’t”, so perhaps I can stay.
I haven’t had time to take care of my skin lately. I’m either busy or can’t be bothered so I gave myself TWO facials. I look glorious of course. After several Jessica Fletcher presentations, it was time for lunch. Fried two eggs on toast – delicious. Drank goodness knows how many cups of tea. I would guess by the end of the day it will be about 20. Then I decided to write this blog. Why? Because I wanted to. In my ripening years I really mean to do what I want for me and sometimes I forget to do so. So I’m catching up and it feels really agelessly wonderful.
Oops! Have to go. It’s four o’clock which means tea, a scone with blackcurrant jam and cream. I didn’t say I ate sensibly all the time. I have been nibbling on an English bag of crisps (chips in this country) with salt and vinegar. Just pampering and it’s peaceful. Of course these will all be devoured whilst watching another Murder She Wrote.
I’m back. Watched two Jessica Fletchers. I like her and Miss Marple as no matter how many insults are thrown at them, they ignore them and just get on with the challenge in hand. I’d like to be able to do that and feel that my peaceful moments would increase hugely.
Now I am thinking of cooking a dinner for myself. Right from scratch. I don’t do that often, as up to two years before John died, he cooked. His meals were incredible. One time my friend Marion (happy birthday by the way) came to dinner. John put appetizers and a large salad on the table. She had a healthy appetite and did well. To her astonishment, John then brought in the meal! She still talks about that today – so surprised was she. So after he died, I had to fight the desire to make a sandwich rather than eat sensibly. Just writing that, I feel I eat out far too much so after these weeks of appointments, I’ll dine at home.
So that’s the blog – peace. It comes in all guises and I am so happy to have found more than I thought possible. Dr. Viktor Frankl was right – people make conscious decisions on what they do. Oh, and by the way. It is 9.p.m and I am still in my nightdress! Yes. All day in my nightdress. No tight anything. No makeup. Bliss.