WHAT MATTERS https://whatmattersw2.com A Philanthropic Public Relations, Real Estate & Fundraising Consulting Company Thu, 26 Mar 2020 08:24:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.1 https://whatmattersw2.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Facebook_Profile-Photo-300x300.png WHAT MATTERS https://whatmattersw2.com 32 32 Our Friends in the Third World can Teach us how to Handle this Crisis! https://whatmattersw2.com/our-friends-in-the-third-world-can-teach-us-how-to-handle-this-crisis/ https://whatmattersw2.com/our-friends-in-the-third-world-can-teach-us-how-to-handle-this-crisis/#respond Thu, 26 Mar 2020 08:24:29 +0000 https://whatmattersw2.com/?p=1785 Do I feel like crying most days, fearful of what we may have to face as humanity? Most certainly I do. But I’m going to stop. I’m going to keep singing, keep laughing, keep dancing and keep thriving. Yes, these are times when we don’t feel like celebrating, but I’ve witnessed more joy, happiness, hope and faith than I’ve ever seen on a ‘good’ day in the USA by my dear friends in Uganda who live EVERY DAY OF THEIR LIVES with even more uncertainty than we are facing now. They wake up EVERY MORNING with financial struggles, a perpetual worry about obtaining food, a constant wonder if they will be able to go to school (if they can afford the fees) and fears of life-threatening viruses (malaria and typhoid are killers in Africa due to poor healthcare). Let’s learn from their example how to handle our stressful days ahead–they connect with each other, they share stories, they dream, they sing, they dance and they pray. #whatmattersisyourheart #weareinthistogether

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Medicizing–“The Prayer Dance” https://whatmattersw2.com/medicizing-the-prayer-dance/ https://whatmattersw2.com/medicizing-the-prayer-dance/#respond Sat, 29 Feb 2020 21:08:10 +0000 https://whatmattersw2.com/?p=1729

This 5-minute daily practice of a unique form of meditation, combines visualization, prayer and dancing for inspiration, exercise and mood-enhancing energization. Regardless of religion or belief system, this active meditation (I call it Medicizing) is most effective when adapted to individual preferences.
The “Prayer Dance”

  1. Grab a pen and a journal/notebook (to document your “Prayer Dance” inspirations) and select a song that elevates your mood (with lyrics that inspire you and a rhythm that is danceable). It could be a song that brings back happy memories, shares empowering words or otherwise lifts your spirits. The length of the tune is insignificant and it’s fine to rewind it if you aren’t finished with these steps by the time it ends. Similarly, it’s permissible to pause the music to write down a reminder note of a thought that comes to mind during the process.
  2. Press play and start jumping/dancing as simply or elaborately as you feel comfortable (I squeeze in my stomach and buttocks for added exercise, and close my eyes for less distraction). As you do so, breathe deeply as you call in the unseen universal forces who are ready to co-collaborate with your life to help you bring your dreams and goals into reality. Solicit assistance and guidance for the hours and days ahead.
    *Picture your departed loved ones, your spiritual guides, saints of all religions,
    your past and future selves. Exude loving thoughts to them and visualize their love enveloping you as you draw it in by waving your arms inward.
    *Picture your loved ones on Earth and those who need prayers, think of relationships that could be healed or released through the power of forgiveness. As you’re imagining, wave your arms outward to radiate love and energy towards them.
    *Ask for forgiveness and special assistance you desire in any area of your life. Mentally ask for guidance and support in those areas while waving hands inward to integrate the universal forces ready to assist you.
    *Conclude the experience in a state of gratitude. Picture love and light empowering you. Make a commitment to be open to heart-centered guidance. Understand that, even if your day does not go as expected, everything that happens is part of a greater plan of divine timing. Embrace the concept: “It’s always working out, even when it isn’t” and vow to remember that fact throughout the day when frustration or disappointment strike.
  3. After the song ends, immediately text, email, call or write a note to three people that come to your mind AT THAT MOMENT (don’t forget that it’s also fine to pause during the dance briefly to send a quick message or jot down a thought) — the key is to take immediate action after you’ve felt an urge to reach out to someone or have been inspired with an idea.
  4. Repeat Daily. Watch the magic unfold around you as you use this tool to help become a conscious leader of your own life and inspire others to do the same.

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Let’s spend Christmas and 2020 in SPACE—–Step into Peace, Acceptance, Compassion and Equality https://whatmattersw2.com/lets-spend-christmas-and-2020-in-space-step-into-peace-acceptance-compassion-and-equality/ https://whatmattersw2.com/lets-spend-christmas-and-2020-in-space-step-into-peace-acceptance-compassion-and-equality/#respond Wed, 25 Dec 2019 09:13:58 +0000 https://whatmattersw2.com/?p=1641 MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! I’m so inspired (especially around Christmas and the new year) by the remarkable actions people take to make a positive change in the world, in their communities, within families and in themselves. That’s what WHAT MATTERS is all about–shining a light on and supporting the amazing efforts of individuals and groups while creating initiatives to make a difference.

But I’ve always felt like there’s something missing yet desperately needed to connect us all with each of our unique causes and gestures–to remind us that we’re in this together, and that (as my WHAT MATTERS lyrics declare), “there’s only one team in this game” of life.

We have different labels that we unite around that separate us into categories of different political beliefs, different religions, different priorities, different interests, different dreams, but I believe WE ALL HAVE THE SAME DESIRE DEEP DOWN FOR A BETTER LIFE FOR OURSELVES AND A BETTER WORLD FOR ALL. But there has been no “label,” no “movement,” no “brand” to represent this united front of goodness that is more foundational than any other NAMES that highlight our differences.

I’m happy to report this Christmas day that there is finally SPACE for this inherent human nature that showcases the positive aspects that unite us, no matter what our other labels are. SPACE is a nonprofit founded by Liz Gibbs, and I’ll be talking a lot about it as WHAT MATTERS is partnering with SPACE to make more of a global impact. In 2020, I’ll be launching several large collaboration projects with amazing people to co-create initiatives on a larger scale.

It’s ironic and divine timing that I introduce my friends, family and online community to this first collaboration with Liz and SPACE on Christmas day, a day symbolizing the ultimate chance for new beginnings in the world. I was reunited with her less than two months ago after 30 years (she’s my God sister–her mom is the person who introduced my parents in college). When we met, we discovered that as I’ve been expanding my WHAT MATTERS Initiatives, she’s been growing her own initiatives through her organization called SPACE. After a two minute conversation, we both realized we were destined to join forces and support each other in our passion projects which are all so aligned.

ABOUT SPACE:

SPACE is on a mission to create a brand that unites the world, a community where everyone belongs and products that empower and inspire. SPACE IS A DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE AND INTERDEPENDENCE, OFFERING SUPPORT AND TANGIBLE TOOLS FOR PRACTICING RADICAL ACCEPTANCE AND COURAGEOUS CHANGE IN AN EFFORT TO UNITE AND EMPOWER THE WORLD.

SPACE is where we can all meet and celebrate the collective traits that are inherent in us all, no matter what our other “labels” are….traits of kindness, generosity, peace, acceptance, compassion and equality. Learn more at https://whatmattersw2.com/space-mission-2/ and read Liz’s post I’ve shared below to discover more about SPACE. https://www.facebook.com/lizgibbs7/posts/10105401082020146

Be sure to check out the bracelets made by our Light up Life friends in Uganda as symbols/reminders being sold to help support the children, further the SPACE mission and to remind us that we have a choice every day–to accept what is, our reality, the current state of our world (both outside and in our own minds)–or to choose change and have a better thought, healthier action, kinder gesture and more heart-centered life.

A star in space marked the spot where peace and love was born into the world so many years ago on Christmas. It is our hope that SPACE can remind the world to stop talking about our differences and start talking about how we each can be the change we wish to be in the world.

YOU ARE INVITED TO JOIN US IN OUR 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS KINDNESS SPACE CHALLENGE–follow me on Facebook to participate at “Beth Medved Waller”

We’ve all heard popular sayings like “Treat others the way you would like to be treated” and “Don’t judge another until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” For the next 12 days, we invite you to make space to live kindly.

Today’s inspiration: Say “Thank You.” Not just when you are unwrapping the gifts under the tree–say it when it’s hard! Take a moment when you want to judge, complain or see something as glass half empty and, instead, say thank you. Make a phone call to someone who has made a difference to you, look at a tough situation in your life in a state of appreciation of the lessons being learned instead of wishing for things to be different. Be thankful and express it outloud. Gratitude turns what we have into enough.

Need a reminder of your commitment to kindness? Check out the Be The Change bracelet on www.wearespace.org. We’re in this together!

Soon you’ll be able to hear the SPACE theme song we recorded in Uganda in October…”Space unites us….Nothing divides us…Space unites us…..We’re in this together”

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A Needless War https://whatmattersw2.com/a-needless-war/ https://whatmattersw2.com/a-needless-war/#respond Thu, 26 Sep 2019 17:14:29 +0000 https://whatmattersw2.com/?p=1119 Written by BETH 12/2018 on a Flight to Uganda

A Needless War

Your mind and body are best friends, let not them be at war.

It’s in your mind’s world you unlock your chance this world to soar.

If pain and heartache are your norm, just trust me and you’ll see.

A spin in thought is all it takes for your dark pain to flee.

Of course there will still be those times when you feel less than gold.

But train your thoughts and you will have great stories to be told.

As you embark on each new day, start with a simple thought.

That takes you to your heart, a place where no war can be fought.

Take five minutes to think about, the things you love and bring,

the ones you treasure to your mind, let your heart start to sing.

Sing of the memories long ago, when life was more carefree.

Hum the tunes of just yesterday, but let the bad ones flee.

Put all your disappointments of the days that went before,

locked in the past and tucked away, each day new to your core.

Because your thoughts control your mood and thus control your mind.

And bitter minds hold court above your body and aren’t kind.

They manifest in physical, in pain that is so real.

But caused by lies you tell yourself that you can’t even feel.

But feel you do when negative thoughts keep bringing you down.

When hiding deep behind your smile is a pervading frown.

It’s not to late to heal you and your mind’s tumultuous bond.

To turn the crashing waves of doom into a lovely pond.

A pond that when you gaze into, you cannot help but see.

What we who live in happiness hold as our golden key.

We see a different reflection as we stare deep within.

We see the sights of a kind world where strangers all are kin.

We see a world where luck is not illusive; it’s a gift,

To open each and every day, as it your spirits lift.

We see a person who tries to live each day to its best.

How can you hate that reflection even if it fails the test.

Because the best’s impossible to every day achieve.

You must be ok with ok and take time just to be.

Don’t be a victim of the chances life can take away.

Because there’s just one thing to do: find happiness each day.

‘Cuz if you look hard you’ll unfold the happy that’s inside.

Though hiding oft it does behind your mind’s discreet false lies.

So when your mental chatter starts to take the driver’s seat.

Stop fast and send those thoughts away, replace with ones of peace.

Catch yourself throughout each of your days, when you start to feel glum.

And fill your mind with grateful thoughts, and happy you’ll become.

Let not the circumstances that surround you be your guide.

Instead let faith and love and light be always at your side.

Soon after you control the beast that preys upon your brain.

And tame it with good thoughts, the bad ones won’t drive you insane.

It sounds so simple yet it’s true, good health’s a thought away.

Your mind and body will thank you, so why not start today?

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Bloom https://whatmattersw2.com/bloom/ https://whatmattersw2.com/bloom/#respond Thu, 26 Sep 2019 17:11:15 +0000 https://whatmattersw2.com/?p=1116 When happy doth the flower bloom

I know you’ve beaten doom and gloom.

When drooping leaves wither away,

I pray soon comes a brighter day.

A morning filled with love and light,

A peaceful slumber through the night.

With joyful times to store inside,

Your heart where darkness cannot hide.

Cherished moments sojourn there

Within your soul, your secret lair.

An arrsonel inside your heart

When life calls for a swift jump start.

They wait there, when you’re in a bind.

Those moments; deep inside you’ll find.

Yesterday’s bliss you wish would last

That seemed to fly by all too fast.

Yet unbeknownst to you and me.

Those precious times don’t truly flee.

They merely vanish from our sights

Dormant until our pain ignites.

Prisoned in hearts to set us free

Memories that come without a fee.

But cost it does when we forget

And fail to know we need not fret.

We merely must cast in a line

And fish for moments lost in time.

Treasured mem’ries waiting there

To help when life feels hard to bare.

Like sunshine to a listless flower,

Past joy can give our present power.

Next time you feel glum don’t forget,

What matters is your heart–let it.


–BETH 5/27/18

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Stranger Friends https://whatmattersw2.com/stranger-friends/ https://whatmattersw2.com/stranger-friends/#respond Thu, 26 Sep 2019 17:09:28 +0000 https://whatmattersw2.com/?p=1114 Stranger Friends

Far away but close in heart, 

strangers who now are friends

Kindred spirits we have met, 

along life’s many bends.

Some of them we’ll meet again,

and some of them will stay

Forever trapped in memories,

of past’s lost present day.

But all of them we will recall,

With pleasure in our mind.

And reach back to the time we shared

Forever to remind.

Remind us of a hidden truth,

One which we can’t deny

Each passer by’s a future friend.

If we but start with, “Hi!”

-BETH 2018 (written in Dubai on a long layover)

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Losing Time https://whatmattersw2.com/losing-time/ https://whatmattersw2.com/losing-time/#respond Thu, 26 Sep 2019 17:01:50 +0000 https://whatmattersw2.com/?p=1110 A Poem Written In-Flight by BETH

LOSING TIME

I never thought that losing time,
was something good to do.
But losing time is what happens,
to all the lucky few.

The blessed travelers on paths of life,
who get to soar up high.
And spread their wings to time travel,
on airplanes in the sky.

‘Cuz in the air there is no time,
it’s a place in between.
A place between home and away,
transport to a new scene.

A magic carpet in the air,
where time does not exist.
A haven up above the world,
embracing heaven’s kiss.

The middle ground of memories,
that will be made below.
It’s only claim is it’s the past,
of futures not yet known,

Not here or there it’s everywhere,
and yet no place at all.
A spot to reflect on the things,
those seen or to be saw.

If time is lost or gained,
it makes no difference to the soul.
Anticipating life while stalled,
on future’s lookout knoll.

A gliding knoll that overlooks,
all air & land & sea.
An air born island where there’s naught to do,
but simply be.

So if you have a chance to be,
one of the lucky ones.
Savor the time lost in the air,
‘tween dusks and rising suns.

And in that lost time think about,
what you can do below,
To touch the lives that cross your path,
where ‘ere you come or go.

Please take some time to think about,
as time just fades away.
How to make this world a better place,
as your time ticks by each day.

-Beth Medved Waller (12/14/17 written in the air headed on my first trip Africa)

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“The Stories”–Commemorating Guiding Light’s Final Episode 9/18/09 With Added Reflections of 9/2019 https://whatmattersw2.com/the-stories-commemorating-guiding-lights-final-episode-9-18-09-with-added-reflections-of-9-2019/ https://whatmattersw2.com/the-stories-commemorating-guiding-lights-final-episode-9-18-09-with-added-reflections-of-9-2019/#respond Wed, 18 Sep 2019 19:47:25 +0000 https://whatmattersw2.com/?p=1085 Written 9/2009 and expanded 10 years later 9/2019 by Beth Medved Waller

9/18/2009

I just watched the last episode ever of the 72-year-old Guiding Light with my Grandmother who got me hooked on the “soaps” when I was a toddler.  I recall as a youngster drinking coffee with her and sharing her recliner chair as we watched the “cool” teenagers, Phillip & Beth, Rick & Mindy, the Four Musketeers. One of my favorite photos of us reflects that treasured memory.  We’d fix a tossed salad with tuna, top it with our combination of Catalina and blue cheese dressing and look forward to 3pm. I remember looking out her window (in the days before VCRs) and seeing my friends driving up the driveway to go swimming and being disappointed that I would have to leave the air conditioning and the “stories” and go out and play. Another favorite photo of mine is me on the sofa with my “blankie” over my head as I was crying during a Beth and Lujack moment.  I recall dipping my cookies in milk as we watched and sucking the chocolate chips out of the ice cream in my ice cream mug as we were engrossed in the drama.  I used to love those rare times when I got out on early release or was sick and could lay on the couch all day and not miss the stories. And I’ll never forget the many mornings laying by the pool talking about the latest story lines. I can see my pride that day in elementary school when I was awarded the “Most Likely to be a Famous Actress on the Guiding Light” award. 

Fast forward to the nineties in college and my first apartment and I can see myself sitting on the floor and watching my tape of Guiding Light with my prized VCR that fast forwarded through commercials automatically.  Although I was 9 hours away from my real family, my Guiding Light family was never far, always a constant, always a way to surround myself with familiar faces and make me feel close to home.  3pm or anytime the VCR was playing was always the time I could clean the house, clip coupons, pay bills, or do other tasks that would be a drag were it not for the entertainment CBS provided. 

Fast forward again to 2003 when I secretly suffered from post partum depression (not realizing I had it until 2005 when I had my daughter and realized how post-birth didn’t have to be so stressful).  My ever faithful VCR kept me sane during wee hour nursing sessions as I jumped out of bed happily as that gave me an excuse to press play and catch up on the latest GL saga.  The thing I miss most about nursing my two children is that unique sense of peace of feeling like a good mother yet at the same time feeling like a kid again as I watched the same characters I watched when I was a child.

Then I got too “productive” to allow myself the luxury of “wasting” time watching the soaps and too rushed to take time to record them, yet I treasured the few days each year when I could watch with Grandmom and interrupt every few seconds with “are they together now,” or  “who is she?”  I always felt strange when a new character was on whom I didn’t recognize and always felt perturbed when non-soap fans would say, “you know the soaps, you can miss them for years and pick up where you left off.” That was never true for me, and that’s one reason I stopped watching as it was too sad for me to be so out of touch with what was going on to bother trying to catch up.

Everyone who knows me knows I love to jog but most don’t know that my favorite entertainment while exercising was listening to my ITunes podcast of Guiding Light as I ran.  And when it “hit me” that GL was really going to be gone forever, I got a video recorder for the TV in the exercise room so I could watch the soap while I jogged.  Now that the show is over, I wish I had done that earlier, I wish that I had made time to download the podcasts and keep up with it, I wish I had taken my lunch break more often and snuck over to Grandmom’s to watch with her.  I guess the “loss” of GL is like any loss in that you don’t appreciate what you have often times until it’s gone.

It wasn’t until today, when I started sobbing at the reuniting of the “Four Musketeers” and wept at Reva’s last words, “Always” as “The End” sprawled across the TV, that I realized what a treasure GL has been to me for my entire life.  It symbolizes memories with my 85 year old Grandmom that I will always hold dear, and I remember watching it during different times in my life and in different places with different priorities and different goals.   I grew up, life evolved, places changed, but GL was a constant in the lives of so many fans.  We always jokingly called the GL family our “family” but in a sense, they were.  They taught me right and wrong and most importantly that everything could always work out—the brokenhearted would love again, the enemies would reunite, the end of a special story line always marked the beginning of another one, and that life always goes on through ups and downs, through laughs and tears. They taught me that friendships and families, though far from perfect, are the true keys to happiness.  Watching undoubtedly is responsible for molding me into the emotional drama queen that I can be, yet it also is partially responsible for my life-long belief that anything is possible with friends and family in your corner, that wounds can always be healed, mistakes always forgiven, and new wonderful memories can always be made.  The final episodes fittingly left us with the reality that the evil can always repent, the good guys always win in the end, and that God has a plan for us all to unite who he wants to unite, heal who needs healing and wants us all to seize each day as if it were our last.  Thanks, Guiding Light, for the fond memories that will shine in our hearts long after the Light has faded.

Reflections 10 years Later….9/2019

Flashback to a random July afternoon circa 1985 and I’m nestled in the red upholstered dining room chair that served as my trusty lookout throne. Perched atop that uncomfortable cushion,  I could gaze out the window in a perfect position to spring to the door when I spotted cars round the corner of my grandparent’s long winding driveway. My best friend and her family were coming for an afternoon swim, and I was certain they would arrive bearing a Happy Meal (hopefully with that toy I’d been longing for buried under the wilting french fries).  As my eyes stared intently at that bend in the road, I anticipated my upcoming entertainment that included donning our beloved shiny mermaid costumes that our moms made out of glittery fabric-covered cut up tire fins. We’d also certainly get some good practice logged for our imaginary Olympics synchronized swimming routine and perhaps I’d win some of the heated timed races with the boys. Most normal 9 year olds would be thrilled at the prospect of an afternoon frolicking with friends in the water.  But as I waited, squished backwards in that stiff chair, I fought back crocodile tears, secretly devastated that I was going to miss the afternoon “Stories.” 

I’m guessing that most youth start out their TV watching with age-appropriate cartoons and sitcoms that they gradually outgrow as they mature and move on to the next popular program fitting for their development. But my beloved grandmother got me hooked on soap operas (AKA the stories), coffee and iceberg lettuce (with a can of tuna smothered in blue cheese and catalina dressing) by the time I was three….and to this day I haven’t graduated from the self-gratifying pleasures of that trio of treats for both my taste buds and my appetite for fairy tales.

I’m a small-town girl who grew up in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with a seemingly perfect childhood.  My memory bank is inundated with traditional happy memories of my youth. But if I’m truly honest with myself, my favorite moments happened between 2 and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in the den with my Grandmother.  When I was a toddler, we’d share her recliner, and then I graduated to my spot curled up on the loveseat with my favorite blanket (now almost disintegrated), waiting for my “ CBS families” – the cast of As the World Turns and The Guiding Light. With soap opera families, comes the comforting reality that no matter where you are or when it is, a part of your family is always with you. With the push of a TV button, they can connect you with your past and entertain your present while providing a bridge to fill the void of distance with real-world loved ones who are not able to materialize instantly with the click of a remote. 

Something I didn’t realize until this year was that my entire life was shaped by those lazy afternoon hours in the den. Recently I was in my car and happened to click on an Oprah Winfrey video on YouTube when I had a shocking realization.  I suddenly remembered that following my 2-4 PM stories, just after the dreaded when the final credits rolled, the Oprah Winfrey Show came on! All the pieces of the puzzle of my mid-life transformation fell into place, and in an instant I solved the mystery of why I started to do what I do!  There’s no denying that the little me made a vow to become either a soap opera star or Oprah Winfrey when she grew up. 

Those CBS programs solidified a belief in my head and in my heart that everything is always working out, even when it isn’t and that helping people and sharing stories is what matters. I learned from those soap operas and that wise mentor that anything is possible, especially the things that don’t make sense to anyone else. As I sat there episode after episode watching life transpire in Springfield and Oakdale, I must have decided that if I couldn’t star on a soap opera, I was going to make my life like one (but only in all the good ways since I could write the script and storylines myself).  And that’s what I’ve done my entire existence—I’ve created dramatic scenes (leaving out the evil characters, negative drama and heart-wrenching tragedy of course, and documented them all through journals, as if post writing a script after each scene ended. Then, quite suddenly the closer I got to 40, I metamorphosed into what I call a “pretend reporter“ and a “pretend philanthropist”. Each week, I interview as many people as I can filling up my Android phone’s memory card and dream up as many give-back initiatives as I can afford.

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Bowling Tournament & Silent Auction to Benefit Light up Life in Uganda! https://whatmattersw2.com/bowling-tournament-to-benefit-light-up-life/ https://whatmattersw2.com/bowling-tournament-to-benefit-light-up-life/#respond Mon, 06 May 2019 16:15:54 +0000 https://whatmattersw2.com/?p=1058 Sponsor a 4 person team for $100 or $25 for individual player/supporter or $100 for a lane sponsorship! Click the link below for your donation for your participation and write in the notes section if you would like to be a lane sponsor, are signing up for a team or individual play, or feel free to make any sort of donation to help the children of Light up Life! Click here to donate now quickly and easily online. Thanks to Anthony Lockhart and Joan Caldwell for their leadership of this event! Contact Beth or the numbers below with any questions at 540-671-6145 or if you’d like to make a donation of a silent auction item!


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My Granddad Knew Santa https://whatmattersw2.com/my-granddad-knew-santa/ https://whatmattersw2.com/my-granddad-knew-santa/#comments Wed, 05 Dec 2018 20:28:11 +0000 https://whatmattersw2.com/?p=788 My Granddad Knew Santa

 

When I was a little girl, there was a Santa costume in my grandparent’s bedroom closet.  I can still feel the texture of the ringlets on the beard when I imagine it. I don’t even have to close my eyes to remember how the red outfit looked spread out on the tall antique bed at Christmas time as I unpacked the balled up newspaper from the large black boots.  I remember that feeling of anticipation, excitement and pride as I stood in that room feeling so blessed that my very own grandfather was best friends with Santa.

I don’t remember when I was told the story, and when I think of it, there wasn’t really a story. I never heard tales about how my grandfather met Santa or if they kept in touch.  I merely knew that that Santa was so very busy and chose special friends to help him by dressing as him throughout the world, and that my beloved Granddad, John W. Affleck, was one of his dearest friends.  I thought I was the luckiest girl in the entire universe to have the biggest secret in the world…that my grandfather knew THE Santa Claus.

I remember sitting on granddad’s lap when it was my turn after being in line with all of the other children anxious to tell Santa their Christmas wishes. I can hear his “Santa voice” whispering into my ear, “We have a little secret little girl, don’t we?”  I remember trying so hard not to let anyone know that I was related to the jolly man giving out candy canes. Oh the many Christmas memories I treasure!  I got to ride with him in Christmas parades on floats where I waved and threw out candy to the children lining the streets, and I got to help him get ready (and see him stuff himself into Daphne Pond’s tiny mustang en route to his “performances” as my Grandmother climbed in the backseat).

I’ll never forget that moment in elementary school when my teacher was writing memories on the chalkboard for a memory book the class was about to make. I was my usual shy and quiet self, but my classmates eagerly raised their hands to share what they remembered most about the third grade. Someone on the right side of the room proclaimed, “This is the year that we found out Santa wasn’t real.”  And the teacher, chalk in hand, nonchalantly wrote the statement on the blackboard. To this day, I could point out on exactly where she wrote those words on that blackboard, and I could identify the desk where I was sitting in the classroom. It was a moment that changed me. I realized that a belief I had based so much of my life on wasn’t true.

As hard as I try to recall, I don’t remember anything that happened after that moment regarding Santa and my Granddad and our traditions. I don’t remember having a discussion with my family or with him about the realization.  But I’ve always recalled that the moment was significant. I was listening to Christmas music this morning and when I heard Glenn Miller’s “Silver Bells” rendition while driving to the office, memories flashed back to me and I sat in my car for twenty minutes and wrote the below rambles that I decided to turn into a blog post.

I had formed a lot of my beliefs about life before I knew the truth, before I realized that my Granddad didn’t really know Santa and that it was all just a magical story told to an imaginative child. I think that “lie,” that story, that fantasy, created something different in my intellect. Something that became a collection of beliefs that I think most people don’t have but should, because it’s true for everyone, not just the granddaughters of Santa’s friends…The belief that anything is possible. The belief that I am special and different.  The belief that I have to be extra good and do extra nice and kind things because of my extra blessings. The belief that I am an ambassador for others and therefore have to keep the magic alive and make sure people believe.

I wish I could remember what happened after I found out that “Santa wasn’t real” on that memorable day in school. I don’t know if I changed as a person or if I was sad, depressed or confused. I don’t remember anything at all about what transpired after the bell rang that afternoon. But I realized today, as I’ve been typing this, that for my entire life I’ve been looking for that little girl inside me who believed that her Granddad knew Santa Claus. And I realized that this Christmas will be the first one since then that she’s actually here with me once again. I found her. And I love her so much. I love her faith, her hope, her joy, her happiness, her confidence.  And I love the fact that she stopped waiting for me to find HER and she finally found ME instead.

Looking back over the past four years as she’s been attempting to make her great return, I have had so many moments of Lizzy “awakenings.”  Lizzy is the name I’ve started to call the “little me”–the girl inside whom I have been keenly aware of recently (as she has been trying to take more and more control over my life). It was June of 2014 when my Gram visited me in a dream (as she transitioned out of this physical world into the great beyond) when things started remarkably changing in my life. And as I reflect on those noteworthy times since then, I now understand that Lizzy has been with me all along, and that every one of the happiest, most peaceful and most fulfilling moments of my life are ones in which she’s been “in charge.”

Today I also understood the exact moment when she, Lizzy, most recently started to resurface more frequently. When I (Beth) started to finally remember her, though unknowingly at first. Now I understand what happened in that moment and why I sobbed like I had never sobbed before.  And why that moment was the beginning of a new chapter in my life. That moment I’m recalling was in February 2015 when singer/songwriter Edwin McCain strummed his guitar and played my favorite song called, “What Matters” (when my lifelong friend interrupted the concert, handed him a slip of paper and told him I needed to hear it).  I had said a prayer in my car on a particularly tough day a few weeks prior to that night, asking God for a sign that the life changes I was pondering were the right decisions to make. Less than 30 seconds after that prayer, my cell phone rang and I was told that my tickets were upgraded and that I was being overnighted front row center seats to the Edwin concert.  It was at that concert and at that moment when I heard my favorite song, “What Matters,” being played specifically for ME (a song I had played so many times through the years), that something happened to me. I look back on that experience and it’s as if I knew some sort of shift was occuring, but I didn’t understand. But now, and nearly every single day lately, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that it was the mark of Lizzy’s comeback. Apparently she’s been scheming some Christmas-worthy magic my entire life behind the scenes and has decided to come out to play.  

Recently, as I look back on the past decades of my life as Beth, everything is beginning to make more and more sense.  And I have SO much more I want to share, especially about another huge realization about the spirit of Santa, more appropriately the spirit of Christmas, that I discovered. Today, as I was writing about when I realized Santa “wasn’t real,” I realized that Santa IS, in fact the most magical truth that indeed exists. Except for the significant twist that Santa is not a bearded man and Christmas can come every single day of the year, not just in December.  It IS the spirit of Santa that can make every dream come true for young and old alike. Santa is a metaphor for the combined “forces” of God, Jesus, angels, our dearly departed loved ones, the great saints, the beloved religious leaders of all faiths–the collective group of beings I call “THEM.”  I’ve been writing poems about THEM for a few years now. It’s as if I’ve been sitting on Their lap waiting until it was time to share Their “little secret” in a way that people in the long “Christmas wish line” could embrace. Today, I think They gave me a way to do so, in prompting me to realize that Their story is really nothing more complicated than the Christmas story of Santa Claus. THEY are our magic Santa, and if we have childlike faith, hope and love, we can ask Them for ANY wishes and they will deliver them (though unfortunately often not as fast as Amazon Prime and sometimes not in our preferred package/brand…. but nonetheless exactly as we need them and promptly when we need them).

Wow, I have to pick up my kids from school though I’m just getting started with what I want to share.  Thanks for sharing your time with me by reading this outpouring of my thoughts. It means a lot to Lizzy, especially. Because everyone has a Lizzy inside and she wants you to find yours too, or let yours find YOU to come out to play.  We both promise you won’t regret it!

 

Below is the first dream I ever recall documenting. I found my “Awakening” Dream Journal today and read it, realizing it was Lizzy in my dream…

This is the first dream I ever recall documenting. I found my “Awakening” Dream Journal today and read it, realizing it was Lizzy in my dream…

 

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