How many people would say they thrived in 2020? Isolation looked good on me. I wrote a book, took control of my health, created a cook book and changed careers, again. New friends were made, exhilarating experiences were had and bucket list items checked. It is that time of year for a “look back” with a little holy anticipation for the future. Let’s begin shall we?
Shock and Awe
Like virtually everyone in the COVID nightmare of 2020, I temporarily lost my employment which put me into extreme panic and a financial tailspin. Blessings came when I was eligible for unemployment and the federal stimulus. Four months of glorious isolation, quarantine and shut down gave me time to write Moon at Eleven O’Clock, a zany tale of dream chasing, Kansas and cattle, online dating and high adventure. (It will be published when I get around to it as all the photos pose a publishing challenge.) A rough manuscript was submitted to friends and they all said, “you had me on the edge of my seat, I could not stop reading, exhilarating ride to the very end.” My writer friend, Mark Eckel said it best, “you have created a new genre which I must call ‘shock prose’ in a novella length full of too many pictures to publish.” It makes sense to me that I don’t fit in with writing any more than I fit in with real life. Shock Prose by the way is a shockingly short descriptive word choice delivered in a novella length format. Short and to the point.
Storytelling and College Students
When Professor Mark Eckel asked me to be a guest speaker to his college students in Reading, Writing and Inquiry, I trembled in fear, agreed to speak and then asked, “Mark, what on earth would young people want to hear from a brain-damaged old woman who can’t remember what she wants to say?” “Just tell stories,” he said “plus I told them you work for IU and interview people in opioid counties and they definitely want to hear about that. Start there. You have amazing adventure stories, just tell them. I also gave them a preview of what to expect by sharing your latest boot picture.”
So I wrote my script and figured I could somehow deliver it just by reading it to them and I would preface it by telling them I cannot memorize or remember what I want to say, so I have to write it down. Then Covid-19 hit and I could not come to class because no one would be there. Mark asked me to make my speech a video. Eighty-seven hours later, after every mishap and failure, I poorly produced a peculiar 36-minute monologue which embarrasses me to death when I watch it. Discovered the way to get people to read my stories is to make it an assignment for credit in a college class which requires the student to answer a set of questions that measures their attentiveness. My speech got 51 required views! Young people thought I was cool and not just because I have a lizard on my wall. They used words like “icon” “infectious” “adorable” “relatable” “an absolute delight.” They thought I had something impactful to say. Proof positive you can be a bumbling, brain-addled, original and your story can motivate a young person.
Notable quotes from the students include:
The first thing I noticed was the lizard-looking thing on her wall and my impression was that she must be cool.
She reminds me of the vintage rich women who used to be in the movies. In that fur hat she looks like if she started speaking in a thick Russian accent, I wouldn’t be surprised.
Her stories really made me think about how important it is to “not judge a book by its cover.” She has a very bizarre taste in fashion but I admire her for always being herself.
The quote she used from Mark Batterson was such a positive thing to consider. “The right word at the right time can be the catalyst for someone else’s miracle.” I admire her positivity and encouragement.
Hearing her story of overcoming adversity shows me how much people can accomplish, how active their lives might be and how much of a difference they can make in other people’s lives including inspiring me to strive for what I care for.
I left them with some sage advice from an old, overly curious, eclectic, self-proclaimed writer:
Grow into who you aspire to be by believing you already are.
Look for adventure in everything. Become daring and take some risks.
Isn’t everything a risky undertaking?
Don’t be afraid to be an original.
Indulge your curiosity and follow it to the greatest adventures of your life.
Capture it so you will remember when you get old or have a head injury (whichever comes first.)
Aspire to take absolutely nothing and turn it into a story.
Be willing to be an ordinary extra and God will do something extraordinary. Bless someone today, you never know what plotline God is orchestrating and the seemingly random act of kindness it not random at all…and then write about it!
After falling on a flight of stairs and then waking up from being unable to breathe, I thought it was time to do something about my health. I reached out to Cathy Murphy who runs a natural health clinic in Illinois. We studied TKM together in Florida years before. TKM is a non-invasive approach to correcting imbalances in the bio-electrical energy pathways in the body. She listened as I listed all my issues and then she told me the basics of her natural approach and I vowed to start the next morning. No caffeine, no wheat, no dairy, no alcohol. My daily diet coupled with Covid-Comfort eating upended in a second. I knew it was time, actually way past time.
I dropped twenty pounds and my protruding stomach actually flattened when I learned proper food combining. Fruit by itself in the morning and never eating carbs in the same meal as protein. Learned the importance of water and hydration and bought a rebounder as I thought I could bounce for 10 minutes a day. Miraculous changes took place in very short order. In three days, the most bizarre change was my shoes became loose. There is a very scientific reason for this.
The Symptom is NEVER the Cause
When Mayo Clinic sent Cathy home to die with liver cancer, she vowed to overcome and she did. She is the picture of health over 25 years later. The power of food to both heal and destroy and the power of our God-designed immune system and energy pathways made me realize I needed to share this life-saving knowledge with others. Cathy and I partnered to bring this knowledge of health to the people. What I learned is no one wants to do this much less pay for the knowledge. It is much like sharing Christ, only a few believe in an eternally saved life. After three months of dramatically improved health, I had to go back to work.
Following the plan was easy when in isolation, not working and not tempted by delicious restaurants (which were all ordered closed.) Going back to my streetwalking throughout the state doing the health surveys made it impossible to cook and transport two meals a day in my travels. I couldn’t even find an open restroom much less a place to eat my homecooked meals. I fell off the wagon. Old habits of eating with the resulting side-effects clearly shows the power of food to kill and the power of food to heal.
In sharing my new found health info with a friend, she asked if I would be interested in starting a new career. She is a loan signing agent and notary and she needed help. It sounded like the perfect solution as it is deemed essential and would provide income in the face of Covid lockdowns. So while trying to maintain my own health, share it with others, design a new website, get credentialed to be a notary and mobile loan signing agent and continuing to street walk for IU, I was stressed to the max. Then expenses started arriving in $2000 increments. Car repair, dental repair, body repair. I was working round the clock to pay for it all. Expenses always seem to outpace my income. I am sad to say I am completely off the wagon in terms of my eating habits but I can attest the plan I was following is the total solution for a healthy mind and body. The spirit is willing but the body is weak.
Meanwhile in Africa
Starvation awaits refugees
The miracle of prayer and provision is not lost on me. Several years ago I prayed to God to allow me to make a significant difference in someone else’s life. I certainly did not pray to adopt a refugee family in Africa, but the Lord orchestrated an adventure which started with storytelling and then became family. I don’t have any children and my life is one of isolation although you would not know it by my Facebook posts!
In the years I have been writing I became the hands of feet of Jesus when a small financial gift answered their cries to God. As time went on, I was able to do a bit more for them. I paid for the education for two of the children who were in school. At Christmas I send adventure. As refugees for the last 12 years, they had never been able to go as a family anywhere to do anything. The next meal and the next rent payment was all they ever thought about. Refugees are not hired for jobs and must scavenge to survive. Their every meal is made in one pot over a charcoal fire and consists of beans, beans and more beans. Jerry wanted to take his family out for a meal together. It was a day to be remembered and brought a river of tears as I looked at the photos. Read the series here:
Jerry feels blessed by my support and as a result he enlisted his partner in his refugee organization OneYouth OneHeart to help those refugees who had no means to provide food for their families during the Covid lockdown. He organized a community effort funded by generous everyday people from all over the world including so many of you in Indiana. He brought food to the Congolese refugees who now live in Uganda.
My friend Dr. Ping (Pingnan Shi) is from China and now lives down the street from me. He is a pastor of a Chinese church, an Engineer with countless patents and the Lord has called him to be an educator. He has partnered with Jerry in order to bring education to the refugees. They are empowering a disenfranchised group to entrepreneurship. Just imagine the impact of this generosity. The Lord was answering my prayers in such a significant way.
This year Jerry and family went to Munyonyo Beach on Lake Victoria for their family Christmas/Anna’s birthday adventure and had fun walking the beach, watching fish swim and touring the resort in a golf cart able to carry the entire party. The children asked for milk shakes and pizza. Jerry writes, “you have made the birthdays for each member of our family full of memories and big smiles. Thank you for choosing me as a friend and as a son. You have given me hope for a better future. It also makes me continue fighting for a more inclusive world where refugees are self-represented. As I build their capacities through the creation of spaces where they can connect and share ideas, my personal life is shaped for the better. Your provision to keep a roof over our heads encourages me to continue giving back to my community. My prayer is for our family to take care of you in your old age, making a home in the United States. Thank you for loving us this much.”
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Thanksgiving starts six weeks of grandeur that is never enough for me. I have started celebrating my birthday at French Lick Resorts. The old world elegance of West Baden Springs and French Lick Springs and their hundred year plus history, is soothing refreshment for my soul. As I sat in the atrium of the Eighth Wonder of the World and dreamed and created, I was filled with such awe and wonder.
Bucket List Checked
I have worn the same fur neck scarf for ten years. It was worn out and needed a good cleaning. I could not find a replacement like it anywhere. I called Elan Furs and they said to bring it in and the designer could make a new one. I met one of the master designers who is from Greece and met the owner also from Greece. We traded stories of our lives in the fur industry. They were always in the back designing and crafting and I was always in the front drooling and indulging myself. I never got to see how a fur pelt is transformed into a glamourous coat. It was on my bucket list and Elan Furs indulged me delightfully.
Sotiri brought out a bobcat pelt. I loved it which is no surprise as expensive taste is one of my blessings and curses. He showed me other furs, but the bobcat was calling my name. I asked about the difference between Bobcat and Lynx. Bobcat is mostly found in the US and Lynx comes from Russia or Canada. I might have mentioned that I had a lynx vest (that I had outgrown) and he said to bring it in when I came to watch him design my new neck wrap.
He sized me up pretty well noting my snake skin boots and the lamb and fox jacket and I explained that while I had very fine taste, I was now an old woman of meager means and the neck wrap was about all I could afford. He looked at me and said, “it is because you are too generous.” Stunned, I thought “how could he know.” When I picked up the finished piece, he had attached a tail to the neck wrap. He could not have known I had a custom racoon head wrap with a detachable tail (a very fine Daniel Boone ‘coon skin cap.) I swear he could read my mind and quizzing him several times since, I learn he really can read my mind and this is exhilarating and frightening all at the same time.
As a special gift for the most eclectic customer of the year, he made me three bobcat fur balls to attach to my purse.
The stamped leather with inlaid snake skin is being prepared in Italy and once I can afford all the pieces, he will add them to the lynx vest I have outgrown for a stunning custom designed western jacket. Can you say double bucket list?
And so I end this year on a high note and with these observations:
Love people unconditionally.
Encourage others by looking for and emphasizing their best attributes.
Keep your mouth shut on all the rest and do not talk about politics and religion with others that do not share your views, just love on them.
Don’t tell people they are too messy or have too much stuff or need to get organized, rejoice for what they give to the world while they are not cleaning, organizing and collecting memorabilia.
One well-placed word of encouragement can change the trajectory of a life and become the catalyst for someone else’s miracle.
Polly Riddell writing as
G. Polly Jordan
Polly Riddell writing as G. Polly Jordan is a freelance journalist connecting people and the stories they tell. Be willing to be an ordinary extra and God will do something extraordinary. Bless someone today, you never know what plotline God is orchestrating and the seemingly random act of kindness is not random at all…and then write about it!