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October Dances

As September collapses into October each and every year, I find myself at that familiar ragged edge once again.

This is the month I began saying “goodbye” to the woman that raised me, loved me,claimed me and shaped me.  It’s a month full of “last” and of too many “first” and I dance along the edges between the need for solitude,the desire for company. It’s a time when I long to be asked to dance and when I want to dance all by myself. 

My Mema, Lord, have mercy, was the most charming, creative, headstrong, fearless, loving woman that ever danced this earth. 

And I say “dance” instead of “walked” because that’s exactly hl what she did.

Our garage door was left wide open and Marty Robbins, Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Dolly Parton would keep us company while we worked in the garden, planting onions, beans,tomatoes and peppers or just sitting out in the driveway talking.

At any moment, she might catch my eye, wipe the dirt off her hands and grab my hand while saying , “Come on, let’s dance.”  We would do a little two stepping in the grass and she would be singing the words so I could read her lips.

Her blue eyes would twinkle and she would say, ” Oh, I just love this man’s voice….he could put his boots under my bed anyday”

That was just a figure of speech for her. Truth be told, the only man who ever left his boots under her bed was the man she loved till the day she died. 

Daddy and Mema could cut a rug better than Fred and Ginger. I remember being star struck watching them on the dance floor when I was 5 years old. Mema in a long, flowing chiffon gown and Daddy in his trademark black suit were the only couple on the floor and they swirled and turned and moved as if they were one and the ballroom was a stage. 

As the song ended, people burst into applause and Daddy took Mema back to her seat, and smiled at me.  I felt as if I was the luckiest little girl in the world- I was the daughter of people that could dance like that! 

Mema used to tell me stories about how her momma- a stricter God-fearing woman- didn’t approve of dancing so Mema and her sister would sneak off into town and watch the couples dancing then come home and practice in front of the mirror with each other until they got the moves down pat. 

That disapproval didn’t make much difference to her and maybe that’s what fueled her passion so much. There was this strong streak inside her that just didn’t “give a hoot” what anyone else thought.

Even me. 

There were times when I was a teenager trying to fit in and be “normal” when Mema grabbing my hand and dancing in the aisle of Minyards just embarrassed me to pieces.  I would pull back and whisper, “Mema, people are WATCHING!” and, those eyes would twinkle again and she would laugh and say, “Well, then come on, Jeanna’, let’s give them something to watch!”

“Something to watch” was exactly what she was. She could shake and shimmy, turn and twirl, keeping perfect rhythm to the beat all the while carrying on the exact emotional gestures that best suited the song.

This was true no matter what she was wearing or where she was,  and our home was her favorite dance hall.

There were 3 switches on the light plate by the front door of the house we lived in. The first switch was the porch light,the second turned on the foyer light but the third switch was magic.

When that third switch was lifted up. down would come one of the many LP’s stacked high on the stereo and, by the time, you’ve taken a few steps. the rich voice of Freddy Fender,Nat King Cole, Kenny Rogers, Ray Price or Barbara Mandrell would fill the house, loud and clear.

  Sometime it would be gospel, or Big Band or holiday music but most of the time, it was country-western.

And there she would be, barefoot and in a gown, standing in the kitchen, putting a pot of stew on for dinner while frying bacon for breakfast as the biscuits baked and she’ll be singing along -because she knew all the words by heart-tapping her spatula and dancing as she went as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

Maybe that’s why it’s only natural for me to find myself dancing up to meet a client, or twirling around during a session unbeknownst to the person laying facedown on my table. 

.Maybe that’s one reason that I don’t feel like I truly know someone until I’ve danced with them. 

Maybe that’s why I dance in the aisles with my little Riven and watch her shake and shimmy as her eyes twinkle with that same mischievous delight. 

Maybe that’s why October is the most bittersweet months of all and why I find myself hiding away, seeking some peace and quiet so that I can hear my Mema’s words again.

“Don’t give a hoot.”

“Let them watch.”

“I just love this.”

“Come on and dance.”

Maybe that’s what life is all about….not giving a hoot about what anyone else thinks, letting others watch as you do whatever you love to do and. saying ‘I love this’ every chance you get.
After all, someday you will be way up yonder in glory and Mema just might grab you by the hand,with a twinkle in her eyes and say, “I just love this song..come on….let’s dance!”

For you, my beloved Mema..

i love you with both hands and I’ll dance…..every single chance I get.

4 37 p.m. 10-9-17

Jeanna’ Mead

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Grace of God

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A Real Miracle

It’s no secret-not any more-that I’m hearing impaired.
People usually figure it out pretty quickly on their own but I’ve changed my approach to my deafness,and instead of hiding it and hoping no-one discovers,
I’ve finally begin to just tell people before they assume the worst; that I’m either ignoring them,being rude,or just plain dumb.

Over the years I’ve gotten
used to the questions, like “Where are you from? I’m trying to place your accent ” and “How can you love music and dancing so much?”  and “Can you hear ANYTHING??”
I’m used to it and I don’t mind explaining to others and enlightening them about my deafness now.
If someone asks me, I’m always willing to answer questions,but there’s a few things that just rub me wrong.

Please don’t look at me with pity and exclaim, “I’m so sorry ” when I tell you that I can’t hear and,please, for goodness sakes, don’t begin to define me by my hearing loss.

My hearing loss isn’t something to be pitied,it’s actually one of my greatest gifts.

You see,my hearing loss brings out the truth in people rather quickly.
There’s so much that one can learn about others and about yourself when you can’t hear as well as most people can.

I notice everything,even subtle mannerisms,and shifts in energy  because I rely on using total communication-using the limited hearing I do have,reading lips and body
language, while looking deeply into the eyes of whoever I’m engaged in conversation with. I get to sit close to people, I get to hold eye contact and I really focus on who I’m with.

I’m not just “hearing impaired”, I’m a woman that wants to understand and be understood; it’s that pure and simple,and that complicated and overwhelming.

I’m much more than what I’m not, and when people say “I’m so sorry” upon hearing that I’m deaf, I gently tell them “don’t be sorry for me,be sorry for those that hear but don’t listen.”

A few weeks ago,a new client came in for a massage and read my AVA article that was on the table. After talking a few minutes,he asked me if he could pray for my hearing to be restored.
I took his hands in both of mine and said,”You can pray for me,but please listen to this story first,then pray as you see fit.”

My Aunt Dorothy was a feisty woman who had been blind since she was a toddler.
One night she went to a tent revival and the preacher man,upon realizing there was a blind woman in the crowd,came down and begin to pray loudly over her,laying his hands on her eyes, and asking God to restore her vision.
She let him pray and then,she said something that has stayed in my mind all these years.
“You pray for my eyes to see,when what I need prayer for is my heart. I can be bitter and mean,hurtful and unforgiving, and that’s what really needs prayer. I don’t need to see things,I need to be a better woman,I need to be kind,to be patient,to be more loving.  When I die,the first thing I’ll see is the face of my Saviour, Jesus Christ.
I don’t need to see this world, I need to LOVE these people in this world.”
Then with a loud laugh,she added “But if you can make these glass eyes see,that would REALLY be a miracle!”

“Really be a miracle.”

Please, pause and ponder this for a moment. What would really be a miracle?

Sometimes we see a disability and that’s all we see, we don’t look deep enough to realize what else is there. We see a wheelchair,
instead of a person; we notice the crutches,and don’t look at the beautiful blue eyes; we see the elderly man take cautious steps, without realizing that long ago,he fought for our freedom.  We see the child with Downs Syndrome, and overlook the child’s pure joy of life. We see deaf people signing,and only think about what they don’t hear instead of marveling at the beautiful language and culture they share. We see the white cane, and act as if the person is invisible.

Like the preacher man,the strangers at Taco Cabana-who approached me and best friend years ago to ask if they could pray for my hearing- and my client, so many people pray for what they perceive needs a miracle. It’s human nature to want to “fix things” and to change things to what we think is “normal” or “better”.

We look,but we don’t see and we hear,but we don’t listen. We assume too much,and know far too little. 

The real miracle, I believe, would be for us to really look beyond the surface,behind the disabilities,the disfigurement,
the differences and see the abilities,the beauty,the uniqueness of each person.

We need to pray that our hearts will overflow with compassion, that we can see the goodness in the world,and hear the sound of love.

We need a real miracle and it’s within each of us to make it happen.

My client,after hearing the story of Aunt Dorothy, prayed for a “real miracle” for us both to have the heart to forgive and to love. He understood right away that my deafness wasn’t what a problem to be fixed,but a unique part of who I am.

So, I give this story over to you and urge you to listen with your eyes,to hear with your heart,to touch with kindness,to see with clarity and to create a ripple effect of miracles right now.

It would really,after all,be a REAL miracle.

Feel with both hands, Jeanna’

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Cast Your Stone

There’s a story in scripture that even those that don’t believe in Jesus know.
The book of John tells that a crowd gathered around a woman who had been accused of adultery and demanded that she be stoned,according to a set of rules and regulations.
Jesus, however,said these powerful,profound words-“Whichever one of you is without sin,cast your stone.”

Of course,no one did because no one is without sin but I can just imagine the people walking away, thinking to themselves,perhaps huddling in small groups and whispering,”Sure, I sin, but my sins aren’t as bad as hers .” or justifying it by “well, it’s different in my case; I’m nothing like that woman!”

I know,because I’ve been there on both sides.
I’ve had well meaning “Christian” people accuse me of having an inappropriate relationship with another man and I’ve been quick to pass the same exact judgment on another woman.

I’ve felt the sting of being on the receiving end of verbal stones that were etched with words of shame, anger, bitterness,hatred, judgment,condemnation,and jealously.
Those stones lead me to build up a big wall,shielding my heart from others. It was my way of protecting myself but it also, unintentionally,created a barrier that isolated me and kept me from forming close,intimate relationships.
I hid behind my stone wall, barely even letting  those closest to me inside. I even pushed God out of my life because,after all,wasn’t it all His people, the Christian- God believing,church going people that had placed me in the situation?

For years, I worn this invisible “scarlet letter,” and I also pulled on a mask,pretending not to care, ignoring the loneliness,and trying hard to convince myself that it really didn’t matter.

It did,though,and I was only fooling myself. I wasn’t fooling God and He saw right through me and He gently began to soften my heart and to teach me  something else.

“Cast your stone,” He said, but rather than the hurling stones at someone like they did in the past, with strict rules and regulations, engraved with condemnation and judgement, I want you to cast stones as if upon water and create a ripple effect.
I heard His voice,whispering softly yet persuasively, filling me with words of life to mark on the stones.

Love. Joy. Tenderness. Kindness. Encouragement. Peace.Mercy.Honor.Clarity.Abundance.Compassion. Hope. Grace. Strength.Patience. Understanding.Courage. Acceptance.Generosity. Forgiveness.Faith.Beloved.
Desired. Cherished.

All these beautiful, affirming words that could be used as stepping stones….laid out one by one by one to create a pathway-a mosaics of inspirational truths- showing others what God’s love is really all about.

So yesterday,my husband and I bought a huge bag of black polished river stones and a few white Sharpie markers and began to write the words we had been given along with the name of our new website, http://www.castyourstone.com.

Instead of hurling stones with force,we will place the stones gently into the hands of people and let the ripple effect take place. We may leave stones where they can be found,and we might place a stone in unexpected places,but I know this much for certain.

It may seem random to us and it may not make sense at the time,but God has a plan and purpose for each and every thing that happens in our lives.

I know that everything I have experienced has taught me to be slow to judge,and quick to forgive. I can see how some relationships that others would think the worst of have actually been pivotal, life-changing ones.
I know that I’m the woman I am now because of all the relationships-the good and the not so good-that have shaped and taught me.

Sometimes the very things that break us,also brings us to where we are supposed to be.

Love works that way-God works that way-and it’s absolutely amazing to recognize how things fall into place. I don’t regret a single thing because I’ve learned so much about my capacity to love and God’s incredible attention to detail.using all things to work together for good.

I have received the beautiful stones of mercy and grace,of love and clarity  and,in turn, I’ve chosen to give back the same stones. I’ve offered forgiveness and found my own freedom, I’ve let go of anger and received peace, Instead of holding grudges,I hold hands and I feel the love of God  overflowing from every part of my life.

It really is true that we should never judge anyone because they sin differently than we do.
Rather than.pointing fingers.we should offer a hand….we should cast a stone.
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This creates a ripple effect. A simple stone,a single word,an assuring touch can be the very beginning and it can go on and on,expanding and overflowing, making a tremendous impact and changing the world.

Whosoever is with sin -that’s each and every one of us- mcast your stone and create a ripple effect of love. <a href="http://castyourstone.com&quot;
Feel with both hands, Jeanna'