Because What’s the Alternative?

(Originally published in July 2013.)

“The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.”
– Dr. Kent M. Keith, the Paradoxical Commandments

Consciousness of right-doing brings its own reward; but not amid the smoke of battle is merit seen and appreciated by lookers-on… If your endeavors are beset by fearful odds, and you receive no present reward, go not back to error, nor become a sluggard in the race. When the smoke of battle clears away, you will discern the good you have done, and receive according to your deserving.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

It sure appears sometimes that injustice, bigotry, hatred, and inequality are winning the battle, doesn’t it? We crave justice. We yearn for equity and fair play. But we don’t always seem to find those things in the here and now. We might be tempted to feel discouraged and frustrated about the state of our world. We might be tempted to lose hope. We might even be tempted to just give up. But… well, if we just give up – what’s the alternative? To STOP trying to do good? To choose to be  unkind? To choose to be dishonest? To deliberately and consciously choose to feel no joy? Those do not feel like healthy options to me.

The other day I decided to conduct a little experiment: I decided to make a bad day for myself.  I had no idea how to go about this, really. I figured that making a bad day for myself would probably start with a bad attitude, though, right? About half an hour into my experiment I made the mistake of calling my mom. Within a minute she had me cracking up.  So. Yeah.  So much for my little experiment.  After my inauspicious beginning, it didn’t get much worse, either. My experiment was a spectacular failure. I learned something from it, though. I learned that I’d have to work really hard to make a bad day for myself.  And I faced the fact that I’m simply too lazy to have much success with that kind of thing.

Call me a naïve idealist, but I believe that good overcomes evil. I believe Love overcomes hate. I believe that wisdom overcomes ignorance. I believe Truth overcomes dishonesty. Always.  I believe what Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Though error hides behind a lie and excuses guilt, error cannot forever be concealed. Truth, through her eternal laws, unveils error.”

-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Note to Self: This Will Pass

Notes to self:
This will pass. You’ve lived long enough to know that. Ride on top of the wave and let it take you to the other side.

Think of all the sunsets and sunrises and new friends you haven’t met, yet, still ahead of you.

Breathe in. Respiration. Inspiration. Breathe out.

Recognize what is truly you. And recognize what is absolutely not. Let go of the false you. You don’t have to waste time tending to it or fretting about it or trying to fix it. Just unwrap yourself from it and throw it in the dumpster. It’s not part of you and never was.

Recognize you can be happy even when you’re sad.

You’re not here for you. You’re here for something greater than you. As long as you can love you have a reason to be here.

Nothing can ever separate you from Love. Nothing can separate you from your joy.

Today is full of magic. Look for it. Find it. Be grateful for it.
Amen.

Celebrating You on This Inauguration Day

My dear friends –

We’re still here! We’ve lived through yesterday and made it to today and that has been no small feat.

On this Inauguration Day I celebrate you – each and every beautiful one of you! I celebrate your compassion, courage, and commitment to kindness. I celebrate your honesty, your decency, your charity. I celebrate your moral strength and integrity. I celebrate that you stand for justice; kneel for equality and fairness; and dance for the joy that no one can steal from you. You have transformed the world. You have made it a better place. You are a wonder.

A new day is dawning. Go out there and work your magic, my friends.
Karen

(Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

May: Sunrise over Skagit County, WA

Glimmers of Hope

I’m searching for glimmers of hope these days – those “thousand points of light” a former president was always talking about. And I’m seeing some! I thought I’d take a moment to share some of the glimmers I’ve seen…

Patriots’ Bill Belichick rejects Trump’s Congressional Medal of Freedom
Capitol police officer Eugene Goodman hailed as a hero
Transcript of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s powerful speech
Rep. Andy Kim cleaning up at midnight after the riots
Former Army Ranger Rep. Jason Crow comforts colleague and helps others put on gas masks
James Corden gives us hope
Lawmakers returned from their hours under siege to certify Joe Biden as the next president

“…Now, with the past few days, friends from all over the world have been calling and calling and calling me. Calling me distraught and worried about us as a nation. One woman was in tears about America, wonderful tears of idealism about what America should be. Those tears should remind us of what America means to the world. Now I’ve told everyone who has called that, as heartbreaking as all this is, America will come back from these dark days and shine our light once again…”
-Arnold Schwarzenegger

“Recently, I was offered the opportunity to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which I was flattered by out of respect for what the honor represents and admiration for prior recipients. Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award. Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy. I know I also represent my family and the New England Patriots team. One of the most rewarding things in my professional career took place in 2020 when, through the great leadership within our team, conversations about social justice, equality and human rights moved to the forefront and became actions. Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”
-Bill Belichick

“… I think if there is one thing that we can have after the last month in this country, it’s hope. You know, as an outsider growing up in England, I used to look to America as this beacon of light and possibility. A place where anything can happen, a place where you’d be lucky to work. A place where many people that I knew used to fantasize about living here. A place that gives an individual more opportunity than they would get elsewhere but cares for their fellow man. Today people across the world would have looked at these pictures from Washington and wondered, ‘what on earth has happened to this great country?’ But I truly believe, and make no mistake, that they know that the America that they admire still exists. They know that the America that so many aspire to will be back. It’s just been hijacked by a lunatic and his crazy army for the last four years…

“…on those same steps, where that mob fought and pushed past police, Joe Biden will be sworn in as the president of the United States.”
-James Corden

“It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”
-Anne Frank

“Progress is the law of God…”
-Mary Baker Eddy

The Last Hymn I Sang to Moz

This is the last hymn I sang to Moz before she passed. This song came into my thoughts, again, this morning when I learned two loved ones in my circle had passed. My love to their families and friends. ❤

(If you make it to the end you’ll see a cameo by the backyard birds.)

(Words to the hymn are by Anna L. Waring, 1823-1910.)

Nothing Is Impossible to Love

So you know, I write my poems and say my spiels and yada yada. And what does any of that mean, really? It’s just words.

So here’s what I need tonight – I need to remind myself that we can’t always see how things will work themselves out – and sometimes salvation comes in completely unexpected ways. I need to remind myself of the amazing things that I’ve witnessed and experienced in the last several years during times when I saw no solution and things looked pretty bleak.

Back in February 2017 I found myself in a position that seemed impossible. Mom was in the hospital with congestive heart failure and Dad soon followed her there with a UTI. They were on two different floors, both struggling to stay alive. I’d visit one and then the other – and then go home, on high alert, waiting for the phone to ring and for someone to drop some new crisis onto me.

Just two days before Mom was going to be released from the hospital into hospice care, a hospital social worker told me that it looked like the assisted living care facility wasn’t going to accept Mom back into her and Dad’s home because of her medical issues. I told the social worker that the assisted living place hadn’t told me anything about this, and surely they would have let me know, right? But she seemed pretty sure about this. So I called the assisted living place on Saturday and was told that Mom was going to be evaluated on Monday morning to determine if she could be brought back to her home. Which. Hospice needed to set things up for her – and they needed to know right then where they should send the equipment. I needed answers immediately. Finally, the assisted living lady told me (under her breath) that if she was me she’d be looking for another place for my mother and father.

I had two days to find a new home for my parents.

In a panic, I started calling other assisted living places and soon realized that the cost of the care my parents were going to need in the facilities would clean out their savings in a couple months. I thought maybe I could use my retirement savings to help them – but that wouldn’t last too long, either. And – honestly, I didn’t want to send my parents to some strange, unfamiliar place that looked like an institution. The thought came to me, then, that I should bring Mom and Dad into my home when they were released from the hospital, and provide the care myself. Scotty agreed to this plan and agreed to help. (I married an incredible man.)

I was still teaching full-time then – so this was going to be tricky.

But I told the social workers at the hospital that I wanted Mom brought to my home when she was released on Monday. She asked me if I was sure – I think she was concerned about me – but I told her yes. It felt right. Hospice got in touch with me – bless them! – and, when Mom was brought by ambulance to our home, a hospice nurse came over and showed Scott and I how to care for her.

I’m so very glad Love guided me to make this decision for Moz. I’m so glad she was brought to our home, surrounded by our love. We spent the whole day telling each other how much we loved each other – and in the wee hours of the morning, while I dozed on the couch next to her hospital bed, she passed. I felt myself brushed by joy and peace and love and woke to find she was gone.

So now I had to find a home for Dad – I’d promised Moz that she didn’t need to worry about him – that we’d make sure he was alright. Originally the plan had been to bring him into our home where he could be with Mom, but now that she was gone our home wouldn’t be the right place for him. He needed the kind of care that someone with skills greater than my own could give him. The social worker asked us if we’d ever looked into adult family homes, and gave us a booklet with names and phone numbers.

When I got home from the hospital after my visit with Dad and the social worker, I went for a walk – at this point I was completely emotionally and mentally stretched – feeling out of my depth and scared about the future – and I needed to find some peace for myself. And suddenly a rainbow arched across the sky – and it felt like a promise! – like Moz was there with me, reassuring me, telling me everything was going to be alright.I began making phone calls to adult family homes – and on the second call I felt I’d found the right place. My brother and I went over to check it out – there were bird feeders in the front yard, and cats and dogs – and I knew the woman who answered the door would have been someone Moz would have felt an instant kinship with. AND the cost of care for Dad would fit his budget!

I felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. We had found Dad’s new home – a place I didn’t even know existed a day before!

We just never know.

NOTHING is impossible to Love. NOTHING. ❤
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Rainbow After the Storm. Bow, WA. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell

You Are Making a Difference

My dear Humoristian hooligans –
I apologize that I haven’t sent you any messages lately. I’m afraid I haven’t been feeling very humoristic. It is a sad truth that sometimes the world needs more than Groucho glasses and whoopee cushions to make everything better.

But when I think of you – my Humoristian friends – out there on the planet, working your magic – it brings me hope. May your indefatigable good will touch the lost and frightened and alone. May your irrepressible joy bring hope to the discouraged and desolate. May your unflappable kindness transform the stingy, stodgy and stuffy. May the bigots and bullies be overcome by your steadfast, unshakable love for your fellow creatures. May you bring courage to the ascared.

You are making a difference.

Karen

Rainbow flower doodle by Karen Molenaar Terrell. Because I figured we could all use a rainbow flower doodle right now, right?

A Universe Alight

Rising above
the cacophony
lifted by Love
the noise wanes
as I gain
height until it ceases
to be and I am in flight
among the stars
a universe alight
with joy and hope
part of me, part of you,
we are part of this
every moment new
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Blue Cosmos (Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

Beyond Earth’s Night

I woke up fretting
worries on my head
Looking up from my bed
and out the window
a lone star shone bright
connecting me to universal
infinite boundless light
reaching out to me
beyond earth’s night.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

illumines the universe

A Message from my Younger Self

Found an old journal from probably 40 years ago as I was sorting through old boxes and bins.

I word-doodled (this was a free write ramble – there was no organization to it): “Even if ten years from now you’re not the same person, this person that you were really existed and lived. Love and trust and beauty aren’t magical – they’re real – and you can take them with you wherever you go. Be happy that you’re alive for this one moment of peace and contentment when you have everything you need.”

I think I needed the voice of my younger self speaking to me today from the before-times.