Discovering the Super Hero Within and Lending A Helping Hand To Others

Happy “Whatever-Day-You-May-Be-Reading-This” and Welcome Back!

A friend stopped by to visit yesterday. That in itself is not so unusual given the ‘usually’ cordial fella that I am. But as so often happens, caught up in the moment and merriment as I was, my unstoppable sense of hospitality outpaced my brain. Not thinking, I invited my friend to stay for dinner.

Normally, that would not be an issue at all, but right now my cupboard and supply of readily-at-hand food items with which to prepare a bonafide dinner are very low, having not grocery shopped in quite a while.

A Chicken Little-Esque and embarrassing feeling of panic set in when my rational thinking left brain caught up with what my good-intentioned right brain had proffered, the dinner invitation still hanging in the air as it was. I had painted myself into the proverbial corner, as the old saying goes. Now, what to do? I was suddenly caught up in a crisis (admittedly a small one) of my own making.

But, not to fear, however, for in a moment my unquenchable spirit of adventure and determination to rise to any challenge kicked in. I began to look about and survey those items which were on hand, determined to rise to the occasion.

Spying a baguette sitting on the counter, I went in search of ingredients to whip up some French Bread Pizza halves on the spot. Knowing my friend as I do, I also knew that pizza of any kind would be received as an acceptable offering at any time of day.

I also knew for a fact though, that I did not have any true pizza sauce or ingredients with which to make a real pizza, but did find a jar of Prego Sausage & Garlic pasta sauce to use in place of a traditional pizza sauce. The pasta sauce was not exactly hiding in the back of a mostly empty cupboard and was easy to spot.

In the refrigerator, I spied what was left of an open bag of Shredded Italian Six Cheese Blend, and then found the remains of a length of Hickory Smoked Summer Sausage. Fetching a Red Onion, Butter, Garlic Powder, Oregano, Red Pepper Flakes, and Parmesan, I formulated a plan.

I set to work simmering the pasta sauce for a few minutes in order to reduce it just a bit.  Slicing the baguettes in half lengthwise, I proceeded to slice the onion into thin slices and then separate into individual rings. Taking the summer sausage in hand next, I was able to slice a dozen thin rounds from the bit that was left and set them aside. I then spread butter on each of the four opened baguette halves. Sprinkling each half with a good dash of garlic powder and just a smidgeon of kosher salt for flavor, I placed them in the toaster oven for 2 ½ minutes to give the baguette halves a head start, firming and crisping them up a bit before spreading the sauce over them so they would not be so “bready”.

Removing the lightly-toasted baguette halves from the toaster oven, I covered each with the reduced pasta sauce and a layer of sprinkled parmesan cheese, followed in turn with the shredded cheese, onions, sausage slices, and a dash of sprinkled oregano and red pepper flakes. Back into the toaster oven they went. The smell of baking onions mixed with the sausage and spices filled my apartment.

What emerged from the oven five minutes later was so amazing I was unable to snap any photos before they disappeared. “Hold on for a minute while I snap a few photos,” I asked. My friend would have none of that and dove right in. An impromptu Pizza Party dinner success!

Admittedly, the combination of ingredients on the pizza loaf halves would not be attractive to everyone. In truth, I was fortunate my friend also liked onions and summer sausage, the items I did have on hand. But that’s not really the point.

Oftentimes in life, we are presented with challenges or situations for which we do not feel prepared. Small and large. The outcome and what happens next is in good part determined by how we then proceed – whether we choose to react in a negative manner, feeling depressed, fearful, bitter, or angry; or to respond with confidence and a sense of self-reliance in a positive way.

Do we crumble under the sudden pressure like an empty soda can underfoot, or do we rise to the challenge and do the best we can with it? Whatever “it” might be.

In my case, it was simply a premature dinner invitation offered without anything on hand with which to prepare a real dinner. Not a real “biggie” in terms of many of the challenges we face in life, but still somewhat of a  “react, panic, and risk embarrassment” or a “respond and figure it out” type situation. For me, I live in what I refer to as the “Magical Land of Make Do, Figure It Out, and Get By.”

What challenges might you be faced with today? Situations occur for which we feel we are unprepared or not yet ready in the moment. Certainly, not everything always goes according to plan or as we have scripted it. That’s just part of life, isn’t it?

Last week I learned of yet another, unexpected surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in my dominant right shoulder in a few weeks. Torn just about clear-thru the MRI said. Surgery number “Eleven” for those who keep count. To borrow a trite expression – “It is what it is.”

My feeling anxious or bitter about going thru yet another surgery and extended one-handed rehab period following recent surgery on both hands this past June would do nothing to change the fact that I have a severe, perforated rotator cuff tear in my dominant right arm and shoulder, and that I may need a complete left shoulder replacement at some point in the future, as well. I am looking at this as more motivation to finish getting my new apartment in order beforehand, followed by an opportunity for a few weeks of quiet reading, study, and research while rehabbing to benefit my writing and work both here on my Writing Pages and in my Little Red Bear adventure stories.

The next time you may feel caught off-guard or confronted with an unexpected challenge, I urge you to set fear, doubts, and worries to the wayside, and instead gather your courage and respond in a positive way. Look at it as a challenge. Maybe take a cue from the approach of Mr. Hyde –

“Trouble? I call it sport.”

 – Mr. Hyde, “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”

Do not give in to anger, bitterness, worries, doubts, and fears. However bothersome or distressing, try to view the situation as an opportunity to be creative, stretch your abilities, and grow. Have fun with it if you can.

However the issue may resolve in the end, you will have emerged stronger and more confident on the other side for having done so, and more prepared to deal with the next surprise life may have in store. Have faith in yourself and you will be surprised just how much you can do and accomplish when you set worries to the side, put your mind to it, take action, and put your best, positive foot forward.

You may even tap into some inner, previously undiscovered Super Powers you weren’t even aware of in the process. I have faith in you. Do you?

Along the same lines, if you see a friend perhaps suddenly confronted with an unexpected challenge or calamity in their life, what words of encouragement or support could you offer to help them thru it?

Perhaps, just maybe, what your friend is going thru could also be a call and another opportunity for you to step up. Putting your hands on a friend’s problems can remove the focus on yours for a while. At those times when we reach out to help another with their problems, it seems that our own issues and challenges frequently diminish in size. When we help another, we end up helping ourselves, as well.

We are all in this together, and none of us are prepared or has all of the answers all of the time. Everyone can benefit from a friendly helping hand and words of encouragement now and then. The beastly thing that may loom very large and intimidating when finding oneself standing all alone in front of it, is not quite so menacing when standing side by side with a friend.

Sometimes we all could use a helping hand and are in need of a friend. Sometimes, we ourselves can be that helping hand and friend for another.

Thanks always for stopping by to visit. A smile and kind words have the power to better someone’s day and maybe even turn a whole life around. Will you share your smile and a kind word or gesture with someone today?

Until next time — Best Wishes and Blessings!  – Jim  (and Red!)

If you enjoyed this piece, you may also like — “I Will Greet This Day With Love In My Heart”  and  Wishing You Deep Peace, Love, Happiness, and Joy –  And A Very Good Day! 

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“You open your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” — Psalm 145:16

                “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.”                 — Albert Camus 

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    “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” — Charles Dickens

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                      No matter what kind of challenges or difficulties or painful situations you go through in your life, we all have something deep within us that we can reach down and find the inner strength to get through them.” — Alana Stewart


In and Out — A Time for Everything

Following a restless, topsy-turvy, mostly sleepless night earlier in the week, I developed a headache seemingly out of nowhere the next afternoon. By evening my insides were so stormy that venturing more than ten feet from the bathroom was much too risky a trip to venture out on.

After a much better rest the following night, I woke the next morning feeling refreshed, perky, and noticeably better, with creative writing ideas flowing so fast I struggled to jot them all down, not to forget. My writing muse and brain racing to make up for lost time.

Then in my morning reading, I opened to the 29th verse of the Tao Te Ching from Lao Tzu over 2,500 years ago as relayed by Dr. Wayne Dyer, and was reminded that just as we must first breathe in to then breathe out, everything has a time, in a natural order.

” Everything under heaven is a sacred vessel and cannot be controlled.

Trying to control leads to ruin. Trying to grasp, we lose.

Allow your life to unfold naturally.

Know that it too is a vessel of perfection.

Just as you breathe in and breathe out, there is a time for being ahead and a time for being behind;

A time for being in motion and a time for being at rest;

A time for being vigorous and a time for being exhausted;

A time for being safe and a time for being in danger.”

We must experience feeling behind in order to later appreciate being ahead. It is the natural way of things.  I more fully appreciated how wonderful and creative I felt that morning, after experiencing the disorders of the day before. And such is life.

When confronted with challenges and faced with upheavals in life, I  recall what my Mother used to always say at such times — “This too, shall pass.”

All of the times when we have experienced the discomfort of sadness, betrayal, abuse, disappointment, fear, frustration, anxiety, illness, or being incomplete somehow; later led to our appreciation of feeling well, whole, safe, protected, comforted, and loved.

The verse from Lao Tzu reminded me of the same sentiment echoed in the Bible, from Ecclesiastes 3:1 —

“To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

From the wisdom of the ages, there is a time for everything, including what we are experiencing in each of our lives today.  It is good to keep that in mind as we go thru the inevitable ups-and-downs of life, that every moment is proceeding and in accordance with the natural order and way of things. Would we appreciate a glass of water so much had we never been thirsty? We delight coming in to the warmth of the fireplace after shoveling heaps of snow in the howling winds of winter.

I went to bed sick and woke up well, and felt amazingly wonderful in comparison. If things are not the rosiest at this moment in your life or if you journey down a rough road in the coming year — breathe in, and then breathe out — taking comfort that just as “out” follows “in”, there is a time for all things and every purpose. Every morning births a new day full of hope, potential, and opportunities.

“No matter how desperate the predicament is, I am always very much in earnest about clutching my cane, straightening my derby hat and fixing my tie, even though I have just landed on my head. Nothing                     is permanent in this wicked world — not even our troubles.”                         – Charlie Chaplin

This morning I am thankful this piece was typed yesterday and only needing to be published today. Living with arthritis and a progressively degenerative disk and joint disease, I woke up this morning unable to close or move my left hand. But it will be better tomorrow. Or the next day. Or next week. That’s how it goes. In the meantime, I will give it a rest, read, and focus on activities not requiring Lefty’s participation for the time being. Righty just added an old-fashioned, one-fingered paragraph all on his own.

It is difficult many times to try to stay positive and keep the faith, believing that all is proceeding in natural order when we find ourselves down on scraped knees and elbows from falling yet again, but if we can just remember to look up we will see the road still open and laid out before us. So we summon our courage, rise, and carry on once again, trusting there is a time for everything and that if we stay on the journey and task ahead, this too will pass and a new day dawn tomorrow.

Thanks for visiting with us today!  A smile or kind gesture can turn someone’s day or entire life around. As Maya Angelou urged — “Be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud today!”  And be the change you wish to see in the world. — Jim  (and Red!)

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”  ― John Bunyan

“The goal of life is living in agreement with nature.” – Zeno of Citium, Greek philosopher

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~ About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends ~

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” — Matsuo Basho

“The true essence of humankind is Kindness . . .  to have a good heart.” – Dalai Lama

This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today. Patrons help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as an ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes.

“Every moment is a fresh beginning.” – T. S. Eliot