Posted in Lore

And This Too Shall Pass

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Everything and everyone are temporary.  Some things are temporary longer, but never permanent.  The oldest thing you can think of will someday be as gone and forgotten as tomorrow’s Top 40.  Is this too deep for a Sunday morning?  I apologize.  I’m in a melancholy mood.

How, you ask, is this woebegone thinking going to dig me out of the doldrums?  When I mention my thoughts on this out loud, at least one person will eventually tell me I’m depressing.  I understand.  Life is art.  Your perspective depends on where you are standing.   Lack of permanence is comforting or unnerving depending on your perspective.

Abraham Lincoln, in an address to the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, once said,

“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!”

Sometimes we control how long something will be temporary.  We can take action; re-cut a bad haircut, remove a tattoo.  We can take a break or even quit a job or relationship.  I prefer not to stay in an unacceptable situation if it shows no sign of change.  I left an employer over a decade ago, because I needed different hours.  I asked if there was any way to change my shift, and they said no.  It was a fine place to work, but it just didn’t fit my family needs.  Several people mentioned how they should leave too, for various reasons, but mostly because they hated it there.

Upon handing in my two-week notice, a couple of managers approached me.  They wanted me to stay.  They would have offered me different hours.  They would have trained me in different areas.  They really had high hopes for me.  Would I consider staying?  “Sorry,” I said.  “I already have another job.”  Perhaps if they had known I was so very temporary, they have valued me more from the onset.

When I go back to that place, I still see a couple of those people who said they wanted to leave.  If you wait for change to fall in your lap, you might have to wait a long time.  After a while you forget you have a choice.  Time flies when you’re having fun, but disappears forever when you’re not.

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When things are really bad, I mean really bad, caring friends will ask, “Are you okay?”  To which I reply, “I’m fine.”  When they ask if I’m sure, I say, “What else am I going to be?”  I suppose the obvious answer to that is “not fine.”  But as long as I’m conscious and breathing, I make the choice to be fine.  The rest is temporary.

In my car this morning, Alanis Morissette was singing through the stereo.

I’m broke but I’m happy
I’m poor but I’m kind
I’m short but I’m healthy, yeah
I’m high but I’m grounded
I’m sane but I’m overwhelmed
I’m lost but I’m hopeful baby
What it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be fine fine fine

She sings of the yin and yang of life.  The fact that I gravitate toward the yang when the yin of life weighs me down is a healthy thing.  I write.  I walk.  I get out of the house.  I look for beauty in the world.  I find beauty within myself.  I know both light and dark are temporary, and find delight and grief in their brevity.

So, yeah.  I’m a little introspective and quiet this morning.  And a little melancholy.

And this too shall pass.

Peace . . .

Posted in Family

Go Into the World . . .

UntitledThere is a quilt draped across the back of my desk chair.  It’s just a small lap quilt, the kind I remember from nursing homes.  The fabrics are old-fashioned prints, woven from cotton.  The simple squares are sewn together in random sequence.  The layers are tied with yarn at the corners of the pieces.  I don’t even know who made it.

It is, by all standards, a quilt of no distinction at all.

Given to the University of Minnesota by a quilting group, it was made to keep oncology patients warm.  Diminishing weight and the treatments they endure leave cancer patients extremely cold all the time.

UntitledWhen I first saw the quilt, my father sat at the kitchen table, where all memories of my father lead.  He wore a thin grey goose-down jacket.  The stocking cap Mother knitted sat high on his head.  The quilt lay across his lap and over his slippered feet.

The strong, firm man of my childhood was now frail, thin, and weak.  His face produced a genuine smile that visually drained precious energy from his body.  I noticed the quilt immediately.

“Where did you get this?”

I hugged him then walked over to do the same to my mother.  She explained where he received the quilt, and we all agreed how very nice it was.

UntitledAs the weeks progressed, my father was never without his quilt.  And now, as I look at it these twenty-four years later, I imagine it wise and gentle.  The threads woven in purpose.  The pieces cut with precision.  Love somehow supernaturally layered between patchwork and batting and backing.

For decades the quilt sat neatly folded on my bedroom shelves as a reminder of the care my father received during his last months from so many faceless angels.  It is a steadfast message that we just never know when the good we do will affect the lives of others.

Recently I brought the quilt from its place on the shelf and rested it on the back of my chair.  When the temperature dips down, as it can in Minnesota, the quilt comes out to lay across my lap and over my slippered feet.  It reminds me, as I work diligently at my job, to do well.  But more importantly, it reminds me how lucky I am to be in a position where I can do good.

Untitled“Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.”

― Minor Myers

Peace . . .

Posted in Lore

A Sharp Turn in Life

"Always fasten safety belt" - NARA -...
“Always fasten safety belt” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was a kid, we never buckled up.  The cars were big, and the seats were hard and flat.  If the driver took a sharp turn, we’d slide across the back seat until we pressed up against another passenger and flattened them to the door.  Cloverleaf turns were the best because they went on forever, and you just couldn’t right yourself.

Sometimes life is like that.  I’ve taken a big turn, and I’m giggling.  It’s exciting and fun, but I’m pressed up against the side of the car and I can’t seem to right myself.  In the chaos, my purse tipped over and all my belongings are strewn across the floor.

If you’re not a woman or don’t carry a purse, you have no idea what kind of catastrophe it is to have it empty on the floor of a car.  There are cosmetics, credit cards, pills, scraps of paper, keys, and candy that will melt if lost and forgotten under the seat.  This is how my life feels.  It is an upside down purse on the bottom of a car, careening around a cloverleaf off of Interstate 94.  And I’m smooshed against the window giggling so hard I’m in danger of peeing my pants.

I know you were wondering why I hadn’t posted in a while . . .  You were, right?

The car is finally starting to come out of its turn and I’m thinking about how to put my purse back together without stepping on any of it first.  I chose to write here, because it seems to clear my head.  It’s some type of conscious meditation, connecting brain fibers, inducing deep breath.  It feels familiar, like soil under bare feet.

I see that there are two ways to go with this.  I can pick up the most important things first — the credit cards and pills — or toss the scraps of meaningless papers out the window.

No, I don’t litter in real life.  This is all metaphorically speaking.  Try to stay with me, here.

Isn’t there some saying about swallowing your biggest frog first?  Yuck.  It reminds me of a nightmare I once had.  I’m going to pick up my credit cards and pills first, which will make the rest seem like tadpoles.  Gross.

So here’s the plan.  It’s not etched in stone, but the internet is close.

  1. Pick up the credit cards.  I’m going to pay my bills before I forget them and they become overdue.  While I’m doing that, I can check my bank balances.  I’ll put all the tax documents in one obvious annoying place.
  2. Chase down the pills.  Take a walk.  It’s a beautiful day — the sun is shining and the dog is eager.  The fresh air is the medicine I need to complete the rest.
  3. Put the cosmetics back in the case.  Clean myself up — get dressed, from my makeup to my shoes, to gear up for the rest of the day.
  4. Throw out the scraps of paper.  Clutter is caving in on me.  I still have Christmas stuff out for God’s sake!  I’m going to pick up, tidy up, clear out, and throw away!

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  5. Pick up my pocket calendar.  I’m pretty sure my son’s birthday was this week.  What was it he requested?  Vegetarian lasagna . . .
  6. Find my keys.  There are errands to run.  Groceries need buying — soy sausage, noodles, sauce, maybe cupcakes . . .
  7. Fish out that bit of chocolate under the seat.  Lastly, I’m going to treat myself.  Maybe I’ll watch a movie with popcorn or find a pair of shoes at the mall.

Another fun thing I remember about the old bench seats is a sharp turn followed by one in the other direction.  I never knew if Mom or Dad did it just to hear us laugh, but sliding from one side of the car to the other was a thrill I will never forget.

One best left to memory, and not encountered in metaphor!

Nowadays we have seat belts, helmets, shin guards, face masks, and anti-lock brakes meant to suck the fun out of everything keep us safe and extend our lives.  When they come up with one for the sharp turns in life, let me know, will ya?

Peace . . .

Posted in Lore

It Is What It is . . . Unless . . .

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Wikipedia explains,

 

It Is What It Is’ is an idiomatic phrase, indicating the immutable nature of an object or circumstance.

 

 

Urban Dictionary is more explicit.

 

Used often in the business world, this incredibly versatile phrase can be literally translated as “fuck it.”
‘The client changed the deadline to today? Well, it is what it is.’

 

Kacey Musgraves sings,

 

Maybe I love you,
Maybe I’m just kind of bored,
It is what it is
Till it ain’t,
Anymore”

 

I’d like to live just one day without hearing this hopeless statement.  The expression is for those who give up; for those who don’t care.  I hate it when this one creeps into my language.  Upon hearing the words leave my lips, I flinch — a mechanical reaction to a thoughtless expression spoken in defeat.

 

Have we become so ineffective at engaging change in our lives or the lives of those around us that we throw up our hands at the first sign of adversity?  Perhaps we have forgotten that mistakes are forgiven.  How much easier it is to say that fate has intervened again.  We accept no responsibility.  We are not accountable.  No fault, no foul.  It is what it is.

 

Instead, ask yourself, “Is it really?”

 

  • “The bill came to $275.  It is what it is.”  Maybe you were mis-charged.  Maybe you can get it cheaper elsewhere.  Maybe you can barter, or work out a payment plan.  Maybe everything just costs a lot of money and you don’t have any, but be accountable.  Saying ‘it is what it is’ releases you from any blame or action plan.
  • “My boss chewed my ass.  It is what it is.”  Maybe you deserved it.  Maybe you deserve a different boss, or job, or work environment.  Maybe you don’t get paid enough to deal with that kind of stress.  Maybe you just aren’t capable of the job you’re in.  Keep your resume fresh.  Keep networking.  Keep your reputation clean.  Talk to your boss and work it out, or get yourself out of there.
  • “The customer wants what?  It is what it is.”  Maybe the customer’s expectations are unreasonable.  Maybe this is the last straw for him.  Maybe the customer just doesn’t understand the limitations of his request.  One thing is for sure.  What the customer doesn’t need to hear is that “it is what it is.”
  • “It’s raining on my parade.  It is what it is.”  Maybe the weather is going to change for the better.  Maybe the rain will keep the crowds down, and you will enjoy the parade even more.  Maybe it isn’t even all about you.  Maybe the farmers could use the rain.  But if the sun decides to come out, you are going to look awfully silly sitting there with that big ol’ pout on your mug.
  • “My husband made me feel like crap.  It is what it is.”  Maybe your spouse had no intention of making you feel bad.  Maybe he would be appalled to find out he hurt you.  Maybe he even meant that remark as an insult, but are you really going to let it ferment inside you like that?  Grow up and talk it over like a big girl.  You may find your relationship is better than it ever has been.  Honesty has a way of doing that.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t embrace a good old-fashioned depression now and then.  The last thing I want when I’m feeling down is for someone to make me feel guilty about being sad.  Get out a full box of Keelnex® and have at it!  Then put on your big person pants and go back to what you do best.

 

Plan your escape.  Win over the customer.  Kiss your boss’s backside.  Love your spouse.  Fix the problem.  Prevent it from happening again.  Say you’re sorry.  Do something that keeps you true to YOU.  Make yourself proud.

 

“It is what it is” never did anything but keep things stagnant.

 

Peace . . .

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Great Outdoors, Weekly Photo Challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change Again

After spending days thinking I had nothing to post on the subject of change, I ended up not being able to decide which to post.  One might say I kept changing my mind!  And so here is my second installment of the Weekly Photo Challenge: Change.

If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.
~~Gail Sheehy

An yet another couple interpretation I love:

My Blog with Pretty Pictures
everything has a place

Posted in Great Outdoors, Weekly Photo Challenge

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

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Nothing is permanent but change.
~~Heraclitus

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change / The Daily Post

Some of my other favorite interpretations:

inspirationnet
Season for Same Old Change / Fly for Icarus
The Patient Gardener’s Weblog
Chris’ Sideline Pics
What a Difference a Tide Makes / mybeautifulthings
High Street Photo x 100
bob’s wife (Very tender)
Francine In Retirement
A Meditative Journey with Saldage
amoralegria
What Is It?!?
Last Call / Beyond the Brush
Jude’s Photography