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 . . .

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Posted in Lore

Reach for the Stars

Our second date was a movie.  When I asked him what we were going to see, he said, “There Will Be Blood.”  I told him that was okay with me, but what was the name of the movie?  I think he thought I was trying to be clever.  I wish that were true.

Bubba is the entertainment manager in our house.  He knows the director, the actors, and which ones are up for awards.  He remembers story-lines and quotes for years.

I can’t tell you what I watched last night.  Which is why I use the Netflix rating system.  When asked, I can bring up the app, search for the movie and tell you what I thought of it.

Netflix has a 5-star rating system.  At first, the five stars seemed limiting.  However, once I attached meaning to the ratings, it was easy.

  • 1 Star:  I’m scarred for life.
  • 2 Stars:  Ninety minutes I will never get back.
  • 3 Stars:  I came.  I watched.  I was entertained.
  • 4 Stars:  I’d recommend it.
  • 5 Stars:  Changed my life.

I’m pretty sure Bubba’s looks like this:

  • 1 Star:  No chase.  No nudity.  No blood.
  • 2 Stars:  Not even the car chase can redeem it.
  • 3 Stars:  Eh.  The actress was hot.  Ending was predictable.
  • 4 Stars:  Explosions AND boobs within the first two minutes.
  • 5 Stars:  Great effects, heart-stopping stunts, 3D-worthy, awesome soundtrack.  Ending practically gave him whiplash.
Cropped screenshot of Marilyn Monroe from the ...
Marilyn Monroe from the trailer for the film Some Like It Hot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And what if we weren’t rating movies, but life?  Is this what it means to “reach for the stars?”  My rating system certainly looks different from Bubba’s, or yours, or Marilyn Monroe’s.  Greatness is relative.  We can no sooner rate someone else’s movie for them than they can ours.  And by movie, I mean life.  My three-star day is forgettable.  A day in Katharine Hepburn’s 3-star shoes would definitely be 5-star worthy on my scale.

Screenshot of Katharine Hepburn from the trail...
Katharine Hepburn from the trailer Woman of the Year (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A 3-star film is the norm.  It’s the average against which greater and lesser movies rate.  So, too, is the 3-star day.

For instance, you know a 5-star day or film before it even begins.  Unless you win the lottery, you’ve planned for it.  It means something.  People are talking about it.  It will probably be the best thing that’s happened to you, but it has a huge disappointment potential.  And for that reason, it is emotional.  You get married.  Your child is born.  You begin the best job ever.  Five stars.  And I bet you can tell me the date.

I wouldn’t want every day to rate five stars.  Think about it.  They’re tiring!  Most 5-star days take a week of recovery.  And if every day were life-changing, my life would be in constant flux.

A 4-star day is probably where you aim most mornings.  It’s attainable.  In most cases, you probably have some control over achieving it, but it takes some planning and preparation.



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Three-star days are where you are going to land most of the time.  It’s the median, after all.  You might have a 5-star breakfast and four minutes after leaving the house you’re caught in a 2-star traffic jam.  At the end of the day, you came, you watched, you were entertained.  Average.

No one plans a two-star day.  I don’t think any director really plans on producing a two-star film, either.  You just run out of resources — time, money, energy — to make it great.  Sometimes it’s a lack of planning, or sometimes there are circumstances beyond your control that bring your rating down.  Hopefully you learn from it, and your next movie will be better.

In a way, 1-star films are as memorable as 5-star.  Again, it is easy to compare a 1-star movie to a 1-star day.  They are usually worse than you imagined they were going to be.  You will never be the same, and thankfully they are rare.  The difference is that a 1-star film becomes a cult classic.  A 1-star day hurts deep in your chest.

Sometimes it’s a matter of realizing your day is falling in the ratings, and to take action.  For me, it’s a simple list.  A walk.  Drinks with a friend.  Giving.  A heart-to-heart with a loved one.  Sometimes just a home repair or accomplishment.  For you maybe it’s more complex, or intense.  Bubba might like a heated debate over gun control or the who is the best Marvel Superhero.

While the list is simple, the action is harder.  On bad days I hide behind my phone, both mentally and physically.   Two-stars are not uncommon these days.  As both director and protagonist, I play key roles.

The trick is to remember where my stars are . . . and then reach.

Peace . . .

This Hubble Space Telescope (HST) image of a d...
This Hubble Space Telescope (HST) image of a dense swarm of stars shows the central region of the globular cluster NGC 2808 and its 3 generations of stars. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Seasonal Sunday

The Days are Short, the Winter Long

DSCN1074The rooftops look like marshmallows, puffs of steam trail off in the bitter cold, the January sky is icy-blue.  The days are short, the winter long.

This is the weekend, and my large south-facing picture window invites the sun in.  During the week, I work in a small windowless office.  Daylight is down 18 stairs, across a warehouse, and through the doors.  It is dark when I wake and barely light when I leave the house.  The sun is low on the horizon for my drive home.

I don’t go to bed any earlier in the winter.  I don’t rise any later.  Yet there are fewer hours in my day.  Maybe it’s the damn Sims game my daughter suggested I download to my phone.  My reality is now based on Life Points and making Woo-Hoo.  I know I need to quit.  But my tiny people would starve and pee all over their little houses.  I just can’t bear the thought.  Or maybe I’ve just lost my mojo.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is something I’ve often thought I might have.  I try to disregard things I think I might have as opposed to those things I know I have.   However, for the last five years that I’ve worked in this fluorescent box I call an office, the winter months are insufferable.  And last November when we turned the clocks back it was like someone flipped a switch.  I’m moody.  I’m overwhelmed.  I’m hungry.  My thoughts are disjointed.  I feel socially awkward.  There might be something to this S.A.D. thing after all.

8611015067_3b448750eeA simple trip to the grocery store is suddenly a major event.  It is unlikely I know how much is in my debit account and even less likely I have a list.  With no plan in place, I buy a few of the usual items from the usual departments.  Vegetables.  Eggs.  Meat.  Yogurt.  Toilet Paper.  I hope against hope I find the ingredients for a meal when I get home.  Thankfully Bubba, engrossed in his everyday rituals, is fairly unaffected.  Fairly.

Bubba:  (At the deli counter)  I’ll take a half pound of turkey breast.
Me:  There’s a coupon.
Deli Man:  You want a pound of turkey breast?
Bubba:  Oh, the coupon is for a pound.  No, just give me a half pound.
Me:  I should get some ham.
Bubba:  (Realizing the guy is measuring out the whole pound anyway)  Hey, just take a handful off the top of that, and it will be fine.
Me:  I don’t want him to measure out whole pound of ham though.
Bubba:  (Thinking he heard me say I didn’t want a half pound)  Just get a quarter.
Me:  Are you telling me or asking me?
Bubba:  Huh?
Me:  Why are you telling me what to do?
Bubba:  Should we just go back outside and start over?

“Poor guy,” you’re thinking.  It’s a good thing we can keep a sense of humor.

And there is anxiety.  Looming bills, stubborn weight-gain,  errors at work, unwritten letters and cards, forgotten birthdays, dusty shelves; all encroach like a tidal wave gaining size and momentum at sea.  Unwritten lists build hour by hour, day by day, filling my murky brain.  Yes, I have been too overwhelmed to write my damned lists!

This is the time that one must go back to one’s best practices.  Shed the heavy winter coats of burden, and pry off the snow-caked boots of guilt.  Go naked against the day.  Figuratively, please . . . hey now, this is a family blog!

  • Drink water:  Flushing toxins, rehydrating the skin, muscles and brain, drinking water is one of the gentlest things you can do to begin healing from anything.
  • Eat mindfully:  Paying attention to what goes into your body is important.  This doesn’t stop with purchasing and preparing your meal.  Really slow down and enjoy your meal purposefully.
  • Be present:  Include activities that bring yourself closer to now.  Cuddle your children.  Pet the dog.  Tend a plant.  Meditate.
  • Dance:  Let your music move you.  If you are so inclined, SING!  (A big thank you to izzwizz for that suggestion!)
  • Go on outdoor walks:  Bundle up, if necessary — we are 5 degrees at 1:00 p.m. today — it’s necessary!  Let the weather hit you in the face; rain, wind, sun and snow.  Trust me, you will feel more alive for it.
  • Make an intention every day:  Some days we need to aim low.  Today my intention is to write this post.  Another day it might be to move a mountain.  But that is another day, and another day will come.
  • Be your own best friend:  I am lucky enough to have wonderful friends and family who care for me.  None compare to the friend I have found in myself.  I always know what is best for me at any given moment.  The trick is to allow myself to give and receive graciously.
English: A 30 kHz bright light therapy lamp (I...
A light therapy lamp (Innosol Rondo) used to treat seasonal affective disorder. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These are the tools I have chosen to shovel myself out this winter.  I have a couple other tricks up my sleeve, like vitamin supplements and a small therapy light, both suggested by my doctor last year.  While it is normal to feel down some days, if you feel down for days and cannot seem to get motivated to do the things you usually enjoy, please see your doctor.  This is especially important if you have changes in your sleep patterns or your appetite changes or you feel hopeless, suicidal, or are turning to alcohol for comfort.

Never take depression lightly.

Peace . . .

 

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Posted in Lore

Like having forgotten why you went in . . .

Gray PrairieIt was like walking into a room having forgotten why you went in.  Life gets like that sometimes.  You come to a place and all you see ahead of you is work, pain, and decline.  Of course there would be good days, moments, funny stories.  But there comes a point where colors are just words and everything looks grey.

Then one day I emailed a story to a friend.  She really enjoyed it and asked if she could post it on her blog.  She wondered if I had ever considered blogging.  She thought I might be good at it.  Maybe it was just the lure of something new, but I felt a thing I hadn’t felt for much too long.  I felt excitement.

It’s been almost a year, which seems like a good time to reminisce, doesn’t it?  That first post was frightening, and I’m not sure it’s gotten much easier.  I put a little bit of myself out there on the internet every week, and wait to see if anyone else relates.  The curious thing is that every week someone does.

Most of my posts include images.  I dream in color, and to post without it would be deceiving.  Whether I am using my Nikon Coolpix S220 or my Motorola Droid Razr, I like to illustrate my own story if I am able.  Toting a camera has caused me to start looking for the things I’d forgotten were there.

Humans crave surprises.  It’s what makes our heart soar when a melody changes key.  It’s why we hop on a haunted hay ride.  It’s why the best films don’t end like you thought they would.  As I looked through my lens, wonderful surprises came into focus in the most routine of places.

There are friends I have met along the way.  And I remind myself they are not real friends, but friends who know me only through what I share on the pages.  Yet, when one of them shares some humor, I laugh.  When one hurts, I shed tears.  When there is bad news, I worry.  If there is another definition of friendship, I do not know it.

Even more curious is this relationship I’ve reignited with myself.  Like taking a step onto the yellow brick road, color seeped into ordinary things.  Everyday tasks became metaphors.  It took me only minutes to come up with the tag-line, “Seeking all things peaceful, balanced, whole and precious,” after deciding I needed one.  Of course!  It was not that these things did not exist.  It was that I had failed to keep looking for them.

And this is the moment, after having forgotten, that I remembered why I had gone into the room.

Peace . . .

Posted in Lore

Life Changes

It’s been a long weekend.  I went off the grid, just North-West of the Middle of Nowhere.  I’ve caused some grief with just about everyone I love.  Thanksgiving was on its way, and I just couldn’t pick a date.  You see, I like my kids to go to my ex’s side on the holidays since he has a lot of family over there.  There is just me, Bubba, and the dogs over here.  We’re important, but they can stop by and see us anytime.  Grandparents, as I painfully know, are not on this earth forever, and must be cherished.

I needed to pick a non-Thanksgiving date for a turkey dinner.  The trouble is, the kids are grown with lives of their own.  Everyone has Thanksgiving day off of work, but to find another date was impossible.  No matter how I worked it, I would have been leaving one child out.  I couldn’t seem to make that call.  Which one would have to show up for the microwaved plate of leftovers?  Or maybe I was just making excuses.  I just couldn’t deal with the planning, shopping, cooking and cleaning of traditional meal.  I was in a funk.

Stovetop stuffing, deli turkey, steamed carrots, mashed potatoes, and homemade rolls sufficed for Bubba and I.  We ate like boars on the t.v. trays watching something from Netflix.  It sounds worse than it was. 🙂

Friday was spent packing and cleaning for the weekend North-West of the Middle of Nowhere.  Whether it was the weather — a cold winter storm blew in — or the work of getting ready, my arthritis kicked in.  It was a long achy trip up there.  The ache lasted through a good part of Saturday.  For this, and a few other reasons I don’t care to mention, I wasn’t very good company.  I was still in my funk, and Bubba paid for it.

North-West of the Middle of Nowhere:

This morning, Monday, I am back in the center of Somewhere.  I have taken the day off from work.  The coffee shop looked toastier than it is.  My vanilla soy latte has cooled, no longer warming me from the inside.  It took three tries to get their wireless password right.  Checking out my notifications led me to a new blogger I had not seen before.  I liked her blog name insearchofitall.  It reminded me of my tagline Seeking all things . . . .  I started reading her current post, In Search of Giving Thanks.

The line that caught my eye reads, ” . . . life changes and we have to be adaptable. Isn’t that what the pilgrims did?”  

Yes.  Life changes.  The changes rarely come easily, even if we have waited and hoped and planned for them.  Some changes never come no matter how hard we try.  Some changes are thrust upon us whether we like it or not.  We must cope the only way we know how.  For me, it is a trip to the coffee shop, time alone, list-making, and some well-pulled bootstraps.

We are each pilgrims in our own life.  Life changes and we must adapt.  Life changes and we need to go forward.  There is no other direction than forward.  I am stronger than I look, both physically and emotionally.  I have lived through things I thought would break me in two.  I have showed my best side when I didn’t think I had one.  I have kicked ass when I didn’t think I could take one more step.  For myself and all of which I am capable, I am thankful.

Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone.