Tag Archives: life

speechless

I imagined starting off this post with all the reasons excuses I haven’t been writing. My computer broke. I’ve been crocheting. I have more. If you’re interested, just let me know. But I highly suspect you aren’t.

The truth is, I’m speechless. At a time when I feel like I should most find my voice, I’m embarrassingly mute. It’s not that I’m disconnected; quite the opposite. I’ve become a news junkie. I go to bed at night wearing wireless earbuds and wake up in the morning wondering what I missed after I fell asleep with them in. It’s that bad.

I’ve always maintained that I can’t change what goes on in the vast world, and so I’m just going to pay attention to those things that I can change. Someone’s day. My outlook. A corner of the garden. That worked for me because I believed, and still do, that the majority of people in the world are good. I believed things would all work out in the end because good conquers evil most of the time.

So now I’m a news junkie and I can’t claim blissful ignorance anymore. I understand that the good majority is poor, and that money buys the world. And what does one do when her voice is small and peaceful in a world that is screaming injustice at the top of its lungs?

I became speechless.

It’s not that I have nothing to say. It’s just that there are others saying it so well and so loud with all the best words. (That’s funny, right?) I can’t compete. Nor should I. Just because I have opinions on the news doesn’t mean I ought to write about it. That’s like somebody who admires and critiques art feeling guilty for not painting.

In the words of one of my favorite millenials, I need to do me. And if my voice is small and peaceful and speaks of wholeness, balance and love, there’s room for it. And maybe someone will hear it and smile. Because if all I do today is make someone smile, that’s enough.

I’ll never rid the world of injustice, prevail over all evil, or move millions to march. But I am enough. For that one person who just needed a hug or a smile or to be seen, I am enough.

So maybe you’ll be hearing more of me again. But you may need to take out your earbuds and listen closely over the roar of the protesters.

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So proud of the women my daughters have become. They love deeply. They think critically. And on this day we became not just mother and daughters, but women standing as one with millions across the globe against injustice, fear, hatred, and bullshit.

Peace . . .


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 . . .


Wisdom is Less of a Gift than a Purchase

Personification of wisdom (in Greek, "Σοφ...

Sophia, the Greek personification of wisdom. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes I’m asked why I blog.

First and foremost, I blog for therapy.  Unlike a diary, it forces me to choose my words wisely.  Where a diary will take any abuse you want to give, my public blog requires I treat my thoughts with respect.  And in doing so, I find an appreciation for “life and all things peaceful, balanced, whole and precious.”

I blog for posterity.  It’s something to leave behind.  I don’t believe in a supernatural afterlife.  Even if I could, I wouldn’t want to hang around watching over my loved ones eternally.  In a recent mishap, I accidentally and unavoidably caught a glimpse of all the pictures on the Rebel’s phone.  Trust me when I say I don’t want to watch over them from above.

I blog to pass along a wisdom.  Ancient cultures sat around the fire listening to lore from their elders.  While I do have plenty of advice to share around the fire, most of it involves the perfect toasted marshmallow or the dangers of wielding hot pokers.  Besides, who has time to sit around a fire listening to their elders anymore?  Anything like that gets shared here as “Lore” for those who find it valuable enough to read.

Lady wisdom (2)

Lady wisdom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not sure at what age one becomes an elder, but I think I’m growing into it as gracefully as possible.  That is, kicking and screaming, my brittle nails shredding on the door frame of old age.  My daughter, the Romantic, reminded me that I once announced I was going to age naturally and embrace it — gray hair, wrinkles, and all.  Yeah . . . I was thirty-something and knew nothing of disappearing collagen or finding coarse, white eyebrows reaching out like odd antennae over the tops of my bifocals.  And so this thing of wisdom that comes with age is less of a gift than a purchase, dearly paid for with my declining condition.

Perhaps there is a responsibility to share what has been so expensive to attain.  Maybe I want to spare my children and readers the pain I’ve born.  After all, the suffering of my children is two-fold; once for their pain and another for the remembrance of my own mistakes.  Or maybe I just want to give you a shortcut, a life hack, so you can surpass where I have been and finish farther ahead.  Whatever the reason, sharing lore is clearly a primal need, present since men acquired the ability to speak.

English: The Seven Pillars of Wisdom rock form...

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom rock formation in Wadi Rum, Jordan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The elders of my youth have all passed away.  They, too, shared the experience of their years.  Some of it I remember, most of it has probably been forgotten.  The truth is, I gained less of my wisdom in listening than I found in living.  The toddler learns more from touching a hot oven than from being told it is hot.  Riding a bicycle can only be mastered after falling.  We learn to guard our heart once we know how deeply it can hurt.

I’m told there is occasionally wisdom in my words.  If you find it here, it is yours.  If you want to keep it, however, it’s going to cost you a couple of wrinkles and maybe a white antenna eyebrow.  But I guarantee it will be worth it.

Peace . . .

 


The Expectations of My Inner Child, or lack thereof

sc001a13aeIt’s that time of year again when I look at where I’ve come and where I’m headed.  When I think of the tumbling towhead of my youth, it seems impossible that I am the same person.  I sometimes think of her and wonder if I’ve become the person she had hoped I would.

The girl I was held high hopes for humanity.  She rescued injured birds from the middle of roads, and abandoned kittens, despite her severe allergy to cats.  She believed that everyone possessed a beauty and a kindness if you looked hard enough.  She appalled an unjust world that would deliver babies into poverty while others flaunted wealth.  She believed in the abundance of love, peace, and food, if only the obstacles could be removed.

She was no saint, and neither am I.  She had plenty of lesser values and unlearned lessons.  She had fears, and pride, and selfishness that all abide in the adult she became.  And as I look, I realize how much I am still her — for better or for worse. Bark

If she had known where we would be today, I’m not sure if she would have chosen a shorter path or ambled along the one I’ve taken.  Yet, this is the place in which we find ourselves, my little inner child and me, and we are quite happy.

I’m glad she held so few expectations.  It allowed me to stop and contemplate a bug along the way, or touch the bark of a tree.  Had she held me fast to some appointed destination, I’d have taken such a wider, paved road and missed the little things along the way.

The future is a mystery — like trying to depict a figure in the shadows.  But the little towhead I take with me suggests I hold no expectations for the crone I’ll someday be.  Together we will mosey down our untrod trail looking for the tiniest of creatures to share our time.  And someday I can say I found my way to an older age, and I’ll be so much richer for it.

bumble

Happy birthday to me, and of course,

Peace . . .


The Gift of Now

"Seize the day" (Horace, Odes) Franç...

“Seize the day” (Horace, Odes)                                                  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like most parents, I recorded every first of my children’s early years.  There are pictures of first trips to Grandma’s, first steps, first solid food, even taking their first poop in the toilet.  A post by Emily at The Waiting, reminded me how easy it is for the lasts to slip by unnoticed.

Do you remember the last time you were picked up and cuddled?  I have four children, and found myself searching the dark corners of my memory for any recollection of the last time I lifted each of them into my arms.  There is none.

We acknowledge the achievements, the going-forwards, the milestones of where we are headed and not so much where we have been.  Maybe it’s because we don’t appreciate the significance of what we leave behind until it’s gone.  Or maybe it’s because we just never realize it’s the last time . . . until it is.

Firsts, like lasts, are not eloquent or refined.  The last step we take will most likely be much like the first — feeble and clumsy.  Each brings with it a demonstration of progress.  But one is a beginning and one is an end.  One is noted and one is forgotten.

Humans, unlike animals, carry the burden of understanding time.  We romanticize a past we strain to remember.  We grieve its loss.  The future is hope and wonder, even amidst uncertainty and trepidation.

Between the first and the last is the present.  It is the center.  The now.  We forget to stop and live in this moment.  And this one.  And this one.  Each tick of the clock is another gone by.  The present moment is as steadfast as time is fleeting.  Always here, for better or for worse.

A moment in the present is not reliant on memory, nor hope, nor wonder, nor dreams.  There is no uncertainty or vagueness.  The instant you are in right now is as real as anything is ever going to be.

If we could know the last time we were picked up, or rode in a pedal car, or fit in the shopping cart seat, that it was our last, would we have enjoyed it more?  Would we have whined less?  Would we have grieved the loss?

Probably not.  Children don’t perceive the elapsing of time.  A baby lives in a constant state of “now,” his only concern if he is hungry, wet, or sleepy.  Eventually, he will understand time by experiencing it — what is a minute, an hour, a year?

Maybe this is what allows children to move forward at the speed of light.  If they knew all the wonderful things they leave behind — naps, strollers, wagons, wearing pajamas in the middle of the day and yes, being lifted high above someone’s head — maybe they would want to stay children forever.  Maybe the lack of grief is what allows them to grow.

. . . And maybe our grief of the past is a gift we are given that allows us to relish the present.  It permits us to cuddle their round little bodies one more minute, or stop and watch them as they nap, or slip into their world of imagination, or pick them up just once more before they are too heavy and we too weak . . .

Peace . . .


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!
  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 . . .


A Tactical Guide for the Ill-Prepared, or how I survived Christmas 2014

Christmas gifts

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is Christmas Day, the day most of you are observing the coming of little baby Jesus, born of an immaculate conception in a lowly manger in the middle of nowhere.  I, conversely, am celebrating the triumph of another holiday conquered, the likes of which I have never experienced nor care to again.

What follows is a tactical guide — a collection of intellect, wisdom, instinct and sheer luck for the ill-prepared.

The Basics

These holiday things come every year, based on traditions your ancestors established decades ago.  How hard can it be?

Very hard.  Your ancestors were not trying to update their Facebook status, remember the password to their health provider network, or search Jell-O recipes on Pinterest.  Their kids weren’t juggling three jobs, and they weren’t considering radiation therapy for their dog.  Their traditions evolved while dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh was still a thing.

Career

Unless your job is lawn-mowing, your career does not shut down in December.  Plan for the worst.  I shouldn’t have expected to accept a new position, work nine to ten hours a day, attend two holiday potlucks, one all-staff meeting, a congratulatory lunch, and a two-day regional meeting all while training in my replacement, but that’s what happened.

The whole year sort of went like that.  Time off has been hard to work in.  Rather than lose it with the close of 2014, I practically accepted my new position and asked for three days off all in the same breath.  I don’t recommend that.

Significant Others

We all react to holidays differently.  Most of us want to feel some sort of control over it.  Unfortunately, the minute you join your life with someone else’s, you have to relinquish some of that control through compromise.

Overheard at my house:

“Do you use scissors to cut this wrapping paper, or just chew it with your bare teeth?”

Expectations run rampant at Christmas, and it is important to talk about what each person expects.  I suggest alcohol, or at the very least, chocolate.  No one is right or wrong.  Unmet expectations lead to disappointment and resentment.  What is each person’s deal-breaker for the holiday?  Where can you go with the flow?  If there are contradicting deal-breakers, work that out first.

Finances

The best advice has already been given by those much smarter than I.  Don’t go into debt over Christmas gifts.  Anyone who would wish you to do so, isn’t worth the price of wrapping paper.

So the second-best advice I can give is to remember to pay your bills.  I have every excuse in the book.  I was working extra-long hours, they got lost under the clutter, I thought I had paid them . . .  by the way, none of these will get you out of paying that pesky little late fee.  Grrr….

English: Closeup picture of a miniature Christ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Home

December is not a good time to begin a remodeling project.  Especially one that leaves your bathroom completely out-of-order.  Instead of hanging up lights and tinsel, I was wiping up dust and chunks of sheet rock.  I finally gave in and bought a faux tree, just because I couldn’t bear the thought of trying to keep one more thing alive .

My holiday shopping has been equal parts gifts and food, and shower fixtures and tile.  My head hurt, and my wallet was smoking.

Luckily, I have another bathroom.  The guests were not confined to peeing outside with the dog.  But more than once I asked myself,

“What was I thinking?”

Family

The more people you have in your life, the more complicated this all becomes.  Not only do you each bring a variety of expectations, but everyone has their own set of day-to-day obstacles like work, school, significant others and finances to worry about.  And the more these people mean to you, the more their worries affect you, too.

The day my daughter texted that someone stole her wallet, I had a full-on hot flash even before I read the next text that said,

“Oh wow I just found it.”

Stress leaves us open to the heartbreak of those we love, rather than a foundation they can lean on.

Travel

Bubba’s family lives in northwest Minnesota.  No.  Really.  When I say northwest I mean THE northwest corner of the northwest county.

This map shows the incorporated and unincorpor...

This map shows St. Vincent, Minnesota in red.                      (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are traveling before the holidays, make sure you budget that into your preparation time.  Especially if you will be in the middle of nowhere with no access to malls, grocery stores or even the internet.  Lacking these resources when you are painfully low on days-til-Christmas and locked in a car with a significant other, his son, and a dog is a dangerous experiment.

Pets

Remember that your pets can feel your anxiety.  Poor little Sabbath was lacking her regular walks, listening to the demolition of the bathroom while she was otherwise alone in the house, watching me run around like a crazed woman, and confused about the decorations and gifts.

She opened a gift of olive oil from under the tree, chewed off the lid, and spilled it on the carpet.  Up until then, I was very patient with her.  But at that point, it was T minus 3 hours till guests arrived . . . and me running the steam cleaner, of all things.

To top it off, the weather has been so warm that the back yard melted.  One hour after the oil incident, she came in full of mud.  The kitchen now needed mopping and the dog needed a bath.

Celebration

Make sure you are holding on to traditions because they suit your family, and not simply performing them because that is how they have always been done.  If someone has passed, or a family has split, it may be the right time to change a ritual, or it may be the perfect time to hold it dear.

I make Butter Currant Tarts every year because the recipe was brought to the United States by my Canadian grandmother.  I make them in remembrance of her, although my youngest daughter says it’s because I’m doing weird stuff that old people do like making things that nobody likes.  (For the record, my older son downed about half the batch in one sitting.)

A home in Vancouver with Christmas Lights prof...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I put lights on the shrubs and leave them lit as long as Bubba can stand it, Valentine’s Day if possible.  They cheer me up in the middle of the dark, bitterly cold Minnesota winter.

Exchanging gifts is one of my favorite traditions of the holiday.  I see the joy of giving in the eyes of my adult children, and it pleases me greatly.

In the aftermath, my feet and back ache.  The house is a mess.  Muffin tins and fondue pots wait to be put away.  I ask myself if it was all worth it.  A light snow has started to drift down from the grey sky.  The furnace breathes and the dog shifts.

Christmas is a season when our family spends time thinking of each other.  We contemplate what each person enjoys, what they need, or what growth we want to inspire.  We support them, feed them, pour them a drink, and we delight in their happiness.  I can’t think of anything else as worthy in the world.

Peace . . .

 

 


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