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12.31.2011

A BUSTIER MINUS THE BUST

Yesterday Doug and I both had the day off.  We had a few things to return post-Christmas, some gift cards to possibly use, and items like Champagne and such to pick up for New Year's Eve.  He had bought me a beautiful outfit from White House Black Market, one of my favorite stores.  I loved the clothes, but the jacket was a bit too short for this ginormously long waisted gal!  It's a little pricey there probably due to the fact that it's a full service boutique.  Which means, much like days of old where they pumped your gas for you, this store picks out things they think you would look good in and places them in a dressing room for you.  That freaked me out a bit.  It's not that I don't like them swooning over me (ok maybe back off just a little).  It's that they don't know me.  They don't know my scaled down and fairly simplistic but clean lines classic sort of dressing.  They don't know that I absolutely HATE patterned material or things made from that drapey material that reminds me of the blouses my Grandma June used to wear.  I picked a couple of things to try on and the woman took me to the dressing room they had started for me.  It was crammed with clothing she had picked out for me.  Some of the clothes were paired with pants or the like.  I thanked her as she must have seen the look on my face of fright.  "Just try them.  You may be surprised at how you look in them." she said.  I have a deep aversion, an allergicness almost to jeans with very decoratively stitched back pockets.  I won't wear them on a bus, in a plane, on a train, in a mall, or in a dressing room!  I pushed them aside.  Never ever will you find me in a furry vest or anything that has even a splattering of furrishness adorning it.  I am not Eva Gabor!  I don't care for red and there were two red shirts hanging there.  I by-passed those as well.  There was some sort of white sweater with a hint of gold thread in it.  Not in a million years would I put that on and feel like myself in it.  It left very little for me to try on.  I reached for the only two things that I thought I might try; a long dressy jacket (black) that was very fitted but fell mid thigh and a bustier to go with it that was black and white.  Ok, even to say the word bustier makes me laugh as I have the upper body of a 12 year old.  Breast size of a 32a.  I ain't got much busting off my chest to hold up a strapless anything.  But, I tried it on.  It was a bit tight unless I didn't care so much for regular breathing any longer. It fell above my low waisted jeans leaving a 1 inch gap!  I laughed in the dressing room at why in the hell a 45 year old woman would be wearing this and to where I would wear it.  Slipping on the long coat over it, I looked in the mirror.  I kind of liked it.  My uncomfortableness with it though was equal to my like of it. Opening the curtain I stepped out to show Doug, who was sitting in a big soft chair like a judge on American Idol.  His eyes popped as he told me how great I looked in it.  It was much like when he took me to buy me a diamond ring when we got married.  I hadn't worn a ring in 20 years.  I was so uncomfortable when the sales lady put this big diamond on me I actually made a face and squirmed uneasily.  The boutique lady came to weigh into how I looked in the outfit.  Now, don't get me wrong I love a compliment, but is she really going to say anything other than, "You look great in that.  Beautiful!"  I tugged and pulled that bustier down to meet my pants feeling self-conscious.  Both she and Doug tried to ease my worry of my age in that outfit.  I said, "Well, if I reach for anything I will show my stomach.  Does anyone really want or need to see that on a 45 year old woman?"  Doug said if it looked as good as mine that he did.  The boutique lady said she is 52 and wears them (ugh).  I asked Doug where in the hell I would ever wear this.  He came up with a myriad of places and reasons.  He told me Hannah, my daughter, would say I looked great in it and to buy it.  After securing a better size for the bustier and the boutique lady showing me where the optional straps were attached, I exchanged it for what Doug had gotten me for Christmas.  I loved the outfit and when Doug asked why I ended getting it if it was so different from what I would wear I said, "My whole life is different than it was.  Time to branch out!"  I love that man!!  Do they make onesies for 45 year old women I wondered?  I would feel more comfortable with my stomach totally covered when I reach for an item at the grocery store on the top shelf!

12.30.2011

EMPTIED TO BE FILLED UP

No one can do anything as well as I can.  My presence is vital to the success of anything. 

I just got done saying those statements to my husband in reference to someone we both know.  That is the air, the vibe, even sometimes the words this person gives off.  It is guised though in this spiritual faux humbleness and a bit of I am invaluable to the Kingdom of God because I talk about the kingdom of God and the like constantly.  We are full of ourselves at times aren't we.  Me included.  Meism and controlling behaviors come packaged in the blatant (referenced in the first two sentences).  They come lightly veiled in humbleness to the point of drawing too much attention to ourselves.  The ME in ourselves pokes through in trying to maintain a level of perfection to others that is not real.  I love authentic.  I want a diamond, not a cubic zirconium.  I want real pearls, not faux ones.  I want to be really listened to, not just heard.  I want real coffee, not instant like Sanka.  I want old fashioned slow cooked oatmeal, not a microwavable packet.  I want a homemade healthy meal, not a burger from a drive through.  I want solid wood furniture, not put together pressed wood crap.  I want to be around real people who show their true colors, their heart, their soul, their mind.  Who are balanced with authenticity, self-perspective and humor.  I've said before that I am not a very girlie girl.  I just wasn't created that way.  Excess anything gets on my every last nerve.  Excess makeup, jewelry, belongings, food, uses of money, thoughts of myself, etc.  I thought about why those two opening attitudes that come through Christians irritate me.  Why do I feel such unease to be around unauthentic people as though there just isn't enough air for me to breathe?  They make it hard for me to see God clearly. Juxtaposing themselves in the right light so they are in the picture with God too.  I am so far from perfect as well.  In my own subversive ways I too have been too full of myself.  One of our daughters made sushi for our Christmas.  It was delicious.  I wanted to eat more than I did, but I was so full already that I could not hold one more morsel inside of my stomach.  I love that portion in the Bible that talks about us being jars of clay (pretty simple, borderline unimpressive, maybe even unattractive and easily broken) holding God.  God displaying himself could have been like creating a Macy's Christmas window display.  But instead, in order to fully show Himself to the world, He set his wonder against the frailty, the yuckiness of a human heart.  I love that.  I think God too is a minimalist like me.  Less of us inside creates a bigger space for him.  I am convinced that God doesn't give a rat's ass what we know.  He doesn't care how many times we go to India or give money to build a well in Africa for fresh water.  He cares most about how full or empty we are of ourselves.  Period.  That is the determining factor on how much of Himself He can place in our lives.   I pick up sticks that fall from my large maple tree.  A lot of sticks fall.  Sometimes I get in a hurry and try to keep picking up more sticks when my hands are already full to capacity with them.  I am trying to save trips to the trash can.  I am trying to get it done quicker.  What ends up happening though, is that I begin to drop the ones bundled in my hands as I try to pick up more.  It's very hard for me to hold God when I am full of control, arrogance, and my own desires.  It's even harder to hold God when I foolishly think He needs me, my words, my actions or contributions to society

12.28.2011

HOLDING THE BAG

I write this blog daily.  Usually I have a thought, a story, a ranting of some sort that comes out of my mind, heart, spirit or event of the day.  Something triggers what I write.  When I finish a blog post I spell check it, read it several times and edit it.  Depending on the day, I might have time to let it simmer in draft mode before I hit publish. Which is always beneficial as some distance between penning and editing creates a bit of a better end result.  But on those days that I have a small window of time to dedicate to it, the process is sped up.  Those days of shortened focused time, I typically have to go back several times later in the evening to re-edit it after I have already posted it to my vast readership:)  Thinking I am completely done with what I am saying or thinking or that it is in the best form possible never happens.  Words are living things sort of and come to life once penned.  It seems that even written words rear their heads forcing me to change their order after the fact time and time again.  Real life followed suite to that today as well.  This particular issue I had already previously "posted".  I had already tried to deal with it and put to rest the power it seemed to have over me.  Grace was not my first thought.  It came much later after I hit great disappointment, abandonment, betrayal, bewilderment, hurt and pure white hot anger.  I eventually wrestled myself to Graceland once again.  Was this yet again an issue that I needed to give grace?  Was I being overly sensitive?  Was what I felt worthy of being told to the parties involved?  Would that mean I didn't have grace?  Or was I arrogantly trying to assume that the persons involved would only respond poorly if I shared how their actions hurt me?  Was I trying to give grace or just not hurt them by talking about a very difficult subject?  I am familiar with Graceland.  I looked at myself though with tiredness today.  I didn't leave a marriage for years and years because I was afraid of hurting my daughter and my parents. Instead I took on huge amounts of hurt to stay which was detrimental to me ultimately.  Was that fear of harming them or was it arrogance that they wouldn't be able to handle the hurt that decision would cause them?  I couldn't ultimately tell my parents that I had filed for divorce when separated from my husband because I feared how it would wound them.  I was trying to protective them and ultimately didn't know how they would still love me for such a great disappointment.  How did I know what others could or couldn't take? I was not responsible for how others react.  I had to stop this bag holding way of life.  Today I realized I was still doing that.  It wasn't a grace issue today to not let the offending party know how it wounded me.  It was that I thought they couldn't handle the honest interchange.  That I would wound them more than their actions wounded me.  So instead I withheld being honest about how I felt over it which is vital to any healthy relationship.   I held the bag again.  I have withhold information that might make people see me differently or might win me points in their eyes because I have not wanted to perpetuate hurt for my daughter that divorce already brings to children involved.  I have not shared information with my family about certain things about my ex husband because I wanted him to have a clean slate.  I believe everyone needs a fresh start - a chance to finally "get it".  And I have maybe foolishly wanted that for him.  I have never wanted to trash someone to save myself.  It is not who I am.  Divorce is hell at times even if amicable and necessary.  And, for a bag holder such as I, it is brutal.  I cannot shield people from hurt though I have arrogantly tried.   I have never wanted to hurt anyone and, despite my hardest attempts, I no doubt have.  But this bag holding is wrong of me.  I had to ask God to forgive me for thinking I could protect everyone from hurt.  I had to ask Him to help me know where grace stops and truth begins.   And, how both are connected.  

12.27.2011

UNAWARE THAT THEY ARE UNAWARE

I have a hard time understanding things that just aren't part of my make-up.  We all do really.  I have a hard time being tolerant of people who don't share, participate, or even acknowledge there are some basic human behavior rules in life.  Who not only don't share them, but are totally unaware that there are some overriding human conduct principles that should be acquiesced to by all of humanity.  I think we all struggle with those people. Except, I suspect those that are unaware that they are unaware.   I run at one speed - mostly open throttle.  That is, until I literally run clean out of gas.  At which juncture, I merely crash to refuel and start the pace all over again.   Because I am fast, I can get easily annoyed, even down right disturbed with those that can't seem to get out of 1st gear.  Let me preface my thoughts with this; fast people too can be unaware of these basic human conduct principles.  It's not just slow people.  But, at least fast people, even if they do not acknowledge and/or participate in these basic human behavior guidelines, annoy me for less amounts of time due to their speed.  That being said, I ran to the grocery store yesterday morning.  I needed a couple of things to finish some brunch items I was preparing for a Christmas we were having later in the day.   Having less than 10 items I joined the 10 Items or Less Line right behind an older woman who was paying for her small order.  The basket I was holding with my groceries in it became increasingly heavy as she would not move forward to finish her now run up transaction.  She proceeded to count out the exact change one coin at a time.  The cashier looked helplessly at me aware that my arm was breaking off.  One by one she handed the cashier the coins.  The end of it in sight, I mustered a few more flexes of my muscles to hold on.  She still would not take a step forward to give me room to set my basket on the now completely empty grocery belt.  Taking the receipt from the clerk, she stayed in that same spot to organize her billfold with the addition of this receipt.  A line of about 4 people had grown behind me.  They too I could tell were puzzled at her slowness.  At her unawareness of those behind her.  At her inconsiderate self-absorbed way of getting through a grocery line while by-passing the basic rules of human behavior.  Which number one is; when in a store in a line for checkout and your items are all placed on the belt, please move forward so the next person may unload their cart or hands!   She left the lane with her small bag of items, her change neatly placed in her billfold and her purse perfectly organized.  She also left the cashier frustrated, my arms aching and everyone annoyed of her total disregard for basic grocery store human behavior guidelines.   Being aware of those around us means we are conscious of someone other than us.  That is the biggest basic human behavior guideline of all.  Be aware of your surroundings, others and cognizant that when your items are fully loaded on the grocery store belt you must move forward!!!  

12.26.2011

THE VERY RETICIENT POST CHRISTMAS PALATE CLEANSE

In high class restaurants you are served a lemon sorbet to cleanse your palate before the next course is served.  It helps remove any lingering tastes of the previous course before you eat something distinctly different.  Sometimes I don't want the taste of something out of my mouth.  I'm not quite ready to have the next thing.  I feel that way today as it is the day after Christmas.  We had our last Christmas with our one daughter and her husband today.  It just topped off a magnificent 4 days of Christmas.  After brunch, gifts and our annual watching of "A Christmas Story" (with Ralphie and the Red Rider BB gun) the kids left.  It has been a very mild Christmas weekend in the Midwest with temps in the 40's, sun and no snow.  Soon after they left, Doug and I went for a walk.  We walked the four miles hand in hand talking about the great weekend we had with kids, parents, siblings and just each other.  As we walked I remarked that I was somewhat sad that Christmas was now over.  It is an event, a season that seems to unite people.  Whether it's through lights and trees or just generosity, the world changes even if it is short lived.  I didn't want that to end.  I didn't want life to go back to its separatist sort of ways.  I rather liked the past two days that strangers rolled down their windows or hollered from their yards, "MERRY CHRISTMAS" as we walked our miles.  It made me feel connected to them.  It made me feel a warmth from humanity that sometimes disappears during non-holiday times.  This week people will start taking down their outside lights returning the world to its dark winter state.  I rather like the lights all around when I run at night.  It makes me feel surrounded and a part of something bigger than me.  Next week the world will be dark again and isolated.  I wondered about agnostics and atheists.  Whether they doubt or deny the existence of God and the birth of Jesus, they pick out the results of those things in society and participate on some level.  Lights, trees and gifts connect them to this whole God thing whether they mean to or not.  I have spent the last year feeling as if every day was Christmas.  What an incredible experience!  Trying to tell Doug yesterday that what he did for me for Christmas was not lost on me at all, I began to cry yet again.   I have cried these past few days because I have never experienced this type of Christmas in marriage.  I have cried because Doug did some amazing things for me.  He took the time to know the real Lynn.  He learned me and then met me there with his gifts.  I was humbled by that.  God too did that through Jesus.  He knew we needed a way back to Him.  That we needed a gift that showed He knew us and loved us.  I felt that from God by the gift of Jesus.  I felt that from God by the gift of Doug to me.  I felt that from Doug with his presence over this past year.  And, by his Christmas gifts to me, I felt loved in the deep secret place of my heart.  He went to great lengths to show love and meet a lifelong passion and dream of mine.  I really just am not wanting to cleanse my palate from the holidays.  I want the lingering taste of Christmas to stay a bit longer.

12.25.2011

A HOOKER AND AN ADULTRESS LEAD THE WAY TO CHRISTMAS

I have a vision for things that I create.  They show up in my head in broad strokes and as I begin to unleash the beginning of the plan, I see the rest of it.  I love to take something in rough shape and make it better.  A room, a house, landscaping, even people.  There are things in my house that are new.  Alongside many of those new things are other things that are redone or old.  They have separate value and they have combined value.  That combined value is the sum of them together.  The beauty of old, remade, recreated next to new and unmarred creates a purposed style.  Both types of things were chosen.  God trumps me most definitely in His ability and purposed style of using old, tattered and refurbished with new and pure.  The whole story of God is just that.  A story of extreme makeovers interwoven with clean and pure.  Look at the lineage of Christ.  Remember this is God.  He is the creator of all living, breathing, created things in the universe.  He is the creator of order, laws of nature, and me.  He made everything out of nothing - new.  Yet, He has a love affair with weathered and marred things as well.  He loves to make all things new again.  In the Bible, the book Matthew, it sets the stage for the pedigree of Jesus.  His papers in essence.   In what you think should be a clean-as-a-whistle lineage you find 4 women's names.  Their backgrounds not new.  Not shiny.  One was a former prostitute - Rahab.  One had an affair with a king - the result Solomon listed in the genealogy of Christ (Bathsheba).  One posed as a prostitute to seduce to Judah - Tamar.  One slept at the feet of Boaz trying to get his attention - Ruth, the Moabite.  In the  mix of these four women God introduce the tainted along with a thread of Gentiles into the pure, clean Jewish lineage of Christ.  I love that!   In that lineage is a picture of grace, love and redemption.  No matter our background.  No matter our past.  Or our choices, God says we are made new again through Christ.  We are cleaned to be able to hold the holiness of God through Jesus.  That's what the lineage of Christ shows me.  That's what Christmas is all about.  It is the living portrait of the genealogy of Christ portrayed.  It is God's gift to a marred world.  Simply stated, Jesus can make all things pure and new again.  All of us included.  That is why Jesus was born.  Merry Christmas.    

12.23.2011

WELL, I DO DECLARE!

Declarative statements irritate me.  They are usually bigger than we are.  Bigger than we can fulfill or stay within.  My mom declared years ago, on her first round of Weight Watchers, that she was never going to eat a donut or a piece of candy again.  I giggled inside.  Rightfully so:)  I once tried for 21 days to eat no carbohydrates - no bread, rice, cereal, sugar of any kind, very little fruit, no juice.  Did you read I managed it for a mere 21 days?  I did though feel much better physically.  I have known people who declare victory over a mental block.  Or that they have learned a spiritual lesson.  Mastered it in fact by the sheer tone of their voice as they are telling me about it guised in faux humbleness cloaking pride. The ring of spiritual and human over arrogance dismantling their words and success even as they speak.  Similiar that is to walking out on a lake when the temperatures haven't been below freezing for long enough - thin ice.  Who am I to think I have conquered something forever?  To think that since I might have figured out a large chunk of something in my head, heart, spirit, emotions or body that I am immune from repeating it again?   Maybe it's how we approach what we learned.  Possibly trepidation and some fear and trembling need to accompany our having learned those lessons in life.  Chances are we will "relearn" them again at some point in our lives.  I think that is mainly due to us riding the short bus through life.  What I have learned I hope helps me to understand the next thing I need to understand, to stop doing, to get better at.  But all those things have to be bracketed with humility and a greater understanding of our failings as humans.  I don't want to fail, to do wrong, to miss the mark.  Conversely I don't want to think I can't, that I won't, that I am living balanced every moment of life.  It could be a pet peeve of mine, this whole issue of declarative statements.  They seem like boastful full-of-themselves kind of statements.   That never sits inside me well.  Why not be satisfied that you may have figured out a small piece of a moving puzzle called life.  Why not understand that life moves swiftly and we are frail, limited humans on our best days.  Why not be thankful that you decided not to eat donuts and candy, but that never is a long time and there are many variables ahead.  You being one of the biggest of them:)

12.22.2011

SUGAR+CHRISTMAS=JESUS?

I wonder how much sugar is bought and eaten during the holidays.  I searched for that stat but could not locate that specific of a breakdown on sugar consumption.  Though I did find out a few facts that were both surmised yet  still very alarming.  For instance, before the 20th century sugar consumption stood at 5 pounds per person per year on average.  When I say 5 pounds, I don't mean that they bought one-five pound bag (wasn't produced and packaged so conveniently way back then).  I mean, roughly the population consumed 5 pounds per year which was mainly garnered by the occasional baked good at say holiday time or birthdays.  Today that same 5 pounds would only last the average person close to 12-14 days.  The average per capita sugar consumption in the U.S. stands at 135-142 pounds per person.  When I read that statistic I tried imaging all the sugar I buy combined with all the products that I eat that have sugar as an ingredient and then stacking 140 pounds of something in my basement.  I buy water softener salt every so often.  The bags are 40 pounds each.  I thought about lugging 3-4 bags of salt to the basement would equal how much sugar they say I eat yearly.  I felt ill from that picture.  I bake things throughout the year.  But at Christmas, like many others, my baking of products increases to Biblical proportions!  As I came in from running last night, I decided to go give Eddie (our elderly neighbor man) his tin of goodies.  Walking out the door, I was met by my next door neighbor lady carrying a pie over she had made for us for Christmas.  Thanking her I went back inside.  Sitting it on the counter I laughed out loud at the boatload of sugary things on the counter; her pie, a container of homemade hot cocoa mix, a box of chocolates given to my husband by one of his employees, another tin of goodies made by another of his employees.  I shook my head as I thought of the 3 batches of cookies, the triple batch of caramel corn and two batches of glazed nuts created in my kitchen in the past couple weeks.   All made mostly for gifts to others. Though we have had our share of them too!   Oh no, I too was part of the Christmas+Sugar=Jesus phenom!  Where did our love affair with all things sweet truly turn addictive?  Do you know if you chart the past 111 years it means our sugar consumption has increased by .32 yearly to get us to the 140 pound a year marker?  Not only that, but at what point did we ever make the connection of sugary gifts or their consumption at the holiday time an unwritten but expected part of the true meaning of Christmas.  I'm pretty sure that Mary and Joseph didn't consume sugar on the day Jesus was born.  Maybe a fig or two:)  The wisemen brought gifts of significance; gold (fitting a king), frankincense and myrrh (a tree resin used in incense/perfume/medicinal purposes-sometimes used in burials...a sign of why Jesus was born - to die for us).   They didn't bring fig newtons or stalks of sugar cane.  We give gifts to people in our lives for differing reasons; love, appreciation, apologies, celebration, and sometimes as a non-verbal way of communicating something we can't articulate with words.  I am not sure what the gift of sugar speaks.  What it tells the recipient.  Or, why we bombard each other with so much excess in the sugar category this time of year.  I think the best thing this prolific display and consumption of sugar does for us is make us ready to make a New Year's resolution to stay away from it for awhile.  Which normally fails somewhat because sugar is a drug of sorts and we are a society of addictive behaviors.  So have yourself a sweet holiday.  May all your holiday baking and ingestion of sugar remind you of the sweet gift Jesus was to the world!

12.21.2011

MMMMMM, MMMMMM GOOD

Do you remember the ad campaign for Campbell's soup?  Mmmmm, mmmmm good.  Actually that ad ran as .... That's what Campbell's soups are - mmmmm mmmmm good!  How about Maxwell House coffee (which by the way is horrible)?  Good to the last drop.  It is not good to the last drop.  Actually it is crappy to the last drop just like the first drop was.  Obviously if companies can persuade and tout their products as being "good" it paints an image in a consumer's head.  The image of good equates to wanting to experience it again.  Whatever the product, whatever the experience, if I like it I will choose it again.  You want returning customers.  There is a catch though to getting a repeat customer.  Their first experience has to be great.  I love TOMS toothpaste.  Some say you have to acquire a taste for it (that would be my husband Doug) as it is devoid of artificial sweeteners and tons of artificial flavors.  I find it pure and ultimately refreshing.  It is more pricey than mainline Crest or Colgate.  Because of its elevated cost per tube, I squeeze every last morsel of toothpaste out.  I don't want to waste even one slathering on my toothbrush by throwing it away too early.  I have been tempted a time or two to cut the damn tube open and use a spatula to get it all:)   Isn't it funny how I will take you from soup to coffee to toothpaste and then straight to the connection in my mind or heart?  One of our kids recently teased that as we age we get more emotional, more easily moved to tears.  She is right.  Thinking about stuff we want more of, products that we love connects me to human experiences in life that are good (don't look at the bad right now).  I look back to things that were good in my life and wonder if I squeezed all I could out of them.  I'm a pretty in the present, cognizantly aware-of-the-moment kind of soul.  And, I have tried to live my life that way. But, as I age I look back and wonder did I sit in the sun enough so to speak.  In just a few short days I will have been with my husband for one year.  This year has flown by.  I am finding age to be a lightening speed kind of experience.  Warp speed almost.  In this torrid pace which hurtles me faster toward the bottom of the hill, I want to squeeze all the toothpaste out of every day.  I realize that the days ahead are not guaranteed.  The days behind me I cannot undo, redo or edit.  The only thing I have control over is how fully present I am with what is in front of me.  What cup of coffee I have in my hand.  With what measure of purpose and joy I choose to live daily with.  I love good stuff in all areas of my life.  Who doesn't!  I want rich southern pecan coffee over Folgers.  I want loving relationships with my family.  I want fulfillment in being who God created me to be.  At the end of every day I want to say.... mmmmmm, mmmmmm good.  I want to say that until I finish my last drop.

12.20.2011

THE DARK SIDE OF CHRISTMAS

I met a man yesterday.  He was 80.  A rough hewn sort of man who smelled like he had laid in a bed of crushed cigarettes.  He used a cane and labored to breath with every step.   Soaking wet, his frail bony frame looked like he weighed in around 130 pounds.  I could see years of life crammed in every age spot.  Every wrinkle.  Every cloud that rested now in his eyes.   Cliff needed help with his account.   I helped him.  I asked him if he had plans for Christmas.  "I hate Christmas", came his quick response twinged with a bit of anger.  "I can't wait for it to be over!",  he spoke finishing his thoughts.   I love anyone, that when asked a question, will speak truth - will say what they really feel not what they think you want to hear.  As his words came out I prayed God's blessing over him silently.  I asked God to give Him the love that he was missing.  "Cliff," I said, "Did you lose someone you love?  Is that why you hate Christmas?"  He began to tell me that four years ago he lost his wife of  58 years.  Her name was Dee.  He told me how much he loved her.  That four years later he finds himself not being able to move forward or have the loss lessen.  He shared about his kids, a bit of life with me.  All of it was peppered with a sort of love wrapped in quills.  He told me that Dee was smart - without much tolerance for dumb people.  I liked this woman already!  He told me he copes by swearing ALOT!  I laughed at his method of coping.  In a bit softer voice, with emotion lining the words, he said he talks to her every day.  Sometimes he feels a response.  Always does he feel her presence though.  He looked at me frankly and said, "58 years brings something that can't be defined.  There is a comfort with one another.  A way of life.  Layers of love and life lived together."  I understood for the first time what living hand in hand in love felt like.  I felt his words hit my heart.  I felt them cause a bit of a tear to be forced back thinking of his pain of absence.  Someday I would know that same pain of the absence of love as well.  I told him I hoped the week was not too heavy for him.   That this week he could find a way to live in the sweet world of memories.  I also told him Christmas means we are closer to Spring than before.  He smiled at my positive way of looking at Christmas and the thread of irony in heartache.

12.19.2011

NOT IN MY LINE OF VISION

Saddened I was today.  Probably also disturbed.  It's still rattling around in my head.  I am trying to not let it settle in my spirit and heart.  In conducting some financial business with an old friend of 20+ years today, I was caught off guard by his words to me.  22 years ago, when I was married to my first husband - a pastor, this man and his family were part of the church we pastored.  Our pastorate at that church created a long and deep relationship with them.  He handled our investments and life insurance all through the 25 years we were married.  There were years we vacationed together, ate at each other's houses or met for dinner when our geographic proximity to one another widened.  After our divorce, this friend of ours became more my ex-husband's financial advisor/friend/support than he was mine.  He helped my ex move out of the house and then make another move after that one.   I needed to change some life insurance issues and went to him for that transaction.  He had written the original policy some 20 years ago.  I thought it was logical based on our history both professionally and personally.  The business ready to be completed, I stopped at his office to leave a check and sign a document.  Sitting across the table from him he appeared not quite himself.  Conversation seemed forced.  He was present, but not really there.  "Would I have your permission to tell Chuck (my ex) that I helped you with your life insurance?" he asked me.  I work in the financial industry so I know that he could not share with my ex that I was a client or doing business with him unless I gave him permission.  In those seconds many thoughts flashed in my head.  I sensed he felt like he was betraying Chuck by representing me as well.   "Yes,
 I said, "you can tell Chuck you helped me rearrange my life insurance.  He has a similar policy so I assume you have done the same for him as well."
  I went a bit further.  "Does this make you uncomfortable?  I mean, doing professional work for both of us?" I asked.  He went directly to explain and over explain mode.  He never had this situation before where clients who were close friends had divorced.  It was new territory for him he told me.  He kept talking.... he didn't want to make Chuck feel like he was betraying him.  My mind whirled and my heart ached.  What about how I felt betrayed?  What about how I felt!  I felt betrayed by yet another friend.  I was being ditched again.  I wondered if he really knew how his words sounded.  I wondered if he knew how many people in front of him had already done the same thing - either abandoned me post divorce or flocked to my ex-husband.  Here was yet another one.  I fought back tears realizing that I am probably hyper sensitive to this issue based on what I have experienced.  I wanted to give him grace.  The benefit of the doubt.  I knew he was in foreign territory and just didn't have a point of reference to respond to this situation.  I tried to be normal in my response to his confession of sorts.  I said if he would rather I go somewhere else I could do that.  The funny thing is I had just sent he and his wife a Christmas card Saturday.  He would go home from work today and it would be in his mail.  I wondered if it would make him feel guilty or bad for his inability to keep a life long relationship.   I felt deep sadness as I graciously thanked him for converting this life policy into what I needed.  I thanked him for always taking care of things regardless of whether he made little to no money on the transaction.  I told him to tell Kim, his wife, I said Merry Christmas.  I left his office.  Opening the car door I climbed in and sat there for a few moments letting what had just happened sink in.  It didn't make sense to me.  I still loved he and his wife.  The cool handed distancing behavior should be familiar to me.  Yet no matter how many times I experience it from those who were part of our lives, it takes me by surprise.  Divorce seems like terminal illness at times.  People just don't know what to say or do.  They think you are somehow different than you were before.  I continue to find it difficult at certain junctures.  Today was a reminder.

12.18.2011

THE SPACE TO PEOPLE RATIO

Masses of humanity in one location can be a bit overwhelming.  At least for me.  My mom, on the other hand, would love nothing better to mix with the swell at say Times Square for New Year's Eve or sit among thousands to view fireworks.  There is definitely an energy that comes with a crowd.  A sort of exciting chaos created by sheer numbers.  I don't live in a large city.  My place of residence boasts of a whopping 51,000 in population within the city limit.  I have space to move.  Space to have a yard, a back patio, breathing room for a bit of privacy.  I rather like that.  In Chicago yesterday I noted to my husband that the people who lived in the condo above a retail store on the corner of State Street were watching TV.  They had front row seats to the bustliness of a busy Chicago street compounded by holiday shoppers such as myself.  On our walk down Michigan and State Street a woman dressed in running gear ran by us on the sidewalk.  I run.  That didn't appeal to me.  Stoplights at every block, people moving to and fro in your way.  It would be a lot of running stop and go.  I don't think I could ever clear my mind having to run in that environment.  It is amazing to me that people do and actually like it.  My husband and I watch HgTV's "House Hunters".  Not long ago there was an episode following a young couple wanting to buy a condo in a Chicago neighborhood.  Their budget, for this couple still in their mid-twenties, was $450,000.  Incredible!  On top of the condo that they purchased, was the cost of buying a parking space for another $20,000.  It is a world that I cannot imagine living in.  I have a two-car garage, a driveway that can easily park 6 cars if need be and a street in front of my property that is open for curb parking.  I don't pay to park where I lay my head down every night.  It could be the way that I was raised - on a farm.  My zen, my ooooohm place is open spaces - more space than people.  My husband said he would like to live in Chicago for one year just to experience it.  I would live absolutely anywhere with him because he is also my zen.  Exiting the train on arriving in Chicago yesterday the tide of humanity moved to get to street level.  Stopping at the first bathroom there was a line of woman coming out the door.  To go to the bathroom would have been a 30 minute wait.  To eat in the Walnut Room was a 3 1/2 hour wait.  To get across a street involved waiting with a small mob of people as cars honked angrily at each other for rude driving behavior.  I realized to live in a city of this size you could never be in a hurry.  You would have to adopt the philosophy of waiting to get anywhere or to do anything.  I'm not the most patient person in the world.  It's always a great experience to see different cultures, different ways of operating in life.  Then, it's always great to go home to a mere 51,000  people spread out over 21.4 square miles.

12.16.2011

THE REWARDS RACKET

I feel somewhat sorry for cashiers in retail stores now days.  They are forced to, by their employers, give this spiel to each customer who transacts business at their register.  "Do you have a rewards card?"  "If you open a credit card today you can save 20% on this purchase."  "Do you have an e-mail address to receive specials and coupons?"  "Your zip code please."  It drives me nuts!  I love to have small talk with the customer service person.  I like to engage them, see them smile.  I want to be the person who is nice to them, treating them like they are part of the human race.   I realize it is not their own policy that they are carrying out with their bevy of statements and sales pitches designed to garner information and/or more business from me.  I really don't want yet another rewards card.  My wallet and/or key chain just can't hold them all.  Really I think most consumers would rather you just reduce the cost of the product and skip the "reward" savings or points garnered with each purchase crapola.  It is just one more thing to keep track of - REWARD POINTS!   If I do keep track of them, then I must make a decision on how to use them up.  Again, that takes time and effort that I don't want to give up to REWARD POINTS!  I realize that stores do market research analysis on demographics.  It helps them know what sells and who is shopping in their store.  I don't like it though.  I don't want to tell the cashier at Lowes or Menards what my phone number or zip code is.  It's none of their business if you ask me.  They have my money for their product now let's just call it even.  I do not like the length of receipts any more either.   Recently I went to Target.  Purchasing only 4 items, I left with a receipt that was (no exaggeration as I measured it!) 8 inches in length.  What in the world!!  How do I fit that in my wallet.  No wonder my wallet and purse look like a mess.  Nor do I  want to take the survey through the link that is listed at the bottom of the receipt.  Although, I would love to win the $5,000 if I did.  I just want the items I purchased listed, the method of purchasing used along  with store name, date and time on the receipt.  End of story.  That would take less than 4'.  This is excessive, creates consumer annoy ability and cannot be that effective compared to the cost of more receipt rolls used for each register.  I really do wish stores would leave me alone as I pay for my purchase.  Please just merely thank me for shopping there as I have just spent $125.00 in groceries.  You want more than that?  My zip code?  Nope.

12.15.2011

THE GILDED FOLK

Someone said to me this week, in response to my question of whether or not they liked sushi, "I love good sushi".  I giggled inside and fought back the urge to say something a bit terse, smart assish such as, "Only good sushi.  How about poor quality sushi?"  I can love pie till the cows come home, but it goes without saying that I don't love poor quality pie.  Isn't that a given?  Isn't that assumed?   Oh, the literalists in the world!!  But then I thought, taste too can be a bit subjective.  Not necessarily in what we like - choices - but in what we deem quality or good within that choice.  The word superior is an interesting English word.  It's one of those words that can be both a noun and an adjective.  My daughter and I were discussing words yesterday and how some can be both nouns and verbs or nouns and adjectives.  I have found some people in life who view themselves a bit like one of the adjective definitions of the word superior;  a sense of being better than others.  None of us can be totally objective about ourselves.  Nor, do we fully see ourselves correctly.  That being said, there seems to be another category of people whose view of self is quite skewed creating and orchestrating a caste system of sorts in their worlds.  Unfortunately their world spills onto mine!   I want superior sushi.  Who wouldn't!  I want a superior product if I am making a purchase.  Who wouldn't!  I want to be superior in performance in my work.  Who wouldn't!  What I don't want is to become so mesmerized with myself that I begin to think and live as if I am better than others.  Religiosity can perpetuate that sometimes.  It's the very thing that Jesus called the Pharisees out on.  I believe Jesus said, "You brood of vipers!"  Ah, you see they did deeds of goodness.  They fulfilled God's desire to live on the right side of His line.  But, they did it all with a superior sense of self.  They did it all without grace and love.  It seems that grace and love, when fully seated in us, gives us a clearer lens to see ourselves.  When we see ourselves - our humanity, even when cleaned up as much as we can in our human efforts, the playing field levels itself.   How many of us have heard or even said the phrase, "they think theirs just doesn't stink".   Though not literal (although everyone farts and they do smell from time to time), we get the meaning of a separatist and superior way of dealing with others.  Around the turn of the century the workforce took a distinctive turn to what is known as "the gilded age".  It is noted that is when the employer and employee relationship turned more to hierarchy.  Success in business now clearly shows us that when employees are valued not as less than the CEO, owner, or their boss, it creates an environment of better productivity, more success and greater longevity.   I like Warren Buffet.  This man, who is a billionaire, has lived in the same house in Omaha, Nebraska since 1958, long before he amassed his wealth.  He doesn't appear to be too awfully big for his britches:)  To the rest of the "superior" contingency out there.... get over yourself!

12.14.2011

CLEAVAGE WARS

My dear friend is well endowed.  In fact, her breasts are somewhat her pride and joy.  I have mentioned her bosom a handful of times in previous blogs.  They are blog worthy!   She loves to talk about them as if they were a separate but sovereign nation where she is the ruler.   One day last week she texted me, "I am having an awesome cleavage day...thought you'd like to know."   My response was swift.  "Pic please!  Show em off Big D!!!! cat calls..."   She did.  It was quite spectacular.  The cleavage starting line began close to her clavicle bone just below where, if she were a man, her adam's apple would be.   It was both amazing and troubling at the same time.   I told her that I was like Robin to her Batman in the cleavage world.  I was Boy Wonder - wonder where mine are compared to hers!   I have, when I thought there was even a wisp of cleavage- a narrowing of my four lane highway, snapped a picture and texted it to Big D.  My cleavage to hers is like a picture colored by a 3 year old compared to a picture by Ancel Adams.  No worries though, I love who I am - small bust and all with the exception of my thinning hair and horrifically high forehead.  My daughter came to make Christmas cookies with me today.  She assumed her position sitting on the kitchen counter between rounds of cookie sheets coming and going from the oven.  Before she arrived I sprayed my cookie sheets with non-stick spray.  The spray splattered on me and across my shirt leaving a rather large stain on my left breast.  I didn't change because I knew I'd get flour and frosting somewhere else on me later.  Standing in the kitchen waiting on a tray to come out of the oven she quipped from atop her counter perch, "Mom, how did I get boobs that are least twice your size?!"  It is a genetic mystery.  I told her that we always want more for our kids than we had.  Boobs included:)  I didn't tell her that I prefer quality over quantity.  Or that less is more sometimes.  She wouldn't have bought any of those statements.  I think I will make her a Breast Achievement Award (the BAA in the industry - given to those that overcome their heredity to defy physical boundaries.  My boobs were lovingly referred to as "beezers" as a kid. It was a word that eluded to them being junior or pint sized - not fully developed. My dad recently said, in reference to something he and my mom had seen on TV, "That woman on the AFV clip had breasts (gesturing outward to make a visual shelf of sorts) out to here.  You could have used them as a table."  I laughed.  I thought later that the reference of being "flat as a board" as opposed to "use em as a table" was far kinder.  At least the masses wouldn't be bellying up to Thanksgiving dinner off mine!! 

12.13.2011

COLOR COHERSION

Do you gravitate to certain things in life?  Do you somehow believe specific colors taste, drive or look better than others?  That a frosted sugar cookie with light blue sprinkles tastes better than one with red sprinkles?  I would never pick up a cookie frosted purple.  It would most definitely taste not as good as one frosted white and sprinkled with blue sparkling sugar.  Do you pick out a certain color of M & Ms or Skittles or jelly beans?  I saw a shirt yesterday while Christmas shopping.  It was a men's dress shirt made of that material that doesn't require a ton of ironing.  It was the only one I found on the dress shirt display in that particular blend of colors.  I wondered, when I could find no other one like it; 1) if it was a left over style from last season and they brought it out to mix it in with the fresh styles hoping to get rid of it, 2) the color of harvest gold from the 1970's was making a fashion come back, 3) if I bought it would people see Doug as a sort of walking shirt form of diarrhea.  There has been some consumer product research regarding increased sales of certain colors.  We are, even with distinctive personal tastes, drawn to certain colors more than others.  Marketing experts know which colors of print and background to combine to drive visual consumption.  I find that amazingly interesting.  Makes me wonder some about God.  I mean really He is the ultimate designer.  Why did He make grass green?  The color of a sunny sky blue?  Ocean water greenish-blue?  Clouds of calm weather white?  Clouds of inclement weather gray and dark?  Leaves green?  Sunsets hues of red/purple/orange?  The moon whiteish and the sun a shade of yellow?  Walmart changed its outdoor sign in recent years.  They took it from Walmart blue to a more earthy brownish tan.  I believe it was an attempt to lessen the cheap and gaudy feel that the bright blue portrays which leads directly in our minds to associating the sign with the products inside.  Brilliant really.  Car manufacturers use that color influencing information in design.  Color has a great deal to do with why a consumer buys a certain car.  Likewise, red cars garner more attention from police officers than probably any other color, with canary yellow  a close second. We like to think that colors don't hold sway.  That we are not preferential to certain hues more than others.  That it doesn't strongly influence what we drive, where we shop, what we wear, and which frosted cookie we choose to eat.  It does. 

12.12.2011

THE LACE OF HUMOR

Some things are hard to talk about.  Read the book The Glass Castle and you will find the difficult subject matter of child abuse, neglect and the after effects it leaves well into adult life written from a first person account. I highly recommend it.  I had coffee with a friend this morning.  Amongst the subjects we talked about, we discussed writing.  I shared the project I was working on and my inner battle to say certain things that are hard.  I told her I have vacillated between not saying them and then back to saying them.  My life is my life.  I cannot change it.  Living life has happened and not openly writing about it doesn't mean it never occurred.  My desire is to not glamorize the hard, make others think I am somehow more unique than them or wear it like a badge of honor.  Rather, I want this project to evoke thought into the things we all think, why we make the choices we make, the effects that living out who we are has on us and others - the mixed bag that has created who we are.  I want to deliver all of those things cloaked with some self-deprecation, sarcasm, humor and the grace to see pain and pleasure as equal cohabitants in life.  Since I can be no less than I am, I tell her I have decided I will say the hard things laced with humor.  Humor makes uncomfortable things a little easier to hear.  She remarks to me what a difference there is in me from a year ago; that my presence is lighter, my spirit freer.  She says a year ago the grief I held was large and now love has taken it away.  I couldn't agree more with her.  She has known me in my previous marriage and saw my silent struggle.  She watched me go through a life altering divorce.  And probably not knowing how to take it from me, she watched grief eat at me like a vulture.  Our conversation turns to sex, boobs, kids, alcohol, close minded people, whether she and her husband want to meet us in the Bahamas, the medicine we take, saying what we feel in life. Over the years we have shared heartaches and also laughed until I thought we might both pee our pants.  She reminds me every time I see her that she rejoices in the happiness she sees in my life.  Always does she tell me to keep seizing the days!  I definitely have and continue to.  Cheers to you Sharon!   

12.10.2011

A CUP AND A HALF OF CHEER

I am not that big of a drinker.  By that I mean I don’t consume much alcohol.  Though as a kid my dad lovingly referred to me as “the guzzler”, a descriptive term used to highlight my ability to drink a glass of anything faster than most people.  Water, oj, milk, pop, coffee, tea, it just didn’t matter.  I could and still can drink fast.  But in my defense, I do everything fast – eating, driving, thinking, speaking, working, creating.  My throttle is just stuck wide open. It’s probably a good thing I never have liked feeling drunk or even buzzed. It’s probably a good thing that alcohol tends to burn holes through my stomach lining or I would be a two martini a day gal.  Age and intolerance for the effects of it on my body just don’t allow it.  I do though love the taste, love it going down.  Most mornings I have my cup of coffee finished long before my husband has half of his gone.  The same holds true with eating.  I am long done and waiting at the finish line with a clean plate while he is still talking and eating.  I am going to purposely slow down eating and drinking this week.  They say that we eat less if we eat slowly.  And if we sip something slowly we don’t bombard our system with too much liquid at one time.  I once knew a person who chewed their food 30 times with each bite.  Unbelievable.  It was painful to watch.  And, for a speedster like me, it seemed like a waste of valuable time!   Alcohol does the opposite to me that it does to most people.  It does not make me sleepy but actually makes me wired, unable to go to sleep.  My middle sister can’t handle alcohol at all.  My sisters and I went away for a weekend while I was going through my divorce.  I brought with me a bottle of wine to share with them.  One night in the hotel I poured all three of us a glass.  Diane drank half a glass and soon became so sleepy she could not stay awake.  Not me!  I played solitaire in the bathroom the rest of the night (kidding!).  We have some friends who consume great quantities of adult beverages.  I marvel at; 1) their ability to consume that much alcohol in one evening and still be standing, 2) that they can drink beer, wine, and mixed drinks all at the same time, 3) that their livers are still functioning, 4) the line between drinking and alcoholism.  I realize you build a tolerance for it.  I haven’t really been working to improve my tolerance for it.  Nor do I possess an addictive personality.  One night this past summer I stopped after work to meet my husband and some of his staff for a drink in celebration of one of their birthdays.  I had eaten little that day and decided upon a margarita.  Because it tasted so good, I consumed that drink very quickly reverting back to my“guzzling”  tendency.  They were a bit stronger than normal too.  I ordered another one.  As I am finishing the second one it hits me – that warm, in the tunnel feeling.  You can clearly hear all that is going on around you, but you are almost detached from it in slow motion.  Those two drinks kicked my butt.  To be honest, I don’t really care for that feeling.  Last night my husband had an executive Christmas party.  There were 14 of us milling around one of the country club’s private rooms.  It was beautiful, the food plentiful and the drinks flowed.  Doug and I both ordered a glass of wine.  And, both of us took about an hour to drink our glasses of wine.  As we sat down to eat, the waitress brought both of us another glass.  I whispered to Doug, “I don’t know about you, but this one glass of wine has just kicked my ass!”  He was feeling it too.  Neither of us ventured anywhere near finishing the second glass.  We looked around at the majority who had already consumed 4-6 drinks and were going strong.   I wondered how a few of them drove themselves home, how their digestive tracts handled that many drinks in combination with rich food, and how much money was spent on just the alcohol alone.  The highlight of the night was catching my husband gazing at me across the room as I stood glass of wine in hand, talking to a group of people.  His silent love language with that look said it all.  Later he whispered to me, “You are the most beautiful woman here.  I am so proud you are with me.”   I told him that was the glass of wine talking. 

12.08.2011

THE QUASIMODO YEARS

Right now as I sit here typing I occasionally stop to itch the eyelid of my left eye and my head. I have tried willing myself to NOT itch those two places. You know a sort of mind over matter approach to dealing with itchiness. Plus, standing in a grocery store line digging your scalp is just gross to those around you! I think those two itches are left over from my childhood. I had eczema as a kid. It would come and go in red, scaly patches in the fold of my forearm/elbow area, my eyelids and on my scalp. As an adult, especially after the birth of my daughter 24 years ago, hormones played a role in another outbreak of eczema for a season. This latest flare of it, who knows! Age is a mystery and so is the road to menopause!! It seems too as a kid I was frequented by eye infections. They were the type that when you slept your eye would weep and mat with so much gook and eye juices that you would be temporarily blind by morning. Totally unable to open my eye one morning, I remember screaming to my mom. She came running to find me looking much like a newborn kitten – eyes gooked shut completely. I had to talk myself off the panic ledge until she secured a very warm washcloth to pry loose the dried eye jellies that had solidified my eyelid into a permanently closed position. It happened with some regularity. I did feel much like one of our barn cats who seemed to be afflicted with a similar eye situation. Mom had some concoction she used on their eyes too. One morning both of my eyes were nailed completely shut with dried ooze. I laid in my bed and pictured what it would be like to be blind. I would then always have a permanent and real excuse for why my hair looked so bad (instead of the one I currently had at 8 years old ….I just didn’t comb it). What an unattractive kid I was; horribly messy hair that I never wanted to comb, bucky beaver teeth (that’s what my sisters called my overbite) that didn’t allow me to close my mouth properly, a scar that ran from the bottom of my nose to the top of my lip (again an injury that my sisters created) which caused a crooked smile, red eczema patches on my eyes and arm, and eyes that continually liked to gunk themselves closed at night. That was all accentuated with some bad childhood hairdos. I was also so skinny that my sisters dubbed me “Festus”, a skinny drunken character on the show “Gunsmoke”. They would occasionally shake me like a rag doll and repeat lines from “Gunsmoke” like…Festus, have you been drinking again?' The skinniness finally left me the summer I worked at the town bakery. Long johns with extra cream erased the nickname “Festus” from henceforth! I was not physically very attractive growing up in comparison to my sisters and most of the kids in my class. Ok, barring James “lump lump” Blessing. Next to him I looked like a model! Whenever I see an awkward looking kid, a messy Marvin of sorts, a tomboy, I smile inside. They are late bloomers whom I feel very akin to. Their time will come. Mine did eventually.

12.07.2011

8 GALLONS IN A LAKE

Reading “The Daily” this morning online there was an article entitled “ZUCKS TO BE YOU”.   Underneath the title and picture of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook billionaire, was the tease line…Leaked photos of Facebook founder reveal lame, boring private life.  That’s all it took for me to WANT  to read the article.  And, I did.  There were pictures of him in his everyday life; in his home, cooking, holding a chicken he had killed (he eats only what he kills), handing out Halloween candy with his girlfriend to neighborhood kids, playing with his dog, and talking with President Obama (ok that one isn’t in the lame, boring life category).  What a relief to know that most people’s lives are made up of ordinary days - routine events peppered with the occasional sizzle moment of one kind or another.  I found it very gratifying to see normalcy instead of pictures of celebrities being mug shotted or carrying an $8,000 bag as they shop in Malibu.  Life is that isn’t it?  It's hordes and hordes of days of simple.  Of ordinary.  Of routine.  Of non-climatic living.  That, in my opinion, doesn’t make your life suck as “THE DAILY” hinted at.  It makes life a rope, a chain, a ladder, a yellow brick road of sorts.  Everything is connected to the next thing.  Our passion of eating healthy leads to raising our own chickens.  Loving sushi and cooking leads to making dinner in our kitchen to enjoy.  Participating in community makes passing out Halloween candy a sweet experience.  Playing with our pet gives us moments of pleasure and present living.  Sharing the “daily grind” with  someone makes even the dullest of days come alive.  I have found that a great many people who create frenetic activity in their lives are usually covering for something.  They are crowding out being present, not wanting to think about some tough issues inside their heads and hearts.  Everything has a measure of beauty.  Every day living does as well.  My grandparents lived on a lake when I was growing up.  Once in awhile you would find a mussel (in the clam family – a mollusk).  They always interested me.  They were simple, even dirty, easily overlooked because of their commonness.  There was nothing really aesthetically appealing to them.  But, inside the non-sparkling shell lay another world…. A creature, a life that was living.  A mussel moves about 8 gallons of water a day through their internal filtration systems.  That’s amazing.  They live everyday life in a body of water much, much greater in comparison to the amount of water they can filter.

Like snails, mussels move slowly. You would too if you only had one foot.  To move, mussels extend their foot out of the shell and into the substrate.  Once they have a foothold, they retract the foot and pull themselves along.  Some species are active every day. Others may spend their entire lives in one place, siphoning constantly.

There is nothing especially show stopping dramatic about a mussel.  Remarkably though, they filter bacteria from water, which is beneficial to all of us.  They do it 8 gallons of water at a time.  There is something magical that occurs when we find the secret to being present in every day, ordinary, even mundane life.  Being simply alive daily is far, far from ordinary.

12.06.2011

CLICKERS, CABLES AND CONFUSION

I don’t own an iPod or any other company’s version of the credit card sized hard drive that holds music.  My husband has one which we plug into a docking station and play music through our speaker system that is connected via a bundle of wires and cables to our TV.  I do though now own and operate an IPhone 4.  I was reticent to get it and put my husband off  for about 9 months.  That is until my old flip phone began its slow death.  The tech at Verizon laughed at its antiquity, telling me that it could not be revived.  So, I was somewhat forced into the next generation of technology – like it or not.  To be honest, I have grown to love my IPhone.  Though, I still have not loaded one app or any music.  I’m slow to embrace!  Before I met Doug, my life was fairly devoid of overly complicated technology.  In fact, after my divorce and the removal of belongings, I didn’t even have a DVD/VCR player.  I had one TV that was 13”.  I rarely watched it.  One of my friends took pity on me last Christmas and bought me a VCR/DVD combo.  She cared about my lack of technology and wanted to possibly watch a movie at my house:)!   I loved her for that!   When Doug moved in my house my 13” TV was all we had.  He too had lost his one big screen in a divorce and the other one, which we sold at a sale, was a ginormous console that weighed 400 pounds!   We hosted a Super Bowl party right after being married.  The absolutely must have requirement for that is a big, flat screen TV.  We didn’t have it so we bought a 41” flat screen LCD TV and a cabinet to set it on.  I must admit, it looks great in our wood floored living room.  The cabinet matches all the other furniture in the room.  Design wise, the addition to the room is great.  What I don’t like is what is inside the cabinet.  Doug possessed many electronics; an x-box or PlayStation (I don’t know which!), two flat pieces that do something but I’m not really sure what, a larger box speaker and two small speakers on stands.  Somehow it is all connected to one another and the TV in a maze of cords and cables.  There are four remotes; 3 regular remotes and a game stick remote.  All were laying out on the coffee table the other day as Doug had put in a DVD to watch.  I used to just be able to stick a VCR tape or a DVD in my machine and turn it on.  I cannot do that anymore.  In fact, I cannot watch a movie if Doug is not in the room.  I do not know which remote does what in getting that DVD to play on the screen.  I did though finally learn the 4 step process to play music through that system off his iPod.  That is the extent of my technological know-how.  Our granddaughter, who is 9, comes here and within minutes of her grandpa showing her what to do with all that audio/visual equipment has it up and running while entering her name on the game system which flashes on the screen.  UGH!!  Doug updated my IPhone via my laptop several weeks ago.  He put something on it called I Cloud.  I don’t know what in the hell I Cloud does.  I do know it changed my phone around and I don’t like it.  I think all updates should come with two options; every bell and whistle for those that care and desire it, and bare minimum for those of us that are content with less crap, oh I mean technology apps!  Doug had to show me how to turn off the TV as well.  It isn’t just a power button.  Where did the good old days go??

12.05.2011

CRACKS IN THE FOUNDATION

I have spent a lifetime furrowing my brow, not wearing sunglasses in the glaring sun, thinking intensely, and living in extended periods of frustration.  It shows.  You know the saying, “You are what you eat”?  My ever deepening crease between my eyes, in that space above the nose and where your eye brows should take a break from each other, shows the results of my entire opening sentence.  When a picture is taken of me I try to open my eyes even wider (going for more of a surprised look these days) which is my non-surgical attempt of lessening that furrow in my brow.   I have considered skin colored tinted wall spackle to fill it in.  It wouldn’t hold I’m sure.   I’ve given consideration to using that pink hair tape my mom used to keep her doo in place at night with.  Stretching it tautly from the bridge of my nose northward to my hairline, it would be my version of a quasi face lift, the equivalent of wearing a retainer nightly after braces.  But, I like Doug to find me attractive when I crawl in bed, so I suppose that won't work either!  Does Consumer Reports rank wrinkle creams?  I’m sure most are bunk, junk, and do little to quell the lines of age that show our trail of life in visual form.  I use them anyway.  Though I am wondering if the ones that say “deep wrinkle” as opposed to “wrinkle” really are any better.  I have dry skin.  Always have.  But, aging only intensifies that problem.  I have a 3 step lotion process daily.  My husband, while taking a shower behind our clear glass doors recently, was watching my lotion applications with great interest (ok well that could have been partly due to the face that I only had underwear on).  He asked what I was doing.  I shared with him that firstly I slather aloe lotion on most reachable parts of my body, face included.  Next, I follow up with a light bronzer moisturizer for my face.  And, finally I top off my emolliently laced skin with a retinal deep wrinkle cream for my face and neck (I do not want turkey neck as I age).  He smiled and I think I heard him giggle saying something like, “Well, babe I love to touch your skin.  But, I will love you when you are full of wrinkles just as much!”   My great grandmother had beautiful skin.  Even in her nineties she was devoid of many wrinkles.  She used creams on her face all her life.  In the last days of her life, she ran out of her favorite wrinkle cream. She asked my aunt to please get her more.  Knowing she only had a few days, my aunt filled that little bottle with some cream from her own house and brought it back to her.   Concerned  about what my grandmother and aunt would dress her in for her funeral casket display for her own funeral viewing, my great grandmother specified a blouse with a high ruffly collar to hide her neck wrinkles.  It must run in my blood – my disdain and battle to slow the effects of wrinkles on the skin.  I don’t know what I fret about so much.  If genetics play a role in how we age, and if I am blessed to get my great grandmother's, grandmother’s and aunt’s beautiful skin, I will be fine.  I still though am not stopping my slathering lotion routine just in case.

12.04.2011

CHRISTMAS LISTS

It's the Christmas Season.  Maybe that means different things to different people.  Even if you don't participate or engage in religious life as a part of your everyday world, you are consciously aware of the true meaning-the origin of Christmas.  You may choose to celebrate it devoid of its intended purpose, overlooking the greatest gift ever - Jesus.  The gift that has stood the test of time.  None-the-less, Jesus is the reason for Christmas.  My husband and I went Christmas shopping on Saturday.  I'm not a shopper at all.  Gift giving is hard work for me, not because of money, but I just don't get the focus.  I care deeply about people and care little about stuff.  As I was out and about shopping Saturday, I thought about Christmas lists - people making Christmas lists to give to those who love them with items listed on it they want.  I struggle with Christmas Lists.  If a gift is something given to someone as a present, something that they weren't looking for, anticipating, or even knew they wanted - how does a list capture the true art of gift giving??  Which leads me to Jesus, the ultimate gift giver.  I like to fool myself sometimes in believing that I always know what is best for me.  That I know what I really want.  Beyond want, that I know what ultimately I need in my life.  Then I thought about what makes Jesus unique to me and the whole world.  It's His gift giving.  When we as humanity had failed to live up to the Law (rules), God sent Jesus as a grace gift.  That is the point of Christmas - God's gift of Jesus to humanity born to create a grace trail through sin and our human flawedness back to God.  I'm sure when Christ was born the masses may not have known ultimately what their deepest need was, but God did.  That is the truest measure of a gift.  I think about my own life.  When I have had a need, a hurt, a deep longing, grief that wanted to consume me, unfulfilled pieces of my life, sorrow that wanted to put me in bondage, God through Jesus brought gifts to my life.... A friend's encouragement, hope, strength to go a little further, reminders of grace despite my humanness, joy after dark stretches, my deepest longing fulfilled, manna for the day.  They were all gifts.  They were met sometimes in ways that were not on "my list".  Some were met that I didn't even know I had.  God knows exactly what I want, what I need, what is best.  His gifts are always perfectly placed, uniquely designed, and always point to His great love for me.  That is what Jesus is ... God's gift of grace to us.  All without a list:)

12.02.2011

I'D RATHER BE UGLY THAN DUMB

There are two things in life that we can't alter by much - looks and intelligence.   We are given a measure of both.  We are not, like a 12 ounce can of crushed pineapple, all given the same amount of each.  There is some settling that occurs in shipping:)    That is what makes us all unique, one of a kind, limited editions - rare.  It's also what can drive us crazy, give us material for sarcastic comments, keep plastic surgeons dutifully employed, cosmetic companies earning billions, Hollywood thriving,  and gives fodder to late night talk shows and comedians.  Our culture is abundantly full of ways to improve your looks somewhat, albeit at best temporarily.  What it hasn't seemed to help is to increase intelligence in those that need a boost upward. There's a quote that says, "I'd rather be ugly than stupid."  I would totally agree with that statement.  Being unattractive, less attractive or even repulsive doesn't yank my chain like intelligence does.  My tolerance though is nill for dumbness.  Nill I say.  I think though being dumb, not so bright, not intelligent, lacking in IQ points might be the better of the two to be lacking in.  If you are slow on the curve ball, two fries short, minus two flapjacks on the pancake stack, missing a full high five, maybe you are also missing the ability to know you are coming up short intellectually.  Now I am not talking about mere literalists who couldn't catch the trail of spoken conversation let alone the thread of unspoken but assumed that runs through it at the same time.   Those people just annoy the hell out me.  I am not talking about those that might just have a literalist personality.  No - but those to whom it is a direct result of an empty elevator.  My friend and I joke constantly that we want segregation - not by race.  We want it by intelligence.  (very sarcastic if you can't pick up the humor here).  In fact we, as the self-proclaimed rulers of the smart people planet, regularly relegate many to the planet of dumb heads.  I get exhausted with people who can't follow sarcasm, wit, simple every day processes, ask obvious questions yet don't get the answer given, make things harder than they need to be, and more or less see the world about the size of a pea as that's all their minds can hold.  If in hell we are subjected to those things that are what we hate the most, my corner of hell would be having to room with people with low IQs (not the truly handicapped people in the world), having to have constant conversation with them, having to drive behind a slow driver and being forced to eat only mincemeat pie and all things raisinesque.  That is the stuff my nightmares are made of!  Someone asked me recently, while in my home, why the timer to my oven went off multiple times.  I explained I was baking something and it wasn't quite done, so I set the timer again for a few minutes and then checked it again.  Their response, "I don't understand."  I had nowhere to go from there.  How do I explain something again that didn't even warrant an explanation the first time.  Having to retell a moment of slicing wit that was originally well placed and perfectly timed destroys all comedy.  It feels like someone just sucked all the air out of a balloon!  I know I should have grace and if I can't give grace for the less intelligent, at least tolerance.  Tolerance is even a tall order for me in response to lack of intelligence.  My mind whirls very fast and to slow it down is painful, awkward and not easy to do.  Thus my theory of two planets....one for the intelligent and one for the dumb heads!

12.01.2011

POTIONS AND LOTIONS

I am not a fan of Ivory soap or Jergens lotion. They are products that have been around for a long time.  Both were prevalently used when I was a kid some 40 + years ago.   I will give both companies kudos though.   They haven't seemed to jump on the morphing of products bandwagon like other companies.  What they are has basically stayed the same for years and years. Maybe a bit of packing changes and an addition here or there.   But recognizably their brand has remained constant. I still don't like either of them.   It's merely preference.   Ivory soap always left a weird  film on my skin - wax.   The scent is odd.   Nothing about that soap, either in bar or liquid form, appeals to me.   The original white packaging with blue print was so bland it went beyond its motto of "pure" into ineffective and dull!   Jergens lotion must have been created by someone who had no sense of smell.   The old original formula was comparable to the pungency of Old Spice.   Once applied to your hands you could not get away from that offensive smell.   It was a smell combination of old lady scents and some sort of medicinal tincture.   My Grandma Cherry always had Jergens lotion as her moisturizer.  I'm sure she used up a bottle from time.  Though, it appeared to never move a smidgen from its place in the bathroom cupboard or ever run out.  That bottle remained exactly the same for my whole childhood years.  I should love that smell of Jergens lotion as I loved my Grandma Cherry very deeply, but I just don't.  Lava soap is another marvel.  Decades before there were dermatologists were as common as a family physician, there was Lava soap.  Previous to microdermabrasion procedures and products, Lava soap ruled.  It was comprised of lye, ground up sandpaper, oatmeal, drywall dust, crushed glass held together with the like of a mud.  It left the water a murky gritty sludge color.  Both sets of grandparents and my own parents usually had a bar of Lava soap somewhere in the house.  It could scrub off dirt from hands after farming, gardening, or working on a coal furnace.  It could permanently remove the smell of gasoline from your hands along with the layer of epidermis at the same time.  I love Lava.  It was and still is a bit of mystery in bar form.  I like products that have uses well beyond their original design and purpose.  Parents, who of you haven't tried to figure out how to get a permanent marker mustache off little Billy.  Might I suggest a scrub down with LAVA soap, a second washing with IVORY and a coating of JERGENS lotion designed to soothe the 2nd degree burn created by using LAVA soap on a 4 year old's skin.

11.30.2011

A THIN LINE

There seems to be a thin line between sanity and insanity.   Between brilliance and narcissism. Between genius and mental illness. Between visionary and cult leader.   Between strong leadership and dictatorship.   Between amassing wealth and  being driven by greed.  Between republicans and democrats.   And ultimately, between life and death.   I think about Adam and Eve. God gave them everything they could imagine and want - beauty beyond measure, the position of ruler of all the created world.   All that was intended for good. Evil and hurt lay only one degree off that mark. The result created sin and death and heartache and struggle. Bad altered what was intended for good.   Don't leave me hate comments quite yet.   Finish reading.   Hitler had quite a bit of brilliance.   Study his earlier life leading up to the part of his being the purveyor of the Aryan race theme which orchestrated and carried out the murder of millions of Jewish people.  Brilliance became narcissistic.  I quite like my definition of narcissism; a way of living, functioning, and thinking in which you don't see yourself as anything less than king of the world.  Narcissism is a common thread of those who have crossed that thematic line of brilliance, genius, sanity, visionary, strong leadership. History is riveted by examples of brilliance gone awry... Of charisma leading people to give up all their belongings and ultimately their lives for causes that were short-sided and finite...   Of people groups being ethnically cleansed and poverty being perpetuated... And maybe even to the national debt increasing:)  Whenever it becomes more about us and less about others the line between just becomes thinner.  Our agenda, our intelligence, our vision, our wealth, our political bent, our __________ (you fill the blank) must be connected to morals, to ethics, to common decency, to respect for all humanity, sometimes even to restraint.  Or, we have crossed the line between what is intended to what is not intended.

11.29.2011

LIKE A RHINESTONE COWBOY

I have a confession I need to make.  It's not something that I share with most people.  This is a thing that could polarize people.  Really since my goal is to; a) write, b) grow readership and c) eventually have groupies in numbers greater than just Big D and my daughter, I'm not sure this coming out of sorts is the way to obtain any of those 3 goals.   Some of you readers have created a mental image of me, of Lynn Cherry, solely based upon what I have written about, how I deliver thoughts into words, my over-use of the phrase "of sorts", and a few facts I throw in about my physical appearance/outrageous humor/lightening speed and impatience.  I am now giving you yet another defining thing which paints a clearer image in your heads.  I love Glen Campbell.  He is in my love category which also passionately includes; all raw vegetables, a good cup of coffee, Christmas music, John Mayer, and no socks.  Maybe it doesn't make sense to you that I would love the voice of Glen Campbell. To some he is a bit obscure and yet he holds a place in musical history.   He physically epitomizes all that I find tacky, used car salesman like (no offense) and not necessarily appealing (it's his head and hair and clothes).  My mom had the Glen Campbell album,"Wichita Lineman" when I was growing up.  I listened to that thing over and over.    I thought the lyrics to those songs painted great images, which for me is the mark of any good song - leaving a visual and emotional brush stroke.  I read about his life - his childhood of deep poverty, of being a migrant farm worker with his parents.  That no doubt left deep scars on a young child.  I cheered inside that he had made it out of that into an industry that only a few succeed in.  Through the years I followed his struggles with drugs and alcohol.  His victories over it and then his plunge into the addiction yet again.  At some point, he had an experience with God (most of us do at some point).  His faith experience evidenced itself in an album he made that I have called "The Boy In Me".  It tells of his turn to the things of God and how that changed the power of his past (God does have that ability).  I saw him in concert a few years after that album.  The venue was held in the gym of a small Christian college, sponsored by one of the the local Christian radio stations.  He sang a mix of Christmas music, his newer songs that he had penned himself, and of course, some old standbys; "Like A Rhinestone Cowboy", "Wichita Lineman", "Galveston", "By  The Time I Get To Phoenix".  He whipped out his bagpipes and played the infamous "Amazing Grace" in this mix of mournful and hopeful sounds.  A gifted musician, Glen plays an absolutely amazing guitar and banjo.  His guitar playing alone  easily rivals the Eric Claptons of the world.   The small concert made me love his music even more, his amazing instrumental abilities, and his gift of lyrics and notes that can pierce me.  To my sisters out there who used to join me in belting out our own cover version of "Like A Rhinestone Cowboy" - thanks for indulging my love of Glen Campbell as a kid!