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8.31.2011

GRIEF CAPTURED

I'm not sure exactly how I feel about showing publicly through pictures the monumental grief of others.  I feel a bit bothered by it.  Having experienced some grief in my life, it is very personal, very private and not something that I would want to have captured by the media in a picture.  This morning's paper showed a mother and her grief, the result of a recent tragedy in our community.  Last week, in an arson fire, she lost 2 of her sons and her husband.  The picture of her head in hands, overwhelmed with emotion at the funeral, literally brought tears to my eyes and sorrow welled up in me.  It was good in the sense that I felt sympathy, empathy and even prayed for her at that moment.  It was though uncomfortable, as I felt like I was invading her private thoughts, emotions and world.  I didn't like that.  That reminded me of 9/11 and all the photos that captured grief, sorrow, despair, horror and bewilderment.  I felt those same emotions then as I did this morning looking at this woman's grief.  I wrote a post about grief back in December 2010 called, "She Weeps".  It was my take on grief and its power, its relentlessness, its rawness.  I think loss is so very hard for so many reasons.  One of which is that we are living, loving, experiencing life right up until the moment of loss - right until our loved one is absent from our life.  Losing access, presence in our world to them is uncharted territory.  I don't want a funeral with a casket and a big to do.  Nor, would I want my grief or loss exposed for others to view in such a public way.  I think about how grief was handled in Bible days.  Mourners were hired to follow those who had a loss - to wail, to mourn, to weep.  There was an allotted time period for extreme, overwhelming grief.  When that time was up, they returned to their lives as best they could.  Crazy in my view and yet I suppose at some point we have a choice in grief don't we.  The thing is I am not sure that point can be zoned in on, drawn on the calendar and then grief orderly swept up and cataloged back in our hearts and minds.  I like the story of Job in the Bible too.  When his grief was massive - loss of all his children, wealth, etc.... he sat unmoving, paralyzed with it.  His friends came and it says they literally "sat on the ash heap with him".  Ashes were used to signify sorrow and grief.  To this woman in the paper today, my heart broke for her pain and what lies ahead of her.  Someday may her grief actually be captured - not in a photo - but that it can be a piece of her life, not the whole of her life like it is right now.

8.30.2011

WHAT AND WHY IS THAT?

I just got off Google search trying to figure out what kind of tree is in my back yard.  There was a mountain of tree information.  One site I found you could take quizzes on your recognition of a tree by looking at a leaf.  I took the test.  Oh I got the oak, maple, walnut and tulip ones right, but failed every other tree.  That site didn't help me identify my tree!  I wish google was like Sherwin Williams paint where you can take a color swatch in and they will match it.  I wanted to be able to hold up a leaf stalk and have Google identify it without me putting forth any effort.  I wished my paternal grandfather was still alive.  He would easily know what kind of tree it is and name it with no thought.  I miss his nature knowledge, like his saying about woolly worms in the late summer.  He said if you see light brown or yellowish colored fuzzy worms it signifies a mild winter ahead.  But if you see dark brown ones, then a harsh winter awaits.  I also don't know what certain acrostics stand for in articles.  The authors sometimes write them as though the entire reading audience is as abreast to what they are speaking about as the writer is.  Don't refer only once to the company or organization name and then use initials in the rest of the article.  Intermix them so if I get bored and speed read the article I can still follow it.  I also don't know what the green cloth draped over a cross signifies.  There is one at the United Methodist Church down the street from my house.  I mean I think I know what the purple cloth on Good Friday means.  And then, I also know what the white cloth represents on Easter.  But the green - I have no clue and I was in the pastorate for 25 years.   I will Google that too, right after I find out what tree stands in my back yard.   Today I got my water bill.  It showed that I owed $8,421.39.  Wow, that's a lot of water and sewer usage!!  How that happened, not entirely sure.  But I am neither a golf course or a public restroom for Wrigley Field.  I also have always wondered why we have to save tax returns for 7 years.  Why 7 years?  Why is that the magic number?  Why not 5 or 2 or 10?  Who made up a random number of 7 and why the odd number?  Also, why is citronella said to keep mosquitoes at bay?  Does it really work and if it does, what does that smell do to a mosquito?  Why do we have to have winter?  I mean couldn't God have made the laws of nature and the sun, moon and planets such that rotation didn't create warmth and coolness?  There is an old wives tale that says if you have a large gap between your teeth it means you are lucky in life.   If that is a truism, then I should park my ass at the blackjack table in Vegas or bet on the horse races!  Why do we still need daylight savings time?  Aren't there now less farmers then when that was put into effect?  If not wearing a heavy coat or hat or gloves during cold weather can help you catch a cold, then I would constantly have walking pneumonia. Now there is BPA free plastic containers touting their non-toxicness.  If BPA plastic is so bad for us, why is it even allowed to be sold?  And if we all know that teenagers have not fully grown into their brains yet, why do we let them drive?   

8.29.2011

RUNNING CHATTER

Yesterday morning early I went for a run.  Sunday is one of my favorite times to run as the world seems unearthly quiet and still.  It was 6:30 a.m. and 58 degrees - a great running temp.  Most of the routes I run are pretty familiar to me since I run them over and over.  I see the same houses, the same cars in the driveway and depending on the day, the same people.  There is a comfort and a reassurance to me in seeing the same stuff daily.  I don't know why exactly.  For me, it's that this is my world, my life, my route.  These are the people who are part of my world - in my radius.  This morning I ran again, varying my route slightly in direction and length.  I saw the same weeds growing at the edge of the road, the same kids toys adorning the front yard of a not so stellar house, the perfectly manicured landscaping of another house.  I saw home improvement projects that need to be done, beautiful flowers, a motor home that seems to never move from someone's driveway.  I tugged at my shorts, pulling them down just above the crack to my butt - and I giggled inside on how I like to run with my shorts low - just more comfortable.  Did I look like a hoodlum of sorts?:)  I must get that from my grandmother who couldn't stand anything clothes-wise constricting her.  I looked at the Baptist Church as I ran through its parking lot en route to the street on the other side of it.  As I ran by it I heard old hymns in my head, thought about people gathering to focus on God and what the neighbors of that church think about living by a church.  I heard my breathing and wondered why I run in the form that I do - more dominate right footed and what that does to my right hip from time to time.  I consciously tried to even out my gait which only lasted as long as I consciously thought about it.  I prayed for my husband - thanking God for his presence in my life, the gift of him to me and asking God to supply what he needs for the demands of his job.  I prayed for my daughter and her husband - that they would love each other deeply, find contentment in life and with each other, that Hannah would be able to use her artistic gifts and degree to find some personal fulfillment.  There was that house again - the one with the weeds everywhere.  Why, I wondered, do they not seem to bother the home owner?  I love these newly black topped streets that were just resurfaced.  The blacktop was smooth and much softer than other streets, making running more enjoyable.  I wondered if people were sad that it was Monday.  Were they like me, not ready for the weekend to fade once again into Monday?  Look at the school - those poor kids!  Who wants to be in school on such a beautiful day?  Recess just isn't ever long enough this time of year.  You can go a little bit farther Lynn!  Pick up the pace even though you are running out of energy.  You can do this!!  Unless you are Forrest Gump, you will get to stop soon so give it a bit more speed and go just a bit further!!  Legs are amazing.  Mine are getting some of that middle aged crepey looking skin by my knees.  Ugh I hate that!   Someday I will be all crepey skin stretched over bones.  Now that sounds sexy doesn't it!  I wonder if Doug will still find me beautiful and sexy at 60 even though he says he will. I don't think my thyroid medicine is still quite right as I am cold and I could create a wig for a toddler with the amount pf hair that falls out daily!  Come on Lynn - you got another half a mile in you.  4 more blocks.  There is my driveway! 

8.28.2011

THE PERFECT WEEKEND

Life can easily cause havoc on intentionalism.  After weeks of yet another home improvement project, I was tired rolling into the drive Friday night after work.  On top of working ourselves to death, we had planned a minor league ball game outing Friday night with my side of the family.  Not being a baseball lover, along with being tired, I wasn't really looking forward to it.  What I found was that I never really ever watched any of the game, but sat next to my husband on one side, my mom on my other side, my daughter and husband behind me and my one brother-in-law off to my one shoulder.  On down were my two sisters, a niece, my dad and my other brother-in-law.  The weather was picture perfect - no humidity, cool.  There was chatting and laughter, just being with each other for 3 hours.  Minor league ball is kind of hokie.  I mean, it's slow, the players are young, and the crowd is slim.  The franchise tried to create some fan involvement.  And, the lady selling cotton candy was most definitely hysterical in the way she yelled, "G E T   Y O U R    C    O     T            T    O    N      CANDY!", with a style that made her sound like a Brooklyn New York truck driver.  She contorted her mouth much like you'd envision a 60 year old union construction worker on a busy street yelling profanities and pick up lines at a woman.  Funny!!  Sitting there I was struck by the fact that I actually needed to just sit, to just enjoy my family whom I love so very deeply.  I valued the fact that I could enjoy a late summer evening holding hands with my Love, eating a chicken sandwich and pretending to watch a game with players, most of whom I couldn't even pronounce their last names correctly.  As we walked back to the car, fireworks were going off and I felt deeply sastiated for being with the people I love.  Saturday we stayed in bed until 8 a.m. - a miracle for me since I sleep only about 5-6 hours a night.  Without work constraints or a project that was screaming to be finished, we just enjoyed the laziness of the morning, and each other:)  We drank coffee on the front steps, read the paper, perused "THE DAILY" online and then retreated to our new "Oasis" - the back patio we had nearly completed.  We christened the new table and chairs, put up the umbrella and then sprawled out on the chaise recliners to just be.  In fact, other than a bite of lunch - a chicken brat with blue chips and cherry salsa - we enjoyed the patio until mid afternoon, even taking a short nap.  We finished edging the small stretch that connected the old landscaping to the new patio and Doug shoveled the last ton and a half of stone to their final destination.  The new plant life got watered, the stones hosed down to clean off the white powder and the fence and patio washed clean.  All the while I was keenly aware that summer was slipping away.  The sounds of locusts and crickets and the coolness that evenings bring now are ushering in hints of fall.  I have enjoyed every season with Doug.  We met in winter, enjoyed the newness that Spring brought and now had danced our way through summer, basking in its warmth and taking advantage of practically living in the out of doors.  Sunday brought friends and family over for a summer meal - a batch of sangria, some salad and pie.  As I sat at the table, surrounded again by people that I love deeply, I thought about those that matter to me - those that have loved me and I have loved no matter the circumstances in my life over the past year and half.  I thanked God for their love for me and that I could love them.  My daughter leaned in close as she always does and I gave and felt love for and from her.  Cleaning up the kitchen after everyone went home last night, I felt satisfied, full, blessed and rested from just being this weekend.  I suppose that is the perfect weekend to me - to enjoy just being, spending lazy quiet time with my Love and those that I cherish, and sitting in our new "Oasis" enjoying the tail end of summer.  If only I could freeze time!  This was one of those weekends that I would like to put on repeat.

8.27.2011

IMPROVISE

My son-in-law is a MacGyver of sorts.  "MacGyver" was a TV series from 1985-1992 starring Richard Dean Anderson.  MacGyver, the main character, was known for getting out of harrowing circumstances with almost no props.  He would maneuver a toothpick to a string and blow up a building.  It was ridiculous, highly unrealistic and also somewhat creative.  My son-in-law can improvise with very little materials to fix or create something.  I too can do that, but he is the master of improvising.  I may get him a box of toothpicks for Christmas as I am most confident he would find as many uses for them as there are toothpicks in a box.  Now improvising is a bit different than jimmy-rigging.  Jimmy-rigging, though creative and a cheap way to fix something, is usually shotty.  The jimmy-rigging usually ends up highlighting the the jimmy-rigging instead of the object or project:)  I am not a proponent of jimmy-rigging.  There are a few I know that are masters of that art.  No one really asks them to help with a project unless it's something you don't care how it looks!  Improvising is taking what you have and making it into something that is workable, useful, less expensive.  Many times in cooking I improvise.  I might not have all the exact ingredients so I swap out the things I don't have and use other things.  My husband says I am great at that - improvising as I cook - creating something from what is in front of me.  Most of the time it works out ok.  Occasionally, well not as much!  I do the same thing with words.  Sometimes when I can't find the exact word I want, I create one - a combination of two words that are close to what I am trying to say.  I use the word bleckie alot.  It is my catch phrase to my husband when referring to something that I don't really like or my response to his statement of, "You are so beautiful.  So sexy!" said when I am just crawling out of bed with scrubbly hair and morning face.  Bleckie is not in the dictionary nor is it in the Urban Dictionary which is a collection of cultural words not found in Webster's Dictionary.  It is a combination of two words; yucky and icky and, a sound that I make when I don't like something.  The emphasis is on the CK like a bit of a German touch.  My husband, who lived in Germany for some years while growing up, says my made-up word actually better than do I.  I think improvising is a form of creativity.  A highly under recognized form.  There is no awards - no Pulitzer Prize, no Nobel Peace Prize for it though. 

8.25.2011

PROCESSED, RECYCLED AND REPROCESSED

Do you recycle?  My mom does.  She is a fanatic about it too.  There are bins and bags and tubs and such lining the side of her garage sorting the various products that can be recycled.  Recycling for all you greenies out there is no doubt good for the environment - less waste, trash in a landfill, yada, yada, yada.  But, it is a huge money maker!  Yes Mr. & Mrs. Green Jeans, companies get you to give them something for FREE that they turn around and MAKE money on!!  Brilliant business plan on their part:)  It's this big circular machine - processing recycled products to reprocess them into something else to be recycled and then reprocessed.  It's a billion dollar industry.  I have been recycling some thoughts, and reprocessing some of the same inside battles again.   Life is circular too!  I have quit thinking that I have totally conquered an issue because it usually comes around again - maybe tweaked a tad differently. Instead, I view it as winning a small battle in the bigger war!! Like the card game, OLD MAID, there are only so many cards in the deck and they surface frequently!!   My husband and I this morning, while sitting on the front step before work drinking our morning coffee, watched a 2005 college commencement speech Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple who just resigned 8/2011) gave on his Ipad:)  It was a great speech with 3 main points (google it on YouTube and watch it - it's great).  One of the points was being who you are - fighting against dogma, what others want your life to be or you to be or how to act.  It brought a few tears to my eyes.  I spent a big chunk of my adult life right there - stuck in dogma land.  I felt my Love's gentle kiss as Steve Jobs talked on.  Doug knew what I was feeling and thinking.  Not living in dogma land after a lifetime there has caused some waves - both tidal and kiddie pool ones in my world.  Unfortunately they still want to rise up from time to time.   I never thought my life would be the focal point of some people's purposeful acts of harshness or lies or that people would so easily believe things that are not true.  Crawling around the ground yesterday afternoon landscaping around the new fence we put in, was great therapy to recycle those thoughts, emotions and reprocess them in light of yet another person's hurtful and wrong actions towards me over leaving dogma land.  The earth has always been healing to me, so I dug and shoveled, crawled, said some brash words alone out loud to get it out, talked to God about it and heard His voice once again calling me to reprocess all that garbage again and make it into grace.  Leaving dogma land has come with a bit of a price tag - freedom usually does.  I wouldn't change a thing though.  God has given me a handful of good friends, passionate/soul connecting love daily, a family I love deeply and constant reminders of what it is all about to process, recycle and reprocess my life into being who I was designed to be. 

8.22.2011

THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT DIFFERENT

Did you ever think about how many things in life are different from one another?  By that I mean, there are more things in life that are dissimilar than are probably similar.  If you are a "Sesame Street" junkie you remember the song, "One of these things just doesn't belong.  One of these things is not like the other.  One of these things just isn't the same...." (not a direct word for word quote, but from memory so not perfect).   God doesn't abide by that song at all.  He does completely the opposite of what that little ditty implies - that being different is not the norm.  Different is the norm for God.  Everything around you that He created is unique and different from anything else that He created.  For instance, each fruit is distinctively different from other fruit.  Each vegetable is distinctly different looking, tasting, in texture, maybe even the way in which it grows, from other vegetables.  Animals are categorically specific and detailed - different and distinct from other species in the animal world.  Look at insects - wow!  The creativeness of God is most definitely displayed there with such variances that are mind blowing.  That leads me to the human race.  We follow suite to God's great pattern - unconventional, variant, beautifully unique.  I am a speedster.  Just ask anyone who knows me well and they will tell you that I drive fast, eat fast, think fast, move fast, process fast and work fast.   So, I look at a project, a destination, a goal and think through the quickest most efficient way to accomplish it.  That's the route I take.  God doesn't approach anything that way at all.  He looked at creation with a limitless budget and no time constraints since He dictates time and said, "I am going to make a world and it will be distinct, unique, varied, and breathtaking to show my love of detail, beauty, and grandness."  And He did.  Thinking about that gift of creation is like thinking about gifts in your life that people have given you that mean the most.  Three of my favorite gifts came to mind.  One was from my daughter - a small leaf necklace she gave me for Mother's Day this year.  She thought through who I was, what I loved and matched it perfectly.  The second one was from my husband who listened to three random things I shared and presented them to me on my birthday this year - clean sheets daily, a cleaning lady and love.  The third, given me by my dad, was on the heels of a very, very long extended illness.  He gave me a retro orange wide tired bicycle with a big granny seat to accommodate the pain that I was in.  It urged and aided in my recovery.   What God made in the world, in humanity, in the distinctiveness of each creation, the attention to detail, to master craftsmanship tells of great love.  He isn't concerned about mass production - getting it done efficiently or quickly.  Try looking at different that way - as a beautiful stroke of God's brush.  It will make you feel loved and will allow you to give honor to all He created - including people different than you.

8.20.2011

THE GREAT TOMATO CAPER

I told you a few days ago about Eddie, my 87 year old neighbor, who lives diagonal across the intersection from me(View From The Corner).  From my front window I can see his house - his comings and goings, whether his curtains are open or closed, if he's in the garage in a lawn chair watching tv, raking his lawn, or if the garage door is all the way open/a bit open for the cat to come and go/or completely closed.  Eddie has two very large vining tomato plants on the side of his house.  He is proud of those tomatoes as his dad used to grow about 100 plants every season and sell the tomatoes to local grocery stores.  Just the other evening, while I was sitting on the front step, I saw his son take Eddie's picture while he stood proudly in front of his huge tomato plants.  I thought about how much his son must love him.  How he wanted to capture in a picture something that is definitively his dad.  Standing in my living room one Friday evening recently I saw two boys - about 9 years old - walking down the sidewalk by Eddie's house.  Very quickly they ran into Eddie's yard, stole a couple of tomatoes and then sprinted down the sidewalk past my house.  Something came over me.  Those were Eddie's tomatoes - his pride and joy.  His wife had gone to a nursing home this winter and I just couldn't stand the thought of another loss for him - even if it was only tomatoes.  I ran out the front door and hollered a half block down toward the direction of the boys who were still running, "Hey guys!  Please come back here!" I said, half thinking there was no way in hell they would listen.  To my amazement they halted and turned around, pointed at each other as if to say, "Are you talking to us?".  I said it again - not yelling in anger, but being very direct without harshness, "Boys, come back here please."   In disbelief I stood there as they slowly walked to my yard.  What kids in the culture we live in listen to a random adult they don't know.  This was interesting, telling even - they must be decent boys with parents or a parent who taught them some good things.  They were startled and unsure.  "Boys, I saw what you did, what you took from that house that wasn't yours.  Did you take tomatoes from that yard?" I asked.  They blinked, looked at each other then down at their shoes.  "He did it," the one said as he pointed to the other.  I asked them a few other questions like, "How many did you take?  Did you drop them when you ran and I called you back?".  They had taken two tomatoes and in fear of me stopping them, had dropped them before coming into my yard.  I thanked them for being honest with me and explained that Eddie was 87 years old, a great old man who they would love.  I told them they needed to go back and apologize to Eddie for taking something that wasn't theirs.  "He will forgive you," I said to them, confident in the wisdom and grace that Eddie possessed.  Again, they blinked in sheer disbelief of what I was asking them to do.  They hesitated as I said, "Go on, I will stand here and watch you."  They walked tentatively across the street to Eddie's door kind of shoving each other to the door ahead of the other.  They knocked, but Eddie didn't answer.  I walked across the street and stood by them in case Eddie did open the door.  After knocking again, with no response, they seemed relieved when he didn't come to the door.  They were good boys.  They were just boys being boys - mischievously stealing tomatoes.  They were boys that I was impressed with for listening, doing what I asked and genuinely seeming sorry.  I told them again that taking things that don't belong to them is not right.  I told them what a cool man Eddie was, how old he was and how much they would like him.  I asked them if they would ever go into his yard to destroy or steal anything.  "No," they said looking at me with 9 year old eyes who knew they were getting off a bit easier without having to face Eddie.  I love kids.  I found these boys refreshing for owning their behavior when faced with it by a total stranger.  "My name is Nancy," I said to them. "I live right there. Boys, I am proud of you for being responsible and willing to say you were sorry.  You will be great men some day because that is a mark of a good, good man."  They smiled.  "Now, when you are walking or riding your bikes by my house, please be sure to stop and say hi," I said finishing off my speech with a hand bump to Wesley and his tomato caper partner.  A couple days later I was out running.  There was Wesley walking down the street with his sister.  A smile broke out on his face as I got nearer.  "Hi!", he said like I was his friend.  I panted a big hi back.  Later that night on my nightly walk with my husband, both Wesley and his tomato caper buddy were out walking.  When they saw me they both smiled and waved.  It seems that some truth, grace and a dose of love started a relationship with two 9 year old tomato caper boys. 

8.18.2011

MY SILENT LANGUAGE

Touch is one of my love languages.  It is a way that I express what I feel in my head and heart.  Not only is it a mechanism that I use as a way to communicate, but it is also a way that I can hear and receive love.  One of my favorite pictures of my daughter is when she is about 9 years old.  It's summer and we are both sun kissed, dressed in shorts and t-shirts.  Sitting on the couch I am leaned far over her as she has wrapped her arm around my neck and is pulling me into her.  We are both smiling, contented, connected - love flowing freely between us. There is delight in both of our eyes and we are saying so much without saying a word.  She is now long past 9 years old, but the power of that moment, that touch, that photo still speaks to me.  At 24 years old she still walks into my presence and usually comes right toward me, snuggling in close for a hug, some tenderness.  It is one of the ways that she and I express love to each other.  I love words as you can clearly tell:)  But, there are many times that words fall short in their capacity to fully capture, embrace, or support the moment.  Last week a client came into my office.  She began to let it all out about the divorce she was in the middle of, the unfaithfulness of her husband, the disappointment and fear she had - how she felt cheated of love.  I knew some of what she spoke of and my heart was experiencing what she said all over again.  Sharing only a few words of encouragement, I got up from my desk and hugged her.  Her response to the embrace of this virtual stranger was amazing.  What I couldn't fully say in words, I finished with a touch.  It was a way to tell her she was not alone, I cared, that she would be ok.  That touch was fuel in her tank that words alone couldn't do.  A few years ago, while in the pastorate, after a strong interaction with one of the lay people on my ministry team under my leadership, I reached a breaking point.  This man had fought me tooth and nail on everything.  His disrespect for me, undermining behavior and chauvinistic ways broke my spirit.  After leaving this man's presence, tears streaming down my face and my heart aching, I turned the corner in a hallway after church to see my dear friend, our church board chairman.  He knew some of what I had faced.  It was a moment with not many words.  I looked at Matt and said, "I can't do this anymore!"  Sobbing took hold of me.  He took me in his arms, fully embracing me with both arms wrapped around me and let me sob for a considerable time.  As I cried, he rubbed my back.  Never did he seem uncomfortable with my breakdown, nor did he seem eager to release me from his arms.  It was exactly what my heart and spirit needed at that moment.  Touching is never meant to take something from someone, but rather to give something needed- reassurance, love, comfort, affirmation.  I've had a few people in my life who want to hug or touch me who are not giving me anything, but actually taking something from me!!!  You can sense that clearly.  I do touch people regularly - people close to me, and random or virtual strangers.  It's my language and my mission - to leave someone better for having been in my presence.  Even if it's only through a touch.   

8.17.2011

THE VIEW FROM THE CORNER

Old man Eddie lives diagonal across the corner from me in a house he built when this street was still only dirt.  I wasn't here then, but Eddie told me that.  His house was built 1950ish and he is still, at 86 or 87 years old, meticulous about it.  This summer he hired someone to mow for him, but he still putters, rakes, sweeps and generally walks "the ranch" daily on his property tour.  He used to own a pretty well known bar/restaurant till he retired in his 60's and then worked for a bank managing their vault for some years after that.  I like that Eddie lives there.  His presence gives me comfort - that he was here before anyone else on these blocks.  If we ever had a parade on our street, Eddie would definitely be Grand Marshall.  I have done a lot of outside home improvement projects on my house.  Last summer I had 8 ton of gravel dumped on my cement driveway to landscape my entire house.  Working alone at that big project, with only my little pull dump wagon and a shovel, it took me some time to move that many rocks.  Eddie watched me.  Sometimes sitting in a lawn chair at the edge of his garage.  Sometimes through the two large picture windows that create an L in the front corner of his house.  When out for his walk he would stop and comment on all the work I was doing, how nice the place was looking.  During my single stretch I would come home on Tuesdays - trash day, to find my trash can and recyclable bin pulled from the curb back up to the house.  I questioned a couple of neighbors - was it them moving it back for me?  No was the reply from all.  It was a touching thing during that time to have someone do something for me.  A few weeks ago I was out in the street sweeping up the leftover twigs that the city left behind when they picked up our big pile of limbs.  There was Eddie.  I watched him roll up an elderly lady's trash can.  He stopped to visit with me, asking if I had gotten remarried.  Yes, I told him.  Then it dawned on me.  Could Eddie have been the one that had rolled up my trash can the whole time I was single?  He was 87 years old and I hadn't suspected him until now.  "Eddie," I asked, "you wouldn't have been the one who pulled my trash can back up to the garage all these months?".  "Well, yes" he said, "I wanted to help and only stopped when I saw you had gotten remarried."  The trash can mystery was solved.  I was so touched by his small act of kindness all those months that I had to fight back a tear.  He didn't know how alone I had felt back then - how the weight of everything on my shoulders would, at times, want to break me.  It was a small thing, somewhat insignificant even.  And yet, I had felt that someone was taking care of me.  Eddie was.  He might have wondered why I got choked up over his confession.  His comment was priceless to me, "I only stopped when I knew there was someone there to take care of it for you."  Without a doubt I knew God had sent Eddie to do this small act of care showing me visibly that I was not alone - the weight of everything wasn't all on me.  Eddie came over today as I worked in the back yard.  He came to inspect the patio we had poured this week.  He reminded me, just like he did last fall, to unhook my hose in the late fall so it wouldn't burst.  I apologized for looking a bit scruffy and dirty from working outside.  His response, "You look good to me.  I couldn't see it even if you didn't.  I have macular degeneration."  He called me honey, said goodbye and walked slowly back across the street to his view from the corner. 

8.16.2011

TRINKET TREASURES OR JUNK?

Years ago I told my daughter that I kind of liked those gazing balls you see in people's landscaping.  It was the wrong thing to say.  I have been reminded of that statement and the tackiness of the gazing ball by her time and time again.  I tried to explain to her that I don't like the ones on the tall pedestals that are a bright shiny blue or green.  Appropriately placed in some cool plant life, in a color that doesn't shout, "I am man made and bright and don't belong here", they are an adjunct to the surroundings.  Out running yesterday I glanced at the landscaping of a house to see a very low to the ground gazing ball in the color of what appeared to be a brown marbley glaze - almost  stone.  It seemed very natural tucked in among the landscaping plants joining the scenery in its earthy tone.  It stood in stark comparison to another house I saw.  This yard housed a litany of statues, doo-dads and yard ornaments.  So many that, when trying to take in all the things, you got easily distracted by each thing.  Each decoration was no doubt purchased or gifted to them purposefully.  That alone blew my mind:)  I tried to find an order, a system that they had for these brick-a-brac things.  There was none.  I couldn't notice anything else about that yard, house, garage, plant life.  Nothing.  The yard craps took center stage.  There were gnomes, flamingos, gazing balls, small rabbit figurines, whirlie gigs, squirrel statues, and the tacky and racially inappropriate black man statue holding a lantern.  I wondered what yard statue people think of my house when they go by it.  Do they wonder out loud, "That house would be so much more attractive with some yard art!"?  What does that yard crap tell about the people who reside in the house - we are fun, light hearted, not perfectionistic, lacking a sense of good style?  I stopped at a landscape company last week looking for a certain bush.  Off to the one side in the parking lot was a whole bevy of lawn craps.  To entertain myself, I walked through them giggling over their tawdriness and wondering how much money that company made off the sale of them.  I saw not one item that I needed, wanted, or could have even tolerated being placed in my landscaping.  I did though see many that I thought the house I ran by would LOVE!!

8.15.2011

250 THINGS I HAVE SAID

Yesterday marked the 250th blog post of this Tripped Out On Life's Textures blog.  There wasn't any fanfare involved with it, I just quietly penned yet another thought from my head to the screen.  What started out as a goal of writing 50 posts has led me to five times that many.  It has helped foster in me my love of realism and writing.  It mapped out visibly life's ability to serve up harsh, hard, hurtful and grief twinged pieces.  It though has also allowed me to see that those things can co-exist with deep things of joy, of comfort, of grace, of wonder and even silliness.  We had our new patio poured this morning.  It's this very cool curvy shape (don't like straight!) and was stamped and sprinkled with release powder.  That release powder and stamping created this dimension of depth - a not completely smooth surface.  It gave it depth, varying tones, and a richness.  I suppose that's really what I have written about for the past year - the things in life that give us depth, curves (smoother edges), tones and ultimately, richness.  I have written about ridiculous things with sass and humor.  Also, have I penned things from swirling thoughts, pieces of my heart, a deep hunger and from rich memories.  Someone asked me what the point is that I am trying to make in what I write?   What was my theme, what was I trying to say?  I thought about that and realized that there are lots of points in life.  Maybe my point is the wonder of life - all of it really.  Maybe my point is that there are so many things that make us who we are and that life is to be experienced, felt, remembered, commented on and held loosely.  Maybe my point has been in all that we live, experience, view, think, dream, hurt over, laugh about, all that we are relentless over - God is there in the mix - present, pursuing, feeding us morsels of Himself if we look.  I hope that is what you have seen, felt and had sit in your soul as you've read these posts for the past year.  Thank you for reading and if you like what you read, tell a friend.

8.14.2011

FINALLY A DIET THAT WORKS

There are a lot of diets out there.  In fact, if you are ever googling most anything you will see ads for "magic diet drops", "fat blockers", "this one secret that will help you lose belly fat", "build lean muscle - shed fat", "transform your body in 30 days", "sleep yourself thin" just to name a few.  You might have heard of some of the fads that have swept the nation.  We are gullible aren't we?  In our quest to lose weight, stave off aging, feel better about the way we fit into our clothes and look, we will try some seemingly crazy methods to get there.  Maybe there is a bit of a double standard between men and women, but men want to be thinner too.  Remember the Cabbage Soup Diet?  It was some mixture of cabbage, tomatoes, and celery in water.  After cooking up a kettle full - enough for the entire week - you ate it 3 times a day. So practical!  How about the Atkins Diet that allowed you to eat high fat protein only meals?  You could gorge yourself on all the protein your digestive system could hold - which wasn't much without the fiber we need to push it through!  Men especially loved that diet - meat, meat, meat!  What about the Zone Diet which was about percentages of carbohydrates and protein and fat in certain combinations?  It seemed like you needed a timer and a math degree to figure it out.  Then there was the Raw Food Diet.  The premise being that you eat only foods in their raw state - nothing processed. Once in awhile I like a cooked pork chop!   It's probably a clean way to eat, but wow!  And finally, the Starvation Diet, designed to provide you with just enough calories to sustain your life but keep you slightly undernourished - which is said to help extend your life span.  I have seen a few who held to that way of living....they looked like the living dead.  I love exercise.  I love the way I feel after doing it, while I'm doing and believe it or not, thinking about doing it:)  It takes exercise to lose weight and it takes eating moderately (yes even dessert can be eaten - just not the entire pie!).  Hormones in the bodies, collagen in the skin fill out our skin, plumping us up a bit.  Look at pictures of people in their 20's opposed to people in their 40's through 80's. I don't know if it's the loss of hormones, eating less, illness, cells dying in our bodies, but old age usually brings some measure of thinning down.  My middle sister was complaining about the plumpness to her body that she doesn't want or like.  I told her to just ride the wave, "Skinniness is coming Dinah...at about 80 years old!"   "That," I told her, "is the only diet that really works - getting old!".  I'm wondering though if we will really care about that by then?  Hand me some chips please :)

8.12.2011

AN EYEDROPPER IN A BUCKET

I have a bag of grout in the basement, open and partially used.  It was here when I bought the house probably from the home improvement project of the people before me.  It is a 20 pound bag.  That is a lot of grout.  In fact so much grout that when recently we ripped the old floor out and installed new ceramic tile, we used that same bag.  There is still a huge unused portion.  Sitting at work today I could see outside the office window to the Steak and Ale Restaurant next door.  It long ago had closed its doors.  Weeds had taken up residence in the unmown lawn.  The windows were boarded up.  It is for sale.  No one is really rushing to buy commercial property presently.  It sits unused, vacant and not being used to its potential - a lively place to drink and eat - a restaurant.  I pictured the inside of my mind - my intellect, probably a bit overgrown, maybe not totally tapped.  Then I wondered about my abilities, my capabilities - was I using only a portion?  What about my potential?  Had I boarded up some windows, ruling things out because of too much effort, believing I couldn't or it wouldn't happen?  Was there this untapped minefield in my mind, my soul and my spirit? How do I activate it, use it, unleash it, maximize it?  I read that we use only about  1%-10% of our brain to its fullest capacity (I guess there is a range for a bell curve!).  Now that doesn't mean that the other 90% is just sitting there like a lump of clay.  We use all of our brain, just not all of it is maximized.  There is untapped potential, a greater capacity that waits there.  That led me to God.  I can only, with my finite 10% maximized brain, see and understand a portion of a limitless God.  I honestly cannot see everything God is.  What I do is try to compact Him into human definities, understandables, condense Him so I can understand and see.  That though still only shows me a portion of God. And sometimes it is not accurate.  In conversation with my eldest sister recently, I mentioned that there are things we cannot process with God. Things that are bigger than our minds can digest and file appropriately.  We view things so human, and well, God is not limited like we are.  We wash our way of thinking onto Him all the time - mostly unintentionally.  If I stop to see God as that bag of opened grout, that there is more to be used, more to understand, more to experience, then I don't limit Him.  If I need to have it all defined in my humanness, thinking I can know all, most or sometimes even some things about God - the author who created all things to know - then I limit His capacity, His power, His grace, His working in my life. The deepest part of the Pacific Ocean is at best guess 6.78 miles in depth.   I want to see past what I know or think I know.  There is more.

8.11.2011

THE WALK OF CELEBRATION

Typically I run most every day, barring a few here and there.  I live in a neighborhood where there are tons of walkers, runners, and bikers.  You kind of get accustomed to seeing the same people out doing their routine.  In fact, if you don't see someone for a day or two you start to wonder about them - even though you don't personally really know them!  Last summer I started seeing this 30-something year old woman out, usually at dusk with her German Shepherd, barely jogging.  She was a very large woman.  I wasn't  sure if she was out at the time of the day for the coolness that it brings or, to gingerly jog maybe not wanting to bring attention to her size.  I watched her form, her size and applauded inside when I saw that she was working at it.  I can't say that a year later she has disappeared or wilted down to a svelte, lean running body.  But, several weeks ago on a sweltering day I went out for a run.  Typically I don't run that time of day - way too hot.  The heat had been unrelenting for a week or more and there was no real "cool down" period of the day.  Nearing my street on the my return home, I stopped to walk the block home.  There that lady stood with her husband in the shade at the edge of the road getting ready to run.  I stopped to converse, commenting that they like me, had waited too late in the day and got caught in the heat.  I mentioned to her that I had watched her jog at night by my house and that I could tell she had lost some weight.  "60 pounds," she replied.  She told me that they had a contest at work and then she just decided that she wanted to run a mile.  That mile led to eventually another, and so forth.  But, she mentioned that she just couldn't break the 3-4 mile barrier and her time was about 9:30 or 10:00 minute miles.  Even after a 60 pound loss she was still a big girl.  Several nights ago my husband and I went for our nightly walk.  As we left the driveway for the street there she was, dripping wet with sweat, wearing what are typically not running clothes (due to her size), and sort of yelling something at us, "Hey you guys!!  I just ran my first straight 6 miles!!"  We got so excited for her that we clapped and screamed and hollered and I ran to the stop sign jumping up and down for her.  What a treat to celebrate the final 2 blocks of her personal victory with her.  Walking a few blocks further there was a man at the end of his driveway unloading a large white 5-gallon pail from his truck.  "Do you want to see my large blue catfish I just caught?" he said with eagerness to show off his prize.  We headed across the street to his driveway where, with pride, he reached into the pail and holding it by the mouth, pulled out a 8-9 pound catfish.  I asked him about the fight to catch it and the thrill.  Soon another walker saw the commotion and joined us in looking at this total stranger's fish.  We walked away and I wondered what it was about that night that made relative total strangers invite us to celebrate their personal joys.  I felt kind of privileged.  It reminded and reassured me that there are still wonderful things in humanity - that people are mostly good and decent.  That everyone, once in awhile, needs a pat on the back.

8.10.2011

ARE THERE CHIPS IN HELL?

What do these phrases mean?  

There is no way in hell.  And, all that and a bag of chips. 

I don’t know where they originated, who concocted those thoughts or why.  There may have been a legitimate circumstance that they both fit perfectly to.  I would be curious to know.  I say both statements with regularity.  Why, I don’t know!  Just yesterday I wondered exactly why I use them and tried to dismantle what they really mean.  There is no way in hell.  Does it mean because hell has a rap of nixing the ability to do anything other than experiencing misery, then there would be no way I could do such and such?  Or does it mean since hell is forever and doesn’t change, there is no way you would ever do such and such, ever - case closed, no discussion.  You have such an abhorment to whatever. that there is no way in hell (absolute and total) you would do it.  That if never could pass away you still wouldn’t?  Opinions welcomed.  Now, moving to a little bit lighter more carefree saying – all that and a bag of chips.  Why chips?  Why?  Is it saying you are 100% + 5% more?  That’s like saying you got 100% on the test and one extra credit question.  You got perfect on your test so what does the extra prove – your magnificence which was already proven in your perfect score!  Isn’t it really a slam to throw something as insignificant and cheap in the mix (chips) of something that wonderful.   I am thinking that whoever created that statement, off the cuff, off the top of their head, was a lover of all things salty.  Maybe my brother-in-law, who when first married to my sister kept a bag of chips on the floor by his side of the bed.  It could be that the saying means he/she is so great and full of goodness or self that there is barely any room left for anyone or anything else – thus the bag of chips comment.   I think I might have to change that saying to more accommodate and define who or what I think is all that.  Maybe for some a bag of chips is appropriate.  If it is said about me I would like it to read, Lynn is all that and a piece of pecan pie or a peanut m&m, or a quart of half and half, or better yet... Lynn is all that and a brussel sprout.

8.09.2011

A YEAR IN THE REAR

Years ago I was a closing agent for a title company owned by one of the prosecuting attorneys in the county I lived.  I figured closing figures and then conducted the actual closings which finalized the sale/purchase/refinance of a property.  That state figured property taxes "a year in the rears", payable twice a year - May and November.  So if you were paying the May 2011 tax bill you were actually applying it to May 2010. You were in essence paying for something that you already lived.  My birthday was yesterday.  I turned 45.  That's not old, but then again, it's not young either.  Birthdays make you think about things like; mortality, significance, regret, hope, thankfulness, where from here, how you look, how you feel, what really matters, what happened in your life since your last birthday.  I looked a year in the rears yesterday.  What was going on last year when I turned 44?  I was going through a divorce after 25 years of marriage, sitting down with a counselor to help rid my soul of hurt and anger and conflict within, experiencing life being single, eating oatmeal nightly in the bathtub, running religiously, worrying that my relationship with my parents might never be the same again, fretting over the hurt that my daughter and her husband were experiencing, wondering how to earn more money, going to the beach every weekend, starting this blog, experiencing God's abundance in my spirit - manna, mourning a deep loss, hungering with relentlessness to live differently and love differently than the first half of my life, getting ridiculous gifts from my two dear friends - all geared to the single life, sitting in church alone and actually enjoying just God and I, meeting Big D for breakfast every Tuesday morning, visiting the license branch approximately five times and the social security office twice, writing daily, seeing God answer prayer, setting my crazy loose.  It was a year of massive changes, loss, freedom to be Lynn for the first time in my life, the magic of the gift of true love, 30 days from first date to the altar, trips, combining households, changing my job status, reordering life with passionate love on a daily basis, massive home improvement projects, acceptance and love of my new husband by my whole family, experiencing the difference that love makes.  A lot has happened in a year.  Looking in the rear view mirror I am amazed at the flurry of things, the frenetic pace, and the amount of territory covered in a year.  If there is an emotion that can be labeled, described, or experienced, I have had them all this past year.  Last August I felt like I was in a life raft thrown in the big ocean.  All around me was water and I couldn't see land.  It took me some time to realize that meant I could go any direction I wanted.  And I have.

8.07.2011

PEOPLE WATCHING

I find people fascinating.  They are interesting, quirky, a mystery and telling all at the same time.  I find what they look like, what they wear, how they look, how they carry themselves, who they are with - all things that make up the pieces to any of us in life, compellingly addictive to watch.  Sitting in the outside patio of a trendy restaurant in a lake shore town last evening, I people watched.  The restaurant, being in a lake shore town and being a bit pricey, catered to more the middle aged and up crowd.  It was one of those restaurants where the cheese plate didn't hold a piece of swiss or colby.  It had cheese like; black ash and goat cheese with strawberries and blueberries on stop of sesame seed wafers drizzled with organic honey.  The place was linened and modern.  Retreating to the outdoor patio, we ordered sangrias which have so little alcohol in them one might consider putting them in a baby's bottle (seriously kidding!).  As we sipped on our summer drinks, we watched people.  At the table next to us were 4 ladies in their late 40's to mid 50's talking about authoring books, the christian church, and the catholic church.  They were not wearing wedding rings and I surmised that they were lesbians by the way they talked to one another, the clothes they wore and just their presence.  Soon seated after us was a couple that appeared to be late 30's to low 40's.  If not on their first date with each other, maybe their second one.  She was adorned with big green earrings and a big HUGE green flower ring on her middle finger.  She wore a green tank top with ruffles which was tight fitting - highlighting her very large breasts.  The top coordinated with a sport skirt with a greenish flower of print sewn on the gray skirt.  She finished off the outfit with greenish wedge shoes.  If I had to guess, she was divorced with a couple of kids (verified later when she pulled out a pic of her kids to show her date), hair dyed and swept up with a barrette, and small wrinkle lines at the edge of her eyes.  She was a talker too.  Her date appeared to be a great listener or was in his own happy place in his head as she droned on and on for the next hour.  You could tell that they weren't far in their relationship yet - no touching of any kind, and by the conversation, just hadn't had long periods of time with each other yet.  Both had 2 martinis while sitting there.  I could feel some of their pain - middle aged and dating!  A couple of tables away the hostess sat a couple, he in hisy early 50's and she not far behind.  He wore a red shirt, had a receding forehead hairline, black sort of dirtyish shoes and casual sport pants.  By appearances and body language he seemed a bit nervous, socially inept and like a junior high boy with awkwardness trapped in a grown man's body.  His date (neither were wearing rings and gave no signs of marriage), was very slender with sagging breasts that gave her age away even though she looked younger than her age.  Her fashion consisted of a frayed at the bottom blue jean skirt (very short), high heeled wedge sandals and a white t-shirt with rhinestones embedded all over it.  The comfort level she seemed to have far surpassed his.  She leaned in to hold his hand several times or give him a kiss and was met with some pursed lips and a pat on her arm.  He did loosen up later, after drinking and eating, where I saw him slip his hand down her backside to her rear end right after taking a clam off the plate and pretending it was talking to her:)  Our guess was that they were dating but probably not long.  You could tell they had been intimate in their relationship.  In the clear back corner was a table of 4 men ranging in age from late 40's - 60 ish.  One came adorned with a Jason Mraz hat and sunglasses.  He took neither off the whole time even though it was evening and we weren't in the sun.  The other men at the table appeared, by either dress or mannerisms, to be gay also.  The man in the hat was a people watcher and I watched him watching others and me as I watched others too.  He was distracted of sorts.  Seated next to them was a bi-racial couple - a black man and a very neat and orderly white woman both in their 30's.  He seemed somewhat angry or detached when they first sat down, but her smile and sweetness that seemed to be all around her, softened him quickly.  Across the patio an older man and woman came in.  He spoke to the waitress telling her that there would be 6-7 altogether.  Soon after a gay couple in their 40's came, going to that table where the one man, maybe the man's son, embraced his dad.  The man who embraced his dad began to look around the patio for extra chairs.  He walked to our table where we said he could have our other two chairs.  About 15 minutes before we left the table next to us with the 4 lesbian woman left and were replaced by two couples in their mid-late 60's.  The one gentleman was sporting a very loud print shirt with pleated tan pants that were cuffed.  I think he was about 5'2" and I leaned over and said to my husband, "I think I could definitely take this guy:)"  His wife was a few inches taller than him.  The other man in the quartet looked like he wasn't too awful thrilled to be there.  Believe it or not the woman in the large green ring and earrings was still talking:)  We wondered if her date was just putting up with it hoping to have it end up with sex if he just endured!!  I wondered about the lives they each had, the hurts or baggage they carried, if they knew anything of Jesus, what they did for a living, why they were there. Then we entertained the idea of what others thought while watching us.  We laughed a lot, had a couple of drinks, held hands, talked, and kissed a bunch.  Did they think we were on a date?  Would anyone in there think a married couple our age could have that much fun in public?     

8.06.2011

CHANGE AND AN ERECT PENIS what do they have in common?

Change, on any level, involves courage.

I liked what I read on the small picture hanging in the bathroom of the bed & breakfast I was at.  True, I thought to myself.  Very true of changes in life - changes specific to me and, those general to most of humanity.  Change is something that peaks my interest (just read how many posts I have written about it from various angles).  Change does to the human psyche and spirit what extreme movements of the barometric pressure do to our bodies - causes discomfort, stretching our limits, our boundaries.   Bear with me on this human reproductive system analogy:)  The average human erect penis is 6 inches, give or take a smidgen. (Discounting possibly the world of porn stars!)  Note the word average.  The average vagina is 4 inches in length/depth.  Do the math.  How does that work exactly?  Well, when stimulation occurs, a woman's body - her vagina in particular, stretches anywhere from 150% to 200%.  Now, without adequate stimulation, there is pain sometimes involved and the stretching can't occur fully.  Are you following the bouncing ball yet? :)  Here's the correlation...  When I look at change, whether it's deemed good, bad, or unknown and, I enter it without courage, without embracing change and understanding its place in life (whether I like it or not) it is a painful, hard, unpleasant place.  Yes, you're right some change - illness, death, financial ruin, relationship issues - are painful, unpleasant on their own.  But if I can eventually find a way to know that change (which is shifting, never staying exactly the same) by nature is constantly moving, even ever so slowly at times, then I can be helped to relax into it.  It's design is not to destroy us, but stretch us, change us when we need it, move us along the path in life that is designed as ours.  I loved the other frame that hung next to it too...

Hope, the thing that causes tomorrow to hold the promise of joy. 

It tags right onto the secret of accepting change doesn't it:)

8.04.2011

THE VALUE METER

There is a drive through stand alone car wash in the town I live in.  It's kind of a legendary iconic place that has been here since I was a kid (ok, I was born in 1966).  So, it's been here a long time though it has changed owners in recent years.  It still though remains fairly untouched by time (that's a kind way of saying it hasn't been modernized too much or the aesthetics of the building changed one iota).  I went there recently, desiring to have the exterior and interior of the car cleaned.  It was a nostalgic car wash for me.  It is the sort of car wash where you get out of the car, they drive it in, and you follow along a row of windows to a cashier where you watch your car being cleaned.  There were seats to sit in, a vending machine that looks older than I am, a small wall display of car doo dads like air freshners, etc., and oddly enough, a rack of sun glasses on a turnie thing by the cashier.  I was lacking a pair of legitimate sunglasses and had some time to kill.  The pair I have, along with my favorite ball cap, were hand me downs, discards from my daughter.  I really am not too awful picky about certain things.  Waiting on the car to be thoroughly cleansed outwardly and inwardly, I began wasting time by trying on sunglasses.  I tried a few pair on, looked in the mirror and laughed at how I looked in those particular styles.  Spinning the rack around, my eyes feel on a different pair.  I plucked them from the rack sort of smiling inside at how absurd it was; 1) that they sold sunglasses in the car wash, 2) how almost tacky it was that they did sell sunglasses in the car wash, and 3) how long they had been on this rack as there couldn't be that great of demand for sunglass purchases while waiting on your car to be washed.  The pair I had on looked not half bad.  I giggled at my buying ability - picking up a pair of linen Banana Republic capris at Goodwill a couple weeks ago along with a great pair of Banana Republic pants and an Ann Taylor Loft shirt.  The sunglasses in my hand listed at $9.99 was the fourth member of the bargain quartet.  I wore my new sunglasses to a party at one of my husband's co-worker's house.  Someone commented on my glasses.  I think I blurted out, "Oh these, I got them at Rocket Car Wash while waiting on my car!"  They laughed at the tackiness of me buying glasses at a car wash and that they were only $9.99.  It really didn't bother me as sunglasses don't hold value to me.  My husband loves sunglasses and has a very expensive pair of Oakleys.  He, by the way, looks great in them!  But I think he would look great in a $9.99 pair as well:)  There are things I can justify spending money on.  Things that matter to me.  Size sometimes equals value.  Sometimes how important it is correlates to the value it has to someone.  For instance, sunglasses don't hold great value to me.  I need them to keep the deep furrowed valley from increasing between my eyes from years of not wearing sunglasses.  I need to look ok in them.  That's about it.  Low value to me.  My wedding ring is small in comparison even to the sunglasses, but it holds great value to me.  It means more and therefore I would pay more for it.  Having a beautiful dining room table and chairs as part of the rich decoration of my dining room was important to me.  Furniture can be almost like a work of art adorning the room.  I was willing to spend money on it because it mattered to me - was a reflection of me in that room.  I have a gray shirt which I love.  It's cotton, almost a smooth lightweight canvas.  A sort of steely dark gray color that borders on blue.  I look good in that shirt because somehow it brings out the grayness in my eyes.  I bought it at Goodwill for $2.50.  It was the shirt I wore on my first date after my divorce.  It was the shirt that the date, now my husband, says caught his eye.  It didn't cost me much, but it is literally invaluable to me.  I have a short squatty rocking chair in my living room.  It is dark oak and sits lower to the ground than most chairs.  I've had it for probably 12 years.  It was grandmothers and is well over a 100 years old.  There is no amount of money that you could give me to buy it.  Unless, "Antiques Roadshow" said it was worth $25,000, then I might let it loose:)  Value is subjective to the holder isn't it?  What is a treasure to me, is junk to you.  What you would never ever spend money on, I might and vice versa.  What item(s) I think is a reflection of me is different than the item(s) you might view as a reflection of you.   I've often wondered about the people who possess small dwarf statues and place them in their landscaping.  What does that say about their personality and what they value? 

8.03.2011

ASK AND TELL

There really isn't one thing any of us do that we don't say, think or approach through the unique lens of our personalities - the way we are wired.  It takes extreme consciousness to think about how the receiving person can best hear what we say through the filter lens of their own personality.  It takes even more effort to try to meet them where they are.  When I sold real estate I had to work on that skill.  Selling, buying or listing properties you had to learn to be akin to the nuisances of people's learning styles, their personality bents.  You had to study how they talked and talk to them in that way.  To the analytical personality I had to talk and provide stats, figures, logic.  To the relational personality I used human connectedness.  I am by nature pretty direct.  Hopefully not cruel, or brash, but direct.  I say what I mean and if I say it, I mean it 100%.  I don't process things out loud, so when I say it the processing is usually over.  People who process out loud can drive me nuts from time to time.  I'm sure I never do them:)   My daughter, when growing up, would do what all kids do - try to change the mind or answer of their parent.  Never is an absolute word leaving no room for ever in it.  And, I never changed my mind.  She would ask if she could do this or that and I would say no.  She would regroup and come back, trying it from another angle.  Finally one day I said, "Hannah, you've been playing this song for years.  Have I ever changed my mind when you come back the second or third or fourth time to ask me if you can do something?  No!  Then, why do you think I will this time!"  Because of my own processing system, when I ask a question I am seeking information having to do with only that question.  Meaning, I have already processed all I know and that question is the piece I need to finish the puzzle.  I want the answer to it, and it only.  My skin begins to separate from my flesh when I ask someone a direct question, seeking a specific answer to that specific question, and I end up with a shit load of words and no answer to my question.  The shit load usually contains stuff I already know (that's why I didn't ask those questions!) and don't need.  Now I am not alluding at all or presuming that I know all there is to know, but questions are to be answered.  Please!!!  Recently during the demolition home improvement project we were in the middle of, I called my brother-in-law with a sawalls in my hand.   I wanted my question of, "What is the best way to separate the rafters of the room we are tearing down from the outside roof line of the house?" answered.  20 minutes later, more information than could be stored in the Library of Congress and no simple, direct answer I thanked him and hung up.  At about 2 minutes into the conversation, when the answer to my question didn't come in a simple, straightforward form, I literally quit listening.  He is the greatest guy in the world and I love him deeply.  We though, couldn't be more different in our communicative styles.  He was speaking his and I, with my own, couldn't follow a damn thing he said.  The risk of those that think and process out loud is that they are heard by those of us that don't process or think out loud.  I am absolute.  When I ask it, I want the answer or the information I seek.  When I say it, I will do what I say.  And, when I talk I have a direct point.  Which leads me to my mom.  She is notorious for telling such a detailed story that you get lost in its longness.  I've actually heard my dad say, "So, what is your point?"  :)  He's direct.  That's probably where I get it.

8.02.2011

WEEDS IN THE GRASS

I have Yellow Nutsedge.  It sounds beautiful doesn't it - as though it's either a beautiful yellow hinged bird who sings a happy song or it's a perennial plant that casts its branches full of soft yellow blooms through July and August.  It is neither.  It though is a weed.  It is not yellow either, but rather a strange sort of greenish hue.  It looks like grass with individual blades but they are a different color, a coarser texture and grow a bit faster than regular grass.  The lawn gets treated with both fertilizer and weed killer by a landscaping company.  What I noticed recently is that the weed killer they use only kills certain weeds.  It hadn't touched my strange colored patches of coarse taller grass.  I called the company one day to find out if they could send someone out to find out what it was - this pale greenish grass, and why the weed killer they spray isn't killing certain weeds.  Home from work a few days later I find a note from the landscape company.  Yellow Nutsedge it is - not killed with their regular weed killer, but would need an application or two of a more powerful weed killer.  Of course, I thought, why have a weed killer that would kill all weeds.  What a great marketing and business growth plan:)  I also have in my yard a small raised bed garden.  The vegetable plants exceed its boundaries during peak growing season.  Mowing is a bit tricky for awhile.  Weed spraying must be too.  After the Yellow Nutsedge was sprayed in the yard I noticed my zucchini plants were dying.  Yellow Nutsedge is not good.  You don't want it in the yard - it will take over the good grass.  Zucchini is good, providing vegetables that make things like; zucchini bread or cake, stir fry and casseroles, an addition to salads, kabobs on the grill.  One I wanted to die, the other I wanted to flourish.  I marvelled thinking how God is a great landscape care taker of our hearts and souls.  He can flourish the good, and with precision, hone in on the Yellow Nutsedge in our hearts.  I bought this house from a lady in her mid nineties.  Her husband had died the previous year and it was just too much for her to take care of.  When I moved in the landscaping was askew, wild, untamed and messy.  I looked at all the plant life she had.  It had grown into each other.  The fast spreading things had taken over, inserting themselves in other plants or bushes.  I was so overwhelmed with the chaotic mess of good and bad plants that I eventually just ripped every plant out, not sparing anything, even the good.  Not God.  Though he makes us new in Him, He uses all things in us to do that - the good and bad.  He takes the pieces of me that need to be trimmed or weeded and makes them beautiful again.  He made me so He knows all the plant life, the wild vegetation in my heart and soul.  It doesn't scare Him or detract from the beauty that he knows is there mixed in with the weeds.  He patiently weeds and cultivates me uncovering the roses from the poison ivy vines.

8.01.2011

WHAT I WANT TO DO

I love this quote, but unfortunately I wrote it down some time ago without noting who said it.  The credit for its brilliance belongs to someone unnamed. 

What I want to do and what I do are two seperate things.  If we all went
 around doing what we wanted all the time, there would be chaos.

Restraint is a word that none of us really love.  It doesn't leave us with warm fuzzies nor does it paint a picture of ease or comfort. I am not drawn to that word.  And, if words were colors the word restraint would be unpleasant to look at, like the color calf shit yellow. We don't normally say, "Hey, dish me up some restraint.  I am craving to be withheld from something I really want to have, do or say."  I can remember saying to my now grown daughter, "Well, I don't really care if you want to do it.  You still have to do it."  (For that sentence that flew from my mouth I should have to give back my Mother Of The Year Award!)  People sometimes file restraining orders against another person.  It literally means they are kept back by the law from that person.  Usually because the result would harmful to either or both parties.  Distance is kept to keep chaos from breaking loose on some level.  Restraint and chaos are opposite end of the spectrum words.  There is a range of things I want to do.  Some of those things are good things like; run 8 miles, learn to downhill ski, hike the grand canyon, get published, live full of grace and joy.  Those things that I want would not cause chaos if I did them.  There are though other things that I want, but if I did them, pursued them, became them, chaos would ensue in my life.  What I really want to do is tell the clerk who is checking me out to quit talking to a co-worker and get to it - quit pausing every time a word comes out of your mouth.  What I really want is to eat pie every day.  Chaos would come upon me in the way of weight and ultimately unhappiness.  What I really want is to have a bull horn attached to my car to be able to say what I think to slow drivers who impede my need for speed.  Chaos would come in the form of some one probably shooting me or ramming me with their car.  What I really want is to hide from my neighbor man when he sees me outside working because I don't want to lose 30 minutes of time talking.  What I really want is to say what I really feel ahead of the feelings of others.  Chaos would come in the form of many broken relationships.  The funny thing is that in doing the things that I really want that cause ultimate chaos is that they are all highly selfish.  They put me ahead of other people's feelings, thoughts, personalities, needs.  Which really then would cancel out the thing I want most - to be a person of love, laughter and grace.  Restraint, even in its calf shit yellow state, brings order, allows growth, peace, grace, discipline, safety and ultimately helps us deny self of things that may be harmful both to us and others.  Calf shit yellow maybe sort of attractive in the right light!