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12.28.2012

AN INTERSECTING POINT

In theory things connect, eventually. If it were possible to see with my human eye alone I could see that the earth is not a continuous line, but it connects to itself. Really the reason I cannot see is that the earth is spherical. It's round. Though Magellan circumnavigated the globe (ok most of it until he was killed), the Greeks are said to have surmised its roundness around 384 bc.

At times I can get pigeon holed into thinking that my life is a long continuous line. It is not. It connects to others as their lives intersect my line causing it to be far more round and circular than I understand. It gives it dimension.

Two years ago today my line intersected a strangers. It was a cataclysmic encounter.

Coming off a divorce after 25 years of marriage, I was struggling with finding my point of connectivity to much of anything. Christmas Day 2010 was spent reading, running and hiding from humanity as my blue blue Christmas Day pummeled me from my perch of self doubt and grief.

Three days later on December 28th, 2010 I walked into a local restaurant at 8:00 pm to meet a man who contacted me on eharmony.com. I hadn't been on a date, had only been on eharmony for one day, and had not responded to any eharmony matches but this one. I knew it was time to go forward, to move onward, to build the life I always wanted. It was time to live big and bold, and it was time to get love.

Doug, 51 was all it said about him on the eharmony email cover. That in and if itself was not remarkable really. I would soon come to realize this man though was very, very remarkable.

We both decided to meet for dinner the same day the match appeared on eharmony. I though was the brazen one who said, "Lets just meet for dinner. If it's not a connection then we will both know it and can just go on." Fully ready or not I was willing myself forward. Two years later I sit on a train with that man named Doug writing this post.

December 28, 2010 turned out to be an instaneous soul, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and white hot passionate connection. It was orchestrated by God at His timing as the answer to my heart's cry. Our lines intersected that day connecting us circularly. Two years have never gone so fast in all my life. Today holds for me the same fire as it did that day.

I knew the moment I saw him, the first words of his eharmony bio I read, the emails we exchanged, by his friends confiscating my number and texting me in the hours leading up to dinner. I knew it when three hours after sitting down for dinner felt like two minutes and I wasn't ready to go.

Everyday I feel the same way. The time spent with him is never enough. I can't wait to see him at the end of a work day. We think the same and see things the same. The only measurable difference between us is my first place position in being funnier than him. He clearly knows it but can't concede to a silver medal.

Two years has not dimmed this love, tempered its connectivity or cooled its passion. Doug and his life crashed through the intersection and into mine.

Happy anniversary to my Love, the line crasher.



12.27.2012

THE POST CHRISTMAS LULL


Before me lies 6 days of vacation.  That means in layman's terms, not having to be on a schedule, a routine, a have-to mode of thinking and doing.  It means letting my hair be morning messy until I decide to make it unmessy or decide to just leave it be.  It means staying in my favorite white Aero low-slung sweatpants, thin zippered sweatshirt and slippers until morning becomes mid-day.  It means sitting and slowly melding into the day with 2 or 3 cups of coffee, perusing the news sites online and reading the paper.  It means getting to go for my run during the day hours instead of cramming it in post-work or pre-dawn.  It means a wide-open calendar for love and romance - the joys of an empty nest:)

When I was a kid the cartoon "The Jetsons" was on TV Saturday mornings.  I can't say I was a big cartoon lover, comic book reader or the like.  But, TV was TV and we didn't get to watch much so you watched whatever was available on the 4 or 5 channels that our rabbit ear antennae picked up.  Picked up would be a stretch.  There WERE only 4 or 5 stations anywhere at that time!

I get tired of getting ready for work in the mornings some days.  You know the process, you do it too.  Showering, shaving all body parts (women have far more square footage to shave than do men!), washing my hair, slathering on 3 different lotions to quell the Sahara Desert that is now my skin, blow drying my hair, curling or straightening it depending on whether it's a good or bad hair day, putting on my minimalistic make-up, figuring out what to wear based on whether it's a feeling great about myself day or a hide my body sort of day, making my lunch to take with me, brewing my half-gallon Starbucks travel mug with coffee to get me to at least 11:00 a.m. and then turning around the next morning and doing it all again.

Many a day I long to be on the conveyor belt from "The Jetsons" where getting ready, showered, and dressed for the day was a trip down the conveyor belt into the automation machine.  That is some technology I would buy if available.  In fact, I would trade in my iPhone if required to acquire something that would get me ready for the day in mere seconds.  Think of the time I would have on my hands.  Time for another cup of coffee, a longer stay glued to the backside of Doug in a warm bed.

We'll take the train into Chicago for a few days.  Wander around the city, shop, eat at some great restaurants, meet friends for dinner and let someone else make the bed and clean the bathroom for a couple of days.  We will both say to each other, "too bad it takes money to retire" as we contemplate our love of not being on a schedule, having to be somewhere and do certain things in repetitive madness.  We will stay up far too late making getting back into a routine even harder when time off concludes.  I will drink more glasses of wine than would be my norm and eat things that ordinarily I would never put in my body.




 

I will contemplate my place on my line of accomplishing certain goals and dreams I have for things in my life.  Things in our life as well.  I will review my relentless ways to see if I am getting soft, being purposeful in all things and moving toward the things that I know will come to be.  I will do all that with messy hair and on my time schedule! 
 
I may or may not fix that roosterish teased thing on the top of my head.  And by fix I mean with a ball cap.

12.26.2012

WAITING TO BE DELIVERED



I thought about waiting once again.  Good things come to those who wait.  Not one who loves a cliche or seemingly trite statements, I wondered in my own life about waiting.  What had come from my own waiting? 

I thought about what the Bible said about timing and waiting, "....at just the right time, when we were still powerless, God sent His son, Jesus."

I thought about phrasings and comedic delivery.  It was about timing, waiting on the right moment to execute humor based on that moment on the line where maximum meaning, laughter or poignancy is best showcased.

It would seem that much of life is about waiting.  Is there something about delayed gratification that we are meant to learn?  Is there something about not getting something when we think we should that makes us appreciate its richness deeper when it does come?  Is there something about waiting for anything that makes us realize we don't control the world, the choices of others, or even at times, our lives?  Is there something about waiting that makes us realize we are powerless?

I thought about Christmas.  Fully embraced or not during the season, its origin and basis is the birth of Christ, the Son of God.  There is timing to a birth - 9 months, 40 weeks, give or take a week here or there.  Unless extenuating circumstances ensue, that child will enter the world when ready, at the perfect time.  . . . at just the right time.

God waited and waited on us to get His laws, His rules.  When He knew that we would never be able to get it right by sheer obedience to a set of "to dos", He sent His son, Jesus, into the world to be born.  His birth was the beginning of a trail that led back to God.  It wasn't just about His birth, as magnificent as that was.  After He waited and waited, He sent Jesus to be born to die to take away the sin, our human incapability of hitting the mark.  He did what we could not, in our humanness or timing, do on our own - find a way back to God.
To find a way back to the God who created us and longs for a relationship with His children, no matter the unevenness and rough parts of our humanness.

. . . at just the right time, God . . .

How often I miss things around me.  The night Jesus was born, many people missed it.  Some still miss it.  Some though saw the timing, the fulfillment of God's promises through Christ.  The waiting was over.  The time had come for God to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. 

Nadia, our middle grand child, whispered in my ear every 30 seconds following Christmas dinner yesterday, "Can we open presents now?"  I smiled inside, "Not quite yet Nadia.  In just a bit. "  Her question came over and over again followed by my varied but same meaninged response, "Soon." 

. . . at just the right time, God . . .

Waiting was followed up by God's delivery, a promise, a way back.  Possibly maybe waiting does come with some good things after all.

12.23.2012

THE WEATHER OUTSIDE IS FRIGHTFUL


I sat in my car at the stoplight waiting for it to turn green.  My gaze fell upon an older woman crossing the street on the crosswalk in front of my car.  I watched her gait, the clothes she wore, the weathered and worn skin that made up her face.  How old was she?  Where was she walking to?  I would be there some day too.  I would be that old woman with a weathered face walking across the street.  In fact, it seems it would be here before I knew it, wanted it or was ready for it. 

My face would no doubt be far more weathered than hers at that same age.  I had spent a lifetime of loving the sun, running and biking out doors, being out in nature sometimes no matter the temperature or conditions.  I suppose if you put one of those lights up to my face to show the damage, it would be massive.  I've never been a great wearer of sunscreen.  Now in my mid to late forties I can't find enough lotions or wrinkle creams to combat the squint and age lines or fully hydrate my alligator dry skin.

I got glasses for distance vision in 9th grade.  Since 9th grade, 32 years, I have only had 4 pair of which I have rarely wore any pair I have had.  Until this past year I really only needed to wear them if I cared to see anything spectacularly in detail from a distance.  And mostly, I was ok to not see anything spectacularly in detail from a distance:) 

This year my reading vision has plummetted.  I don't know why they have to make print on the ingredient content of most items so damn small to begin with.  My years of squinting to see something at a distance is now coupled with squinting to see things that are too small up close.  Combine all that squinting with the fact that I have not been a wearer of sunglasses which is causing me to welcome to my face an ever developing and deepening furrowed brow.  I am not welcoming it with open arms though.

You know how easy it is when stressed to pull your shoulders up from tension?  We aren't even fully aware that we are in a tightened state.  It takes conscience effort to force your shoulders down, relax your arms and breath correctly.  I am making a concerted effort to not furrow my brow.  I though am making little progress.  It's hard to undue a lifetime of bad habits, no sunscreen, not wearing glasses when needed, and having a face that shows every thought on the outside.

I am considering a counter measure to my deeply furrowed brow.  Since Botox or plastic surgery is not an option, a piece of duct tape pulled tightly in a vertical line from the space between my eyebrows up to my hairline might be a cheaper less invasive option.  They make duct tape in all different colors.  Flesh toned tape would be far less obvious when I crawl in to bed at night.  Maybe Doug wouldn't even notice.   

Had the old woman crossing the street fought age and lines and furrowed brows too?  She didn't win.  I wouldn't either at some point either.

12.20.2012

PLAN B


I had a great plan in my head for the upcoming days.  It would have put me squarely at the finish line on Christmas Day without being exhausted.  It would have gotten me through the murky waters of time vs tasks without stress.  It was paced, methodical, fool-proof even.


 My plan involved systematically doing "things" that needed to be done, preparations for the holidays.  Things like; getting Doug's staff of 27 Christmas gifts together, taking a holiday dress I wanted to wear to a party to my mom to have it cut off, cleaning the house top to bottom for all our kids and grand kids coming home for Christmas Day, making the food I could prepare early, having all ingredients needed for the meal bought, getting my boss and co-worker's gifts, cleaning off the pile of crap I need to go through off my desk at home, having all our kids gifts bought and wrapped, all the neighbor goodie trays made and delivered, a few of my close friends gifts completed, something figured out to get my dad, finishing painting the hallway the second coat of paint that has been waiting on me for the past year all while going to work during the day.  Simple, duh!

I didn't have a back up plan.  I had plenty of time, I thought anyway.  If there is a disorder that involves a task/time perception dysmorphia, I have it.  Clearly I live day to day thinking I can get an inordinate amount of crap crammed in, but in reality I get only a small portion of it.  A harder, stay to the task, head the grindstone driven person you won't meet much past me.  I though have come to the conclusion I am far too unrealistic.  My relentless in all things ways collide from time to time with the natural boundaries of reality.  This again was case in point.

At this particular juncture in the journey to Christmas I am re-thinking my probably unrealistic task to time ratio.  My house is askew.  Even though I am mostly neat, I can easily morph back to my messy strewnish childhood ways.  My two sisters swore they would never come visit my house when I grew up based upon how messy I kept my stuff as a kid.  They didn't hold to their word and I found order and cleanliness as I entered adult life - most of the time any way.

Still though I can freely be non-neat at times.  Presently at the end of our bed I have two days worth of work clothes hanging off the foot board.  It's a temporary closet/hamper.  They really haven't bothered me when I crawl into bed at night.   I pulled open the kitchen towel drawer tonight only to realize every last towel I have is dirty.  That is a clear indicator that I am probably needing to wash the heaping basket of towels.  How that got away from me I do not know. The bathroom floor is so dirty that I don't want to go in there barefoot.  Thank God for slippers:)

It's almost 10 p.m.  I'm tired, hitting a wall, realizing clearly that my journey toward Christmas is not going to be fulfilled in any way shape or form.  I have abandoned all hope and am now lowering my sights to where they are practical, reasonable, attainable and keeping with what this season is really about. 

I have shopping still to do, but may just put cash in an envelope instead.  I'm not sure I can bear another trip to a store, the anguish of trying to figure out what is someone's exact likes or needs.  The best thing I can do for them and myself is just to stop the rush to Christmas and enjoy these days.  To not end them in exhaustion or obligation or gift buying pressure. 

I didn't get to run tonight.  There just wasn't time in the mix of frenetic activity, all Christmas related I might add.  That is not how I like to live.  Life just feels fast right now.  I am frantically trying to hold on to this time before it isn't any more.  My messiness of late is related as well to being more focused mentally on my daughter and her husband in these few weeks before they leave for Africa for the first leg in a year commitment to mission work in Guinea.  I am distracted with thoughts and emotions.  They are definitely the full reason I haven't cleaned:)

Tonight I said "uncle" to rushing any more for the next 2 weeks.  What gets done gets done.  What gets cleaned gets cleaned.  If we don't have every last item done for Christmas, all the food that I think needs to be prepared made or all the dust wiped away from the furniture, I just don't care from this point forward. 

If Jesus can be born in a cave, a stable, a place where animals were kept out of the elements, then I can live without cleaning, cooking and present buying perfection.  I can't fully enjoy the now when all I am consumed with is what's next, what needs to be done to get to that next thing I need to do.  . 

Next year I will not wait until a few days before Christmas to stop the madness.  My Plan A & B next year just might be Christmas in the Bahamas.

12.19.2012

OLD - ESE


My aunt wrote me an email today.  In it she referenced a current event in society and then commented that she was most definitely sounding like an old person, an 80-year old.  I giggled inside because, though I'm 46 to her 80, I too feel like I am thinking and speaking old-ese any more. It's a sort of remember when, remember when it was better or different comparative approach to current culture.  

Not everything present or current is under par, over priced, or out of moral alignment. But there are things that are. My grandfather used to say, "The good old days weren't always good!".  He meant change can be good, sometimes!

As I sat in the waiting room at the car dealership where we bought our car, waiting on an oil change, there were brand new cars positioned in the showroom.  It's Christmastime and big red bows were flung across the cars.  It seemed a not so subtle Christmas gift idea I suppose.  Those cars in front of me cost anywhere from $25,000-$45,000.  My first house I bought cost $32,000 and I ate, slept and lived there.  It seemed out of alignment. 

Pumping gas in that same vehicle this week I was reminded that $55.00 to fill a car's tank with gas is a long way from the $10.00 a week it used to cost.  Our other vehicle costs roughly $60.00 to fill its gas tank with petrol.  That is $115.00 in gas every time we fill up cars to function in life; work and errands.  Neither of us drive far to work either.  That's a lot of money to drive. 

No matter how hard I try it seems I cannot get out of the grocery store for much less than $100.00.  Earlier in life that would have been half of what I spent for the entire month, including cleaning and hygiene products.  Now consumable costs take up a huge amount of our disposable income.  That did not used to be the case.  I'm not sure how families with kids still at home survive the gas and grocery bullets. 

Christmas shopping made me keenly aware of the cost of clothing.  A sweater at Banana Republic can cost $70-$100 (median income in my county is $44,354).  If you earn $800-$900 a week that ONE item is 10% of your weekly income.  Outrageous!  Let's pretend you shop cheaper than in that venue of stores. and your sweater or men's dress shirt is $30-$50.  You are still at roughly 5% of your income for the week.  Most definitely out of skew if you ask me.

With consumable prices where they are it is understandable how people struggle to save for retirement.  How to save to get to retirement when costs to live in the present are high is an issue.  I don't see that resolving itself any time soon. 

We all think cell phones are terrific.  It gives us flexibility, mobility and connectivity.  Most of us have no land line any longer.  But, I can guarantee that you pay more in cell phone/data packages than you would on a single land line.  We may have gained technology but there is a monetary cost to it.  We are not financially ahead as families with cell phone charges versus land line costs. 

The wants have now become the needs it appears.  And, they are costly.  Am I speaking OLD - ESE?

12.17.2012

THE POWER OF SILENCE


I don't really want to weigh in on the Connecticut school killings.  There has been enough of that done.   I haven't been able to find adequate words to, a) figure it out or categorize something that big, b) give voice to emotions that are too heavy for words and deserve the power of silence, and c) try to deduce it down to a solution to prevent its repetition in our society again or a reason that caused its occurrence on Friday, December 14, 2012.

Grief is a horrific thing.  If you are new to this blog, read my post from December 9, 2010 entitled, "She Weeps".  Grief is so immense, so inconsolable, so suffocating that we think we will not survive it.  I can think of nothing as emotionally and physically consumptive that life brings than grief.  It is also very personal and requires a lot from us. 

It is said in the Bible that when Job's losses were so great his friends literally just sat next to him in silence.  Job sat covered in mourning ashes unable to even remove himself from the pile of ashes.  The significance of that is huge.  That kind of pain, that kind of loss cannot be disturbed with words.  It needs quiet. 

We can actually feel the deep pain and sorrow of others.  And although we are unable and incapable of bringing the loss back, easing the pain or speeding up time to create healing space, we can sit on the ash heap with them.  We can sit beside them, giving much needed silence as their heads and hearts are already a chaotic mixture of emotions and thoughts.  Words just add to the overload and swirl.

It seems that some in our culture scold the media for their up close coverage of events such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.  I get that.  It seems that even though we are a highly connected media driven society, grief is so personal, so intimate that we forget that maybe privacy should be given.  Yet we want to know the hows, the whys, the answers, so we seek information from the very platform we criticize for too much coverage.

There was a time in history when a funeral procession was en route that other drivers pulled over, got out of their cars, took off their hats and bowed their heads in respect as the processional drove past.  Silence is powerful.  It is a respecter of tragedy, pain and anguish. 

No sense can be had of most tragedies in life.  They are neither punishment or nor are they acts of God.  They are not easily, readily or willingly understood most of the time.

My only understanding in all of life, perplexing and heart breaking times especially, is that God created us, loves us powerfully, feels what we feel and weeps with us as a parent weeps over a child.  His unmovable presence sits with us on the ash heap feeling our pain. 

12.13.2012

YOU BETTER RUN RUN RUN FOR YOUR LIFE


I run because I love the outdoors.  I run because it's great exercise.  I run because there was a time in my life that I couldn't.  I run because it's solitude time .  I run because it is something that brings me back to center. I run because I like to let my thoughts freely reverberate around in my head.  I run as a connection to God.  I run in an attempt to outrun certain things in my life.  
 
 
Pre-run happy face.
It soon turned to anger.
I am not fast. My fastest time is a 7:30 pace.  My usual pace is 8:15.  I don't run with an Ipod or any variation of it.  I do not run with others.  My favorite times of the day to run are early in the morning as the light just starts or in the evening when it begins to fade away.  My best running temperature range is 40 to 60 degrees.  I do not like to run where there is traffic and mobs of people.  I don't need the latest Garmin watch, gidgets and gadgets.  I run to be free and unencumbered.

Sometimes though running causes me some anger issues.  Like tonight.

Though I am bigger than a mouse, I am smaller than a car.  Therefore, sometimes people just don't see me when they drive.  I've almost been hit a few times over the years by careless inattentive drivers even though I run against traffic in very minimal traffic areas.

Coming up to a 4 way stop usually dictates that cars will yield their turn to let the runner run through the intersection without having to stop.  It's just a pedestrian sort of acquiescence thing drivers do.  Not tonight!  I mean if I wanted to stop then I wouldn't be out RUNNING!  

Two cars and my not-in-a-car self entered the 4 stop way intersection at about the same time.  Assuming that; 1) cars see you, and 2) they are going to understand humanity's principle of kindness and the concept of running means you might be taking your own life in your hands.  I started to run through but the car to my left was disregarding my presence and sped up causing me to stop with one foot already in the intersection.  I threw up both hands and yelled as he zoomed right on by ignoring my presence, voice and gestures. 

He could have cared less and no doubt would have plowed into me had I not stopped.
He threw my pace and rhythm off.  And, caused a surge of anger to boil up and out of me!  Dumb ass drivers stoke my pipe!  So much for this run centering me tonight.

Two miles later I am about 30 feet from a driveway.  The homeowner was standing in the driveway watching someone get in a car and back out of his drive.  That homeowner made eye contact with me but did not, in cautiousness, warn the driver of the car that someone is on the street running.  He backed out without looking as I stopped less than 5 feet from his car to avoid being struck.  

I lost it.  There was no calmness in me.  There was no tolerance left for drivers who don't look.  It was NOT dark out yet.  I was wearing black running pants and a bright pink Nike long sleeved shirt.  How you could miss me, I do not know.  I yelled very loudly at both the man standing in the driveway and the car that had just backed out narrowly missing me"LOOK BEFORE YOU BACK OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" 
 
I felt my anger crescendo at having to stop yet again during my run.  To be interrupted in something that fluidness is part of breaks part of its intended purpose.  I am tired of being not seen by some and not cared about by others that I share the road with.

My scariest near miss happened this summer.  On the last mile of my run I was running a stretch where my street had no stop signs but the cross streets did.  As I approached an intersection, I watched an elderly woman in her car come to the stop.  I continued to run.  As I got directly in front of her car she let off the brakes and accelerated from the stop sign.  By the time she saw me, her car hit my thigh and I had both hands on the hood of her car.  It was broad daylight and I was right in front of her.

I was rattled to say the least.  Angry though I just couldn't muster in its entirety when I saw the horror on her face.  I feared she would die right at that moment from the shock of not seeing me until she touched me with her car.  She looked at me with fright, terror even.  If I could read her mind I think she was having a conversation with herself, "Should I stop driving?  If I can't see people right in front of me maybe it's time to put away the keys."  She didn't need my wrath, though I was disappointed again in drivers inability to see runners.

Then once in awhile you will have someone who notices TOO much.  "Hey lady, nice ass!" the trucker driver yelled.  "It's 46 years old!" I replied never breaking my stride.  I think I'd rather have sexual comments hurled at me than worry if someone at an intersection or driveway is going to see me or hit me.  I would rather the occasional smart ass man yell something than a driver's lack of skill cause me to have to stop because they aren't paying attention.

Tonight's run wasn't restive or restorative.  It was a rage fest!

12.12.2012

SAME MONSTERS


I hate when people don't leave room for others.  And, I also hate box stores.  Believe it or not there is a connection.

Leaving no room for others occurs in the extreme positions of just about anything in life.  And big box stores are just ginormous same monsters - endless corridors of same, mass produced, churned out stuff.  Same is not interesting to me.  It's small minded and narrow.

Opinions are not necessarily supported by fact or knowledge but rather by a judgement or a view.  I've got a few, want me to tell you some:)  The view out of my mind, heart and eyes is going to be slightly different than yours. Though our humanity ties us together, our individual experiences and personalities create a different lens.  And, that is a good thing. 

If two people witness an accident they see two different views typically.  It's not that the accident didn't occur or that one of the views is right and the other is wrong.  Rather, what was noticed or viewed was not exactly the same because of perspective, angle, timing, etc.  Same is boring.  Really it is.  Same misses the panoramic view and captures just a portion of anything.  It is tunnel vision with no peripheral.

I can remember when my daughter, now 25, was emerging into sculpting her own identity in late junior high and high school.  Teenagers boast of their desire to be different, to be unique, to be innovative in their personhood.  What I found was that in that declaration of being innovative there was still a herd instinct.  They screamed I want individuality, but followed each others individuality like zebras in a herd.  Like cows standing in a row in the milk barn. 

The political left and right do the same.  Their band standing, trumping their stance ways to the exclusion of anyone who is not one of them or who doesn't share their same view, leaves no room for others.  We all get pretty full of ourselves when all we hear is us and all we will listen to is the sound of our own voice, opinions and viewpoints.  It paints a vivid picture that WE are really all we need.  It turns me off and raises my ire.  Others views and thoughts make us think from angles we might not on our own.

I always applaud passion.  Passion is my language.  Passion and blind exclusive opinions are two different things. I don't applaud the same monster rulers - those people who believe whole heartily that their views are right and every one elses are wrong.  Most definitely there is some black and white in the world.  But there is equally as much, if not more, gray and open for interpretation parts of life. 

I love to read things that aren't my viewpoint.  Things that aren't the way I think, have thought up to this point, or even possibly believe.  I want to know why someone thinks a certain way.  The differences we have are intriguing to me, even refreshing. 

I desperately want to be able to be me.  If I have a deep seated need to be Nancy, I would imagine you too would love to just be you as well -  opinions and all.

 

You can probably guess then I'm not a big fan of Rush Limbaugh or Bill Maher. 

12.11.2012

TIME'S KALEIDOSCOPE


Isn't it funny how without a scope of comparison or life experience we don't know what is truly good, bad, normal or strange.  We are clueless as kids to the full picture.  Though we might know something isn't quite right, we can't articulate it, don't really fully understand it, aren't able to verbalize it or even totally put a finger on it.

In some regard it is a sort of protective blessing that as kids we don't have a full perspective.  It's how kids can survive some horrible growing up years, bad parenting, even abuse. We can only know what we know until we know more.

Time and experience gives us perspective that we can't have without it.  For instance, sitting at the dinner table the other evening Doug turned to me and said, "Nancy, I always thought my mom was an amazing cook, but compared to you she was absolutely horrible!  I didn't know anything else!"  I laughed.  I too have had those same thoughts thinking back to things I truly thought as a kid. 

My mom's sugar cookies, I thought as a kid anyway, were amazing. So much so that one Christmas season after school I decided to make a triple batch for my mom and the upcoming Christmas season.  My parents had a Christmas party that night.  I started making her frosted sugar cookie recipe at 4 p.m.  After rolling out cookies and baking until around 9 p.m. I finally called my brother-in-law Kent to come and help me frost the entire dining room table of cookies. That's a lot of cookies to make period, let alone ones that later in my grown up years I came to know were not really that great in terms of the recipe.  Comparison and life showed me otherwise.  I do not make my mom's sugar cookie recipe.  Neither do my sisters:)  Sorry mom!

I thought I was fairly, moderately at least, normal as a kid.  My sisters have begged to differ with my view of myself as a kid.  They tell me I was not normal.  Looking back I realize I probably wasn't "normal" as they like to put it.  That became apparent to me in my adult life when, after telling my oldest sister things I thought about as a kid - deep thoughts at a very young age, she responded, "You know that's not normal for a kid to think those deep things and feel them so deeply?"

To be honest, I had never thought that.  My assumption was that others too at that age had deep life thoughts. Since it was all I knew, it was all I knew. She informed me that was not the norm. As I thought back, from the scope of time and experiences, I realized she was right.  I though am glad I did not realize that when I was a kid.  No one wants to overly consciously know they are an odd duck as a kid!

I've talked with people over the years who would attest to the fact that even though they knew the sexual abuse they experienced as a kid wasn't ok, they had no scope of comparison.  They thought that was what other families experienced too.  It wasn't until later, post-childhood, that they could with time and experience, come to know that was most definitely not good or right.  That there were better "sugar cookie" recipes out there so to speak. 

I lived in a marriage for 25 years that I knew wasn't good. I thought that others struggled constantly like I did in marriage, that was just part of it. I did not truly know what and how much I had missed out on until I got divorced and remarried.  Marriage could be fulfilling and rich.  It could be a daily date.  It could be a soul connection. Love, real pure love, could be a life changing thing.  I had no idea!  None.  Time and comparison taught me different. 
     

12.10.2012

BABY, IT'S COLD OUTSIDE


It happened again today.  That little flicker of pull back.  That get soft, less risky, less wanting to get outside my comfort zone kind of reaction to something that normally I would do.  I didn't run outside in the first snow today, yet.  I did not follow a tradition I have had for years - to go out into the first real snow (not a flake here and there) and put in some miles.  Actually my run still lies in front of me tonight.  What will I do?

For the first time in my life, driving home from work in 35 degree, windy, wet snowiness, I said to myself, no way in hell I'm running outside in this!  As soon as the word hell reverberated inside my head I laughed at my wimpy thoughts!  That thought really is not akin to who I am and how I have lived my life.  I have shoved, pushed and conquered irregardless of circumstances much of the time. 

Just over the weekend I was recounting to my husband my yearly tradition of running in the first snowfall - why I always do it.  There is something exhilarating, connective to nature about being absorbed into the harshness that is absolutely soul cleansing.  I so get those Polar Bear plunge participants.  There is a bit of I am doing this because I can in it too.

Today, for the first time in my middle years, I actually thought; it's windy, cold, blowy, dark, had a long day at work, the treadmill will do almost as good.  I am disgusted with myself.  Today's weather would have been nothing for me last cold running season.  In fact, I've run in such conditions that drivers are crawling by with snow blowing so hard that they are looking at me like I might be a crazy person as I run past them.  What is my problem on this first bitter day?  I am growing soft.  Oh geez!

Excuses become a snow fence of sorts in all areas of my life if I let them.  I mean, the more things I excuse myself from doing the more barricades there is to get through to do the thing I know I should do.  My first blustery day run is one of those things. 

What if I go from choosing, through my candy-ass line of reasoning and excuses, to not run outside tonight to then succumbing to elasticized pants.  Or maybe not pushing myself will lead to not cleaning the house, not eating right, not pulling that chin hair out that for some reason wants to show itself as I speed toward 50 years of age.   Maybe it is just a downhill tumble without my first cold blast run outside.  I don't want to cause the dominoes to fall.

With those thoughts, I have just decided to strap on my blinking light and do a few miles in the dark cold night.  When I lay my head down in bed tonight I can feel that I followed my ritualistic tradition which makes me feel vitally alive.  It will help ensure that age hasn't begun to pelt its way into my resolve through wimpy excuses.

We do risk less things as we age.  I'm not ready to be that person yet.  Baby, it's cold outside:)

12.09.2012

NO PREP NECESSARY



I'm a winger of sorts.  I like quality, but don't always need to prepare to the hilt to get there.  That sounds bad.  Almost arrogant.  Or, that I don't care.  It's really neither. 

I don't necessarily fault people who do.  Ok, not entirely true.  I probably do get a bit irked at those folks who want to make more of preparing than is deemed appropriate in my eyes.  Anyone who makes something simple overly complicated drives me toward insanity.  Their over preparation, over involved and over fixated on the non-importants of anything takes the joy away from the thing for me.

There are certain things in life that should not be overly messed with; thinning bangs, kids hair before their school pictures, thickening agents in gravy, the wrinkle to Botox ratio, hair color as we age, trying to make turkey into turducken, our natural fingernails, changing the recipe to a loved favorite such as the introduction of NEW COKE, resolving the love interest tension in a TV sitcom, and Christmas.

Christmas is most definitely in that category as well.  We have messed and messed and messed with it.  It has created expectations, deadlines, excessive preparations almost to the point of ridiculousness.  We rush straight from the table on Thanksgiving to the now midnight opening of Black Friday to begin the battle to win the time war to Christmas.  It wears me out!

Do you have your shopping done?  What are you doing for Christmas? 
 
They are conversational questions, small-talk starters meant to connect us to people.  They though highlight how we view Christmas - BUYING AND DOING.  I have faced that in myself as well sitting at the table trying to decide what exactly to make for Christmas at our house.  What all I need to get done to prepare for that meal, that day, the kids, the grand kids.

I don't think God intended for us to overly mess with something He was trying to give us as a gift.  He doesn't need us to alter it, change the original recipe, add our humanistic capitalistic bent to something divinely intended to change our world and us.  It's like we all want to take something simple and pure and complicate it.  As if we are going to top what God did through sending us His son Jesus to relate to our humanness.



Think about the event of what Christmas represents - the birth of Christ.  The actual human birth of Christ in Bethlehem came without elaborate means, preparation or hoopla.  Mary went into childbirth in a stable or a small cave intended to house animals from the weather.  There was nothing excessive about that.  In fact, the contrast of the Deity of Christ against that backdrop was not drowned out by excess.  Brilliant!!  Spot on God!!


I don't want to race from one thing to another in life in general.  And, I definitely don't want to do that with Thanksgiving and Christmas. Much of life can be a blur.  We move from day to day, event to event, circumstance to circumstance, activity to activity, upward climb to upward climb.  We are a lot like kids at Christmas, not fully enjoying the present we just unwrapped because there are two or three more unwrapped ones sitting there. 



Stop the complicated madness!  BE!

12.06.2012

PLAYING CARDS, ROLLER SKATING, AND MOVIES



I was raised 2.5 steps up from the Mennonites.  A break-off if you will from that denominational and theological viewpoint.  You can go back and read my post from 9/26/10 entitled, "2.5 Steps Up" if you have curiosity regarding such.

Being raised fairly fundamentalistly, we did not play with playing cards.  I did not play with regular playing cards seen on a Las Vegas poker table until my first marriage when my then husband introduced me to penny poker.  Though we did not play with playing cards, as it had some sort of unspoken taboo to it, there was a deck hiding clear in the back of the bathroom cupboard.  There were no other games in that cupboard.  Which led me to the conclusion (whether right or wrong) that playing cards were deemed evil by my parents and church.  Thus why else were they being hidden.

Now I have brought this playing card thing up to my mother in
my grown up years.  She laughs at my assertion that putting playing cards in the clear back of the bathroom cupboard is strange.  That it sent a message to us kids saying - PLAYING CARDS ARE WRONG AND MUST BE HIDDEN.  I can easily get my mother to melt into laughter, which I readily try to do.  She claims that was NOT the case even though I point out; we never played playing card games as a family, I never saw my parents play with them (solitaire or otherwise), and they never moved from that secluded resting place in the 18 years I lived there. 

My mother, the cleaning Nazi she is, no doubt cleaned out that cupboard a handful of times in those 18 years of me being a registered minor.  But every time she did, the playing cards were returned to the back corner of the shelf in that cupboard.  When I clean out cupboards and drawers and closets stuff gets moved.  I prefer like things go with like things.  Occasionally I understand that something that doesn't belong in a drawer or cupboard gets placed there for one of the following reasons; a) we aren't sure what category or place it really belongs to be nested amongst, b) we are in a hurry and just want it put somewhere, or c) we are hiding it amongst unlike things to create the perfect hiding diversion place for something we don't want others to see, eat or use.

I have a friend (she knows who she is) who hides chocolate in her bedroom from her kids.  She has her own little stash.  Though I believe they know she has it and might even know the place by now.  The point though is she hid it in a place that wasn't logical to look for chocolate.  The playing cards were hidden in the bathroom cupboard because, as I feared as a child, the church police or someone of equal authority might find them in our house and condemnation would be heaped upon us.  Evidently God would not approve either.  Though I always thought He could see even hidden things.

It can sometimes occur that, when denied something in our young years, we seek it in larger proportions in our adulthood.  None of us three sisters are card sharks, play the tables in Vegas or even have a fast working knowledge of the game Euchre.  Those who have had the misfortune to be my Euchre playing partner or have played poker with me over the years can attest to my poor card playing ability. I can't shuffle any deck of cards worth crap.  I totally blame my parents for my lack of skill.

It is said that drugs, sex and rock n roll are bed mates.  Personally I think each of the three can stand alone and not lead to the other.  But we love to lump things together to showcase the bad.  In my house growing up it was; playing cards, roller skating and movies lead to no good.  Oh, and being out after 11 p.m. :)  At times I felt like a fish out of water growing up since I found none of those three things wrong, nor did I feel in immediate danger of slipping on the moral cliff by partaking in them.

Our non-playing card parents did hide the deck of playing cards they owned, but mom still claims to this day she was not hiding them.  I can tell you I don't keep my playing cards in the bathroom cupboard.  They are in the game drawer for the grand kids. 

I'm a liberal I guess:)

12.04.2012

WITHOUT ALL THE WRAPPINGS



Ask anyone that really knows me, I'm not much for saving things.  If it's been here a year and it's not dear then it is gone.  Preserving times through sentiments of sentimentality I lack in doing greatly.  I don't have picture albums or scrapbooks. Maybe I should.  Though ultimately it's no doubt better this way in the long run.  It's less stuff for children, who follow up after our stuff after we die, to deal with.  I don't know if the handling of a loved ones belongings and pictures and things are a blessing or a curse to those whose care it is left to.  I'm probably not the best judge of that as I am prone to view it totally through my minimalistic stuff way of living and crammed to the hilt love of people way of thinking.

As I have aged belongings really have become less and less meaningful.  Seen through my lens of stuff it is just another category to keep track of.  I want less to keep track of as I age.  I have a sneaking suspicion that as I lay in the final days of my life I won't be thinking about possessions or regrets that I didn't acquire enough of them. 

If all of life at death is like a funnel then I will think about the relationships that I invested in, or didn't invest in.  I will think about if I did enough for others.  Did who I was and what I was given by God leave people better than I found them?  Did I fulfill, or try to fulfill, God's design for my life?

So, stuff is stuff.  It is not alive.

Christmas has always been a bit of a struggle for me in the gift category.  Gifts really are not my love language.  Relationships are.  Love is.  Love expressed in words and time spent, in being valued every day and in giving value to others.  That's always the perfect gift for me and probably the one I want to give to others as my gift to them. Though maybe they would prefer more boxed and wrapped gifts!

I've stood at relatives auctions as their entire collection of stuff, of belongings, of a lifetime of things are laid on a table, stacked on tables and called out for a bidder.  It's a poignant experience.  Everything falls away at some point.  Stuff does too.  It is bought by strangers who have no connection to the person, no sentiment attached to the object. 

Living things, relationships, go on even after death.  The imprint of a person on us never leaves.  Sometimes in grief we might wish for a reprieve from it, but that gift of presence outlives inanimate objects.  It's the wash we leave behind us on others.  That's why grief of people is so intense and sharp. 

I thought about God today and His gift to us at Christmas, His son Jesus. 

Stuff tries to trump relationships even in a holiday that is the result of the human birth of God's son, Jesus.  God gave us something that is lasting.  Something that is not sold on an auction table that shows its invaluable unlastingness.  He didn't give us one more "thing", "object", or "product" that would be inanimate.  He gave us a relational gift - the kind that lasts forever.  Something three dimensional.  He gave us a way to be in a relationship with God Himself and to feel His great love for us. He gave us Jesus, the Saviour of the world.  He came to save us from all kinds of "stuff".

12.03.2012

ALL CARAMELS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL



I have a plethora of preferences.  They range from the I would prefer category to the I will not tolerate anything else definitive line drawing sort of stance.  Caramels, specifically Brach's Milk Maid caramels, fall into the above mentioned latter category.
 
I am not a paid spokesperson for Brach's candy, though if they asked I would not decline the offer, especially if given the option of a lifetime supply of caramels in lieu of pay.

 You can clearly see above that I ate two caramels in the photographing and typing of this blog post.  They are my weakness.  My affinity and love affair with that buttery, creamy caramelly goodness began as a child.  My Grandma June made home-made caramels every Christmas.  She painstakingly stirred that cast iron pot still that buttery sugary confectionery mix reached some heat index marker called the soft ball stage - a Fahrenheit temperature of 240-245.  In reality, it meant a couple of hours time spent stirring so it would not stick or scorch and then hand cutting and individually wrapping them.  They were not only good at that moment but the memory of their goodness still screams loudly after all these years.
 
Since her departure from earth to heaven, I have attempted to make those caramels once or twice.  The first batch was a bit too hard.  You don't want caramels hard or too chewy as it becomes expensive to re-set crowns and fillings and the like.  The second batch was too soft.  You don't want caramels too soft or you cannot remove the paper from them properly.  Making caramels is an art.  And, in my family it appears to have perished with grams.
 
My hankering for a good caramel led me to a bag of Brach's Milk Maid Caramels.  They too are reminiscent of my childhood years.  My other Grandmother, Sarah, must have liked caramels too as she usually had Brach's Milk Maid Caramels in a candy jar.  I chased none too few a caramel down with a hard swig from an ice cold glass bottle of 7-Up.  Believe it or not that is a great winning food pairing, much like watermelon and bacon.
 
I bought a bag of caramels.  Every once in awhile I need a bit of something to satisfy that goo-o-meter.  A caramel is a lot less fat and calories than an entire candy bar. My justification for them anyway. The flavor sensation pounded my taste buds with a flood of buttery smoothness that was complimented by a sip of my coffee.  I remembered in that split second why that little caramel satisfies my soul so much.
 
Over the next couple of weeks that bag became emptied of caramels.  When it did, I went looking for its replacement.  I went from store to store but no more could I lay my hands on a bag of Brach's Milk Maid Caramels.  Feeling desperate for hit of caramelly goodness to soothe my hankering for a bit of creamy sweet yum, I purchased Kraft caramels.  I was beginning to shake from the effects of caramel withdrawals.
 
There is a vast difference in the appearance of a Kraft caramel to a Brach's caramel.  Forget taste momentarily.  Even if unwrapped with no name brand moniker to give it ownership, its shape and structure clearly defines each.  Kraft caramels hint their precise shape by their name - Kraft.  Completely and uniformly square they are aseptically all the same.  Color, shape, and size are crafted to perfection.  Their taste though is not crafted well.  They have a chalkier texture, less buttery soft gooiness.  Maybe their design is more structured to be used in recipes; caramel brownies, apple caramel pie, or caramel apples.  They are not a stand and eat alone type of caramel.
 
I do not like Kraft caramels.  I do not like them Sam I am.
 
Brach's Milk Maid Caramels are now fully seated in the I will not tolerate anything less category for me.  They are rectangularish and sometimes misshapen leaving you with a hand-made feel and look.  They are a darker caramel color with an intense smooth buttery richness that melts in your mouth.  It leaves its residue with a satiating to the very core foodie kind of way.
 
While at Menards over the weekend my husband spotted a bag of Brach's Milk Maid caramels.  Mostly I would ridicule Menards for their weird mish mash of construction items, home improvement materials, and appliances interwoven with a few food aisles, shoe laces, frozen pizza and milk.  I now hail them as great.  To be a purveyor of Brach's Milk Maid caramels means you have taste and quality that far surpasses Lowes and Home Depot.
 
I would never use Brach's Milk Maid caramels in a recipe.  That would be to waste their original design - to be eaten and then chased behind with a good cup of coffee or possibly a glass of milk.  They are a stand alone caramel.
 
Next week Doug and I are going to try to make a batch of Grandma June's caramels.  I have her cast iron pan and her recipe.  I'm sure that my third attempt will be the charm.  If not, I know where Menards is.

11.29.2012

TRANSPARENCY



I was in conversation this morning with a friend.  In the world of technology conversation is a loose word that encompasses many different forms of communication.  This one was via texts.

The exchange of thoughts, words and one liners started over a picture I sent.  My comment with it was; Driven with a touch of self delusionment!  As I pondered our banter back and forth, I wondered if there was any legitimacy to the pairing of self delusionment and certain highly driven people?  Then I realized we can all suffer from self-delusionment if we aren't careful and real.

It goes without pontificating that we all have a slightly skewed and off kilterish view of ourselves.  We are not totally unbiased.  It's just not humanly possible.  But can overly driven people be plagued with a more opaqueish sort of view of themselves than most?

I texted my friend, "true strength is showing weakness with a sense of humility and acknowledging our lack openly." 

We carried forward that thought to our flaws as people.  Our weaknesses.  Our struggles.  Our personalities collide constantly with circumstances that showcase our responses to those circumstances for the collective world to see.  This is not a celebrity vs a non-celebrity exposure thing.  It's a human thing!  There isn't really much we can hide to some degree about our lack.  And to be honest, that is more than ok.  I'm not saying wear it as a badge of honor, but let it be what it is - a part of you.

The problem is that when we try to pretend to others that we are strong, when they can clearly see our weaknesses, it ends up isolating us from them.  It does the opposite of what we are trying to portray, strength, and leaves the watching crowd with a great picture of weakness. 

I view others as strong and balanced when they can clearly see who they are and own it.  Flaws, weaknesses, lack, struggles, insecurities, inconsistencies, failings, and battles are a common denominator in all of us.  How we approach and wear our humanity to others shows strength when we incorporate those lacks or struggles and acknowledge them instead of denying them.  Others can usually see them already any way. 

Being real endears you to others.  It connects us to each other.  It though doesn't make logical sense that in being real and open about who we are that it would actually display strength even though we are showing weakness in our lives. 

We all have shit in our lives, in our thoughts,
 in our responses to circumstances that come to us at times. 
We all have insecurities and lack. 
To try to make others think you don't is a lie and the sign of a weak person. 
Want to increase in the eyes of others? 
Be a bit more transparent. 

11.28.2012

NANCY'S LAWS OF FOOD PRESERVATION


I believe our food source is tainted.  The FDA allows products and ingredients and practices involving the production of food for mass consumption that most other westernized countries do not.  Red food dye #5 was actually banned some years back by the FDA from use in production of food products.  It was said to cause cancer.  Unfortunately it was re-allowed again some time later as either the data was skewed or the standard was lowered.  My guess is the latter.

Don't get me started on food dyes that are added to foods to improve their aesthetic presentation.  Who cares if it causes allergies, stains our spleens a different color or creates a toxic build up of shit inside of us, at least our food looks more flavorful by being colorized!  I have definite issues with the FDA, farming practices, agricultural bio-engineering and chemicals in general.  It's pretty widely known in my family how I feel about food and food related things.  If it's fake, man-made, filled with ingredients that a normal person can't pronounce, I have no interest in consuming it. 

I would in fact, challenge you to eat as clean as you can for one entire week.  Clean means, no processed food of any kind, no or limited sugar, no artificial sugars, light on the complex carbs, no soda and very limited meat.  If you put single ingredient kinds of food into you it changes the way you feel.  Thus my hatred for our governing body of regulatory food and drugs, the FDA!

During Thanksgiving lunch at my parents, my oldest sister told me she made a pot of vegetable beef soup for supper the night before.  Her two married daughters and husbands and college aged daughter joined her and her husband on Thanksgiving eve for supper.  I love soup, especially homemade anything.  My sister doesn't share my love of cooking or my puritanish ways with food quite to my same degree.

She went on and on about this great soup she had made, smiling while extolling its goodness.  Made, she said, with a homemade can of our mom's beef she found in the back of her cupboard.  The date on the home canned jar of beef said 1999.  Lest you read this in some future year, the year the soup and this blog post was penned was 2012.  That beef, preserved in a mason glass jar by our mother, was 13 years old.  I wanted to crawl out of my skin.



The day after Thanksgiving I cut and pasted information from a website called, "The National Center for Home Food Canning and Preservation" (or something close to that) and texted it to my sister.  According to that site, and others I perused on the shelf life of home canned meats, cans of meat should only be kept for a maximum of 1 year or up to 3 years if the cans are kept in a cool dark environment.  Her can exceeded all maximums by 10 years.  I could feel maggots crawling on my insides just thinking about it.  She did appreciate my humorous, informative and somewhat sarcastic chastising texts quoting directly from the "National Center For Home Food Canning and Preservation".  Their slogan was; We have a BALL canning. (Though they are a real organization, I fictitiously created this slogan and claim all ownership to its marketability and revenue streams!)



It didn't move her like it did me or even seem to faze her (she gets that from our mom who will can anything that will fit in a jar).  She claims that it smelled fine, the lid was still sealed and it was extremely tender.  Based on those three quantifiers only, she used it in the pot of soup she fed to her entire family the night before Thanksgiving.  I feel that instead of bragging about using that 13 year old canned beef, she should have been giving thanks that no one got food poisoning.  She should have been thankful that she didn't create a Thanksgiving Day trip to the hospital for all those that consumed it.  Though she would have made a stellar pioneer woman or a contestant on the show "Fear Factor".

Her rationale to using it was that it seemed fine along with the fact that she didn't want to run to the grocery store to purchase a new and same decade dated can of beef.  With that kind of canned beef roulette I declared to her that I would never eat at her house again.  I would though take her to Vegas to bet some mullah on the slots.  Beating botulism odds on a 13 year old can of home-made canned beef is most definitely Vegas gambling worthy. 

Am I the only one with a food standard in my family?

11.27.2012

A THING WITH FEATHERS


Hope is a most interesting word and an even more interesting concept.  


The poet Emily Dickinson wrote about hope....

"Hope" is the thing with feathers --
That perches in the soul --
And sings the tune without the words --

And never stops -- at all --
 
And sweetest -- in the Gale -- is heard --
And sore must be the storm --
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm --
I've heard it in the chillest land --

And on the strangest Sea --
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb -- of Me.
 
 
Hope's origins are varied and somewhat mystical.  It is one of the drivers in our lives that propels us forward even when we can't see the end.  It is an unspoken but felt expectation and longing for improvement, change for the better, rescue, healing, light in the darkness.  It is a deep seated desire for the end result to be different than the present.  It helps us focus not just on the present, but the future.  It literally saves us.  It is a gift from God whether you believe it or even consciously think about God.  I like hope and I have desperately needed it in huge volumes in my life.
 
As I ran this morning I continued my thoughts from last night regarding hope.  I thought about running.  If I run and look down at just my immediate steps it becomes tedious, redundant, boring.  If I run and look up and forward I see my movement forward toward a landmark, the end of the street, that house up the way, a marker of distance that spurs me on to finish.  The distance seems shorter when my focus is not straight down at my feet, the mechanics of my running or the scenery of my shoes and pavement only.  Hope is that way too.  It opens up our heart to possibilities, to a bigger view, to something outside ourselves and away from our own shoes.
 
Hope isn't always logical though.  Unknown stuff usually isn't.  What it does is make us move outside of ourselves to something bigger than our sight, control or ability to be able to change presently.  That in and of itself takes a bit of the edge out of the struggle - lightens the load.  Is hope a form of present living denial?  Not in its purest and rawest form.  Maybe it's more of a God given, inherent coping mechanism designed to bring us to something bigger than the known, the present, the seen.
 
During a few very ill years of my life, when my doctor said he would fill out disability paperwork because I would never be able to work again, I clung to hope.  I clung to it like  someone drowning in the wide open sea would to a life raft.  And, I would not let it go.  I told my doctor that mentally I just couldn't let myself go to that place of disability.  To that place of limits and ends of things.  So I clung to hope.
 
It was during that time Rascal Flatts released their song entitled, "Feels Like Today" and the music video that went with it.  Hope screamed, urged, coaxed its way through that song as though it was penned just for me. The lyrics, music and video images added to support hope's message were a vessel used by God to keep hope afloat in my life.  I practically wore that song out.
 
Take a listen to the song and watch the video - click the link below:
Hope has been prevalent in my life most of my years.  There have been a few periods though of such darkness that I lost hope.  Without hope those dark moments sought to destroy me, pull me under, keep me stagnant and make me a slave to hurt and lies.  When I lost the man I deeply loved in my young years it kept me in bondage for a season.  When I lost him again in my middle years it nearly destroyed me.  Hope took the place of grief and loss eventually.

When I believed, even though I couldn't see the end, that there would be deep love that would come to my life, I was able to move forward.  Hope was that silent encourager, that familiar marker in the journey forward that told me it would come to pass.  And, it did.  Love replaced the loss of a lifetime.  Health eventually replaced illness.  Strength to leave an empty marriage eventually replaced living out other's dogma in my life.

Hope is most definitely a thing with feathers.  It is alive and moving.  It can and will carry you forward toward what you cannot see presently.

11.26.2012

SOULLLLLLLLLL TRAINNNNNNNNN



I flashed back to my youth.  There I was, a white girl from a farming community in the Midwest.  Nothing about me screamed cool.  I didn't have a very developed sense of rhythm.  Even rollerskating was a rhythmic challenge for me.  Dancing, well that was just not a part of my fundamentalist rearing. 

My dad would say, every time I asked if I could go to a school sponsored dance or roller skating party, "Well, you are going to have make that decision.  I just ask you, 'what would Jesus want you to do?'"  I always felt a little like the dinosaur from "Toy Story", "Great! Now I have guilt!"  I usually went any way, truly feeling that Jesus was more than ok with rollerskating and dancing.  He made our bodies to move about.  It was part of their God designed function.  In that instance I felt immediate obedience to God's design for my body.

That too is how I felt about Don Cornelius' "Soul Train" (televised syndicated predominantly African-American dancing show airing from 1971-2006).  Please reflect upon the fact that I was a Midwestern white girl, no sense of style or rhythm, living in an all white community.  I loved Don Cornelius' voice, the Soul Train dancers, their hair, clothes, shoes, free spirited movements all seemingly happening with little to no thought or effort.  It took a great deal of my effort to try not to be uncool.  Even with all that effort, I really didn't succeed at it in comparison to the Soul Train dancers. 

There was not an excess or really even a smidgen of "soul music", modern styling clothes, platform shoes, big afros, or effortless rhythm showing itself in the neck of the woods I hailed from.  There were also no African-American people. 

My fascination with "Soul Train" wasn't that their skin was black. We are all just humans first and foremost which levels and connects us all irregardless of any differences.  It was that in comparison I had no soul and no inherent God-given rhythm.  I wished I was a Soul Train dancer.  How could a Midwestern fundamentalist reared white girl get what they had?  I coveted their coolness.

My lack of rhythm highlighted itself in my poor dancing, inability to play the piano without music, my almost frigid and straight only rollerskating ability.  I couldn't whistle to save my life either.  That too was a marker of my uncool rhythm-less existence.  Maybe I cared too much that I was going to look as stupid as the cacophony of uncoolness, which played inside my head, said I was.  I just couldn't cut loose. I was white to the core and way more.

I tuned in every Saturday morning to watch and envy the coolness, the freedom of the music and the dancers.  I tuned in to hear sweet Don Cornelius' voice.  I tuned in every Saturday morning to study those dance moves, peruse the wardrobes, listen to some great music and wonder if I could ever be so cool.

I'm still wondering.