2.29.2012

MISSION POSSIBLE

I just don't have the desire to waste time or energy any more.  I don't want to put up with things that I might have had to or did earlier in my life.  In conversation with someone yesterday they asked if I would do a certain thing should the opportunity arise.  With great clarity and a clean set of glasses to view myself and life, I replied, "No.  I don't want to drive 40 minutes to work.  I can't tolerate arrogant people.  I just don't have the desire to sidetrack my ultimate goals.  I know who I am, what I want, what I can and can't do.  Call it middle age or mid-life crisis or an epiphany, but I am done de-railing my heart's desires by choices that take me farther away from my goals than they do closer."   I just don't have time for the arrogance of youth any more.  I feel intolerant of people who tout their superiority.  I don't want to work for either of those categories.  I don't want to be all things to all people.  This is who I am.  Take it, enjoy and partake in my goodness.  Or, NOT!  I don't have time or patience for meaninglessness any longer.  The finish line for me is closer than last year and the year before that.  I choose deliberateness now.  No is a word of choice for me now.  If life is a buffet, I don't want my plate filled up with insignificant drivel.   I don't want the end of a day, a week, a month, a year to go by any more without purpose and passion.  I want to consciously be moving toward the things that drive my heart, my mind, my spirit, my life.  Period.  The rest of it I just don't want to waste my time and energy on.  When you are young there are a lot of "have to's" in life.  I want to live because I choose to do this or that.  I lived differently for the first 44 years of my life.  Call it making up for lost time.  Call it a right of passage that happens to most of us at some later point in our lives.  I am imperatively being present and deliberately eliminating or reducing distractions that keep me from moving toward what I see in my head and heart.  A friend of mine and I were talking once about a form of self-actualization.  Visualization of what you hunger for.  It's not a mystic, psychic sort of thing.  But, it is a strong belief, knowledge set in your heart that you already have what you hunger to achieve - it has already occurred.  All that has to happen is that it just has to happen.  And, it will.  You are in essence moving to something concrete - something completed.  So, I move toward that something completed with confidence and excitement knowing it is within my reach.  That's why I just don't have time or tolerance for shitty, meaningless drivel and sometimes people, detours, out of whack priorities, the temptation of the urgent over the important, or doing things with no point.  Missional only living for me please.

2.28.2012

I WONDER

I wonder about things God does.  Like for instance, why exactly did He choose to house our minds, souls and spirits in crushable, deteriorating, finite bodies?  That interests me.  I don't think He is a wing it sort of God either.  Unlike me, who begins projects and develops them as I go along, He has a master plan.  Maybe God is more like the writers for a sitcom or a soap opera.  The storyline has to be laid out - all the twists and turns and variables that would make a story long and unending and perpetuating are plotted out.  Maybe God and I share a common thread though in using whatever it is in front of us to do the job, to get to the goal.  Sometimes I have started a project - painting, cooking, remodeling, writing, and I don't have all the tools, ingredients, or words that might make it easier to do the job.  But, I don't let that stop me from my final goal - completion.  God lets us all have free will.  He lets us choose.  In doing so He knows that will mean we will move through life sometimes without all the tools we could have to operate cleaner, more efficient, freer, with greater peace, and probably with far less pain.  Then what happens is amazing.  When we get to the end of ourselves, our choices, our way of trying to live life without the right set of tools, God comes on the scene.  The cool thing is He doesn't come arrogantly with an I told you so presence. God brings His relatively small and overly used tool bag (love and grace) to work on the project that He died to finish - US!   I've seen a few really good carpenters.  The kind of master carpenters who, because of the knowledge, experience and skill they possess, can use any tool or lack of tools and do an expert job.  I though could have the best and most expensive tools but since I don't have master carpenter skills, the result would not be meticulous or mastercrafted.  I wonder sometimes if God ever feels like I have felt with a small child who wants to do something themselves but lacks the skill to do it efficiently, quickly or even right.  I lack the patience to want to let them do it by themselves!  How much easier would it be if God just did it for us.  He obviously knows more than us.  Yet He holds back what He knows so that we can figure out what we don't know.  So we can figure out that He is the missing piece of who we are.  I wonder too about the speed of God.  I get in a hurry alot.  It seems that there are only ever 24 hours to a day.  My world is very small, and yet, I cannot get it all done some days.  God though sustains all life.  ALL LIFE!  In spite of that, God never seems frantic, stressed, overworked, or distracted by it all.  It appears God doesn't micro-manage, yet He is totally aware of everything little thing, including the number of hairs on my head.  I wonder what it is like to know You can do all things, know all things and to have created all the things that are the things to be known.  Humbly and willingly God took the form of a limited human - through Jesus' human birth on earth.  If I really love.  I mean if I really, really, really love I don't care about my posture, my standing.  I care about the other person's place.  I want to make them more.  That was what God did for us.  He wanted me to know of my value, my worth, my preciousness to Him by becoming man to connect to my limits.  I wonder about things God does alot.  It still probably is only a fraction of how much He thinks of me.  And you.

2.27.2012

ANTS IN MY PANTS

Caginess gets to me.  I simply cannot be inside for long periods of time.  Over the years I have tried to explain this strange sensation that builds inside of me which seems to only be able to be released and satisfied after going outside.  It started yesterday morning early.  I woke up about 6 a.m. and felt this restlessness in my insides.  There is absolutely no logic to it at all.  I can reason with myself till the cows come home (that would be forever as cows don't come home if they get loose unless you herd them back home) with no luck in quelling it.  I did that laying in bed; it's still dark, it's cold, Doug is warm, I have the whole day in front of me, if I wait to go outside it will warm up later in the day.  None of it worked.  I felt fidgety inside, like I wanted to crawl outside of my skin.  I could hear the call of the out-of-doors screaming my name.  I needed to feel the cool air.  To breathe it in my lungs.  To feel the breeze and the late winter air on my face.  I actually wanted to feel the cold and wind make my eyes water.  I like that man vs. wild sort of feeling.  We have a great weekend routine.  It's something between restive, magical, laid back and lazy.   After perusing the paper and another online publication, drinking coffee and eating toast, I could take it no longer.  Outside we went for a long walk.  After walking about an hour, some of my wiggliness expelled, and my drive to commune with the power of nature partially filled, we returned home.  I tried once again to express what I so often feel inside - this energy and drive that needs to, absolutely HAS to displace itself by being outside.  I'm not sure that I would describe myself as "high strung", but I am somewhat none stop relentless in my approach to most things all day long.  Maybe I am like a toddler who just needs to get the wild wore out of them before they can sleep.  That would aptly describe me.  It's a physical thing too.  I feel this mounting pressure inside that I can't get rid of unless I run, walk or work it off outside.  There is probably a clinical name for it, but since I don't feel crazy I haven't pursued a diagnosis!  After church, lunch and watching the movie, "To Sir With Love" (Sidney Poitier) with Doug (he had never seen it), I was feeling antsy again.  At 7:00 p.m., just as the sun was slipping away, I decided to run a few miles.  I LOVE that mystical changing of the guard from light to dark. The wind had disappeared and the last colors were vanishing from the sky.  There is something about running in the dark still world that frees me up to not think about my form but just the quiet darkness.  I listened to the quiet, if there is such a thing as listening to quiet.   The moon sliver mounted the sky to its nighttime perch and a few stars scattered themselves about.  I willed myself back inside feeling thoroughly released of my inner wide-open-throttle ness and ants-in-my-pantsishness. Fully filled up I was from hearing and feeling the quiet of night as my feet hit the pavement.

2.26.2012

WHEN TOO MUCH IS TOO MUCH

My husband and I were watching one of the too many channels that really have nothing on them to watch the other day.  We were just randomly flicking through nothingness crapola hoping to fall upon something riveting.  I don't recall the channel, but riveting popped off the screen in the form of a Brazilian woman living in the U.S. with 38KKK breasts.  The program was about people who had so much plastic surgery it was a form of an addiction - an unhealthy fascination with altering their bodies.  This woman was case in point.  18 surgeries (mostly breast but also her nose, lips and buttocks) and over one gallon of silicon created two breasts the size of satellite weather balloons. The visual of her original 34B bra laying next to a 38KKK bra was like seeing a guppy next to a great white shark.  I say, to each his own.  We are all individuals.  We all have certain things that we like or don't like.  The story went on to show her with her daughter.  Because of the size of her breasts she cannot hug with her arms all the way around her daughter.  It also showed her at the gym.  Even with 2 or 3 sports bras on she cannot run due to the enormity and the movement of her breasts.  Forget the Red Rider bee-bee gun from "A Christmas Story" taking Ralphie's eye out!  Running would cause definite injury to her face, possibly cause a rupture of the silicon and probably injure anyone within a 3 foot radius of her.  I am a 32 barely A cup.  I love to run.  I absolutely love to see my stomach, tie my own shoes and hug people close.  The only time I wasn't able to fully do those things was in the final month of my pregnancy.  I sometimes ask my husband if what I have is enough.  I don't have cleavage and if I wear a sports bra it appears that I am pre-pubescent.  I asked Doug, "Do you find this woman sexy?  Do you or most men dream of breasts the size of the planet Pluto?  What in the hell would you do with those - hide the clicker in the them, a sandwich for later?"  Doug laughed and assured me that 38KKK was not attractive in any way shape or form for him.  I hate wearing a bra and many days I don't.  There is no need to!!  Her body was so out of proportion it was freakish.  She commented that she gets looked at alot.  I have a hard time believing it's because it is attractive but more likely because it is absolutely startling and bizarre.  This morning before church my husband and I went for a four and half mile walk.  I slipped on my jeans, no bra, long sleeved black running shirt and a sweatshirt.  It was easy, simple and freeing.  No one gawked at me, unless of course you count Doug who watched me pull on my shirt over a braless chest. 

2.24.2012

SOUND AND SIGHT DISTORTION

I wish many times we could see ourselves through the eyes of other people.  Fairly confident I am that I don't fully see what others see.  Makes sense doesn't it?  Think about it.  We see ourselves from the inside out.  To ourselves we attach all the things we feel about ourselves, what we love or hate about our looks, how we look compared to others, whether we are where we want to be in any particular area of lives, etc.  Others don't have all that garbage attached to viewing us.  They see a bit of our heart to some degree which manifests itself through our behaviors.  And, they see our physicality, how we look.  I think seeing anything through someone else's eyes would be a great thing to be able to do.  I'm not taking about empathy, though that is a good thing that can give us perspective on feeling other's situations.  When I was a kid there were no CD's or IPods.  ITunes wasn't even a blip on the technology screen yet.  There were 8-tracks, records and eventually cassette tapes.  I had a small tape recorder growing up.  Why, I don't know?  It was the latest technology I suppose.  I also had a microphone that plugged into it so you could record something.  I recorded my own voice a lot.  And, I hated the sound of it.  There are reasons why most of us hate the sound of our own voice when hearing it played back.  Part of that reason is physical - the design of bones, their conduction of sound, the trigger of nerves to orchestrate action of the inner parts of our ears.  We hear ourselves when speaking through bones, nerves, etc and then hear it back through ears that are on the side of our head.  When other people hear our voice or we hear it played back to us, it is being heard from the outside in.  The other part of why we usually hate the sound of our voice played back is that it is not what we hear inside our heads.  We get accustomed to what we "think" our voice sounds like to us.  But really, what we hear as we speak is not totally accurate.  So, when we do hear a recording we don't like it because it doesn't match what we normally hear from ourselves as we talk.  The reasons we hate the playback of our voices is both physical and very psychological.  As a kid I experienced that phenomena of recording your voice and being caught off guard by what it sounds like.  I know of really no one who likes to hear their voice when played back.  I still experience a very strong aversion to my voice.  Occasionally I have spoken to groups of people and it was recorded both visually and audibly.  The pain and agony I go through when I have watched and listened to myself is amazing.  I have an I Phone 4.  It has great camera and audio recording capacities.  I text my husband a GREAT deal through day.  What can I say, I am deeply in love with him and I love words:)  Deadly combination for him!  Sometimes, in an effort to connect to him in a new way throughout the day, I will make a video recording speaking my words instead of texting.  It usually takes me 4-5 attempts before I can send one.  I get disgusted with my very crooked mouth (my sisters exacerbated a cut above my lip as a kid creating a very slanting mouth!) in speaking and/or smiling.  On top of that visual of my side/crooked mouth, is the sound - the tone of my voice.  I tried making a short video clip for Doug a couple of days ago but ended up deleting it as I couldn't get past both of those issues in myself.  Yesterday I mentioned to him that I had made a clip, but didn't send it as I hate the way I look when I talk and the how my voice sounds.  He was sad as he informed me he loves those clips.  I told him my voice sounds like I am stupid, lacking intelligence and that I slur my words!  I asked him if that is really what people see and hear when they experience Nancy?  "NO!" he said strongly.  I am very mono-visioned and overly harsh in my views on myself - in how I look and the sound of my voice.  I do the same thing when I go back and read things I have written.   Part of it is just human nature - our inability to not see ourselves fully or correctly.  The other part of it is my relentless quest to want more, to be better - crooked mouth, with the sound of my own voice and in what I write. 

2.23.2012

IN THE HEAD AND OUT THE MOUTH

When I was a kid there was a TV show hosted by Art Linkletter both on the radio and television called, "House Party".  It aired from 1945-1969 with a piece of it showcasing the funny things kids say.  Bill Cosby would later, in the mid-nineties, do a take on that piece in a TV show called, "Kids Say The Darndest Things".  The premise of both was to interview kids.  To ask questions to children without an introduction of the subject matter ahead of time.  It was the kids' off-the-cuff answers that would have the audience howling in laughter.  I tell my husband all the time that kids crack me up.  There is a spontaneity that snakes through them that leaves this wide open and unabridged approach to absolutely everything.  Kids live very much in the moment and don't have all the rules learned yet.  Nor do they have experience which might give them a bit of knowledge or a hint of tact.  I love that!  Last night we were sitting in a Japanese restaurant eating sushi.  Across from us was a couple and their daughter.  She appeared to be around 4 years old.  I never really saw her sit down.  She stood and bounced and sang and danced on the booth seat for most of the meal, only slowing occasionally to bend over to get a bite of whatever she was eating.  Her parents were older to have a child that age.  She referred to them as mom and dad.  I wondered if it was a remarriage or if they just had kids EXTREMELY late in life.  They looked to be late forties to early fifties.  My husband and I commented to each other as we watched this exuberant full-of-energy little girl that we were NOT interested in having small kids at our age - the same age that her parents were!  They seemed very used to her energy level, her sing-song chatty ways.  She sang little bits of songs and wiggled her hips as she did a sort of crouching down from time to time to over-exaggerate the movement.  She popped up and down constantly in a kind of Energizer bunny way.  I couldn't take my eyes off her.  She made me both smile and feel happy while forgetting that life was full of responsibilities:)  As she flapped her little jaw she said both made up four year old stuff and legitimate things.  Her parents listened but did not necessarily respond as clearly she didn't need a response or even affirmation to continue. She created her own energy and sustained it without anyone's support or encouragement.  She began to do a bit more wiggling and dancing on the booth seat.  I started to giggle at her moves, her happiness in doing them and the joy she seemed to possess as she grooved around.  Her vocal volume was pushed more toward loud than library soft so it was easy to hear things that she was saying and singing.  Fully into the swing of dance, swaying, wiggling and crouching I heard her say quite loudly to her parents, "I want to be a nude dancer when I grow up."  A smile was plastered across her face.  She meant it with her whole 4 years of age knowledge and experience.  They didn't bat an eye.  Maybe they had heard it all before from this little cracker jack.  Maybe they were exhausted from either a day with her or a day at work.  Maybe in their agedness they had a bit of wisdom to know kids say the darndest things.  And, that growing up takes care of, on its own, many of the things kids say.  I, on the other hand, had no experience with this child.  Funny is always funny to me.  I started to laugh.  I repeated what she said to my husband who giggled as well.  Then I started to laugh again when I repeated her words out loud yet again.  Now there were a myriad of things that shot through my head when I heard a four year old say, "I want to be a nude dancer when I grow up."  And, I suppose there might be some cause for alarm as to what she has seen or heard to know that there are such things as nude dancers.  But, the first and biggest thing I did was laugh.  When it's time for that little girl to go to kindergarten, and they have a Vocation Aspiration Day, I wondered what her teacher's response to her vocational dreams would be.  Kids do say the darndest things. 

2.22.2012

COME SAIL AWAY

I have no desire to go on a cruise.  It has nothing to do with fear of a shipwreck situation like what happened to the Italian cruise ship the Costa Concordia.  It also has not a lick to do with being afraid of criminal foul-play while at sea - being murdered or thrown overboard.  Both of which seem to happen at an alarming rate.  I am a sovereignty person.  If it is my time to die, it is simply my time to die no matter where I am.  It has nothing to do with motion sickness or fear of the sea.  I am though somewhat claustrophobic - an inherited trait from my grandmother and great grandfather.  Its tentacles spread a disdain in general of tight enclosed places, boundaries and limits (like a ship), confinement and too many people per square inch.  "Cruise lovers" always think they will convince me to change my mind.  That somehow their excitement and love of all things cruise vacationing will sway my innate loves and hates.  Phhhewie!   I don't try to convince them not to go on a cruise.  I also have a great abhoration to buffets and excessiveness in the area of food.  It doesn't appeal to me, grosses me out, leaves me ill and makes me somewhat disgusted in general.  For those that love buffets, more food than is logical and healthy to eat, kudos to you!  Pleasure yourself, please.  I do not want to sit one foot away from other people around a pool.  I like some privacy, some space, quietness, tranquility.  I don't care how BIG you say the ship is, there is still an average of 6,000 people aboard it.  I am a highly impatient driver when I have to be behind slow people or in a line of traffic.  Why would I want to be in a crowd that large in a confined space!  I don't care that everything is all inclusive (such a misnomer as you DID pay for it somewhere in the cost of the ticket).  I don't drink pop and only have an occasional alcoholic beverage.  So, I would be paying for drinking 6 glasses of water a day!   Never have I liked the "herd" mentality or feel.  Should I want to dine in the dining room I don't want to have to create relationships with those I am required to sit with for the duration of the trip.  I want anonymity and aloneness when vacationing otherwise I could just stay home where I know everyone!   I don't want to have to pay extra to get a room that is bigger than a walk-in closet to ensure I won't be AS claustrophobic.   When I was a kid we went to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.  There was a real submarine on display.  My family went on the guided tour of it.  Immediately I felt like I couldn't breathe.  Silently I had to talk myself off the ledge of confinement until we returned to freedom and space.  Just last week my husband and I were out shopping.  He loves to pull things off the rack and say, "Honey, you would look great in this!  Try it on!"  He held up a dressy black sweater.  I looked at the style, which didn't appeal to be me, but he has stretched my boundaries with style, so I obliged him.  I  looked wryly at the sleeves to this sweater which appeared as if they would wrap my arms in a sort of octopus hold.  I started to put it on but as I pulled my arms into the sleeves they were met with the feel of a blood pressure cuff.  Immediately I said, "NO!  I cannot wear this sweater.  My arms cannot move and breathe!".  He tried assuring me that was the style - it was purposed to look and feel like that.  Not on me was that ever going to work!  My grandmother, in her aging years, hated anything tight.  She would, with regularity, snip the waist bands to her pants to give herself a more loose feel.  Her dad, my great-grandfather, was much the same.  He was most comfortable in the house in a wife beater t-shirt, pants with suspenders even in the winter.  I get the needing to be unboundaried honestly.  Which means, I will NOT come sail away with you!

2.21.2012

THE POINT OF GREATEST SATURATION

We are all prone to overuse the same relatively small herd of words in our speech, mind and in what we write.  I am definitely extremely guilty of that.  In writing and editing I have words that I overuse.  In editing yesterday's blog post I originally used the word really 4 times in three sentences that were connected.  How small is my vocabulary!!  What a rut I get in!  We do it in speech as well.  Friends tell me I say, "who does that" a lot.  My husband says, "go oooonnnnn" as his catch phrase.  It is usually after I tell him how sexy he is!  You know how certain songs become ear worms.  They weave their lyrics and beat into our heads and we just cannot shake them for periods of time.   I have had one of those in my head recently too - Maroon 5's Better That We Break.  I tend to do the same with music that I do with words - wear out a song, an album, an artist.  I get on music jags.  Words do that to me as well.  For instance, for the past 3 days I cannot get the word imbibe out of my head.  I can't trace how it entered my conscious brain to begin with.  Did I hear it on TV, read it in an article, pull it out of thin air?  It just won't leave.  Maybe it just needs me to use it in this blog post.  To free it from my mind to this screen in order to set it loose.  Forget the word imbibe, what would have occurred in the past days that would make me think about what that word conjures up.  Imbibe means; to absorb, to drink in, to receive or take in, to retain.  It can be a literal visual thing - like soaking in water if you were a sponge.  It is internal as well, such as absorbing information or a person or a choice and retaining it.  THAT WAS IT!   Bingo!!!  That was why that word has been stuck in my psyche for the past days.  I have been imbibing - absorbing things from my past in a new way.  They are not at all things that are pleasant to think about.  But, this absorption or receiving of them in a new light has been cathartic.  It is a very necessary part of acknowledging their effects on me, understanding better why I made certain choices and letting go of anger at myself for allowing those things and choices in my life.  It was things that I had not really thought about for many years.  And most definitely, I had not thought about them in the open light. Who wants to think about things that are painful.  I know I had not wanted to.  My husband said to me yesterday that those things made me who I am now - who he desperately loves.  I sarcastically told him I wish I would have chosen to be made through different events instead of those.  He asked me if I loved who I was.  I most definitely love who I am now I told him.  I did not remotely get intelligence or courage to act on being who I was until I was in my forties.  He told me I needed to forgive myself for that.  He was right.  He looked me in the eyes, mine spilling with tears, and said those things that I have hated and regretted are what created this person he loves.  I have imbibed alot lately.  I have realized that my strength has not really been strength but great weakness clothed in fear and control.  I have soaked up why I allowed certain things or put up with them in my first marriage.  I gave acknowledgement for the first time out loud to any living person of events that took place and how I felt when I experienced them.  Doug listened.  He let me process it out loud all the while imbibing me with his love.  My eyes actually hurt from crying off and on for a few days.  I looked like hell but actually felt less saturated with those events than ever before in my life.  The layer of my epidermis scoured clean had left a bit of rawness in its wake, but new skin could now grow.  I needed to be wrung out of what had been soaked way down deep in me. 

2.20.2012

THE PRICE IS NOT RIGHT

All last week I needed to get groceries.  I procrastinated for several reasons.  First, I hate grocery shopping, though it is a necessary part of life.  No longer do most of us do the hunting and gathering in the wild, but we drive to the store where do a more classy version of the same.  Food is good, don't get me wrong.  I just don't care about it all that much a great deal of the time. I like to wait until there is just about virtually nothing left in the house to eat.  It's a sort of game I like to play with creating a meal with only what is sparsely left.  Second, I hate spending money.  I don't like to spend it on things that are transient - here today and then GONE tomorrow.  It is not an investment but an on-going money pit.  There is nothing to show from groceries (ok short of staying alive!) in a few days, a week or a couple of weeks.  You have to start all over again.  Third, I find myself getting disgusted at the store with the price of things and PEOPLE.  No one seems happy to be there either.  Sometimes I try a study in human behavior just to entertain myself and make it more bearable.  I will look directly at people and smile to see what they will do.  Most will not smile back but continue in their grouchy demeanored ways.  There are other times I wish I had a bull horn to walk up and down the aisles saying things like, "Who else here isn't really enjoying this?  Has anyone tried these Tofu noodles yet?  They are good!  I highly recommend them!  Do you really think this pineapple should be $3.99?  Do you find that ridiculous too?"  Fourth, I have definite issues with the state of our food in the U.S.  It's a hot button for me.  We perpetuate being overweight by what we chemically alter, produce, and then sell.  We create allergies by bio-engineering wheat, corn, tomatoes, chickens, etc.  It pisses me off!   A system of disease and poverty is kept alive by making things that are horrible for our bodies, like mac n cheese 3 boxes for $1 and white bread, cheaper to buy and feed a family than romaine lettuce, apples, organic chicken, whole grain bread, carrots, nuts, strawberries.  I actually feel sorrow for those that by sheer place in life cannot afford to eat healthy.  It angers me.  Part of it is lack of education in understanding how to cook with whole foods that are not processed.  Part of it is convenience as it is far easier and faster to open a pre-packaged box of something, add water and a pound of the cheapest ground beef sold than it is to make stir fry with fresh vegetables and a pot of rice.  But, a large part of it is cost.  If I have a family, live on a very limited income, and can only spend $200-$300 or less on groceries for the month I have to buy things that will last.  Doug and I walked away from the grocery store Saturday afternoon after having spent close to $200.00.  We don't buy junk food other than the occasional half gallon of Breyers ice cream or a bag of pretzels.  We don't buy processed foods, convenience packaged items or things in cans.  That leaves mostly fresh veggies, fruit, chicken, fish, cheese, bread, eggs, and staples like olive oil, rice, oatmeal, real butter, nuts and dried fruits.  It is costly.  It is time consuming to cook from scratch using fresh ingredients. Or bake a pie or cookies yourself using ingredients you can pronounce.  But, you feel better eating clean and fresh.  Some people do not have that privilege.  That saddens me.  I hate the grocery store.  I love though when Doug goes with me.  He is my store diversion making me forget how much I hate being there.  I sometimes hug him from behind or look up from a shelf and see him watching me.  Occasionally I will pinch his ass.  Always does he kiss me forty-thousand times while we are there.  We usually play THE PRICE IS RIGHT game at checkout.  We both give our estimated guess for the total price of the showcase showdown - our grocery bill.  We banter and wait while the cashier rings it all up.   Saturday we convinced the clerk to guess too as she was ringing it up. I think she liked being a part of our game.  She and Doug lost.  I though was closest to the total cost without going over.  I got nothing for winning though, unless of course you count having to pay for the groceries! 

2.17.2012

BEFORE AC

When I was a kid there wasn't air conditioning in our church.  It was the 1960's and air conditioning in churches wasn't something at all common.  Especially in the little town I grew up in.  Instead of air conditioning there were hand held cardboardish fans donated by the funeral home which sat diagonal from our church.  Those hand-held non-motorized non-battery operated fans had a picture on them from the 1940's.  It looked like Jesus was comforting people who, I assumed, had lost someone by death.  I suppose because they were used in a funeral home the picture of Jesus comforting people mourning was appropriate.  Maybe even comforting.  I didn't so much enjoy that side of Jesus.  And, I didn't want to think about death too awful long.  I passionately waved my fan back and forth in front of my face hoping to create cooler air, a breeze, a puff even that might possibly keep me from feeling as if I would suffocate from the sanctuary oven I sat in.  I watched the old lady pew a lot while fanning myself.  They were all the widowed women in the church, and much like the teenagers (I wasn't one yet), they sat together in a row.  I surmised in my mind that like people sat with like people.  They were slower fanners than was I.  Maybe possibly when you got really old you just didn't get as hot as my 7 year body did.  They also seemed more high class with their fanning.  It was a sort of longer, slower, more down low fanning with frequent stopping periods.  Maybe it was just too hard to fan because they were old and weak.  My fanning was fast and furious.  I tried to see how close I could get it to my face without hitting my nose.  I tried to create a type of wind tunnel.  I also wondered how old those funeral home fans were.  They were two pieces that slid away from each other on a type of grommet.  But when they were closed, the fan blades resided one behind the other and store neatly in the pews.  I found them fascinating and secretly wished I had one for my bed at home.  They clearly showed the comforting face of Jesus consoling someone in their grief from the death of a loved one.  Or was that His listening face?  Maybe that was the same face He used for both.  The fans clearly advertised the name of the funeral home that allowed you to fan yourself.  I wondered in church if anyone fanning themselves, just by reading the funeral home name, was considering having their funeral there.  Did they pick up business by donating fans to churches?  I wondered.  The colors of the pictures were sort of grayish with a bit of blue, and of course, Jesus in his Jesus robe which was white.  They were muted colors like you would expect to see during a WW II era when they were probably printed.  No flash.  Amazingly enough they had seemed to weather the parishioners fanning themselves year after year.  No doubt the church made sure not to keep putting the same fan near me week after week.  My hand frequently got tired and I tried to get my mom or dad to fan me.  They usually never did.  Sometimes I propped my elbow up with my non-fanning hand much like I figured Aaron did to Moses during that one battle where he held up Moses' arms so they would win.  I think sometimes I annoyed my two older sisters by blowing around the hair of whichever one of them was closest to me.  I don't really remember the de-evolution of the funeral home fans.  I can't recall what year our church got air conditioning, though I don't think it was until the 1970's sometime.  One day the fans were just gone.  All those Jesus/Funeral Home fans were no longer needed.  I wondered about what company made them and how I bet they hated air conditioning.

2.16.2012

WALKING YOUR DOG ETIQUETTE

People fascinate me. No doubt I might fascinate them as well. More likely though is that I frustrate or entertain them.  I cover both ends of the spectrum quite easily.  I was out running this morning.  I had on a pair of my overly-familiar-to-the-neighborhood running pants and my bright pink Nike zip shirt.  They must think I only have a handful of running clothes.  Not true.  But, I most definitely have my favorites.  As I geared up, much like a pilot before take-off has a checklist, I smiled as I stretched looking down at my pants.  They were comfortable.  Actually, they are a take on yoga pants.  On the lower left pant leg is a small stalk with leaves embossed in white thread.  I laughed out loud as I stretched the back of my thigh.  It looked like a large marijuana plant.  Makes sense to equate pot with yoga.  The practice of yoga to stretch the body with a hit of hooch to relax the mind!  I wondered if people giggled when they saw me coming in my marijuana pants.  I was also "one of those" people much like the lady that lives one block north me on the next corner.  She moved in the summer after I bought my house.  Her house had sat empty for quite some time and was in need of some tender loving care.  The first time I saw her I was highly entertained.  I couldn't quite nail her age, but she had a sort of middle aged non descript figure while walking her poofy white dog.  She wore a house dress of sorts.  If you are unfamiliar with house dresses they were worn by my GRANDMOTHER.  They are a cross between a housecoat or robe and an apron and possibly a loose fitting sundress with short sleeves.  Sounds attractive huh?  She wore what appeared to be house slippers or house shoes.  The variation between the two so close it's hard to tell the difference from a distance.  Her house dress had two big pockets on the outside that could have held a large Kleenex box, a wall phone and possibly a two-slice toaster.  I couldn't help it, I giggled.  On top of all of that, she talked to herself or possibly her dog while out walking it.  The other neighbors have mentioned to me her peculiarity, so it is not just me who has noticed.  The first time I saw this fashion phenomena with her I thought it was a one time thing.  Possibly she didn't have time to pull on a pair of jeans or shorts and just wore her lounging dress.  Soon I realized that was NOT the case.  That whole first summer she walked her dog while talking out loud in a variety of housecoats and house dresses.  A few weeks ago, I was out running.  Coming back on the route I passed her house.  There she was with her dog on a lease.  As I neared her, I heard her say out loud, "No, she doesn't want to pet you even though you are a good dog.  She is running."  She spoke to poofy dog as if he was a human toddler of say 4 years old.  If I had not been trying to pace my breathing in running, I would have let out loud the laughter that filled my insides.  Today, on my last leg of the miles, I spotted her out again with leash in hand.  She had donned a very huge long puffy coat - like the kind my Grandma June wore in the 1970's.  I suppose it might be a subtle improvement from her house dresses.  This summer she had her gray house painted.  It needed a coat of paint desperately.  She had it painted a bright canary yellow.  It matches nothing in this mostly brick neighborhood and stands out like a sore thumb.  Eccentric.  I do though sort of appreciate that trait in people.  They are who they are and seem to care less what you or I think of how they dress, live or even what color they paint their house.  I think she lives alone which might be why she talks to herself.  There is no one else to have conversation with.  Who was I to talk.  I had on marijuana running pants!

2.15.2012

"GROWING UP"

For those of you in readerland who are below 35 years of age, I am doing you a huge favor.  I am going to give you a glimpse into aging so as to prepare you for what lies ahead.  Break it into digestable chunks.   Let's say you are 25-30 years of age right now.  Think back to when you were 12.  You were different then than you are now, right?  You didn't have as broad of knowledge base, experience foundation, or a grown up body.  I am here to tell you in another twenty years you will be experiencing changes yet again.  I told a girlfriend of mine not to long ago how strange it is that we talk about kids "growing up" when we speak of the human process of age progression in them.  But, when we talk about anyone over 35 we say, "they are aging or getting old".  I decided I did not like that.  If we are all on this journey of maturation (kind of like fruit), then we are "growing" till we are ripe - which would be our point of death.  Literally that is the destination of life.  Not to be morbid but it is very true.  We are not born to live forever, but to die.  That is the goal line which then leads to whole other world.  In this process of late of "growing up",  I've had a few moments that are just old people moments.  One of which occurred last week in the middle of the night.  If you are follower of this blog, you have read many times my diarrhea tales.  It is a plague in my life that I have also gifted generously to my daughter.  Right there is another sign of this growing up that is occurring - my desire to want to speak of my colon issues openly.  I went to bed that particular night with a stomach that was not right.  I had battled diarrhea for several days and it had gotten somewhat unpredictable and instant.  Along with that delightful issue, I get an extreme drop in blood pressure when laying or sitting down and then standing up too quickly.  I've learned to just deal with it by adjusting how I get up or being near something I can hold onto for the few seconds that the room gets dim or dark.  That too makes me feel old!  Diarrhea hit at 2:30 a.m. like a switch.  I had a split second decision; forgo or chance the dizziness and bolt out of bed to the bathroom, or take my time and HOPE I made it.  I chose the first option.  With lightening speed I whipped the covers back and hit the floor at a fast pace.  I made it about 4 steps, to the end of the foot board, when the lights went out.  Oh they didn't just dim like other times for a bit, I passed out.  We have all hardwood floors in our house, and I sleep in only my underpants!  It was like a freight train hitting the bedroom floor.  I couldn't catch myself as I just went unconscious.  OH GEEZ...old people again!  As I am coming to my husband is trying to pull me off the heap I am in on the floor.  The room was still spinning like the Tilt-A-Wheel at the county fair.  I take stock momentarily.  He is wanting me to sit on the bed for a bit.  I am NEEDING the bathroom as originally intended in my Olympic sprint there to begin with.  He is worried.  I am hurting.  While in the bathroom, he kept coming to the door and saying, "Honey, are you ok?" every couple minutes.  When all was said and done, I bruised up my right elbow and messed up my neck and upper back.  As I sat in the chiropractor's office the next day I laughed at my "old people" story with him.  I also thought too that in another 20 years I might have broke something on a fall like that.  Now I understand old people's hips breaking.   That is the bad side of growing up.  The good side of it is the humor and perspective that comes with it.  I am thinking that we might need carpet or that I might need to at least sleep in clothes to pad my falls in the middle of the night. 

2.14.2012

AND THEY CALL HER LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

It is Valentine's Day.  That wonderful created and promoted holiday made by Hallmark.  Not really, just capitalized on by them!  Its origin dates back to 496 AD and a Christian martyr named Valentinus and developed through the years as a time to "fancy romantic love".   If you want to do the "which came first - the chicken or the egg" train of thought, I think love came first.  In all things which are beginninged, LOVE started it all.  Go back as far as creation and God.  God's love for a world and ultimately relationships, set Creation in motion.  Placed then in all of us is the innate longing, desire to be loved - to be part of other people.  Sunday's sermon was all about that.  God's original design for us to be loved - to be part of relationships - part of a community - in connection to others.  Great sermon for the week of Valentine's Day!  I thought about the world's fascination with love.  Think of all the things made to promote it, showcase, present it.  Books written about love.  Movies made with a "love story".  TV shows created like; Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Love American Style all with themes relating to the quest and fulfillment of finding true love.  Why are we so in love with love?  It's God's design for us.  It is woven in our DNA.  I don't care who you are - the toughest ass criminal or the little cutest kid or anything in between, we want to be loved.  That is why kids whose parents abuse them still love them even though it doesn't make logical sense.  We want to be loved - we crave it.   That is why grown women stay in abusive relationships.   Mixed in with a myriad of reasons why they stay, is the hope of love.  The glimmer of it between abusive moments.  God talks about being driven by love.  That is so true.  We are hot wired for it.  It is not just romantic-passionate love that we crave.  Our quest to experience and live in love comes in all forms.  Friends.  Family.  Co-workers.  Spouses.  And God.  I think Love gives us a sense of who we are.  It supports us.  Affirms us.  I cannot define love.  It has been tried before.  For such a small word it holds an ocean in it.  I cannot comprehend the bigness of it or contain totally even a fraction of it.  I am quite sure that is because LOVE originated with God and His bigness cannot be contained or grasped fully either.  If LOVE was a piece of priceless art, I would quest to own it.  If LOVE was a world-class orchestra performance, I would buy tickets.  If LOVE was found in the blue waters of Belize, I would dive them.  And if LOVE was always there in God, like a cool glass of water, I would always want a drink.  And, it is.

2.13.2012

LONG AS GOD CAN GROW IT - MY HAIR

Watching the Grammy's last night I was struck by many things.  One of which was hairstyles.  Evidentally bangs are making a HUGE comeback. I don't really find those styles very attractive on women.  It reminded me of my oldest sister's look as a kid - stick straight hair with bangs cut in a line above the eyebrows.  We called her Mrs. Beasley - reminiscent of the doll possessed by Buffy on the show "Family Affair".  That also reminded me of my own journey with hair.  My great-aunt was a beautician and she cut our hair when I was growing up.  Hair was cut back in the 60's not so much for style (ok probably not totally true, but was accurate in the Weldy household), but for practicality and ease of taking care of three little girls (we were 18 months apart).  When one of us got a hair cut, all three of us got a hair cut.  As younger kids we also had some "matching" haircuts.  I can remember our bangs being cut at the half-way point between your eyebrows and your scalp.  Probably done so mom didn't have to get our hair cut quite as often and so we wouldn't look like mop heads.  I didn't like my bangs cut that short!  I had messy hair no matter the style growing up but mostly due to me being a tomboy and never combing it unless forced to by a parent.  We also all sported the shag haircut at the same time.  One of our first day of school pictures, taken every year at the end of the drive holding our new school bags and waiting for the school bus, clearly shows our matching haircuts.  A shag cut highlighting a sandy blonde (me), a medium brown (my oldest sister Jeanne) and a dark brown head (my middle sister Diane) marks that picture!  Look out Carol Brady:)  I also sported the Dorothy Hamil (an Olympic skater who brought the style to Biblical proportions nationwide in the 1970's), a stacked short bob of sorts.  I went through phases of the Pixie cut, various en-route to growing out looks that were absolutely horrendous.  Eventually I resided at what I like to refer to as the "Marilyn Quayle"  (she was the wife of Vice President Dan Quayle in 1989-1993) look in various years of my 20's and thirties.  It was a long style, including bangs, that was just sort of non-descript and boring.  I have had my bangs long, medium and barely-able-to-be-measured short.  I have had long hair styles and the extremely very, very short pixie cuts that required a trim every two weeks to keep it looking styled and clean cut around the ears.  I highlighted my hair and dyed it in my younger years.  I used to have thicker hair than I presently do.  Age and chronic illness have lessened the quantity and thickness!  I no longer highlight or dye my hair.  It is a mixture that you would not be able to buy in a bottle - a sort of aging and darkening sandy blonde mixed with white strands.  My husband and I were talking about my hair yesterday in the car.  I asked him did he really like my dark blonde mixture woven more and more heavily with white and silver strands.  He commented that in certain lights it appears more blonde, while in other lights the white glistens.  He said he loves my hair color.  I am thankful for that as I will not dye it.  He goes so far as to tell me that I could have no hair and look great.  That is not true.  I know very few white people who look great bald.  Our ethnicity just doesn't wear it as well as others.  I look back at pictures of myself and giggle at all the doos I have had.  I don't think my best hair days were behind me!  What was I thinking at certain points?  I suppose my only comfort is that other people looked just as ridiculous as I did at the same time!  I suppose if I had to guess at what lies in my hair future it would be the older lady short hair style.  You know the one I am speaking of.... a twinge of blue and a matted down spot on the back of the head.  I wonder how that will look on me?   

2.12.2012

THE UNSEEN STATE OF OUR HEARTS

Today was a vivid example of why I am not a fan of Facebook.  This mega-billion dollar social media site is ingenious.  It has created a swell, a movement, a trend, a venue for everyone to be noticed.  I suppose it gives significance to some that may need it.  I think anything in its purest form, in its most unadulterated state is always best.  So, I say all I say about Facebook knowing there is some measure of good in it.  Though, as with many things our hands touch or we are exposed to as humans, we rub off on it.  We not only adapt things to fit us, but in doing that we also change and alter its original intention.  I had a Facebook account - a personal page.  I closed it down in the early fall.  No longer could I take the shallowness of it.  Nor could I tolerate how public your world becomes when you are electronically connected to a level of "friends", their "friends" and their "friends".  It made the world just a bit too small for me.  It also made me sad, disgusted, angry, fueled my pain of processing the loss of things in my divorce, and made me just generally shake my head far too often.  All those things happen outside of Facebook too.  Why would I want or need another stage to experience them as well!  There are two main categories of people on facebook; 1) those who post just about every time they breathe - most of which is insignificant drool which I just don't care about.  They post a great deal of gooiness, one-liners, song lyrics, links to videos, how they "feel", the weather, a run, a picture that would only really matter to close family or how great their lives are constantly.   And, 2) those that use it as a platform of sorts to tout political stances, moral convictions or spiritual-ese/do gooding or preaching.  Those people categorize and polarize everything and everyone.  I might admire their passion for the deeper things at times, but usually end up either passing over what they say or getting indignant over the attitude behind their posts.  No doubt there are other categories as well - those that don't fit into either of those groupings, but they are few and far between.  I am tired of it being a "me monster" board (to quote comedian Brian Regan).  You might be thinking that this blog is similar.  I would disagree.  If you choose to come here you come either to check it out or are a returning participant who knows what they are subjecting themselves to - a single venue - me.  I hold out irreverence, opinions, God, struggle, love, pain, silliness and humor with realism.  You choose to come and read and subject yourself to it.  You invite me.  I don't want the self-righteous posters and the always posting shallow-ites on Facebook to spoil it for all.  And they do!  Today I read a post off my husband's Facebook news feed (I have tried to pull him off Facebook for the past 6 months!).  It was written by a "friend", the loose term on Facebook for someone who you probably wouldn't go to dinner with but have to read their crap daily in an online form.  This man commented before an autopsy was done on Whitney Houston as to her reason of death.  There is no doubt a good chance that drugs may have played a role as she has struggled with substance abuse in her life.  Addiction is powerful.  That really doesn't matter though.  This post, from a Christian man, went on to say, "Hearing about Whitney Houston's death is sad...When are we going to realize that fame and fortune don't fulfill us but ruin ourselves...A lie to make us believe we are bigger than we are...I'm thinking the American Dream can be more of a nightmare...SAD."  Might have a twinge of truth in it, but such a sweeping cold statement.  He then commented on his own post (that disgusts me in and of itself) which smacked of over arrogance and a love affair with all things SELF..."For real...Brittney Spears, Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, Michael Jackson...Anytime it seems like people have it all...Their life crumbles...Fulfillment doesn't come in fame and fortune...Mine has come from accepting the price God paid for my imperfections on the cross.  Never felt more free than the day I first believed..."  I was a pastor's wife for 25 years and I exploded in rage as I read his words. Woven in my rage though was a large measure of raw heartbreak. This Facebook "friend" needs to get his own self out of his ass, head and heart.  The Bible is FULL of people who, while serving God even, had seasons-moments of extreme humanness and "imperfections".  Just to name a few; Elijah, Abraham, Adam and Eve, Cain, Tamar, Samson, King David, Solomon, Peter, John the Baptist, Paul, Nicodemus....  For this man to assume that because of the manner of her death, or her struggles in life, that she did not know God in a personal way is wrong.  We don't have to get it right all the time to be loved or accepted by God.  This 'friend' should know Jesus did not die on the cross for mere "imperfections" (whatever he thinks his are or others), but for "sin".  God's view of what sin is and what we think it is sometimes merges and other times takes a fork in the road.  We view "sin" as things - acts, choices, lifestyles which include sex outside of marriage/remarriage/homosexuality/adultery/abuse of every form/addiction to the big ones - substances, pornography, gambling, etc.  God is bigger than an "act".  We are not judged solely by an "act", but whether our heart is right when we take our last breath.  We are not judged with our battles and struggles against our humanity, but by how much we let God battle it with us.  I wanted to reach through the IPad screen and knock him off his Christian arrogant-ass pedestal.  His spirit was what causes people to NOT be able to see past us to God.  It was what enslaves people to a performance based life lie with God that keeps them from totally understanding and getting the grace God offers us daily.  IF we could have gotten it right by our own choices and things we do, Jesus would not have had to come to bridge our humanity with His grace to bring us to a God who LOVES US in the state we are in.  My facebook 'friend', even in His declaration of truth, cancelled it out by his insertion of his self-righteousness, callousness and know-it-all-spiritualness to the assumption of what God thinks of Whitney Houston and the way in which she may have died.  There are just as many examples of pastors, evangelists, Christian businessman, every day people who battle their humanity, their imperfections, their addictions, their choices and their "sin".  God's first, middle and last impression of us is NOT outward, but inward!  That goes for all.  Whitney Houston, me and that Facebook "friend".

2.09.2012

HOT POTATO

Remember the game Hot Potato?  I don't think it was strictly a countryish-farm sort of kid game.  Though it could be, as that was my only point of reference growing up.  Hot Potato is a children's game, a sit or stand still version of Musical Chairs.  A soft object is quickly tossed around in a circle of people, person to person.  A bean bag, a rotting potato (ha!), a soft ball is used - something that in the heat of speed of the game would not cause injury.  The goal is to NOT end up with the ball when either the music stops or someone yells HOT!  The player left holding the object is ejected from the game.  To win the game is to be the last one left.  It's an old, old game that DOES NOT stem from the premise that when you take a potato from the microwave it is hot and hard to hold (though that is very true).  It is a take on a game from the late 1880's involving passing a candle.  The point though is that when something is hot or uncomfortable we don't want to hold it for long.  Yesterday I was searching for a new dentist.  Doing the research to find both a top rated dentist and one that was on my insurance's list of in-network providers.  I found myself thinking about why I really needed to find a new dentist.  That I had experienced yet again another post-divorce "hot potato" moment with my dentist of the past 25 years.  I think I have run out of patience, sympathy, empathy and even to some degree, tolerance for people in my life who can't seem to move past my divorce.  Who can't seem to see me still as Nancy.  Who have changed the way they hold their relationship with me.  Who now view me as that "hot potato".  I didn't want to change dentists necessarily.  But, I have moved on with my life post-divorce and don't have time for other's inability, naivety or weirdness in my interactions with them.  The last time I went to my dentist of 25 years, a man, who fresh out dental school and in his first practice, hired me as his first dental assistant, was awkward.  His warmth and connectivity to me post-divorce and remarried was gone.  I could tell he didn't know how to view me, talk to me.  As if, somehow I was a different person than when I was married for 25 years to my first husband.  To say it pissed me off is a very large understatement.  I don't have time or tolerance for it any longer.  I dialed the new dentist's office and made an appointment.   Last week I lost all patience for my former financial advisor and dear friend's strangeness in doing business with me post-divorce.  I wanted to scream every time these "hot potato" moments occurred.  Every time someone who was a part of my past wanted to distance themselves from me, over think how they interacted with me now or just became non-existent in my life.  For the first time though since my divorce I was ok with it.  Instead of mourning and being in angst and internal turmoil over it, I moved on.  Instead of being bewildered, hurt and feeling abandoned, I was able to see all the good in my life whether those people chose to be a part of it or not.  I was a much better Nancy now post divorce.  I brought to the table all of me - a real version of myself.   I could go on and maybe even be thankful that I was a hot potato.  I did not want to be "stuck" with people who couldn't be free to be themselves around me, who didn't have minds and hearts big enough to see I was still Nancy, who couldn't allow me to be me.  Those people who couldn't process divorce against their religious backgrounds and who lived in a constant state of judgement.  I didn't need to justify myself, make people understand what I had experienced or endured to get them to love and want to have a relationship with me.  For the first time, I was more than ok.  To all the formers in my life; my dentist, my financial advisor, my former parishioners and friends, people from my past, my friend who texts me Bible verses, I wish you well in life and have moved on without your presence.  There has been a process of grief in those relationships.  I have experienced all those steps in grieving their lost relationships - shock, denial, bewilderment, pain, loss, being paralyzed & stuck, anger and finally some acceptance.  I will go to a new dentist.  I changed the agent of record on my financial products to someone else.  And, I can more clearly and seperately see the loss and not experience the pain of it. 

2.08.2012

THE ART OF EXPECTATIONS

The power of telling.  Not the power of suggestion.  There is a definite difference between them.  There were times, when parenting my then young daughter, that I wanted her to do something.  Instead of telling her, I found myself suggesting she do it.  Trying to get her to do whatever it was I wanted her to do because it was the right or appropriate thing.  Like this; "Hannah, would you go pick up your room?"  Why was I asking a 9 year old such a thing.  I was not giving her a choice, yet by my words I was implying she had a choice.  I caught myself.  I changed gears.  "Hannah, go pick up your room please."  The expectation was set as to what I wanted her to do.  Really simple, most of the time:)  I use that same tactic with people all the time when I want them to do something not on their agenda.  Yesterday I met a girlfriend for coffee.  We've met at this same place a handful of times, so the "system" of that coffee shop was familiar.  There were always 3 pump pots out; decaf, regular unflavored and the flavor of the day.  I am bit picky about my coffee and have very distinctive likes and dislikes.  No to the decaf - might as well forgo coffee if I have to drink that crap!  No to the unflavored Tanzanian Roast - I like smooth coffee and it's a rarity that unflavored blends hit the mark there.  Yes to the flavor of the day depending on what it was.  Yesterday's flavor of the day was Turtle Sundae.  Ugh:(  I love nuts and caramel, but hate chocolate infused flavors in coffee.  Just like I don't like fruit infused flavors in coffee either.   I pumped myself a cup of Turtle Sundae, doctored it up thoroughly lightish tan with half and half and took a sip.  Thankfully we were alone in the coffee shop - just me, my friend and the staff.  "Yuck! I hate chocolate flavors.  This is bad." I told my friend.  I commented to her that I loved their French Vanilla and their Vermont Maple was great too.  I did not want to sit there for a couple of hours with my friend and be relegated to drinking a flavor of coffee that was horrible.  So, I did what seemed extremely reasonable, I told the lady behind the counter that I did not care for chocolate flavored coffee, but loved their Vermont Maple and hoped that would have been the flavor today.  I stressed how much I did not like the flavor and how much I loved the one I wanted.  She said, "Well, if you drink that pot, then I might be able to make you Vermont Maple."  I laughed inside thinking there was no way in hell I was drinking any more of that crappy flavor and that she would make a pot of what I liked.  It would just be a matter of time and the right combinations of words and tones.  My friend cringed at my boldness.  Would my power of telling over asking work with this coffee shop employee? Would my ability to tell someone an expectation, which leaves no room for choice, garner me a pot of Vermont Maple?  I giggled to my friend and told her to watch.  I let a bit of time pass.  The employee milled around behind the counter.  I looked at her and in an expectant voice with a cheery manner simply said, "Is that Vermont Maple done brewing yet?".  And I just smiled and paused.  I did not ask her if she would brew it, was she going to brew it.  No, I asked her if it was done yet.  Clearly I knew it was not.  I knew she had not even started it as that was not the non-definite agreement she had stated to me earlier.  Amazingly though she said, "I will brew it now", and she turned to grind the Vermont Maple beans.  I swooned over her to make her feel as if the idea was purely hers.  As if she chose to make that pot of coffee that was NOT their scheduled flavor of the day. My friend laughed at what had just occurred.  I told her it was something that happened to me all the time.  There is something I have learned about being confident, kind, and telling instead of asking which, most of the time, gives me the result I desire.  Not in a spoiled-gotta-have-my-own-way manner.  But, in the power of the art of persuading expectations.  Go ahead try it.   

2.07.2012

UNSCRUPULOUS SURCHARGES

I hate bills.  Who doesn't?  It's not just that I hate paying them, seeing money leave the checkbook.  It is that I am sick to death of fees for this and fees for that.  No doubt there is a lot about utility and phone industry fees and government regulations for that industry that I am not abreast of.  I do know I am sick to death of being nickle and dimed over this fee or tax charge or that administrative or regulatory charge.  Sure, it's not a ton of money when you look at the surcharges breakdown.  But it is on every utility, phone and Internet bill I pay!  These are the charges listed on my Verizon cellphone bill under the heading Verizon Wireless Surcharges:

Fed Universal Service Charge        3.11
Regulatory Charge                         .32
Administrative Charge                  1.98
State Utility Receipts Surcharge    1.30
State Telecom Relay Surcharge       .06
State Universal Service Fee            .29
State PUC Fee                               .07

You may say, that is only $7.13.  But that is on top of a data package fee, a line access fee, and insurance the phone (replacement without it would cost $600). I understand deregulation and laws that govern the disclosure of fees to consumers.  It helps me clearly know what I am paying for so I can more easily throw a hissy fit!  I just checked my bill and I am being charged a Michigan 911 and Michigan State Use Tax.  I DON'T LIVE IN THE STATE OF MICHIGAN OR HAVE A MICHIGAN CELL PHONE NUMBER!  I feel bad for the economy of the state of Michigan, but don't feel I need to bail them out!   A few weeks back we added my husband's work cell phone to my plan.  Not too many days later Verizon sent two letters regarding both of our phone numbers.  It was a plan summary of sorts.  I am quoting this directly from Verizon, "Note:  Federal Universal Service, Regulatory and Administrative Charges are Verizon Wireless charges, not taxes.  Taxes and Verizon Wireless surcharges may be between 10%-38% of your monthly bill."  That is literally unbelievable!  I am all for capitalism.  I think it makes things competitive and probably better in terms of choices.  Companies need to make a profit.  No issue there.  There has to be though, some reasonable margin in profits to customer pricing.  Today I will make a phone call to their 800 number to question the Michigan fees assessed my account and give my thoughts to someone on the other end that does not set the policy for charges.  It will be a somewhat futile attempt to make a splash with my pebble in an ocean of corporateness.   

2.06.2012

THE ROMANS AND SUPERBOWL XLVI

Super Bowl XLVI was Sunday, February 5th, 2012.  Since I am not a huge football fan, and I have forgotten my correlation of regular numbers to roman numerals, I had to look up what number Super Bowl that was.  Was it X=10?  Was it L=50?  Was it V=5?  Obviously the I=1.  No, no, that couldn't be correct.  That would mean that this year's Super Bowl was number 66.  I had a hunch that Super Bowls did not start 66 years ago.  So, it had to be that XLV was a combo that when written in that order did not add up to the individual sums of those letters, but a new combination therein.  A quick Google search confirmed my suspicion.  XLV in that combo equals 45.  Oh those Romans!  You add the I, which is 1, and you get Super Bowl 46 played in Lucas Oil Arena (Can we get a better name?  I don't care if you bought the stadium, it is a stupid name!  It is Indiana not the oil region of Texas.) in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Stats would probably show that the Hallmark channel may be mostly watched by female viewers.  Men would typically say the programming and the movies are too cheesy and far too sappy for their testosterone levels.  I am not a male, but I would agree and hate the Hallmark channel as well for those same reasons.  But what I find ironic is that those same testosterone filled males will sit and watch the pre-game Super Bowl programming which begins at sunup Super Bowl Sunday and includes athlete backdrop stories which give the Hallmark channel a run for their money.  Stories of overcoming odds, tough beginnings in life, and what they ate for breakfast are interwoven with dramatic pull-at-your-heartstrings backdrop music.  Please!  Spare me the emotional drama interwoven into a sport where tackles that cause neurological damage later in life rule the field.  Has the NFL become so greedy that they create these pieces in hopes to increase revenue from the already billions they earn off a Super Bowl.  I say to men out there who don't like sissified anything, won't wear lavender, salmon and flinch when they have to hold their wives or girlfriend's purses in a store, knock it off!  If you can watch all those sappy, irrelevant and overly emotionally presented athlete backdrop stories, you aren't as manly as you think you are.  It is a sport.  A game that is, at one time in most men's lives, a childhood dream to play professionally.  Don't girl it up with Bob Costas' sweet voice telling a back story of Eli Manning and how he threw footballs in the back yard every day from the ages of 11-18.  Don't use Al Michael's voice with his now slightly weirdly colored shoe polishie hair to paint an emotional story of the sacrifice of the players to get where they are at.  They are paid millions of dollars.  They should be working and sacrificing to earn that kind of money to play a flipping game!  Don't make it bigger than life.  Don't try to make football more heart wrenching than loving your family or living through financial woes or facing an unexpected serious illness or devastating loss.   At the end of the day, it is a job for those players.  I'm sure one that they love to do.  It though is a job that is a game.  A game!  Nothing in our lives is dependent on it (ok unless you have bet a huge chunk of money and ruin yourself financially from betting! ).  No matter who wins and loses my world will go on.  Remember that Al Michaels and Bob Costas.

2.05.2012

A WAY BETTER WALKMAN

I ran for the first time ever in my life with music that was crystal clear.  I used my husband's Ipod Shuffle yesterday.  All my running my entire life has been in silence - just me, my mind and the open road barring one other time.  I had a walkman 30 years ago but they were just too big and bulky to run with.  I tried it once.  It was a disastrous blend of music that skipped (technology was not that great then) and my hip took a beating from it hitting me with every step. Doug charged his Shuffle for me and instructed me how to use this little gizmo that looked more like a flash drive than something that would play music.  I set the volume using the Ipod earphones that have a volume button on them, then traded them out for the one's that hook over your ears.  I perused the list of his music he had on it from his years of training for marathons.  It was power music that had a driving beat to spur you on.  It wasn't necessarily all the music I liked, but I would give it a whirl.  I clipped it to my sports bra, tucked the cords inside my shirt and took off.  Doug's music played in my ears.  I smiled through many songs that he had put on there that motivated his 26.2 mile runs at a speed of six and half minute miles.  As "Beat It" by Michael Jackson came on I endured the next 3 minutes of that song till the next one came up.  Since I didn't remember who all was on the play list, it was music roulette for me.  There were some songs that came on that I tried singing with but found that I couldn't sing at the top of my lungs and run at the same time.  The lungs just couldn't accommodate both.  There were other songs that I literally wanted to stop and dance to.  I do that a lot in my house when music is playing.  I couldn't stop and dance either.  People would most definitely think me nuts and it would defeat my purpose of being on a run.  What I did find though, was it was a nice mind occupier.  I think it would have been even an easier run had I had a mix of music that I loved on it.  It would have been a better run too if I hadn't tried to sing loudly and had not wanted to stop and dance to the music that was pulsing through me.  The distraction of music though helped a bit when I got to that part of my run when I have an ongoing dialogue with myself to push past what I feel to what I want.  It's a familiar script in my head on just about every run.  I did start laughing when the Black Eyed Peas song, "Tonight's Gonna Be A Good Night".  My dislike for that group and especially that song is rich and deep and known to Doug and my daughter.  I will go out to run when I finish this blog post.  I will use Doug's Shuffle again.  And, again I will see what other mix of music he has on there.  His music was very telling of the things he has experienced in his past.  I saw a common thread in the music that he picked.  No doubt I will have to put some of my music on there too.  And, I most definitely need to take the Black Eyed Peas off!  I will fight the urge again to want to sing and stop to shake my groove thing.  Doug has most definitely turned me on to many new things in my life.  Music while running is yet another one. 

2.04.2012

A COUPLE OF THINGS AND SOME STUFF

There is stuff I still haven't done.  Stuff, things and couple are words that are general.  I use those words too much I think.  Those words mean different things to each of us.  For instance, my stuff is different than yours.  Things is highly allusive and yet personal to each of us.  And couple takes on a life of its own with each person's interpretation of how many that really entails.  Needless to say, I have stuff I still haven't done.  A couple of those things will probably be lifelong projects.  There are as well things I want or need to do.  Like, hemming two pair of pants I have.  I continue to not be able to wear them unless I had a pair of 5" stiletto heels.  I also haven't painted the trim in the hallway, even though I have painted the walls.  I never painted the two closets in the living and dining room from a year and half ago when I painted those two rooms.  I also haven't painted the basement floor even though I bought the paint almost 2 years ago.  I have yet to really organize my clothes in my closet.  I haven't grouted the space underneath the dishwasher though we installed a new tile floor in the Spring of 2010.  Nor, have I sealed the back splash grout behind the counter tops.  I still haven't cut the old antennae and flag pipes to ground level since they are not used any more.  I haven't gotten through all 390 blog posts to sort through a publishing project I am working on.  I still have not totally figured out the title to the book I am currently writing.  Nor, have I ordered the manufacturers floor mats for the car we bought going on a year ago and continue to use ones that are too small.  Though I have a .com address purchased, a logo designed and owned, an LLC in place, I still don't have the website designed, content totally figured out or the site up on a business venture.  I still don't own an edger or a snow blower though I say every year I am going to buy both.  I still have a few people in my life that things are not open and resolved with.  I have not down hill skied this year either, even though I have wanted to learn for the past 4 years.  I still have not ever run over 5 miles at one time.  I still have not finished some music lyrics I started as I am missing an ingredient to do so.  I still have not found a church I can comfortably call home since leaving the pastorate 3 years ago.  I still have not hiked the grand canyon or taken up tandem bike racing.  I still cannot ice skate or even roller skate well.  I still don't have my relationship with my parents where my heart longs for it to be.  I still can't totally let loose of the feeling of abandonment from people in my life post-divorce that I thought I had a relationship with.  I still have not purchased the love seat to my living room furniture or the wood cabinet to match my dining room table.  I still have not played the piano after leaving the pastorate or led worship for the past 3 years.  I still haven't been to Vermont, New York City or Maine.  I still haven't lived in San Diego.  I still haven't found any shoes that I love more than my penny loafers.  I still haven't waxed my old Toyota Camry though the wax taunts me from the garage shelf summer after summer.  And I desperately need to fix that spot on my bookcase with wood putty.    

2.02.2012

TIME PASSAGES

"Time Passages".... the title to the song written and sung by Al Stewart.

It was late in December
The sky turned to snow
All round the day was going down slow
Night like a river beginning to flow
I felt the beat of my mind
Go drifting into time passages
Years go falling in the fading light
Time passages
Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight
Well, I'm not the kind to live in the past
The years run too short and the days too fast
The things you lean on
Are the things that don't last
Well, it's just now
And then my line gets cast into these
Time passages
There's something back here that you left behind
Oh, time passages
Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight
Hear the echoes and feel yourself starting to turn
Don't know why you should feel
That there's something to learn
It's just a game that you play
[Instrumental Interlude]
Well, the picture is changing
Now you're part of a crowd
They're laughing at something
And the music's loud
A gal comes towards you
You once used to know
You reach out your hand
But you're all alone
In these time passages
I know you're in there
You're just out of sight
Oh, time passages
Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight

I wonder often about coming to the end of my life.  Will I think backwards in panoramic views?  Will I resolve the unresolveds that I have carried with me all my life?   Will all that stuff finally take its rightful place of less prominence?  Will it assume its now silent place on the shelves of my life?  Time (even at my age) gives us perspective on ourselves-our choices-our life.  While experiencing the joy, the pain, the regret, the pleasures, the grief, the angst, the contentment, we have nothing as a backdrop to thoroughly put it in full perspective or to see it clearly.  Those lyrics remind me that looking back is both common and partly necessary to sort out truth, priorities, see it for what it was - behind us.   Before I fool myself into thinking that our pasts don't matter, I realize that they have partly formed who we are.   It seems, for me, when in the heat of the present I am emotionally tied to it.  Emotions color things when in them.  When I look through binoculars I can see things far away clear, but I am not there so I cannot participate.  It's not the same as being there.  The advantage is that I can see things clearer and in detail and the scenery around it.  Lots of people have experienced some very painful things in their lives.  Their pasts are riddled with tragedy, abuse, pain, illness, struggle.  Some times not at their own hands or by their own choice either.  I don't know how God weaves things in and out of our lives.  I don't know fully why this is the "system" of life that He uses to make us who we are.  For those whose "time passages"  moments bring crippling memories, I truly believe looking at pain diminishes its power on us.  Feeling its loss of what should have/could/might have been is part of moving on.  It's part of grieving over the things behind us that caused scars.  Equally powerful are the moments that those "time passages" moments take us to pleasure, good times, to love and happy seasons.  We are a mix of all those time passages parts of our life.  I often think of Jesus after His resurrection.  Whether you think Jesus is the Son of God or not, historically you can find record of His death by crucifixion.  When Jesus shows up on the beach to greet the disciples back from fishing, He is out of the grave.  He is alive again!  How is that possible unless you are the Son of God!  Even though resurrected from the dead, Jesus still had scars on His hands and feet from being nailed to a cross.  That tells me He is the King of time passages Unmistakably Jesus was alive because of the death He had experienced.  He was Jesus, the Savior of the world, solidified by the experience of death on a cross purposefully done for you and I.  He could not undue the past (thus the scars on His hands and feet).  That experience of giving up His life for our sins, of living in human flesh for 33 years, of leaving His rightful place next to God in heaven made Him approachable to us.  Without that pain, struggle, separation from God for a time, Jesus would not have been fully who He was supposed to be.  That view always helps me see time passages as vital to our lives.  Even hurt, pain, struggle can mix with victory, healing, joy, peace and happiness creating in us a final product that is purposed and chiseled.  Dare I say, more beautiful because of our pasts.  Sometimes I need to get a distance away from events, my past and use binoculars to see it clearer - to see how it has made me who I am, who we all are.  We are all an amalgamation of time passages that leave us beautifully and uniquely us.  

2.01.2012

MYTHICAL MADE UP MANTRAS

I looked up "feed a cold, starve a fever" as I had both this week.  Sometimes I wonder about origins of the goofy things we say and declare as truth.   Was this a sort of urban myth?  No one can exactly place its beginnings as a folklorean myth now taken on as quasi hokie pokie truth.  But it might stem from 1574 when it was stated by dictionary writer John Withals that "fasting is a great remidie of feuer".  No, I didn't misspell those words.  That's the quote!  The medical wisdom of that day was that a drop in body temperature caused colds, while fevers produced a temperature spike.  Thus eating and drinking generated warmth needed for a cold.  And, since a fever indicates an increase in body temperature, laying off food and drinks did not increase that internal body temperature any higher thus giving the body the rest it needed to fight off fever.  Fevers usually make you not feel like eating anyway.  And colds typically last longer than does a fever, so you would need food to endure it!   It's both a bit of junk science and our body's own natural reaction to disease in it.  I have found when not feeling stellar, food isn't necessarily at the top of my desires list whether I have a cold or a fever!  My husband kept telling me this week that I needed to eat chicken soup. He has quite a bevy of folklorean Muriel-isms (that was his mother) that he shares with me from time to time.  She must have been quite the character (her home is now heaven), as most of them are just down right funny.  Why do we associate chicken soup with colds?  Is there validity to that claim?  The bit of legitimacy to it has something to do with how chicken and the vegetables can help fight against the inflammatory response of colds.  But then so can lots of other foods like; good oils, fish, nuts, broccoli, cranberries, cherries, grapes, apples, cocoa in the raw, grass fed meats.  Why is not pie an anti-inflammatory aid??  So the chicken soup for a cold thing is only marginally true.  How many times when I was a kid did I hear, don't sit too close to the TV or read without adequate light or you will damage your eyes.  Fact; it will not damage your eyes only staring into the sun indefinitely will.  Now, with age it becomes a bit harder to read in dim light as our reading vision declines (just ask me, I know!).  One of my nieces, when she was about 3 years old, used to sit cross legged 2 feet from the TV and stare at it like it was a cult leader holding her in a trance.  It seems that the younger you are, the more prone you are to want to experience the wonder that is TV.  We get close to what we love:)   That is a truism no matter our age.  Lastly, as a child I regularly heard my mother say, "You better get that look off your face before it freezes like that."  I though never heard that statement when I was making a joyful face.  When I was showing delight, contentment or a grateful and obedient heart sort of look.  The times I heard her say that was when I showed disdain, made a monsterish face at one of my sisters or she caught me sassing back in my without words manner that marked most of growing up years.  I don't know if she really thought that would deter me from making yucky or inappropriate faces.  I don't know if she hoped it would place fear inside me.  It did neither.  And, if there was a chance that my face could freeze permanently in that disrespectful manner, it was a risk I was willing to take for the sheer thrill of expression!