Pages

11.06.2014

TIME HOPE



"It was a dark and stormy night...."  That is Snoopy's opening line every time he sits on top of his dog house to write his novel.  It seems he never really gets any further than that.  But, a great opener is where it starts.  Without it, no one would get sucked in and read any further. Darkness always wants to pull us in.

[It's 4:30 a.m. CST and I am wide awake...I got up.] I hate the time change in northern Illinois as the result of day light savings time. Fall back to waking up way too early and wanting to crawl in bed right after the sun sets at 4:45 p.m.  I DO NOT like the central time zone.  I do not like it Sam I Am!  One wouldn't think an hour either direction is really that big of a deal.  But, it is!

The year I moved to Arizona in late April [a state that does not change times - mountain time] the sun actually came up around 5 a.m.  For a wired to get up at the butt crack of dawn person, it was heavenly!  I was outside at 5:00 a.m. to see the Arizona beauty as it was lighted.  I could run and walk at 5:00 a.m.  It so fit my relentless excessive need to be in the great outdoors before work.  The rough part though was it got dark significantly earlier there, even mid-summer, than it does in the central and eastern times zones in June and July. 
 
[It's 4:30 p.m. CST and I am driving home as the sun or a cloudy variation of it hits the horizon to set...It was a dark and stormy night!]  By the time I pulled in the garage and changed my clothes to go for a walk post-work last night, the clock read 4:50 p.m.  It was dusk and turning to dark.  I tried to defy the automatic connection your mind makes with darkness; time to be inside, time to wind down, the day is over, go to bed It was only 5:40 when I returned back from the miles, and my mind still couldn't stop the automation of thoughts that darkness of eve bring.

I talked myself through whether, upon my return from walking in the darkness, I would; A) turn the porch light on and try to rake the front leaves from the yard and the curb or, B) go inside and begin the dark evening hibernation.  I did not rake leaves as I didn't not have enough artificial light to see them all.  And since I have OCD/perfectionist tendencies, I could not rake if I could not do it all and do it completely right. 

Though extremely thankful that, in the central standard time zone post fall back an hour on November 2nd, it now gets light at 5:45 a.m. like it did in early summer.  But, previous to the fall back an hour, I was growing well accustomed to running in the dark before work.  If I have to choose which bracket of the day I'd rather have day light in the cool and colder months, it would be evening! 

I do a sort of mantra self-talk. . . 
[Just get to December 21st.  Just get to December 21st.  Just get to December 21st.]  That's the December Solstice in the northern hemisphere - the shortest day of light in the year.  It's the date when the hours of light, on both ends of the bracketed day, are the MOST saturated with darkness.  

This year I will use this time of growing darkness to December 21st to reflect, to really illuminate my inner light. I'm changing my perspective on the darkness I so hate. It's November 6th and the deepening darkness has 44 days to squeeze as much light from the day as possible.
 
 Time hope.

. . . Just like evil and Satan.  That darkness wants to rule as well.
 And, by the looks of the circumstances on earth, has the power
and is. Spiritually though, Jesus' December 21st  of sorts is on its way. 
There is coming a day when darkness will no longer rule. 

Spiritual hope.

10.29.2014

ELEPHANTS AREN'T MEANT FOR ROOMS


 
 
 
My boss responded to my story, "I can't believe you said that directly to someone."  I laughed. Elephants simply crowd me out.  I am extremely claustrophobic so I address them to get my space back.  I'm not good at pussy footing.  It's the realist in me.  If it can be felt, then it will be dealt.  [Poor rhyming even in the rap world!].

 
 
 
She wanted to know how that affected my relationship with that person.  "...it helped them understand why I said no more times than not.  It helped them know it wasn't a rejection of them, but an affirmation of yes to something very important to me.  It helped them know why I said no and what both of our expectations of the relationship were.  It made me not have to make up excuses for why I couldn't this time or that time.  It freed me up to say no and them to understand why I said it. It allowed them to not feel hurt by no.  No games, no fancy footwork, no hurt feelings or feeling slighted.  It aligned both sides with a huge sense of understanding." 
 
The elephant then left the building.  Was it difficult to do, yes!  Was it worth it, yes!  That smothering, claustrophobic elephant vanished like a puff of smoke.
 
How is stating the most obvious thing in front of you, excluding your own nose, a bad thing?  If you don't speak to it, does it leave?  Are walls and rooms really designed to hold an animal of that size? It's not normal or natural. It is quite ridiculous, very cumbersome, and ultimately very exhausting to squeeze between the wall and the elephant every time you want to move.
 
Elephants actually grow in size by our unwillingness to speak to them.  They are diminished and can disappear completely when we acknowledge there is in fact an issue, face the felt presence with a definition and then VERBALIZE what is taking all the oxygen from the room.  It's got to be a relief to the elephant to be acknowledged.  [Hey folks!  I'm right here.  The ginormous big gray beast with a trunk!]. Elephants aren't bred for captivity and are best set free.  
 
I'm not sure always how the other party always feels about my direct path to a problem. Sometimes there is great relief that they didn't have to initiate the elephant conversation.  No one, including me, wants to upset the Eco balance to return it to its rightful state.  Confrontation though, if done constructively not accusatorily, and focused on the problem not the person, is like opening the windows after a long winter - needed and refreshing.    
 
It can be risky at times to prod the elephant to leave.  People get defensive and elephants are ginormous.  Emotions, room size, the presence of a large animal that wants to be set free make for a possibly volatile situation.  Best case scenario - it's deflated, the issue is faced and resolved.  Worse case scenario - nothing gets resolved, emotions get heated but now both parties have acknowledged a presence that shouldn't be there, even though the elephant remains.  That's a good first step at least.

I don't like to waste time.  Elephants in a room waste my time.  They slow me down, take up heart and mind space.  They lead to further animosity and deeper resentment.  It's not a sign of caring to let them lie.  It's a sign of not caring. 

Elephants in the room are a bit like taking off a Band-Aid that's been on for awhile.  I want restoration and wholeness to the relationship, zen back to the room.  I don't want to belabor pulling off the band aid.  Though pain is pain no matter what, I just don't see the sensibility in extending its ouchie-ness.   

10.28.2014

A WEAVE, EXTENSIONS, OR ONE OF MY MOM'S WIGS FROM THE 1970'S


I have been growing out my bangs, along with my hair, for the past 5 years. When stated like that, it appears to be almost a part-time job.  But that would denote I reached my goal. I have not.  There is a bit of false hope I hold, that mysteriously, like spontaneous combustion, my bangs WILL eventually grow out to the length of the rest of my hair. That destination never comes though.

If I had good hair genes it would be down to my ass by now. Both parental sides combined in marriage through my parents to give me a double dose of  non-Kardashian hair.  I can take biotin till the cows come home [cows don't come home on their own if they get out - you have to go get them] and nothing grows except the occasional menopausal chin hair.  In fact, I could invest in every product to thicken, elongate, puff up the volume of my hair and it would not do one lick of good. If those products actually work, they work on hair that isn't as genetically compromised as mine. Short of hair plugs for women, Rogaine or a wig, [none of which I have resorted to yet], there just isn't a whole hell of a lot I can do about it. 

Human nature plays out in hair just like in many others area of life.  I want what I do not have -  hair that actually grows, especially bangs.   There are other things that are lacking in my physicality as well, like boobs.  Those I don't want more of.  I am thoroughly content with my barely A's.  Some of you can't wrap your mind around the fact that someone would want better hair but not bigger boobs.

Pictures of me years ago, previous to diseases that have contributed to the demise of my hair, show more hair in volume and quantity.  This isn't about the change of styles over the years.  It's not about the infusion of gray in the darkening blond strands.  It's not about the natural effect of the aging process on my hair follicles.  Though I don't want to be young again, I would take my younger Nancy hair.

I know not all things get to their desired destination.  Some remain a constant work in process.  The means ultimately becomes the destination.  Mine, I fear, is just to keep "growing" out my bangs with the misguided and ridiculous belief that they will someday actually grow.   It is a form of denial - to believe they are still growing [action word].  They are still growing denotes they are in process.  Which, is a brilliant cover for the ultimate denial of the hair cards I hold. The greatest of which is my follicularly compromised  gene pool.

My friend says QVC sells bang extensions.  Christmas is just around the corner.   One can hope.

10.23.2014

THE GLASS HOUSE OF TECHNOLOGY



Technology seems to take things to the fifth power, even to infinity and beyond.  The possibilities from it are endless.  That big broad platform allows almost anything and just about everything to be broadcast to the masses. No curtains.  No filters.  It's the glass house of technology.

That technological expressway subjects us all to things that we would just rather not see sometimes.  Those that use that platform for nearly everything would include the category of those pregnant or having just given birth.  It seems there is absolutely nothing private any more.  And, we are all subjected to everyone's broadcasts - including a play by play photo log of each week of pregnancy.  Those 40 weeks of posts are followed by a litany of sometimes overly graphic newborn pictures.

I gave birth to a daughter 27 years ago.  Though that technology of posting, even blogging, wasn't around back then, I didn't feel the need to even use my camera to take pictures of my belly week by week.  There was never any illusion that ever made me think anyone would want to follow my pregnancy that up close and personal, barring my husband. 

There is a deep loathing in me for social media - not the way I think it should be and was intended to be used for, but for what it is used for much of the time.  I love my personal life.  I don't need to give you a play by play on everything in it - even the biggest moments or the most difficult ones.  I love privacy.  That is the reason I don't run for public office, pursue newscasting, go on the show "Naked and Afraid", and continually sabotage myself from publishing my New York Times bestseller [overly implied sarcasm].

There is a strange generational phenomena right now with newborn pictures.  Professional photographers are hired to chronicle the newborn addition to the family.  Strange, awkward, and inappropriate shots are staged, photographed and blasted to people's social media sites. 

If I see one more mother/child, dad/newborn skin to skin shot I will have to scratch my own eyes out!  I love babies.  I rejoice when anyone has a child and begins the joy journey of parenting. I too felt that powerful emotion and connection when my own daughter was born.  What I don't need is to see ridiculous poses that were meant for private tender bonding time.   

No one wants to see a picture of a shirtless mother with a naked newborn hiding her breasts just to show the world the closeness you feel with your new baby!  Feel it, experience that richly, but keep the camera shots off social media.  Quit posting and start just being. 

Everything in life has become such a big production that it actually detracts from the magnificence of things.  Birth is big enough and majestic enough on its own.  In trying to broadcast it we lose the privacy that is part of it - the wonder of it.

Photographers have opened up a whole new market clientele base - pregnant women and newborn baby/family shots.  Please stop putting new born babies in buckets and baskets.  Stop cropping out parents' hands holding up a newborn's head giving the illusion that it can hold its own head at 2 weeks old.  And, please, please, please quit putting stupid hats on those newborns! 

If you should though, feel the need to hire a photographer, photo log your 40 weeks to birth, and then take quasi nude skin to skin shots, DO NOT POST THEM TO SOCIAL MEDIA!  Instead, make them the cover shot on your Christmas cards.

10.21.2014

MY REPEATING REPERTOIRE

Every morning, Monday through Friday, I have a distinct routine.  It's not riveting, but it's comfortably mine.  You probably have one too.  Some of you have routines that might be highly dissimilar to mine though.  Especially the getting up early part.

I'm not long to stay in bed.  Sleep eludes me many nights.  Between several disease structures at play, menopausal malarkey, and quite simply just wired to not need much sleep, I don't sleep well or long most nights.  Any more I count it a home run night's sleep if I don't have a night sweat and get more than 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  Those hit em out of the park good sleep nights are rarities similar to a solar eclipse.

It's no wonder I am ready for morning when night times are so damn crappy!  I love mornings and am always grateful to get up and start the day.  I do not need to depend on an alarm clock or the crutch of a snooze button to wake up.  There is a slight variation in my internal clock's wake up time, 5:00-5:15 a.m.  Once my eyes are open, I am full boar ready to start the motor running and talk in full sentences.  My husband says he occasionally will turn over in bed to find me wide awake.  "HI!", is what he claims I say, as if I am raring to go!   If some cars can go from 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds, I go from asleep to wide awake with one open blink of an eye.  He has lost more sleep living with me than he collectively got in the 52 years before he met me! 

This morning I woke at 5:08 a.m.  I looked at the clock and then laid there, not because I wanted to sleep more, but because I didn't want to get out of a warm bed.  After I pulled back the covers, I headed to the bathroom, raised the toilet lid and did my morning pee.  I brushed my teeth, looked closely to see what aging had occurred overnight (corn grows overnight too just ask a farmer) and thought random thoughts like; I need to use my teeth whitening strips or quit drinking coffee. Why do I have so many small vertical aging lines around my lips?  It's not like I ever smoked.  Maybe I need injections?  No, then I'd end up looking like Lisa Rhina.  Not good! Am I going to get this bathroom painted this week?  I opened the right sink drawer to see my plethora of lipstick and lip balm.  I picked up Burt's Bees champagne and put a couple rounds on my lips.  Ah, that's better! 

I left the softer of the two lights in the bathroom on for when Doug got up at 6 a.m. I walked across the hall to the spare bedroom where my bathroom scale sits [don't ask me why it's there exactly....I suppose because I don't have the bathroom completely done yet] and touched the on button with my right big toe, waited for the beep, stepped on the scale, waited for the beep again, stepped back down, waited for another beep and bent low to read the digital screen.  I don't wear glasses when I weigh myself [or most any time to be honest] so I can't see the digital numbers from 5'5" away.  You might wonder why I weigh myself daily.  I find it's easier to stay on target, or make a slight adjustment, if the target is known daily.  Simple principle. 

I look for my white low slung sweats and a sweatshirt on the bottom shelf in my closet and slip my slippers on. We keep the house at 65 degrees overnight in the fall/winter/early spring. I Phone and bottle of water from my side of the bed in hand, I descend the stairs.  I use the remote to turn on the lighted tree in our living room.  En route to the kitchen, I stop at the digital thermometer to bump the heat up to 69 degrees.

Before I brew a cup of coffee in the Keurig, I take my pill.  If done out of order I can easily forget whether I have taken that pill or not!   I brew a cup of coconut macaroon in my reusable Keurig filter and count to 4 while pouring in my lactose free organic half and half.  That delicious cream cools it down too much so I heat it up for 20 seconds in the microwave.  I like my coffee hot! 
.
Sometimes I beat the paper carrier's delivery of our paper and have to wait on the paper.  I sit on the couch and peruse email, the weather app, Face book until I get disgusted with it.  I mentally plot out my running path which starts around 6:15 a.m.  At 6:00 a.m. I turn the stairway light on and call, "Baby!  It's time to get up."  I hear rustling of covers and the squeaking of the wood floors above me.  Two small baby spoons of sugar in Doug's cup and I brew him Paul Newman's Special Blend roast coffee.  It's sitting on the counter as he slowly plods down the stairs.  He doesn't wake up quite as perky as I do.

We both sit on the couch, peruse news, read the paper, and just be with each other before the day takes us away.  I leave him 15 minutes or so later, change into my running clothes and head out in the dark morning. The outdoors compels me to come out in it.  I cannot stay indoors for more than a night's sleep!  He says the same thing daily, "Baby, have a good run and be safe and careful!"  I giggle to myself and think of my life before him.  I ran when I wanted to and didn't need someone to take care of me or tell me to be careful.   Once in awhile I remind him of that, though grateful I am that he loves me enough to say it!

I run my miles where it seems I usually encounter a dumb ass not paying attention driver in the dawnish darkness.  My usual response is to stand in the road and flail my arms at them as they drive by or from the safe perch of grass where I have darted to avoid being hit!  Some days I see wild turkey, fox, a strange lady in her bathrobe and tennis shoes walking fast down the road, a couple of old ladies walking their dogs.  I see the same bright yellow mustang who revs his engine every morning as he passes me.  Every morning it scares the shit out of me and then I laugh at his macho male behavior.  I think and think and think some more.  I pray for our kids and our families.  I suck in the outdoor air hoping it will keep me going for the next 9 hours until I can be outside in it again.

Upon my re-entry to the house Doug greets me with, "How was your run?"  I tell him the same thing every day, "Babe, grateful that I can do it, that I did it, that it's over."   He has done his own routine while I am gone.  And then, we are off to the races once again doing our repertoire of repeating.

10.17.2014

SHH, QUIET, NO RUNNING... they might hear you


There is a sign on the gate of the cemetery near my house.  I read it every time I walk through it to take a long, quiet, fast walk. The sign leaves me with a grin and a "rule" washed sigh.  That cemetery is one of the places I go to shake the day off me after work, breath the unboundaried air, and bracket my outside morning run with another round of outdoors [just wired to need to be in nature].  I think more calmly there.  I read the names as I run by them and wonder about their lives, their families.  That place causes me think about my own family members who have died. To simply remember [though they are not buried in that cemetery or this state]

Cemeteries have a unique vibe.  They aren't spooky to me or creepy.  They don't conjure up fear of death for me.  Quite the contrary occurs.  They give me a peaceful feeling.  A quiet resolution of all the things. It's also a place of beauty - big old trees of every kind dot the acres.  The trees, I imagine in my big screened mind, are the keepers of the grounds.  They spread their branches and use their grandness to show there is still beauty even in death.

I like that it is an equalizing place.  No matter who you were, what you did in life, we all end up there.  This is not a theological debate on are we really equal in death when it comes to eternity, is there an eternity of heaven and hell?  That podium is saved for a post that can give it the platform it deserves.  Though all are completely and positively dead, a kind of collective lives lived pulses there.  One just has to listen.  There is a silent story and I feel it every time I enter.

I suppose I connect to cemeteries because there I am readily and easily reminded that eventually I will run out of time.  Time is a huge issue to me - not to waste it, to maximize it, to savor it, to use it being who I was created and ordained to be.  I probably write about it, in one way or another, more than anything else.  It is a drug, a commodity, a treasure.

Cemeteries and churches are somewhat similarly funny.  Both places declare and command a respect of the surroundings.  The following sign is posted on the cemetery gate close to where I live:

NO DOGS ALLOWED. 
NO JOGGING PERMITTED.
OFFICE HOURS 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. MONDAY-THURSDAY
ALL FLOWERS REMOVED OCTOBER 1ST
 
Churches hold to those first two rules as well - no dogs and no running in the building.  The cemetery "rules" are clearly stated.  Churches' rules though are not always clearly stated or necessarily posted, but those two are generally enforced and caught though not formally taught.

I want to know who made up those rules? There is little logic in them. Understandably office hours and why flowers might need to be removed by October 1st in the Midwest, logical.  Though possibly goofy, but respectful as well, I get that dogs might crap on a grave.  Dog poop seems more an issue for the groundskeepers than the dead.  But I get it.  NO JOGGING, I just simply do not get.  Who classifies running as a disrespectful activity?  Most people who run or jog aren't going to vandalize things - they are out for exercise not hoodlumism.  How is it ok to walk there but not run? 

Post-life, wherever my body or ashes find themselves resting, feel free to party, run, dance and exhibit all signs of life near me.  I'm more than good with it.  When you are alive - live!!

For the life of me I cannot abide by something that just makes no sense.  If someone can really justify it, then I could maybe buy into it.  It's like libraries and the quiet shh factor.  I got in trouble a time or two in my youth for being too loud in a library.  And by trouble, I mean I used my normal voice in the confines of the library.  Yes there are people reading, possibly studying, using a computer maybe, but how does a normal tone of voice disrupt the whole library.

I get why possibly running around a swimming pool that might have wet cement with wet feet might not be the safest of things to do.  But I do not get banning jogging in a cemetery.  It's not like there is traffic.  It's not like the rhythmic breathing of a runner is disturbing anyone.  How is running in the disrespectful category?

When logic is no where to be found in rules, I do what all people in our culture do, I google it to find out more.  There are as many opinions on the running in a cemetery subject as there are belly buttons.  They ranged from the ridiculously slap your hand with a ruler sort of thoughts to actually asking people who have a loved one buried in a cemetery how they felt about someone running on the roads within a cemetery.  I really could not find anything historically that linked "running" in church or cemeteries to being "wrong" or tied to a historical event or time in history.  Running in a church or a cemetery are cultural mores originally created by man and over time just assumed as the correct view.

It's a cultural thing that we [ok I don't] now accept as an absolute. Respect is far more than an action, it's an approach, a mind set as well.  It's much like the don't wear white after Labor Day rule - no basis for it but eventually yet another  cultural mores was formed. You theoretically could walk in a cemetery and be more disrespectful than if you ran.  It's not the action of walking or running but rather what you do with that action that shows respect. Now, I won't run in that cemetery because it's posted not to do so.  I'm adhering to that rule not for respect for the dead necessarily, but because I respect the cemetery rules - though I don't agree with it one morsel.  I will continue to take fast walks there though.

Where actually is the line between jogging and walking?  I can walk a 12 minute mile.  I can run an 8 minute mile.  Some people run a 12 minute mile and walk a 20 minute mile.  So, I guess it's the movement they look at:)  My walking pace might lead them to believe I'm jogging.

The thing is, I haven't heard one dead person complain, yet.

10.15.2014

GOODNESS GRACIOUS GREAT BALLS OF HURT!



Manslaughter and murder are both charges due to the death of another person.  The dividing line lies in the intent of the death.  Involuntary manslaughter (third degree murder in some states) does not have "malice aforethought".  In other words, it was not premeditated or reactionary with harm intended or implied.  It could though be the result of recklessness.  None-the-less, harm occurred and someone was killed.  Voluntary manslaughter and murder have varying degrees of culpability.  For instance, some lesser voluntary manslaughter charges are brought on by reactionary reasons - heat of passion, etc.. 

Suffice to say, no matter the reason or cause it still led to the same result - death. 

We sometimes don't mean to hurt another person.  We don't wake up in the morning, usually that is, with the thought that we are going to impale someone with our words or our actions.  We usually don't set out to hurt someone else - usually.  There are a symphony of reasons why we do though or how we deal with hurt. 

Sometimes we know we are being selfish and what we are saying or doing is of such great importance to us that we don't care how it affects someone else.  Through our selfish inattentiveness we hurt people.  We do though at times want to inflict pain and wound and, with intent to strike back to the hurt-or, we set about to do just that.  Other times, we are so hurt ourselves that it involuntarily slops onto others.  Hurt people hurt people.  We aren't fully cognizant of our pain sphere colliding into others.  Further still there are times we are viewing the situation solely from our lens - we can't see the forest for the trees.  We are just so consumed with the hurt caused by another (even justifiably so) that it skews our view and we pull inward.

It seems though the results are all the same - someone is hurt.  Hurt is not avoidable.  I wish it were.  The only thing that is avoidable is whether or not we will own our own culpability in hurting another or not.  The part we can control is the amount of hurt we choose to hold on to and our acknowledgement of how we hurt another.

In cases of manslaughter and murder there can be both a criminal and civil case.  A criminal case is based on how and if the law was broken, etc.  A civil case is based on what the lose is valued at.  Neither bring the dead person back.  Neither restore the value of what was lost through death or eliminate the hurt.

Hurt unfortunately cannot be totally eliminated from our lives.  I cannot totally protect myself from it, nor can I insulate others from me hurting them from time to time.  Hurt is a festering wound that needs to be cleansed from us before it takes deep hold and spreads.

10.13.2014

FRANGERMENT

My middle sister texted me, "To quote our Grandma Weldy, I feel punk today!"  I laughed at her descriptive phrase that drew a wide berth around all things just not right, out of sorts, somewhat grouchy and yet all of it mixed together to make a slightly indescribable and unpinnable on just one thing punk stew.  I laughed too at hearing my now absent from the earth grandmother's voice say that phrase from time to time.

I gave my sister permission to just feel it and be it.  There was no hurrying that opaque feeling out of the way.  It would run its course, I assured her, like a foggy morning, with possibly the help of a bowl of popcorn, some dark chocolate and a funny movie.  Humor helps, even if only temporarily giving us a hiatus from what is plaguing us.

Punk has several definitions; 1) a form of rock music, 2) a sub culture of the punk rock music movement, 3) a worthless person, 4) in poor or bad condition.  My grandmother used an obscure word and its meaning - hip indeed gram!

I too had hit punk a few days back. It was last Friday that my tolerance for a couple of big dislikes was at a personal all time low. A combination of emotions had collided, and though they were all jockeying for first place, it would have been declared a three way tie.  If anger, frustration, and unfulfillment were three separate jelly belly flavors, then having them all at the same time created a unique flavor called frangerment - the raging waters of frustration, anger and unfulfillment.

What I needed was an escape, a retreat, a respite, some alone time, a big dose of quiet, distance between one of my big dislikes and me, and a way to get some tolerance back before having to go back to the battlefront.  I feared I would snap, have a public melt down.  Deep down I wanted to scream, lay on the floor and kick my feet.  I wanted to flail my arms and say overly simplified and not fully true (just for the moment) things like; I hate you, you drive me nuts, that behavior is so selfish and rude, do you ever think about anyone but yourself....  My list of barbs went on and on and on.  The alternate ending to my present life movie was to say my mind, rip them to literal shreds, and then miraculously have possession of a winning Powerball lottery ticket.

Since winning the lottery odds are like 1 in 1,000,000 [and I did not win off my recent ticket purchase], I would be forced to face that person again if I unleashed my full arsenal.  I begrudgingly put my assault rifle back in its locked cabinet.  I also had to figure out a way to put all those emotions back in their box.

As I worked at putting them back in a box over the weekend, I held each of them in my hands trying to determine what real validity there was to how I felt.  What portion of what I felt was driven by reactionary feelings, deep beliefs that I carry, being in a place of unfulfillment, and just not being 100% physically? Were they contributors or causes?  Did I create any of it?  What were my tangible [not just mind/thought pattern changes] choices or decisions I needed to make?  If there was risk involved, was it worth it?  Did I believe a change couldn't be WORSE than what I held before me? 

That last statement, did I believe a change couldn't be WORSE than what I held presently was THE show stopper.  It was at the core of the old game show, "Let's Make A Deal".  After the contestant had won a prize, he/she had the option to let loose of what they knew they had for the gamble that what was behind another closed curtain was better still than the know they had before them. 

That's the fish hook for me I thought.  I feared that somehow if I listened to my heart and made decisions to exit a present situation it would end up worse than the worse I had presently.  Fear is always  a bit irrational, isn't it.

I thought about another time in my life where, when I believed there could be nothing worse behind curtain number 1, 2, or 3, I let loose of what I held.  It was THE best decision I had ever made in my life and still continues to be.  After listening to my heart, I took that leap, that risk to change something - to leave unfulfillment.  Why did I doubt this would be different?  I knew what decision needed to be made, I just needed to make it.  I knew the waters I swam best in, and I needed to get to them again.  We are created to be creatures of choice. 

I pick curtain number 3.

10.08.2014

RICOCHETING



"I have the choice of being constantly active and happy or introspectively
 passive and sad.  Or I can go mad by ricocheting in between."
Sylvia Plathe
 
 
My daughter quoted the words of writer and poet Sylvia Plathe in a tweet.  It resonated deeply with me.  I knew it did with her too.  Sylvia Plathe is her favorite writer.  She combs the deep, the dark, the heavy.  She utters stuff we don't want to admit to, say out loud, or even succumb to.  Sometimes her verbose puts a cloud on me.  But today, when I read that quote, I knew exactly what she meant, how she felt, because I felt that same way.  It was a peep hole to my own mind and spirit.
 
Just like her mother, my daughter can't escape some big thoughts and feelings. She gets it honest. But, to even out the heaviness of that trait, I also passed on to her the Weldy high receding hairline.  It keeps the heaviness in check with an occasional glance in the mirror at our high foreheads and starting line of hair to scalp.
 
That was a picture of the contrast of polarizing thoughts and emotions Sylvia referenced.  It was just like me throwing in a light hearted example of high foreheads cast against deep, heavy and over sized thoughts and emotions.  Those active, happy and light hearted thoughts and actions can teeter totter the introspective microscope.
 
If you read poetry or writings of some of the great and those of even some of the unfamous or more obscure, there is a thread of contrasting ricocheting in their words, in their topics.  It's not necessarily a sign of mental instability or illness.  Rather, it's a sign of the range of our humanness.  Our capacity to feel and sense and think.
 
Music is usually ricocheting in its lines and notes.  King David in the Bible penned ricocheting thoughts.  Elijah had pinging thoughts and manic emotions and actions.  Circumstances can drive us there.  And tiredness starts the game of ping pong right up.  Just observe toddlers for about 15 minutes and you can clearly see this principle in a human "short" film.
 


It reminds me of the old scale that was in my grandparent's country store.  It was a scale that sat high on the counter and weighed packages of meat, cheese, flour or bulk candy.  Once the inner spring stopped quivering and moving from the placement of the item on the scale, the item's final weight could be determined.  But for a few seconds it was undetermined what that concrete final weight would be.
 
 
Sylvia Plathe speaks of extremes, of haves and have nots.  Emily Dickson declares it through if's in this place of ricocheting thoughts and emotions.  I think they are normal.  Or at least more normal than some of you want to think or believe. 
 
If you were coming in the fall,
I'd brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.
If I could see you in a year,
I'd wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.
If only centuries delayed,
I'd count them on my hand,
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemens land.
If certain, when this life was out,
That yours and mine should be,
I'd toss it yonder like a rind,
And taste eternity.
But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time's uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,
That will not state its sting. 
-Emily Dickinson
 
 
It's also exactly why the colors black and white accent each other.  And, why God himself would choose to dwell in our hearts.

10.07.2014

WATCH THE JUNK


Simply and strongly stated, baseball games are too long.  I'll start there and digress.

My first husband was a high school and college baseball player.  He was also a Cubs fan.  I spent 26 years, including my honeymoon, either watching baseball on TV or going to major league games.  Lest you think my dislike of the game comes from not being married to him any more, you would be sorely wrong.  I also greatly disliked it for 26 years when I was married to him.

How could anyone dislike baseball?  Baseball is American.  Then, I am a baseball dissident.  Did I mention that baseball games last way too long. 

I once sat through a rain delay at Wrigley Field for 2 hours before they called the game.  Another time, at Wrigley Field again, the game went into extra innings.  At inning 16, when I thought I was about to lose my mind from spending more time in that ballpark in that seat than an average day at work, I had enough and left.  The sound of slowness was like fingernails on a chalkboard!

I don't do well sitting for indeterminate amounts of time, let alone for hours at a time, while watching the slowest game play on the planet.  If the sheer length of the game isn't enough to make you hate the sport as a whole, then the slowness of how it is played is.  Baseball has some learning disabilities, exhibits a type of low sports IQ and is like always driving in the slow lane.  Let's play for a bit, and then move on to have part of the day left!

To keep myself occupied for 26 years I had a running commentary about the game...  Baseball players have to be the most out of shape athletes compared to other professional sports.  There is no definitive lean muscle mass, large muscle mass or even overly lean players as a norm.  Their body types are not overly sculpted [the result of  far less intensive training as compared to other sports along with less demanding game play].  And, the catcher's hand-in front-of-crotch signals to the pitcher just make me giggle.  Strange.  Quirky.  At least it occupies part of the mind numbing ness of this!

To top off my reasons for disliking the game of baseball we can add how they determine the winner of both league's play - the World Series.  The series winner is garnered by taking the best out of 7 games.  That means, whoever wins 4 games first, wins - series over.  To be honest, that was my silent prayer every year for 26 years when the World Series started every October.  [Please God make one team win 4 straight to get this over and done with faster!]. It seemed God never consistently answered my very selfish prayer to my liking.

I would like to say that best out of 7 play is specific to the World Series of baseball, but it's not.  The NBA, the NHL and MLB share this extended play same team to same team best of 7 to win scenario.  The NFL and FIFA [My son-in-law a soccer player, coach, and huge fan will scold me for painting soccer in such broad terms and will correct me for it!] employ playoff brackets and special exception sorts of play to whittle down to a single game winner.  It's an i before e except after C sort of thing.

A regular 9 inning major league baseball game typically lasts 3.5 hours or more [not counting extra innings!] as compared to 2-2.5 hours each for a national football league or national basketball association game.  That is why there is a push in MLB to find a way to shorten the game time.  Ideas range from enforcing the pitcher 12 second rule to eliminating 2 innings and everything in between.

It's far too late for me to ever like baseball, even if they shorten the length of games. 

And, though my grandmother was a great organ player [pedals blazing, stops pushed and pulled while "Gentle Shepherd" rang out], I still cannot understand the use of the organ at MLB games.  It would seem that the organ [though in great decline in church music] has its roots in sports - baseball games and roller skating rinks. 

10.02.2014

THAT SPACE OF CRUSHING


dedicated to:hmg and unnamed others....


Life is definitely not always what our mind has thought or our heart has longed for it to be.  It sporadically leaves us straddling our expectations with events of our present reality. When handed things that no one would ever want, it sends us reeling.  We lose our footing for a time.  It can be a heavy season.  For a time, anyway.

Whether you hold fast to a belief and experience in God or not, we were created not as eternal perfect beings. We were hardwired by the Creator of the universe Himself to feel and choose.  With feeling and choosing come some deep waters.  Those deep waters result in a trip to the reactionary backside of feeling and choosing. Those two conduits hold us in a paralyzed say "Uncle" purgatory for a spell.  Our synapses are bombarded with pain and seemingly no choice. That is, until our feelings can stop reacting and reacting and reacting.  Then we can start choosing how to react to what we feel and also to what we have been dealt.  There is definitely a do-si-do that occurs.

I do so want to punch the shit right out of those that fling clichés like chicken feed.  Though clichés may hold truth, to remotely hear them at all we have to wrestle with our emotions after first letting them flood every cell.  God wired us to feel.  It's a great gift meant to drive us to love others and God deeper through choice. 

I cannot imagine, in order to escape from ever feeling pain or disappointment, that I would conversely never get to experience deep pleasure, love, or contentment.  To not feel disappointment, loss, or hurt, letting it run its course through our hearts/minds/spirits, is to deny the very system that God placed in us.  He knows how He made us - with hearts to hurt and love. 

There are those that tout mistruths.  Denial of pain and only hope.  It diminishes the sheer fact that hope is a feather that takes us where we cannot go alone.  You can have pain and hope.  That's how it is designed.  It holds the pain to a point that it doesn't completely destroy us.  Though at times we feel it might.

God lets the world we live in touch us.  It's not cruel. He's not absent letting chaos ensue. He doesn't afflict us with pain but rather allows that system of choice to continue.  It's not that He can't change poverty, oppression, pain or disease. It's actually through the backdrop of that very broken system that God uses to show us hope cast against despair.  Love against hate.  Peace against turmoil.  Grace against human-ness.  

He provides a way in it for us to have a win.  That win is not the world's win as wins are defined in the world system.  Rather, it comes through a presence of contrast to those things happening that we didn't choose - to a world that creates pain and dashed expectations.  We feel and then we have a choice - hope, love, peace, and grace.  They are the way out of the deep waters of straddling dashed expectations, unmet longings, deep heart desires and our present reality.   

9.30.2014

AND, REPEAT!

One of those epiphany, ah-ha, grand sink-in thoughts struck me quite poignantly last week while free thinking on a run.  What led me to this monumental thought about life in my timeline was musing about routine.  So many things in my life are repetitive and routine.  Just like yours. 

Certain repetitions and routines I choose - I purposely do them over and over again, day after day after day.  And, I like and/or love them.  I eat oatmeal everyday.  I drink coffee every day.  I talk to God everyday.  I think about our kids/grandkids and my family everyday and pray for them.  I eat peanut butter and an apple everyday.  I run and walk every day.  I go outside to spend time there everyday.  I send my husband a picture of myself everyday when he is at work.

Other repetitious routines I do because it's part of responsibility.  But I do them over and over again, day after day after day.  I make dinner.  I pack my lunch for work.  I go to work.  I go through the mail.  I put away clothes.  I straighten things up.  I peruse my surroundings to keep ahead of chaos in home improvement projects, in long term goals, in maintenance and care of things in my care.

Then, in the category of my grand sink-in thought last week, prompted by my feet methodically hitting the pavement in repetition, there is work.  My running gait highlighted the fact that theoretically I may have 19-20 more years to work at my job.  That thought was not one that fit in the category of routines I choose.  Work takes up a huge chunk of our day, our week, our year and really, our life.  To summarize the timeline of life;  birth-no work-work-work-work-work-work-work-no work-death. 

As I thought about the consuming repetition of work, and the longevity of it, I felt a bit sad and overwhelmed.  This particular consuming repetition had quite a long time left on replay.  Which, was much like the Disney ride and its mind numbing "It's A Small World After All" song that plays over and over and over while taking you through its mind numbing repetitious ride!!

I wanted off that ride and wanted that song to shut up!  What was I going to do to change that looping play list in the next 20 years?  How about in the next year?  My repetition of certain things needed to change. 

9.24.2014

LOST AND FOUND CHANGE


In the past 24 hours I found .46 cents.  That seemingly small and insignificant coin was found over two runs and a walk.  Retirement here I come!

Yesterday while running at 6:30 a.m. I found a dime, a nickel and penny grouped together where the street and curb meet.  It was mixed in with leaves and yucky indeterminable street debris. I spotted the dime, stopped to pick it up and found the nickel and penny in close proximity. I was feeling giddy from my found treasure.

Where to put it though as I had no pockets.  It's a bit uncomfortable to hold several coins in your fingers while running.  Between the looseness of my sports bra [don't really need one at all!] and my small four lane of a highway chest, I couldn't put it in my bra.  It would have entered, blown through the wide open cleavage lane through my shirt and landed back on the street where I had found it.  Not an option. My next best choice was to stick the .16 cents in my glove as far up the fingers as possible.  I carried my captured coins home that way.  And, I smiled the remainder of the run.  Simple pleasures are undeniably the best.

Just a couple days earlier I had spotted another nickel in the street on a brisk morning run.  As I stopped to pick it up [I hadn't found any coins in a couple of weeks - I was having a dry spell!] I smiled big.  Returning to an upright position, my eyes met an older lady out walking her dog.  I got so excited about my find that I held it high and hollered with excitement to her, "I found money!"  She laughed, congratulated me and then said, "Now get back to running!"  I liked her spunk and sass.

The second part of my .46 cents was found last night when I went for a walk.  It was a lone quarter laying  not quite to the mid point of the street.  I wondered how that quarter had found a resting lost place there.  It seemed that God, in His quiet language of found money that He uses with me, was reinforcing that He had me covered, He was there.  My count was up to .41 cents. Those coins had left me feeling rich and loved.

Twice in the same day I threw my heavenly found change in the basket just inside the back door.  It's where I collect the change I find when out on runs and walks.  It is a visual basket of God's assurances.

While on a different route for my run this morning I caught a glimpse of something shiny out of the corner of my left eye.  Sometimes though, with a closer look, it's just a beer top, a washer or some other doo dad .  I stopped to bend in closer to investigate.  Really I leaned in because my vision isn't so great from a distance!  There it was - a new shiny nickel.  I could hear the adding machine noise tally up the found money count in the past 24 hours to .46 cents.   I clutched it in my fingers and continued on. 

I wondered why it was that God thought I needed three separate reminders in a 24 hour period.  What was I not seeing?  What was ahead of me that I would need to recollect these small God moments, that I would need to draw from? 

Inside my purse, held in my wallet, is a small amount of loose change - change from cash transactions of this or that.  I have access to loose change daily.  There are nickels and dimes and quarters and pennies inside my wallet. They though are not the same as my found basket of coins.  The ones in my purse I deserved, they were expected and due me.  The ones I found, I did nothing to deserve or earn them.

Sometimes when running I think and do nothing else. Just think.  My thoughts are too big to do much else.  Other times on a run I think lighter and peruse the street in front of me.  Maybe I find them only if my radar is up.  Maybe they are there all the time but I just don't take the time to see them.

For as observant as a person as I am, what other things have I missed all around me because I was consumed with certain things?

9.22.2014

NAILED TO THE WALL OF MY HEART, and causing me to run a few more miles:)



I really don't have a bunch of loves.  My repertoire of things that rev my engine, juice me up, or nail a decree right to wall of my heart are few and far between.  It's not that I don't get excited or things don't ever reach me. It's just not things that are the letters of love that speak to the language of Nancy.

Because of that fact, buying a gift for me is probably horrific. No, it is mystifiably hard.  What do you buy someone who just doesn't really want or have a desire for things?  People who are close to me usually acknowledge their struggle.  A few even over acknowledge my simplistic un-gift loving self by either not buying me a gift (which is a gift to me), or giving me something that they know I will use - like a container of old fashioned oatmeal [one of my favorites in life since I eat it every day].  Those rare few who really get me know that it's words I truly love.  They are the best gift you could ever gift me with.

Adding your own verbiage to a Hallmark standard is far more gratifying to me than a present in a box.  To find that path to my heart, though I really have little I want, takes a lot of love and thought. How do you nail it with someone who just doesn't get a buzz over gifts?

I didn't check the mail like normal when Friday night rolled around and I entered the house from work.  Friday night marks the end of another work week and sometimes my normal routines fall to the way side.  It wasn't a night of have tos, but a relaxed if-I-want-to flow.  It's that pauseable period of time where your mind and body adjusts to the end of five days of work rush and transitions to another pace.  I was there.

When the mail was finally retrieved from the front porch it included a small box.  I recognized the return address, the handwriting, the style of wrapping paper that held the contents of the box.  It wasn't my birthday, my anniversary or a monumental anything.  In spite of nothing, my daughter had mailed me something in a small rectangular box.  

I knew by the shape of it, and by running my finger over the bottom of the box, it had a lid.  That lid gave away the box's contents immediately.  Before I even unwrapped it, I was moved to tears. This is what was underneath the wrapping paper.  She added her own verbage to the box of my favorite dark chocolate sea salted caramels.

 I stood still and let the magnitude of her gift wash over me.  Thought not a big flashy gift, it was a purposeful know you and wanted to meet a desire you had kind of gift. She had heard me tell her in random conversation over the past few weeks that I had a hankering for one of these puppies.  It wasn't a big conversation, just words tucked in around various other subjects.  She heard.  She knew.  She loved.  She took the time to buy 6 dark chocolate sea salted caramels and mail them to her mom who lived 4 1/2 hours away.  There was no reason.  It was just because she loved me and wanted to show me in a nail the decree to the wall of my heart kind of way.

Over and over I said out loud, "Look at what she did for me!  She listened to obscure words, made a mental note.  She knows me like we know the look of the street we live on - a familiarity and soul sitting way.  Look what she did for me!"  It came out mixed with tears.  How could 6 pieces of chocolate with a hand made note taped to a box mean so very much?

I texted her the pics above with my acknowledgement of the bigness of what she did for me - that she nailed me.  Her gift and deliberateness to deliver something so simple in such a powerful way had swept my heart, "OMG!  I cried and smiled and keep smiling that you did such a sweet and special thing:)  But, there are two slots in the box open:)  LOL  I love you!  You made my day!  Thank you love.   Why you love so big I do not know:)"    Her response, "I only bought six!  You're welcome!  I love you!  I love you SO!" 

Sugar wasn't the real gift.  Deliberate love delivered in a small rectangular box was.

9.19.2014

NO WHITE AFTER LABOR DAY - a modern day lie


Today I said who cares to the fashion rule of wearing "no white"  after Labor Day!  Mr. Blackwell or whoever touted this bogus fashion scare [as though it were brought down from Mt. Sinai on a stone tablet as the 11th commandment], I rebuke you.  Your ban, designed to keep us from wearing white pants, skirts, dresses, or shoes on the lower half of our bodies post Labor Day, will not be adhered to by me.  I'm hoping to start a movement.
 
On this day, September 19th, 18 days post Labor Day with weather of 75 degrees and sun, I pulled on my white pants and felt good about it.  When do I ever really listen to the masses?  Why would I let some illogical tradition hold me hostage?  I do not care if it is really wrong, somewhat wrong, or only a perceived wrong to break the white after Labor Day rule. I was doing it and feeling great about it
 

I snapped this picture today and sent it to my daughter with a text, "Look at me saying who the hell cares about the fashion rule of no white after Labor Day!  Snow is white and it comes after Labor Day."  I had hoped to engage the "Hannah rage" over ridiculous things like fashion rules and boundaries.  They are hot buttons for her.  She went through a phase growing up where she purposely wore mismatched clothes.  She declared the philosophy of matching was stupid and purely made up by someone.  Instead of fashion rage over the white rule, her reply was, "You look cute!"  I was looking for her camaraderie in my rebelliousness of the white fashion rule. I got cute instead of her pithiness.
 
My point though, snow is white and it comes AFTER Labor day so why the ban on wearing white?  White really is the absence of color. Bright colors seem more ostentatious than does white. The greatest misfortune that might befall those white-wearing-misfits after Labor Day is possibly dirt and stains.  And why tell me, are we "allowed" to wear white shirts, scarves, and even "winter white" [a creamier version of white white] post Labor Day to Memorial Day but not white shoes or pants or dresses?  That is the dumbest thing ever!

I'm just not one that can do things that don't seem reasonable, true or even legit.  That includes abiding by the no white after Labor Day rule/suggestion/lie.  Do you want to join my movement for fashion white freedom?

9.18.2014

THE MOTIVATING EFFECT OF STATED EXPECTATIONS


I like to put my expectation for something right out there for the other person to see.  This is what I expect from you regarding this.  Sometimes I am very blunt and use words to lay out the cards.  Other times, I use body language, confidence, and probably an air to convey what I expect.

My daughter used to say growing up that I intimidate people.  Not purposefully do I.  It's taken me some years to see what maybe others might see.  I don't view it as intimidation, but rather a standard that I expect.  I honestly am not even consciously aware that I give off that vibe. It seems a bit strange to me that I seem to hold both the intimidation card and the approachable tell all card as well.  They seem incongruent to each other.  Maybe not.

I was in conversation with a friend recently.  She stated that though I have this draw a line in the sand, don't mess with me overly independent and confident way, I do occasionally succumb to people who do not tow the line as I think they should or met my standard.  I let them off the hook.  She is correct. The name "Nancy" literally means "full of grace".  That too is undeniably part of me as well.  I can most times look past the action to the heart.

No doubt any contractor who has ever been in my employ has had a healthy fear of me.  Any car repair shop.  Any customer service department.  I'm not mean.  I'm not rude.  Between my vibe and my words they come to know I mean what I say and I say what I mean.  They know clearly what my expectation from them is.  I expect THIS and no less.  I don't want the waters to be unclear for anyone.  That is the best way to have conflict later.  Clear expectations leave nothing to chance and minimize hurt and conflict.

Today I dropped off the jeep to the car repair shop across from my office.  I was clear with them the problem, what I thought might be wrong, and what I needed them to do.  Sometimes when you are a woman, in certain situations, men assume you don't know shit.  I threw out some lingo just to let them know my expectation came from knowledge so I EXPECTED it done right.  I highly doubted they would cheat me, I just clearly wanted the expected standard out on the table - that I trust you to do an excellent job.

We hired a 27 year old contractor to re-do our bathroom.  I think my husband had some serious doubts about Barclay.  After he was late multiple times in coming by the house BEFORE he even started the job, Doug checked out.  I quit responding to his multitude of apologies and reasons why he was late or had to change days or times.  When he would song and dance me while apologizing for not showing up, I would simply not say a word.  My silence spoke a message, made him nervously talk even more to make up for my lack of words.  My message came through crystal clear eventually though.  He finally got it that my standard was you mean what you say and say what you mean.  He stopped that behavior with me and began to be more conscious of his word to me.  And, if he couldn't be there when he said, he called me.  Lateness does not fly with me.  Follow through is a marker of what you're made of.

After getting his estimate and dealing with him in the steps leading up to start date of the project, Barclay stated his standard procedure was a percentage of the cost paid up front (most do) with the balance paid when the work was completed in full.  In all actuality, I think he knew he was on trial with me because of the numerous times he was late or begged off for this or that reason. Barclay didn't know Doug had pretty much written him off.  I was hoping this young man would not prove me wrong.  I would have to eat crow with Doug if he did.  I looked past Barclay's fault and saw his talent and his heart.  I was sure if I keep the standard clear and before him it would be ok in the long run.

He did not ask me for any money down.  My husband laughs and wonders what form of intimidation I pulled on him for the guy NOT to ask for one dime up front.  I tell him it's a vibe I give off.  Barclay completely finished the total bathroom gut and rebuild as of 5 days ago.  The day he finished I offered to pay the project in full. 

I was so impressed with his quality of work, I had already planted the seed for another large project I wanted him to tackle.  He came to know I was a person of my word and in response to my offer to pay the bill he said, "I'll be by later this week with the bill and an estimate and thoughts about the kitchen."  He was a great contractor, a clean freak, did amazingly impeccable perfectionist work, and became someone who ultimately delivered exactly to the expectation I had laid out.  Thankfully I didn't have to eat crow after all:)

Nothing though is more frustrating than when an expectation is not met. Especially when the expectation is so clear one assumed it didn't need to be verbally re-enforced. You don't want me to have to address you with that issue.  If I do, you best have Bactine to douse your wounds when I am done.  Standard is here.  You are there.  Then I'll love you into doing and being the person I know you can be!

9.17.2014

QUIET IS WHEN I CAN REALLY HEAR

I need more time to think.  Though I think deep a great deal of the time, and pretty much never turn my mind off, that's not exactly the kind of thinking I need more of.  That kind of thinking can be done during things and fit in around things. It's a night light that's always on in me.

What I really need, and seem to run short of, are stretches of alone, uninterrupted time which are necessary to shake my mental screen blank and let it refill with ideas, creativity or inspiration. Those regular blocks of quiet to create, mull, and ultimately get inspired are like internal sun to me. They prime my pump.  And unfortunately, they just aren't there like they used to be.  That frustrates me.  I've yet to figure out how to get back to those periods that gave me space to create.

There is no other way for words to come than for me to be still.  Without pools of quiet time to think and write, the thoughts don't flow, the ideas feel forced and rushed.  I cannot release all those swirling thoughts without quiet.  Quiet is when I can really really hear.  I miss hearing like that.

It is paramount to getting started painting a room when you really only have an hour to get it done. Not allotting enough time or doing the prep work will cause the room to not get painted in its entirety or with any level of quality.  Those regular spaces of quiet, alone and unhurriedness are like seed and fertilizer on bare ground.  That is where I find my thoughts, my words, my next 1000 words to write.

I need a sabbatical.  A friend of mine has her doctorate in Italian studies language something or other. It's above my IQ line definitely. How she can even connect to me is still a mystery!  I'm not a very buttoned up person.  She is.   She is also a tenured professor who is currently on a year sabbatical.  Now mind you she is not doing nothing and merely lazing around.  She is taking time to write pieces for publication and give lectures at all sorts of universities and venues.  I want to do that too, though not the lecture part, or Italian part.  Ok, maybe stand up comedy I would like to do.   But, I would like the designated time to pursue interests that get crowded out by our "jobs" and regular life.
 
Unless I take FMLA (family medical leave act) for a real medical reason, there is no sabbaticals in my line of work. And, I don't want any more MEDICAL anything!! We all need quiet time, time to pursue with a present mind things that are not "our regular work routine".  Why should ministry, education, and research fields be some of the few with that luxury and sabbatical norm? 

I understand reclusive people.  Probably I could be one if not forced to interact from time to time.  Most would probably see me as a total extrovert because I am anything BUT shy.  I can be real, to the point, assertive and take charge.  I truly have a love of people.  But in all reality, I desperately need and prefer quiet and some solitude.  That is where my engine can hum, my mind can explore and I can create.  My reclusive tendencies are why I don't have a desire to go to dinner with colleagues that I'm not close with.  I don't want to waste any quiet time with people I don't have a deep relationship with!  Just ask my dear friend Big D, I will say no to going and doing things as quickly and easily as you just took a breath and blinked.

It has taken me hours of fragmented time just to pull my thoughts into this post.  That is my case in point.  Who do I submit my sabbatical request papers to?

9.16.2014

ME VS THE COLD = 0/1

Every year I have a contest.  It's only with myself though.  I see how late in the fall I can wait before I turn the furnace on.  There is a considerable measure of this contest that is completely and totally out of my control - how early it gets cold. The only part I do control is how fast I will cave to the cold by firing up my furnace.  I like some space between AC, open windows, and then furnace season. It's part of my tough and cheap personality.
 
This year, the earliest year of a furnace turn on I can remember in my adult life, I turned the furnace on Friday, September 12th.  It was 62 degrees in the house and I was miserable.  This was not a winning year in my contest!
 
I'm just not one that likes to get cold, unlike my brother-in-law Kent who frolics with pure unadulterated joy at snow and cold.  If it involves outdoors in winter, he is there doing it without a complaint.  It's a sickness I believe he has, but I choose to love him in spite of his one big snow loving downfall.
 
Cold bothers me.  It affects my hands, my ears, my breathing while running, and limits the amount of time I REALLY want to spend outside.  Which makes me angry ultimately because the outdoors is usually always where I would rather be. Once thoroughly chilled from a run, a walk, a drive in a cold car, the span of space from my car to a store, or sitting in a too cool restaurant, I am cold to my core.  Once cold in my core, I cannot get warmed back up.  It's a miserable feeling.
 
Those of you who know me well, also know that I am not a fan of heavy clothes or tons of layers.  My philosophy is; less is better in just about every area, clothes included.  I am also definitely not wired like my sister Jeanne at all.  She wears 4 shirts, a sweater,  scarf, boots, coat, hat and gloves from October 1st through May 30th.  She even transports her slippers to social events at other peoples' houses so her feet are warm.  I get hot, bothered, constrained, panicked and claustrophobic just looking at all her layers!  I gotta be me and free!!
 
That's exactly why I hate winter so much I think.  There is a measure of bound-ness that comes with.  Driving is restricted, it requires more time to get anywhere, one needs to wear more clothes, it's light less hours a day, and the sky and snow feel closed in on me.  I go out in it anyway - to breath fresh air, to feel nature in its extreme state, to feel a bit wild, and to have the world all to myself as others hibernate inside. 
 
I pay for it with a cold to the core chill that hangs on for hours.  It's seriously miserable.  That damn extreme core chilling that will face me later is the detrimental de-motivation I have to push through to make myself want to go outside in winter.
 
It's not a matter of more clothes [yes I can hear you in the peanut gallery chastising me to bundle up more].   I will refer you to earlier paragraphs on why that is not an option either.  Having tried more layers a time or two, I can say it just doesn't abate the core chill either.  Quite frankly I think I am NOT programmed for cold.   I though am programmed for shorts, flip flops, a long sleeved shirt if need be and 60-75 degrees.
 
I had to force myself out to run at 6:15 a.m. this morning with temps at 39 degrees.  I had quite a lot of self talk as I climbed the stairs to change my clothes after sipping a bit of coffee before running....
 
[I walked in the bedroom looking for the warmer running clothes that were draped over the hamper.... I thought about how cold I would be later, about how tired I was, about whether I wanted to risk the fact that I would have enough energy to run AFTER work instead of before.  I momentarily laid back on the bed contemplating who was going to win this battle to go out in the cold.  If I didn't go do it I would be angry at myself around 9 a.m. while sitting at my desk for not following through.  If I didn't go out and run in the cold I was NOT helping myself get reacquainted and toughened up to the cold.  You will feel better knowing you just did it in spite of how you FELT!]
 
That's all it took.  I threw on my clothes and shoes.  As quick as I could, as though the air was a jump into an unheated pool, I opened the door and ran down the street.  I just wanted to get it over with.  Mind over cold.  I was practicing for the long months of winter that were being slowly ushered in.  I was a frog in boiling water but with cold .... hoping that if I just made myself go out in it daily it would bother me less and less.  I seem to go through this cold metamorphosis yearly.  Had I forgotten that?
 
Everything really is temporary.  Including cold, which I hate.  My dad told me recently, in response to my complaining about the cold, that complaining doesn't do any good.  I told him it gets it out of me!