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8.14.2014

PERMANENT BLACK MARKER BOUNDARIES



Boundaries are line markers of things acceptable and not acceptable.  There are both spoken and unspoken boundaries.  Laws are examples of spoken boundaries.  Most laws are there because a few needed them put into published law because they were too dumb to know that it was there already in the unspoken boundary category.  They caused the boundary to be hence forth drawn in permanent black marker - to be marked and spoken. 
 
Sad though that even permanent black marker boundaries don't stop some.  History documents human brutality, genocide, oppression, corruption, religious persecution, violent crime, abuse. The boundary offending list goes on and on. Current society unfortunately has boundary issues as well.  Boundary offenders have been around since Adam and Eve crossed the first one.

There's been a bit of a crime spree in our neighborhood as of late.  Because of the connectivity of social media, and the fact that our neighborhood has its own Facebook association page, we are notified of crime within our neighborhood seemingly as it happens.  Notification comes in first person at times-from those that have been criminally violated in some form, comments from other members on those posts, third person notification and as of late, police posts directly to the wall page. 

The police officer posted his recommendation to residents to keep both their front and back outside lights on every night.  He closed his post with his rank, title (Lieutenant of community affairs and social media communication), and gave appropriate contact phone numbers to report suspicious activity.  As much as I hate this over connectivity much of the time, it is a brilliant way for police to communicate with neighborhoods.

A couple weeks back we tore out a decorative cement patio block walk to make one continuous walk with flagstone.  I wasn't sure I wanted to get rid of the approximately 40 18"x8" pavers until I knew I wasn't going to re-create them into something else.  I knew I didn't want to double move them when having to mow the lawn, so they were stacked at the base of our stone wall in our driveway in the alley.

I walk by those four stacks of nine high or so pavers at least twice a day en route to the garage.  Every time I walk by them I ponder and create in my head what I may do with them after the 7' white pine tree gets planted next week.  And, it would seem every couple days I glance over to see what appears to be
shrinking stacks of pavers.

Now, my plan to reuse them has not been set in stone.  Because I have so many other projects going, those pavers are still stacked neatly.  They are way down my list of things to develop into islets of beauty somewhere on our property.  I may or may not use all, some or maybe, if my overwhelmedness continues, none of them!

None-the-less they sit on my property.  They sit on the complete opposite side of where the trash cans get set out to be picked up.  They sit neatly stacked against my stone wall.  They clearly scream these are stacked here for a purpose, a reason! 

I watched through my back door, some 80 feet from the alley and stone wall where those pavers are stacked, staring off for a few seconds before heading to work this morning.  Those few seconds were filled with thoughts; what a beautiful day, I wish I didn't have to go to work, I need to spray round up over there, get my soil barrier and mulch down before the kids come Labor Day weekend, and water those plants

My random wish list was interrupted as I saw a blue van quickly pull up to my stone wall. A woman in her 30's and nicely dressed hopped out, picked up 4 or 5 pavers, placed them on the floor behind the driver's seat, quickly climbed into her van and drove away.  I stood transfixed watching her from 80 feet away.  I wanted to run out there but somehow was just a bit shocked at what she had done.  Based on the ease that she did it, the fact that she wasn't perusing the alley on trash day, she was probably the cause of why my pile was slowing decreasing. 

Now if she, or anyone else for that matter, had walked up to the house and asked if I was planning to use them or if I wanted rid of them, I probably would have given them some.  It may have taken the pressure off me to create more work for myself with them.  But she didn't ask.  She just took.  She crossed a boundary.  And, I don't think it was the first time she had taken some either.

On my way home from dinner tonight I came down the alley from the opposite direction, the direction her van had come from.  I was looking for her van.  There it was.  She lived one block down and behind me.  We shared the same driving alley to get to our garages.  And, she was stealing my pavers. 

Tomorrow morning there will be a sign on them:

LADY IN THE BLUE VAN, WHO LIVES DOWN THE BLOCK,
PLEASE UTILIZE THE HUMAN BOUNDARY SYSTEM:
IF YOU REALLY NEED THE PAVERS, PLEASE
ASK FOR THEM.  DON'T STEAL THEM. 
 

8.13.2014

I, ME, MINE - the circle of selfishness


Walking from the garage to the house after work I heard the familiar WOOOFFFF of Mavis, the big huge Mastiff dog next door, as he bounded over to the fence between our properties.  I could hear 5-year old Morgan and one of her playmates in the side yard with her Mimi (that's what she calls her grandmother).  During the summer months Mimi comes to Morgan's house to babysit her and to monitor Morgan's teenage brother until their mom gets home from work. 
 
We met up with each other in the side yard.  Georgeanne (Mimi) is a delightful, free-spirited, joyful semi-retired teacher who calls me "kid".  "Kid" is peppered throughout all my conversations with her. That moniker strikes a deep sentimental love chord in me from some years past.  The mom of one of my best friends from high school also called me "kid" [she still does when she sees me.]  I leave Georgeanne's presence with a smile on my face and my heart just a bit lighter.  I'm not sure she knows fully her impact on others.  One day I will blurt that out to her.
 
This day she comments on my landscaping, tells me about a poisonous weed she sees growing between our houses [I immediately pull it out for fear Morgan may be tempted to eat a berry off it!].  Georgeanne shares that today was a day of fighting.  I look at Morgan and ask if she fought with her Mimi or with her friend.  Morgan, in her unusually distinct tone of voice that sounds akin to someone who has smoked for 30 years, said "No not with Mimi.  My friend and I fought all day."  I giggle inside at her voice, her body language and the fact that her friend was standing right there as she boldly made that declaration of a day of war.  I thought as she spoke that we "war" over things our whole life. 
 
 
I responded, "Morgan, let me guess what you fought over.  Ok?"  She nodded her head and held her Arial Barbie doll.  "Morgan, you wanted to do what you wanted to do and your friend wanted to do what she wanted to do.  Neither of you would stop wanting what you wanted either."  Mimi laughed and Morgan's eyes widened with amazement that I could know such a thing.  It's relatively easy to impress a 5 year old.  My sage wisdom no doubt went over her head.  "You will fight that war your whole life Morgan - learning to give in and let someone else get their way.  To let loose of always having to have it YOUR way."
 
War is always over selfishness at its core, isn't it?  We're either fighting for it or against it.
 
Injustice, crime, religion, geographic boundaries, rights, time and age are all things we fight for or against.   Sometimes though, we even war against ourselves. 
 
We can be our own worst enemy with thoughts, decisions, baggage, resentment we hold, patterns engrained or having to control it all.  We are Israel and Hamas.  We are Morgan and her friend. 
 
As those two little girls scampered off, seemingly at peace for the moment, I mused about how selfishness and love co-exist together.  Human nature is imperfect and rears its head time and time again.  But Love's ultimate mantra is that it never gives up - in, but never up.  One tries to push the other away to keep something.  The other reaches out to give something.  

8.12.2014

A DIFFERENT WALK TO REMEMBER


I think peoples approach to things in life is most interesting, and telling about who they are.  What any of us speak is a direct reflection on how we think, the lens in which we view absolutely everything.
 
I spend most of my day talking with people.  That makes me privy to seeing how different people respond with words to questions I ask.  It gives me a window straight into their lives to some degree.  And, it is fascinating.  For whatever reason still not fully known to me, people will open up and expose themselves quite freely to me with just a couple of nonchalant questions.  When people's guards are down, with a bit of truth serum ingested, they divulge and momentarily forget they normally filter their thoughts and feelings.  It is interesting, heavy at times, but a treasure to me.
 
My absolute favorite people in the world are those, that despite the weather, their pain, their lack, the ordinary-ness of the day, the mundaneness of life, a job they don't like, or tiredness speak everything they say through hope, joy, happiness, laughter, humor, realness and presentness.  They are contagious and I want to catch whatever it is they have.  
 
To top off my birthday weekend, my wish was to walk the entire 21 mile loop around Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  I'm not one for mapping, planning, or preparing [right now some of you are shaking your head and scoffing] but literally hitting the trail with no preconceived ideas.  That we did.  Doug and I literally began at the water's edge and started walking with no map or information.  And, we walked for 21 straight miles [we peed once and stopped to eat our pbj sandwich and an apricot].  There is something wild and free about that method and it nestled well in my soul and spirit.
 
The 21 miles consisted of paths, trails, hills, a walk through the edge of a golf course, across people's lakeside yards, over rickety boards, on narrow rutted edges of banks, and utilizing tree roots as steps at times.  Occasionally you'd pass someone walking in the opposite direction or a homeowner out on their property.  The loop took you through two small towns, Williams Bay and Fontana. 

Those people moments prompted questions, conversations about how far we were going and ended with how much farther it was to where we were trying to get to - back to the town of Lake Geneva where the car was parked.  We relied on those people to be our human MapQuest mileage predictors.  Their delivery of miles still to go was quite interesting and diverse.
 
At what felt to me like about the 10 mile mark [didn't use phones or a Garman], we met up with two men walking in the opposite direction.  We told them we were going the full 21 miles and asked if they knew how many more miles we had.  The one man, in all his pessimistic dooms day saying way replied, "Oh, you have at least 15 miles or more to go."  Though I had told him where we started, how long we had been walking, he still emphatically predicted a long way to go!
 
I hate sail deflators.  They suck wind, hope and light from everything they come in contact with.  He was one of those people.
 
[I wanted to argue with him that he was wrong.  Though I had no real proof, my internal gauge of time and space knew he was off!  I wanted to hit him for dredging his negative slant across my canvas of excitability and nature.  Curses to him for smudging up hope and beauty!  I had to cast away his vibe and words before they cast a shadow on my know and view!  BTW, later I found evidence of his erroneous miscalculation.]
 

As we walked into Fontana, we stopped to speak with a 30ish year old man manning a parking booth by the lake.  When we asked him where we were in relationship to downtown Lake Geneva he quickly asked, "Are you walking the 21 miles?  You have approximately 11 miles to go.  There are some rough spots ahead, but you can do it.  I teach middle school math and every year we take a group of students on the 21 mile walking loop. "  He went on to share how the kids did, what to look out for, how far it would be once we hit big foot beach, the slanted part we would encounter.  Then he urged us on saying, "When you lay down tonight you are going to feel like you really did something.  It's a great way to go to sleep!"
 
His love of the outdoors high fived against my own.  I loved his words which showed adventure, hope, and a positive anything-can-be-done way of thinking.  They ignore the magnitude ahead and focus on the know-it-can-be-done belief.  That was my language.
 
I was no worse for the wear having trekked 21 miles in roughly 5.6 hours, other than a blister between my left ring and pinkie toe and tired feet.  I feel into bed just like the man at the booth predicted - like I had really done something.  I was oh so grateful for the time in nature, that I got to be with the one I love doing something I love, completely and fully satisfied that I did it, and ready to beat my time next time around.
 

8.11.2014

WHISKEY AND MENTHOL; if you like one there's a good chance you might like the other


My husband has a sentimental childhood memory of Vicks VapoRub.  He has a mad love affair with the noxious greasy powerfully pungent blue jar of goo that is called Vicks.  His mom used it for colds, headaches, allergies, sore muscles and may have even thought it was a viable solution to the then cold war.  Now for some of you, possibly too young to know this over-the-counter medicinal smelly petroleum based rub, let me fill you in.


It contains menthol.  What is menthol you ask?  Well, it's the stuff you find in some chapsticks, muscle/arthritis ointments [can't type that word without giggling], certain types of cigarettes, decongestants, etc.  It's used as an analgesic, a decongestant, an antipruritic (anti-itch), an anti-inflammatory, and a muscle relaxer.  In various forms, or mixed with other chemicals; eucalyptus or camphor, it can produce an icy hot sensation.  The strong odor comes from its raw material origin, peppermint.  Cigarettes utilize menthol in certain brands to mask the taste and smell of nicotine and tobacco.  It is though, poisonous if consumed in too large of quantities.  So, don't try consuming it just to prove that statement is true.

Here's the interesting thing; we use so much menthol in products that there isn't enough of it in its natural state to supply the demand.  Menthol is now chemically and scientifically formulated to meet the ever growing need.  Who would have thought that the ingredient in the gunk my mom smeared in a thick layer over my chest, and covered with a red handkerchief tied around my neck, was in such high demand.

My brother-in-law has been a full-time fireman/paramedic nearly twenty years.  He tells the story of being a rookie and having to pick up an overly ripe deceased body on an emergency call.  He said the smell was so overpowering that it made you want to throw up.  He noticed though that the veteran guys seemed unaffected by the horrific odor.  They let him in on their secret - a small amount of Vicks VapoRub placed just inside their nostrils.  Brilliant!!

I've come to know my husband's ginormous love of Vicks.  He equates it to his mother's love I believe.  She must have loved him BIG.  I can think of no other reason why someone would love that smell! 

I suppose you could suffice to say that menthol is the medicinal version of a York peppermint patty.  I would much rather eat mint mixed with sugar coated in dark chocolate or as part of a julep than use mint's other use - Vicks!

8.06.2014

THE REASON FOR THE RESULTS

I wondered lots of things as my feet struck the pavement at a much slower running pace than my mind was moving.  I laughed momentarily that if I could run the speed in which I gulped down life and thought, I'd break the 4 minute mile!  That just wasn't happening as I rounded the corner to 48 years of age in just a couple of days.
 
Sitting at my desk writing I felt an ouchie spot that seemed to want to pulsate just below my right shoulder blade.  It was the result of painting some 20 hours over the weekend.  I had finished up last night, and though loving the final outcome, I didn't love how it tweaked every muscle in my body.  Shot was the perfect word.  I was just shot.  Toast.  Wasted.  Pure adrenaline, that can usually fuel me where literal energy falls short, had finally run out as well. 
 
I told my friend Big D today that I had a dialogue with myself while out running.  What was my problem really?  Too many moves, too many changes, too many starts, too fast a pace? Maybe all those things.  What was the root of it all though - this thing that whips my ass constantly and causes me to not let loose of pursuing 100% of everything in all directions at all times? What in the hell was wrong with me?  Why did I push and shove and sprint and tackle every moment of every day?
 
Peeling back bark reveals a sub life.  There are small bugs, beads of moisture, a different textured surface.  It was the same way with me as well.  Peeling back the results to find the reasons for those results was what I was after.  Then, I needed to change my reasoning.
 
There was a myriad of reasons why I operated that way.  Some were based on pure genetic wiring, personality bent, etc.  Others were situational, dependent upon how thick and intense the circumstances were I found myself in.  Yet no doubt a few were the result of fear and/or control.
 
Logically you and I both know that to do anything that requires 100% means other things that also require 100% suffer. Juggling cannot be performed perfectly without a drop from time to time.  We are human with marked and metered time, energy and focus.  Yet, we live in a world that creates and screams for more.  How easily I morph into the distorted system of thinking that I can add one more 100% demanding thing to a plate of already full other 100% demanding things.  I know that to work full time in a way that catapults things forward in a "successful" way requires 100% which can leave little other percentages left for other things.  It seemed I simply refused to adhere to that.  Pure stubborn arrogant refusal.
 
That didn't seem to register to me though.  That was THE main reason for my results - being toasted, shot and wasted.  I was not willing to get off the crazy wheel of 100% in all areas.  Though humanly impossible, I had thought myself invincible to those constraints and conversely fearful to repeat a time in my life where I could literally do nothing due to illness.  Not until my adrenaline had finally been liquidated, and I found myself no longer insulated by adrenaline's procrastinational reality phenom, did I even want to see underneath the bark.
 
The reason was me.  It was my wrong belief system of the time and energy principle.  No matter who you are and how you are wired, there is only so much of it.  I wasn't good at sipping anything.  Nor was I good at pacing.
 
Once, when in high school on a trip to Florida, I got sunburned so severely, with pain so intense, I just wanted to lie on a cool clean white sheeted hospital bed in a darkened room.   My running at this crazy pace, exhausting all reserves of adrenaline, had left me feeling the same way.  Withdrawing is a survival mechanism  - turning off the music, unplugging, digging beneath the bark to reorder.  To run at this pace was arrogant of me - presuming that there is always a tomorrow.  That was not true, not reality, and not a right perspective.
 
I was heading to 48 years of age still re-learning that principle.  You'd think I would have figured it out the other 40,000 times I had found myself here.  I was fast in all areas except this one - learning this principle! Would I make it truly different this time?  Did I have the courage to make those changes and undo patterns?  Or would I succumb to a quick but not long enough bit of "rest" with a re-emergence to the fast lane and the lure of the adrenaline drug like junkie lifestyle once again? 

HELLO, MY NAME IS NANCY.  I THINK I AM ADDICTED TO LIFE IN HYPER SPEED.