Some Times a Call is a Bark.

Now that I’ve understood my calling,  you’d think it would be easy to answer.  It’s not.

A calling demands a response.  Things change. People change.  Callings can change.  The need to respond doesn’t cease because I want it to stop or because I’d rather ignore it.  Not responding feels frustrating.  It’s the choice I’ve made for the last few days and I haven’t been happy with my self.

I feel like writing but I don’t make the time.

I dread going back to my day job but I don’t take action toward making a change.

I think about eating better and exercising and then pop in some toxic microwave dinner and put my feet up instead of making a good home made dinner and taking a walk.

As I’ve sat at my computer, working on odds and ends and fighting the urge to play mindless games on Facebook, I’ve had to listen to a neighbor’s dog.  The dog is obviously unhappy. Apparently, during the day, it has the run of the house and yard.  It frequently emerges and starts a frenzied barking that lasts for 10 to 15 minutes at a stretch.  Barking alone isn’t the problem, it’s the sound of the bark.  This dog is desperately trying to communicate its needs and no one is responding. When the dog is barking from the other side of the neighbors fence, it is about 10 feet away from my open window.

I’ve tried going outside and using a calm voice to ease its anxiety.  It only made it bark worse.  I’ve used my firm mom/big dog voice commanding it to stop since I am the alpha female.  The dog didn’t get the memo about my being appointed alpha and again, the barking worsened.

Finally, during my most challenging time of day, the barking got me out of my chair and on the neighbor’s front porch.  No one answered the door.  I think he was home.  Maybe he didn’t feel like answering.

I made a decision to write a note.  I firmly taped it to the door.  I wrote:

“Dear Neighbor,”

You may not be aware that when you’re not home, one of your dogs barks almost constantly.  This is very distressing to hear since both our offices face your yard and with the warm weather our windows are open.  Please, do something to quiet the dog.  I don’t want to file a noise complaint but I will if this barking continues.

Your neighbor,

Carol Sturgeon.”

Okay, so it was short and to the point.  I’m not very warm and fuzzy after listening to a distressed dog for hours.  I hate confrontation and had avoided complaining until the moment when I had enough and decided to be assertive.  Don’t most of the self-help books encourage us to state our needs in a clear, yet calm manner?

Later that evening, I was to learn that my neighbor apparently hasn’t read any of those books.  When I took our dog out for an evening potty break, I hear the voice of my angry neighbor.  It was hard to make out all the words.  What I did hear was “letter” ,”dog”,  “I can’t handle this”, and “What am I supposed to do?  plus a lot more indecipherable words hung around a stream of obscenities that not only made me blush but also made me feel genuine fear.

For less than 24 hours after my ill-received note, the dog was  quiet.  This was simply an unexplained lull.  This afternoon, the dog continues to bark, its piercing, shrill bark, demanding attention.

This is not fun for me.  I hate conflict.  Over the years the house next door has blessed us with a wide variety of people as neighbors.  We’ve always gotten along.

I’m upset because the neighbor doesn’t respond to the dog’s needs and I have to helplessly listen.  I’m upset with myself because I don’t respond to my needs.   Some times a call is a bark in more ways than one.




My Calling


The idea that I have a unique calling isn’t new to me.  A calling is what got me to enter a convent.  I was truly convinced that God was calling me to the religious life and for a time, I believe he was.  My calling changed but I didn’t want to let go of what I believed my calling was.  I was angry with God that things hadn’t turned out the way I’d planned.  And, yes, I know how silly that sounds.  Humans are funny that way, especially this one.

It has taken years for me to begin to understand that my calling is my life.  My life only becomes my calling when I open myself up to it, when I accept the path that shows up in front of me and I follow it.  A calling isn’t something exotic or special and while it’s unique to each one of us, it is as simple as opening oneself to the life we were given.

This simplicity doesn’t make it any less powerful or important and it certainly doesn’t make it easy.  For years, I’ve resisted what was before me all the time.  I just didn’t see it.  I stumbled through life with my eyes closed.

Now the pieces are starting to fit.  I look back over the years and I clearly see how some things were meant to be.

I was called to a relationship with my husband in marriage.  Much of my character has been refined because of this relationship.  I have not always liked the lessons but I have no doubts that marrying him was answering my calling.  I love him.  He is blessed to have me and I him.

Nothing has ever felt as natural or as right as being a mother.  Motherhood was a calling, a very important and very special one.  I have been given the privilege of being a mother to both my amazing children.  This too, is often difficult and challenging but it has been my calling and nothing has improved my character more than being a mother.   Every day I struggle to rise to the occasion and every evening I am grateful for the opportunity no matter how trying the day.

I am called to write.  Maybe, not best sellers or even non-selling e-books but this blog.  The reasons don’t matter.  What matters is that I am drawn to do this despite the fact that sharing so much of myself feels uncomfortable and often embarrasses me.   I am my own harshest critic.  Yet, when other critics appear and I question the sanity in continuing, the call remains.  Questioning stops and I continue to write.  If this isn’t a calling than I don’t know what  is.

I am called to be an Independent Mary Kay Beauty consultant.  This isn’t a job or even a career, it is a calling.  I am very aware of the irony here which is precisely why I take this so seriously and continue despite the occasion challenges.  What I learn about this business is helping me in ways I never expected.  It constantly challenges me to push past my reluctance and resistance and show up and meet the women I am called to  meet and to work with the women I am called to work beside.

People are placed in our lives for a reason.  Once I understood this I open myself up to the chance to really learn from all of them.    This is a calling to empowerment, which begins with me and has a ripple effect on everyone in my life.  Great skin care and makeup products are a tool to change lives, to help women feel better about themselves.  I am constantly touched and humbled by the women I meet who need reassurance and affirming acceptance of their looks and who they are.  So many women have yet to be introduced to the beauty that is inside them.  My calling is to open the door to that beauty in a small and gentle way.  I am humbled by this opportunity.

All these things are my calling, yet some times I still resist.  I am often guilty of failing to grasp the importance of my calling.  I try to get out  of it.  I try to find excuses, other things to do, distractions that take me away but none of these things satisfy or feel good.  My heart knows what its work is.   When I avoid it, I do not know peace nor feel a sense of alignment with the God/Universe that has created each of us for a special and beautiful reason.

Every day I am called to wake up and engage in the gift I was given, this particular life with these particular people, challenges, tears and joys.  This is my calling.



Beep Beep

Driving seems to be a recurring theme this week.  It keeps becoming a topic whether I want it to or not.  So, it’s best to just write it out and let it find its own way across the page.

Lately, the roads have been full of high drama.  It’s been hot.  The A/C in the van and my husband’s 4-Runner are busted so we enjoy the wind whipping in the windows and struggle to rearrange our hair when we arrive at our destination.

Having the windows down in the heat, seems to toss us closer to the drama that occurs in traffic.

Car sound systems vibrating their surroundings like small earthquakes are up close and personal when the windows are down.  The squeal of tires and the sounds of locked brakes can be frightening. Some drivers are busy talking on cell phones or texting.  Some are so deep in conversation, their speed slows in direct proportion to the quality of their in-car conversation.

There are a significant number of people who fail to comprehend the art of the merge.

And, then, the most frightening of all, are the angry ones.  These are the folks that are looking for trouble, find it and then decide that you’re the cause.

Recently, my husband got the finger from a middle-aged woman who looked like she sang in the church choir on Sundays, except for the angry expression on her face.

Sitting beside him, I’m still totally clueless to what he did wrong.  Most of the time, I see fault with realistic clarity (but then again, that’s only my opinion.)

On a recent ride, I began to ponder the mystery of traffic.  It’s something that I think about often because I spend a lot of time thinking and find it absolutely exhilarating.  It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.   (Thinking can be great but it’s of little use without some action.  I’m working on the action piece.  Doing both, now that’s ideal.)

Traffic is a microcosm of life.  There is a flow to it that many people don’t seem to understand.  You can’t go faster than the flow allows.  If you go too slow other people will pass you by or run into you.

If you don’t pay attention to others and the space they need, you’ll cause an accident that will slow down every one.  Even people who weren’t in the accident will be affected.  They’ll inch pass the wreck straining to see what happened.   Accidents should be avoided, yet are increasingly common because too many drivers fail to grasp the graceful art of sharing the road.   Sharing is a necessity.

When driving you  don’t always know what others will do or why they do something.  Some times people will be upset with you and you won’t have a clue why.  Some times you do know why but don’t think it’s as big a deal as they do.  Giving others the benefit of the doubt makes driving a lot easier.

Many people don’t drive well around others.  They are impatient.  They know how everyone else should drive but don’t apply the rules to their own driving.  No good can come from taking it out on others.

Yesterday, a friend told us that at a neighborhood convenience store, he saw a young woman on a cell phone talking to the police and crying.  He asked the clerk inside the store,

“What happened here?”

The clerk said , ” The young woman cut the wrong person off.  They followed her to my store and took a baseball bat, smashed all her windows and then drove off.”

Our friend, having some experience of the road, said,  “That young lady probably did cut the guy off.  Maybe didn’t even know it but doing that much damage and traumatizing her, well that’s just awful.”

I felt for the young woman.  We all make mistakes.  We all make a lot of them.  The baseball-bat-wielding man stepped over the line.  His response was extreme, actually, pretty crazy.  It’s a crazy that had nothing to do with the young lady and everything to do with what was in his own head.  We are all trapped in our own heads and when we forget that, we start causing accidents.

So out of my own mind condo, after an interesting several weeks, full of fun, a few painful lessons, disappointments and victories, I’ve come to some tentative conclusions.

It is wise to give others the benefit of the doubt especially as we speed along the road of life.

Some times, we have to take another highway and leave angry drivers behind for our own safety.

Others’ anger is another’s anger, it is often unwarranted and sometimes totally unfounded.

Beware of drivers yelling instructions from other cars.  Drive your own car to the best of your ability and allow others to drive theirs.

You won’t always like what the other drivers are doing.  Give them room to discover the rules of the roadway on their own.

Drive the way you want others to drive but don’t judge.  You don’t know what map they are using and it may be very different from your own.

Share.  Be kind. Let go of anger. Respect others.  Take care.  Drive safely.

High Road

Taking the higher road isn’t easy but it is much wiser than some of the options.

Years ago, in our pasture, the cows made two separate trails on the side of a hill.

There is a pecking order in cows.  They follow a leader.  It’s a great way to make a trail.  Multiple hooves tracking across the gentle grass made the cutest narrow trails.  It’s very nice to find a trail in the middle of a pasture.   Maybe it’s the comfort of following.  Maybe it’s knowing one isn’t alone.

As a child, my favorite trail was the higher one.  Farther up on the hill, narrower than the low trail, I’d have to climb just to reach it.  It had the better view.  It still does.


I Choose

Today, I was given the opportunity to choose what I would read and take in.  Several sentences into an e-mail,  I hit the delete button.  Deluded or not, I still know if the words I’m reading are words of love or hate.  I’m choosing love whenever possible.  Every time, I can get out of my own way and see the forest for the trees, I’m going to choose love.

Love is not an easy choice.  It is one I fail to make as often as I succeed.

Love doesn’t always look like love.  Some times, it’s disguised as responsibility.  Often, it hides in common sense.

Love is not a simple ‘I do”.  It’s an “I will” when I don’t feel like it.

Love, is waking up beside some one that I may not like that day but to whom I made a “for better or worse promise.”

Love often disguises itself as the “no” I tell my children.

Love is living with other fallible, hopelessly flawed human beings who try my patience, bring me to tears and make me laugh.

Love is not giving up.  It is acceptance.  It is trial and error.  It is frustration.

Full of hope, love tries again and again and again.

Love gets me up in the morning when all I want to do is sleep.

Love is interrupted meals, sleepless night and accepting differences that will never completely disappear.

Love is found hiding in the broken heart.  Only hearts that love can be broken.

I choose love because I have known the opposite: indifference.  People who claim to love but have no desire to connect, to stay in touch, to accept, support or be a part of my life are missing out on something amazing.

Messy, difficult, frustrating, love, I choose you!

“Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  It does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable and it keeps no records of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance” I Corinthians 13:4-7

I am the person behind the words printed here. I write because my heart will not allow me the option of NOT writing. It has taken me half a life time to discover this basic truth, but now that I have, writing is as natural as breathing. This is where my breath takes the form of words.


I am reading

The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)
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