Joy

Having downsizing forced on us isn’t all bad.  I’ve started going through things in preparation for a big garage sale this spring.  I need to liquidate as many assets as possible.  Getting rid of clutter is liberating.  Part of me is enjoying it, albeit from a distance.  The enjoyment fights with occasional flashes of victimhood that are grossly unpleasant.  There are a lot of memories and dreams wrapped in with the stuff of our lives.  It can be hard to let go.

I would prefer the down sizing to be a conscious choice.  I’ve spent the last few years fascinated by the Tiny House movement, Minimalists and the people that love them, and those people brave enough to live an alternative lifestyle disconnected from popular consumer culture and based on simple values.

While that life calls to me, I  have sat in my broken recliner watching mindless TV more than I ever want to admit.  Escapism calls me in many forms.  It’s easy to lose oneself in someone else’s drama i.e. the love of TV.  I also know the power of the cupcake or potato chip to hold the fear temporarily at bay.  Chocolate -covered cinnamon bears are my new guilty pleasure.  I am not proud.

I am honest and I know what areas of my life are demanding attention.  I also know I need to get serious and deal with the challenges ahead without breaking no matter how tempting that option may feel at times.

Recently,  a wise mentor has told me that I need to find my joy.  Getting through a day was hard.  Fun was so elusive it all but disappeared.  I felt grumpy, angry.   Tears were never far away.  While I’m still in transition, I realized that despite input to the contrary, I did deserve happiness, joy.  Joy is good.  It doesn’t have a price tag.  It’s free for the taking.

It is possible to be poor and happy.  Not that being poor doesn’t increase problems exponentially but those problems don’t have the right to crowd out everything else.

Yesterday, as I drove to work, I looked at the sunrise in the east as it painted the sky a gorgeous pink behind Mt. Hood.  This display was so breathtaking I can not describe it in words.  It was free and the opening to my day, a simple and pure gift that for a few moments gave me a great peace and hope and even joy.  Wordless, priceless, joy.  No one can take that from me.

Lost and Found

“There is something to be found in what we have lost.” — Mastin Kipp

Admission:  Lately, I’ve felt really lost.  I haven’t wanted to write about the realities of my life because I felt like it was a reflection on me: a mirror of failure.  More importantly, I didn’t want to be candid and receive advice or worse yet, judgment.

I don’t want to be fixed.  I want to be loved.

Lost and wrapped in fear, I haven’t written.    If I can’t write about the realities of my life how can I write about anything?

I began to realize that maybe writing about what I lack, what’s wrong and the specific challenges I face, might be the most meaningful writing I’ll ever do.  There might be other people like me who don’t want to feel isolated and alone.  My being honest might be a gift to some one, a gift so valuable that it’s worth risking criticism.

So, here goes.

Once again, we are in foreclosure.  At some point, we will lose our home.  At this time, we do not have an alternative.  I don’t take home enough to qualify for an apartment.  Our credit is abysmal and it’s been over 3 years since I put our name on the local low-income housing authorities list.  We have yet to be notified of any openings.  We have and do follow up.

Given the current condition of our home, living in the van might be a healthier alternative.  A leak under the kitchen sink is ruining the floor in two rooms.  We’ve witnessed some pretty weird fungus growing out of our carpet.  It looks positively other worldly but smells like old rotten potatoes.  I haven’t opened the cabinet doors hiding the “zone of destruction” under said sink because I don’t want to get a visual on what we are breathing in on a daily basis.  I can’t close a door on the stuff growing in the carpet.  (Insert full body shudder here.)

Having dry weather this winter has been a blessing.  It keeps some of the mold down.  When it does rain, their are two leaks in the living room that require buckets to collect the rain water.  We use old tee-shirts in the bottom of the bucket to soften the staccato of the rain.

Meanwhile, we pretend to be middle-class, which is pretty hard to do when you are really living way below the Federal Poverty level.  Almost daily, I hear some one make a flippant remark about poor people and if they’d only get a job, or stop expecting hand outs or. . . .It gets really old.  My opinion is a poor one.  My perspective  is even poorer.  I rarely object although I have perfected a look that should at least burn someone with my invisible psychic mind laser.  Not one of my victims has ever reported this, however, and I’m too ashamed to ask if  they felt the burn.   But, I can hope.

I know I’m not really a loser but I some times feel like one.  I have a job.  I harvest what I can from our years of accumulation and  from forays into thrift stores and sell it on eBay or Etsy for a small profit.  I’m a Mary Kay Consultant.  I have three jobs right now.  Yet, I have to keep looking for a job that pays more because three jobs aren’t enough.   I’m a veritable wizard with the stretching of a dollar but you do have to have enough dollars to stretch or things starts snapping like the elastic in my aged underwear.

The fact that there is no safety net in my life, nothing to catch us when we finally fall, actually terrifies me.  Almost every night I dream about losing our home and having no where to go.  When this all started, there were times when I couldn’t hold back the tears at the thought of losing our home, a home I’d grown to love.  I’ve had several years to get used to the idea.  I know there will be tears ahead but I have had a long time to process this, to live with panic, to live with impending loss, to struggle, to lose.

Last weekend, I finally hatched a plan.  It came to me suddenly upon awakening after another night of being a nomad in my dreams:  I need to find an old motor home, one that is drivable and livable and find a RV campground nearby so that we’ll have a place to sleep, a hot plate to cook Top Ramen on,  and a roof over our heads when the time comes.    Just how I’m going to do all this, has yet to be determined.  Lately, the Universe/God/Higher Power/the Force hasn’t seemed to be cooperating but this is the best plan I have at the moment and common sense is telling me I’ve got to aim for something.

Between that alien mold life form stuff, judgments from and by the clueless, and  the exhaustion of working hard and gaining so little,  life is hard.  After the pain of disappointment sloughed off, I have been more than a little angry.  Poor and angry is not an attractive combination.  Poor, angry and depressed is down right ugly.

Imagine how vexing it is to begin to accept that maybe all this resistance is futile and that instead of feeling like a victim in a ridiculous melodrama maybe all this is an opportunity.  At first glance, seeing all “this as an opportunity” feels as crazy or crazier than that psychic mind laser.

Up until now, I’ve felt like I’ve been tied to the bumper on the car of called “Life”.  (This is one old and ugly car.  Some one has glued a bunch of scary gargoyles to this hideous ride and spray painted it to look like Predator just vomited jungle all over it.)  We’re not on the smooth highway.  I’ve got the gravel in my thighs to prove it.  This has got to stop.  .  I have to get in the driver’s seat, metaphorically and literally.  Gravel thighs aren’t good for any one especially an elderly, overweight woman who has been careering after the Predator mobile.  Please forgive my digression.  A vivid imagination is one of the few rich things about me.  That and character!

Between now and 3 minutes from now, I’ll probably cycle through a lot of emotions ranging from despair, panic, to zen-like serenity.  Most of these emotions will arise from the fertile ground of my thoughts and not an actual reality in that moment.  I guarantee you that in the next 3 minutes, we won’t be evicted and all the worry, panic and despair will only rob me of more serenity.  I’ve known a lot of worriers in my life and I spend a fair amount of time being one but the only thing it has ever gained me is high blood pressure and a stomach ache that’s lasted 45 years.

It’s time to take a stand.  To be perfectly clear, I’m going to repeat what I want from life and from the people I choose to share my life with:

I don’t want to be fixed.  I want to be loved.

“There is something to be found in what is lost.”   It’s time to rise to the occasion.  This is my life:  poor, raw, messy, moldy, and yet,  interesting, challenging, full of blessings which are some times so well hidden, they are almost impossible to find.  If any one can find them, I can.  Once lost, I am beginning to find my way.

 

Love: Wrapped in Feelings

A lot of us talk about love without ever really understanding it.  One of the major sticking points of a spiritual life has been the mandate to “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”  Right now I’m got a neighbor that really makes that difficult.

A lot of people make that difficult.  On Friday there was a little old lady who didn’t like giving me the right-of-way at a four-way stop.  I could see her shaking her finger at me in my rear view mirror.  I think to myself, “Geez lady.  Should you be driving?”  Irritation wells up in me like as easy spring.  I shake my head to let it go and look up to see her scowling face and shaking finger.  Obviously she wasn’t letting it go and she wasn’t even in the right.

Ok, Lord, just how do I love people like this, the people I don’t like, the people who reject me and say bad things about me?  People can really make some stupid choices, me included.  How do you do it, this Love thing?  How did you send a part of yourself to die for this sorry bunch?”  No answer flashes in my head.  I am left to allow my irritation to run a quick course and switch my thoughts to something more pleasant.  This is a skill I have countless opportunities to practice.  The introvert in me often returns home feeling like the world has given me a beating.

This morning, I awoke and decided that it was the perfect time to pray.  I wanted some answers.

One of the people I follow on the internet, Teri Goetz,  suggested a ritual to dive into one’s inner wisdom.  The prayerful question to ask:

“What do I need to know right now?”

Asking is the easy part.  Listening to the answer, allowing it to come is the hard part.  I spend a half hour trying to resist my own desire to answer the question for myself.  Slightly frustrated I get up, start a pot of coffee and turn on the computer.  Suddenly, in my head I hear,  “You are a child of the most high God.” Since this isn’t the normal way I talk.  I pay attention.  I think about arguing for a second and then settle in to a warm fuzzy feeling.

The other person I follow daily is Mastin Kipp over at The Daily Love.  In my inbox is Kipp’s blog post for today.  In it, he writes:

The Uni-verse is a diverse place and when we celebrate this diversity instead of condemning it, we become more spiritual – that is to say, more Loving. And we begin to hate others less when we hate ourselves less for feeling what we feel. The other way to say it is that we Love others MORE when we begin to Love ourselves and our feelings more.

Feeling your feelings and not judging yourself or others – this is a place of spiritual mastery. Can you do it? What feelings are you avoiding feeling? And why?

Feelings good, bad, and indifferent are a portal to the spiritual life.  They are what make us uniquely human.  They are what they are. Being annoyed with my grumpy elderly driver was human and okay.  I didn’t turn my car into a battering ram and I certainly didn’t give her the finger.  Maybe that didn’t feel loving to me but it was.  I often have this unrealistic expectation that doing the right thing the loving thing is always accompanied with this saintly feeling of goodness.  I’ve been kidding myself.

Some times the loving thing to do is to walk away and feel the hurt and rejection.  Allowing people to experience the impact of their own choices, giving them a chance to take the responsibility for their lives  and to travel a path without you is the loving thing to do.  And some times it’s not.

Wanting answers doesn’t mean they will magically appear in my time frame.  They always come but I often have to wait, and wait and wait. In the mean time, I muddle through.  I make mistakes and feel angry or sad and a thousand flavors in between.   When I allow the feelings to run their course, to fully experience them and persevere in the challenges daily life throws at me, my spiritual being grows and expands to show me the path I need to walk to become a more complete human being.

 

 

It’s the Fumes!

Some days, I’ve got to write or lose my mind.  Tonight is one of those times.  This is my therapy, the way I process my feelings, the way I find something amusing in things that don’t make me laugh when they happen.  I want to laugh to prevent dissolving into a blathering puddle of tearful nonsense.

Just after we sit down to dinner, we hear our son yelling from the garage.  It is not a good yelling.  The fact that he is asking for his sister, sends me running.  It isn’t good.

We have a rule for our children about coming home when it gets dark.  A certain boy seems to have a very difficult time with this.  We’ve come up with some consequences but they haven’t proven effective.  After tonight I’m bringing out the big guns. . . a howitzer or maybe a nuclear missile.   I need time to process this.  It’s just not funny yet.

The panicked yelling began because of the accidental spilling of some nasty finish stripper (chemicals in a can not a woman from Finland working a shady job)  that used to live a quiet life on the workbench in the garage.  Just thinking about it is starting to make me itch and cough again.  Oh, now, I think my lips are burning.  I really need to go to my happy place.

Tardy boy stands in the garage slightly dripping.  Apparently, the falling deck stripper stuff exploded as it hit the garage floor.  His coat, his only warm coat got the worst of it.  I’m afraid it and the rest of his clothes will have to go to the garbage dump in the sky.  The smell is overwhelming and then, I see the mess.  “Andy,”  I yell.  “I’m going to need your help.”  Poor husband.  He just sat down to dinner.

In case of emergency, my initial job is the calmer.  I pull out all the stops trying to sound calm.  I’m desperately wanting to feel calmer but the fumes are getting to me.  I find myself repeating my words in a silly attempt to convince myself I know what I’m doing.  I don’t have a clue.  I don’t know how to begin to clean this up.

“Take off all your clothes by the washer except your underwear and go and take a shower right now,”  I say with conviction.

I just want him out of the way so I don’t start spiraling into a tirade about carelessness and getting home before it gets dark and following the rules and trying to be more careful.   Once the cork is out of that bottle there may be no stopping me.

“I’ve got no idea what to do to clean this up,” I say, once the boy is gone.  In my mind, I see myself running up and down the street with my hands waving madly over my head while I make wild animal sounds.    I shake my head to get rid of the idea.

By this time, my poor husband has started winding down.  He had a full head of steam going into this.  As he winds down, I start to wind up.  “Ok, I’m calling Home Depot and see if they can give me any advice.”  I’ve got to do something and I am desperate to get away from the now toxic garage.

Five minutes into the call, I finally get to the prompt that gives me the paint department.  The guy who answers talks like Charlie Brown’s teacher except with more of a mumble than a pure “Wha Wha, Wha!

After several sentences of pure mumble, mumble, wha, wha, wha, I interrupt him and say, ” I’m sorry, but I don’t have the faintest idea what you are saying.”

This doesn’t seem to phase him and he tosses in another mumble, wha, wha and I stop him and say, “Honestly, I have no idea what you said.  You talk so fast and you mumble.”

Tactless, yes, but you got to forgive me.  I blame the fumes.

“Ma’am,” He says with a voice that says anything but “Ma’am”  “I’m trying to tell you how to clean up your mess.”

“What kind of thinner was it?” He asks.

I hate questions I don’t know how to answer.  “I don’t know.” I admit.

“That’s a problem.  I need to know what it is so I can tell you what to do.  Can you find out?”

I know that this nasty fume creating nightmare is in the bottom of a garbage bag completely covered with thinner.  The idea of sticking my hands in that bag is not appealing.  I just won’t do it.  He wants to insist.

“Ma’am, I got to know.”

Just then my husband comes in.  He looks a little greener than he did a few minutes ago when I left him.

“What is that stuff called?” I ask.

He knows exactly.  I repeat it to the man on the line.

“Super, Nasty, Smelling, Potentially Deadly Chemical Swill,”  I say with righteous authority.

(No, that’s not really what it’s called, but it should be.)

At this point, I decide not to fight it.  This call was a mistake.  It’s not Mumble Mumble Wha Wha’s fault.  He is an innocent victim of my fumes.  He is a good employee however and suggests three products I need to come over and buy to clean up my mess.  I thank him and say, ” I’ll head on over.”

I don’t know why I said that.  I guess I felt bad that he got my phone call and that the fumes were affecting my humanity.  I’m not going any where except maybe in a corner where I can rock and hum to myself for several hours.  It must be the fumes.

After the initial shock of it all, my dear husband has got it out of his system.  He regroups, tackles, problem solves and becomes my hero when he cleans up the mess as best he can with some sand, hose and soap.  We might not be able to close the garage again but there isn’t a toxic lake waiting to lure unsuspecting ants,small mammals and two rapidly aging parents into a horrible death by chemical exposure.

After our tardy son, came out of the shower, he makes an attempt at atonement.  I caution him saying, “I’m so mad at you right now, I can’t talk about it.  I need time to calm down.”

Truth is some times my calm role is just too hard for me to fill.  Some times, I need to trade places or write it out, or sit in the corner and hum softly.  Some times, the “uncalm” become the calm and save the day with perseverance and right action.  Some times, I don’t have a clue and I need help.  When I think of how this started and how it ended, I am so grateful for my husband who really pulled it together and rose to the occasion when I was so out of my league.  Tears spring to my eyes when I think about what he did for me tonight and I bet he doesn’t really know how much it mattered and how grateful I am.  I’d better try to tell him before the fumes wear off.

Happy Birthday

threegenerations

 

Yesterday, we celebrated my Aunt Anna’s 90th birthday.  (Thanks, Courtney for sharing the photo.)

On the way home, I was confronted with a simple fact,  I  love my family.  Forgive me for being a bit surprised at the depth of my feeling.  My family isn’t fluent in the language of feelings and neither am I.  Collectively, we’re a pessimistic, stubborn, undemonstrative lot.  Years before when visiting my Grandmother Hendricks in the hospital, she first commented on “how corn fed I’d become.”  Totally in character and dead on.  She also said how much she loved her family.  This statement was totally uncharacteristic and I figured she had to be sicker than we thought.  I’ve also never forgotten it.  It was a rare moment when she spoke from her heart.

When we were young and in the thick of family potlucks, birthday celebrations, hay rides, weddings, baptisms  and funerals, time seemed to stand still.  My large family provided companionship, connection to something larger than the self and belonging.  We cousins ran in packs, like wild little animals and for the most part we loved our tribe.  We’d run in to grab food or a drink and race outside again to join the little marauding horde.  Yesterday, I see all of us sitting on the other side of middle age, or rapidly crossing or approaching the land of senior discounts, gray hair and wrinkles.  How can this be when only yesterday we were all young and time stood still?

Years ago, I had no awareness that this day would come and that we would celebrate my Aunt’s birthday without my Dad, her twin.  I never thought that I’d see my best friend cousin, Gwen with hair of gray or that lots of us would pause in our conversations to pull the right word out of the lifetime of memories trapped in our heads.  We are all so much older now.  Maybe we’re also wiser, not just because of our lives filled with experience but because we have learned how valuable this imperfect family of ours is and always has been.

How recently we celebrated Grandma Hendricks (Grandma Gen’s) 90th birthday.  On a warm, August day, her patio tables filled with food, we ate, laughed and posed for pictures.  Our lives were full of promise.  Choices stretched before us on a gently laid ribbon of time.  The ribbon is no longer a gentle one.  We cling to the ends of it lashed to a time that races.  It’s been a heck of a ride.

What we took for granted was a blessing that we didn’t comprehend.  What some times felt like obligation  was really a gift.

In the corner of the Hall, a display of family photos was a tribute to Anna and family.  Looking over the photos, my Dad, the absent twin was still very much present.  My aunt and dad are as identical as two fraternal twins could ever be.  Time and death can’t alter that.  I’m sure that Anna’s husband, Harold, must have also enjoyed the celebration.  How much he would have loved holding his great grandson, Roman on his knee.  I’m sure he and Dad would have talked World Series.

Our family has its shadows, those parts of ourselves that cause trouble, the things that separate and divide.  Our German stereotypical traits are not all pluses.  Yesterday, I saw that it doesn’t really matter.  It’s okay to be on different pages.  It doesn’t have to sever the connection unless we think it does.  Our perception of what family is and how it functions is what feeds our need to come together and still mark those family milestones.

And so, to copy a line from Grandma,this middle-aged, corn-fed gal says  “I love my family!”  And, I do.  Thanks for being there.  It has made all the difference in a world often full of challenges and shadows.  Family, you have been an anchor, an ever-changing constant, a place to come home to, a tribe to which to belong.  You mean the world to me.

Invisible

Several years ago, I checked a Whitney Otto book out of the library.  It was called,  Now You see Her.  

On Whitney Otto’s web site , a summary of the book includes this sentence, “The insecure central character, Kiki Shaw, is single and nearing 40 when she notices that she’s becoming transparent.”

It didn’t take me long to put the book down, not because I dislike Otto’s writing style.  No, it was the idea of transparency that was too painful.  It had tapped into one of my deepest fears.  Some times, the things one fears the most are destined to come to pass.

This fear is about more than simple transparency.  It is invisibility, of a non-being caused by not being seen.  It is being so insignificant as to not matter.  This transparency, this invisibility, this non-being is a negation that creates a pit of shame, frustration and failure at the center of my soul.  It is a feeling that surrounds and punctuates my life more often than I care to admit.  In the admitting, the trap door to annihilation opens more than a crack.

Lately, I’ve often felt this door opening below me.  I often dangle above it like a broken puppet.

On my way home from work today, I look at the gas gauge inching below the quarter tank mark.  I mentally note the day of the week and wonder if there will be enough to get me through.  My mind starts to tally all the things that are wrong and could go wrong but I push my way in this tumble of panic and change my thoughts to something lighter, something that provokes less anxiety.

Stopping at the pharmacy, I discover that I’m out another $45.  I ask for a verification of the price, hoping for a tiny miracle.  The clerk is impatient and unsympathetic.  Embarrassed, I sigh and hand my debit card to her.  “You can try.  Hopefully, it will go through,” I say

At times, I’ve written candidly about being poor.  My primary motivation is to share a significant part of my life in hopes of giving it a human face.  Few people expect to struggle below the Federal Poverty Level.  Many of us do and we often aren’t who you think we are.  (I’d share some US Census Bureau statistics here if the web site wasn’t shut down along with parts of the Federal government.)

There is a lot of shame involved when you can not adequately provide for yourself and worst still your family.  Honestly, despite my own personal experience,some times I still judge others harshly.  Society associates poverty with failure, with character flaws or even laziness.  I have been judged of those same things and it has been a very painful thing to endure.  When I have judged someone else, it’s to hide the pain I feel.  I want to create a barrier between me and them so I can feel safe, superior, exempt. It is an illusion.   The sense of frustration and failure can be profound especially when the years drag on and the hope of the “ship coming in”  grows cold.  Blaming the poor for the poverty is easy but living it is something very different.   Indulging in denial at times, is a fault that is built on the difficulty of dealing with the moment by moment reminders that nothing tangible separates us from them.  I’m convinced that this lies at the center of judgment and that this is too painful for most people to admit.

I will go to my grave believing that every one has a moral, social,  and human responsibility to help the less fortunate.  It’s not pity or free handouts that the vast majority  of the poor want or need.  The poor need human respect.   The need to be acknowledged.  They need to be encouraged.  They need legitimate ways to improve their lives and their financial situations.   They need to be seen.

Some times life will bounce your out of your place with a swift sudden kick.  There isn’t any insurance against it.  It’s not because you did something wrong.  It isn’t fair.  It leaves you lying awake at night crying.  It can paralyze you with worry.  It can start to destroy your hope and your desire to keep trying.

So, the next time, you start thinking critical of me and other people like me, hold that thought.  Keep it to yourself.  Don’t tell me all the things I should be doing or what I’m doing wrong.  Speak words of encouragement.  Treat me with compassion.  Have a positive attitude.   Look beyond my job, my bank account, my 14 year-old car with bad brakes, my run-down house that I will eventually lose and see the person underneath.  See me.

 

Surrender

I’m a better lover than a fighter.  Lately, I’ve been doing too much resisting.  Focusing on the lack and not the abundance.

So, this morning, I stumble toward the shower, shuffling like a stiff old man on Thorazine.  There, with sleep threatening to pull me under, I pray with words of desperation,

“God help me.  God help us.”

A groan may have provided punctuation.  I’m not sure.  I couldn’t remember washing my hair so I washed it twice and let the water wash over me as I struggled to figure out what do I do next.  The answer, clear and strong was simply this, “Give up.”

Wooooh.

“Are you kidding me?  This runs counter to everything I’ve been reading and what I’ve been told.  I can’t just give up.”   Inside my head the words came quickly.

“I must be losing my mind.”  I think to myself.

“That would be a cop-out,” I hear in response.  “Oh, and giving up doesn’t mean you stop trying,” the voice adds.

I’m starting to feel annoyed.  “Alright, I’m a little confused.  You’re going to have to clarify this for me. I don’t have a clue where this is headed.”

Silence.

Maybe clues are reserved for those who are more awake.  I go back to trying to figure out where I’m at in my shower routine .  Oh, time to shave my legs.  The razor hits the shower floor not once, not twice but three times.  I sigh.

“Stop focusing on the outcome.  It’s all about the process.  Not everything depends on you.  You certainly can’t figure everything out.  You’ve got to let go of all the mental energy you pour into things.  The end result doesn’t define your worth.  Most things in life have too many variables.  You’re not enjoying the process and you’re making yourself miserable.  You’ve got to give up!”

As I put the end back on the razor, I understand.  I respond in absolute silence.  The warm shower feels good.  I stop worrying about the routine and what needs to be done and tell myself that no matter the outcome, I’m going to do everything I can to enjoy the day ahead.

So far:

I’ve prayed in the shower while I shaved my legs (Yeah! multi-tasking!)

I’ve had a wonderful visit with an old friend.  (R.  I love you!)

Got some valuable information from a dear newer friend.  (Love you too, L.)

Had a nice conversation with a neighbor.  (Miss you when you move, N. )

Made cupcakes and lunch.

Wrote a blog entry.

I’ve spent too much of my last few weeks making myself miserable because of all the things I wasn’t doing and how things just aren’t working out.  I focused on what was wrong.  I whined.  I complained.  Playing worse case scenario made me miserable.  Being angry at other people just eats me up inside.  These are the things I need to give up.  I surrender.

Ridiculous

Ridiculous.  It’s how I’ve been feeling.   Merriam Webster online dictionary’s primary definition of the word is:

arousing or deserving ridicule :  extremely silly or unreasonable :  absurdpreposterous

Feeling like I might deserve ridicule is not a pleasant place to be and it certainly contributes to a huge writer’s block.

Not long ago some criticism took the wind out of my sails.  Writing has been painfully difficult.  Well, actually clicking the publish button is what has been hard. Writing and then publishing it in a blog with even the most limited readership is not an easy thing for me.

“Why do I still l try?” you ask.

First:  Over the years, there have been many things that were not discussed either in my family, my community, or in my church. I believe that there is a lot of inner pain and suffering that remained locked up in places no one dared open.  I’m not just talking about my personal pain. Every day I am keenly aware of how many people are hurting, insecure, lacking love and attention, feeling that they aren’t good enough.

Being able to admit and own how I feel is an on-going process but an extremely valuable one.  It’s part of healing. Getting things out in the light often kills the things it should. . . like vampires, mildew,  maybe?   Battling the supernatural or mildew is best left to some one else with the name Buffy or Van Helsing or Mr. Bleach.  We just have to get some things in the light and the light will take care of the rest.

My job is hard enough: being me.  It’s so easy to get off course and forget how.  Finding out how I feel or what I really think helps me get back to the job of being me.  It’s time I started to buckle down and master this. And for some reason beyond my understanding, I do a certain amount of that in print, on a little known blog.

Second, in my human stumbling through my quirky little psyche, I believe I have something to offer.  That something may be useful to only one person, once in a blue moon but now that I know blue moons exist, it has made all the difference.  Believe it or not, I don’t always like hitting that publish button and if you mention something I wrote, there are times, when I’ll blush in embarrassment.  Some times,  I still feel ridiculous and I probably am.

It isn’t easy being emotionally genuine and I don’t always make the mark.  I believe in its value even when I can’t see it. Disillusion-al?  In denial?   Definite possibilities. I, however, consider this an assignment. If I didn’t there would be no point in my doing this crazy thing that makes me uncomfortable.  I actually think of it as a long term project for a grad class in which God/the Universe is the teacher.  There is no way I want to disappoint Dr. God. Some times I do. I often disappoint myself but it doesn’t change the assignment.  I’ve got to show up and give it a try. It’s that simple.

These last few months, I’ve been stuck in a shame tornado.  I’ve also been more than a little peeved at the world in general. This made writers block into writers stone cold mountain.  Tunneling through wasn’t working.  Darn cave ins.  Can’t find good psychic mine workers these days that will work 24/7 for free.  Time to go around.  Practical, efficient and not ridiculous in the least.

What’s Your Purpose?

Yesterday was hard.  I poured out my heart writing but couldn’t hit the publish button.  Some struggles are best kept private.  Overwhelmed, lost, I struggled to get my bearings.  I prayed that God would show me the way but I didn’t expect an answer.  One was provided for me any way.  In my faithlessness, I was shown faith.  My closed heart shown an opportunity to love.  Lost, I was given the way.  No one else was given the job to be me.  It’s time to step into the life I’ve been given as a gift.  It’s time to be me, the better me, the best me.

 

Is It Me?

On my way home, I move with the traffic.  Kids and buses everywhere.  There are seven school very close to the road I take home.    Going home can feel like an obstacle course.  Some days are worse than others.

Looping through the new rotaries, I enjoy the back and forth movement of the van.  It’s the little things.  I look in my rear view mirror to see a young man with his cap bill facing backwards.  He is in a hurry.  I am not going fast enough.  As I make another graceful loop, he honks because he can, not because he is actually communicating anything to  me other than that he thinks I’m too slow.  He is wrong.  I know he is wrong.  I can’t make this impatience of his right no matter how I try.  “You’re an idiot,” I say quietly under my breath.

Irritation fills me.  I consider going slower.  Then, I realize how ridiculous it is for me to get upset with him for his getting upset with me.  This is how negative interactions begin.  If I get irritated with his irritation am I being an idiot?  I don’t like this line of thinking.  It puts the responsibility back on me.  I’d rather be irritated with the irritator even though its doesn’t make sense.   GrrrrH!  I’ve thought myself into a hole.  I hate when that happens.

The impulse to go slower just to spite him is very strong.   Mr.  Speedy Pants is still on my tail.  How I want to teach him a lesson.  Can you teach patience with impatience?  Not very likely.

What’s wrong with me?  I seem stuck in the same juvenile level as the person dogging me.  This is no big deal.  I’m safe.  I’m going the speed limit.  Chances are I’m going to make it home in one piece, my arms and legs in the same condition as when I began this little trip home.  Why do I want to stop the car and give this kid a piece of my mind?  The more I fight against it the more tempting it is.

Finally, he turns left.   Relief floods through me and I think about mindless nothings.

The late afternoon finds me running here and there.  Everywhere I go there is a new wrinkle or road block.  Finally, I am within 2 miles of the refuge of home when I round a corner and find a young boy on a bike in the middle of the expressway heading toward me.  A bike trail is yards away.  He is traveling in the dangerous no-mans land of a highway.  No helmet and seemingly no idea that his sudden hurtling in front of me is a breach of sanity not to mention traffic laws.  Windows down, I brake in time and say loudly, “Oh, my God.”  Didn’t exactly feel like a prayer but it was.  I was so grateful I didn’t hit him.  The boy  haltingly crosses the 4 lanes of traffic continuing to put himself in danger.    Maybe he doesn’t care.  Maybe he doesn’t understand.

“I wonder if his mom knows what he’s doing right now?” I think to myself.

Then I hear, “she probably doesn’t but this mom does and was careful.”

This mom is me.

The boy on the bike was lucky, I was quick and paying attention.  My Mr. Speedy Pants was lucky he was dogging me and not some one who might have gotten out of the car and really let him have it.  I’m pretty sure they had no idea how lucky they were.   Their actions reflected their choices and my actions reflected mine even though I might have felt like retaliating, my calmer self prevailed.

I can’t teach patience with impatience.

I can’t avoid the reckless if I’m being reckless.

For several hours this afternoon, people kept giving me opportunities to do the right thing.   This choosing to take the high road didn’t feel good.   By the time I got home, I felt like I was coming home from a tour of duty.  So I stole a few moments here and there to write and in the process discovered that today I gave several people the benefit of having crossed paths with me.  They received the gift of my tolerance.  From them, I received a very important lesson.

It was me today, my perception, my struggle to do the right thing.  There are a lot of people like me.  There are people better than me.  Most of us are just trying to do the best we can.  Some days are harder than others.  Today, it was me and it was a good thing.

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.

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