Sanity is Over Rated

I am forgetful.  I am not as patient as I once was.  The other day, I screamed at a driver to get off her cell phone.  Fortunately, she didn’t see me.  I was shocked and ashamed of myself.  I wanted to pull over and cry.  I’ve had a few people call me nuts.  Ouch.  What happened to tact?  Wait, I don’t have a lot of that either.  Maybe I am a bit nuts.

Recently, I read about the prefrontal cortex (part of the brain).  It’s got an amazing job.  It regulates decision making.  It’s the seat of abstract thought.  It allows people to plan ahead and make strategies.  It controls emotions. It makes good judgments. . . all when working well, of course.  The prefrontal cortex is slow to develop and given as one of the chief reasons why smart teens may make such poor decisions.  It has limits.  In my case, it’s been overloaded trying to cope with the day-to-day that is my life.  My prefrontal cortex is having a bit of a crisis.

On top of circumstances beyond my control, I’ve got a decrease in estrogen.  Researchers used to believe that it affected the menopausal woman’s hippocampus.  Now they find:

“The prefrontal cortex is critical for intact working memory and estrogen enhances performance on working memory tasks. In conclusion, this study provides preliminary evidence for executive dysfunction in untreated menopausal women as women with HRT outperformed women without HRT on tests requiring directed attention, inhibition of inappropriate responses, and cognitive set switching.”  [Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11403979]

Which in lay person’s terms means, I am so screwed.

I didn’t plan on this.  “Lord, what are you thinking?”

“Lord, this is about faith, surrender, acceptance, isn’t it?”  The answer is a peaceful silence.

My God’s not much of a talker but then again, getting a word in edgewise with me, is no easy feat.   So, I try listening.  The clocks ticks off the seconds. I hear the soft rise and fall of my family’s voices as they enjoy a cooking show.  I can’t hear their words but the tone is sweet.  Soon their talk turns to the worm in Mescal.  Funny how quickly their voices rise.  I hear “Uuuuuuh,” then laughter.

Again, the ticking of the clock forces its way to the center of my awareness.  “Lord, are you telling me to heed the passage of time?” In between ticks, I realize that even in these challenging times, my life can be full and sweet.  Blessings are as abundant as sorrows.  One highlights and illuminates the other and I see with fresh eyes, not confined by logic or reason.   Mine is an exquisite kind of crazy.  I’m one lucky woman.  Sanity, is highly overrated.  I’m sure of it.

Coming Home

Not trusting myself to write, I’ve stayed away.  Life was crazy busy. At times, the challenges took my breathe away and I wondered if I would make it through.   Apparently, “what doesn’t kill you does make you stronger.”  I grieved the losses both big and small and tried to carry on as normal but often failed.  My heart wasn’t in it.  I was trapped in a prison of me.

Slowly, I let other people’s stories in.  I heard of their struggles, their sorrows.  I watched them cope.  I felt some of their pain and began to under stand that I am not alone with my troubles.  Everyone has something that plagues them.

In less than two weeks, I will be 56 years old.  I have no idea where the time went or how I made it this long.  My life is no longer an endless road that unfurls before me, full of options and potential.  The road has narrowed into a single small path and it gets narrower each day.  My own mortality takes me by surprise.  It tries to haunt me with regret.  It zaps me with jolts of reality.    Inside, I’m still young.  I have so much left to do.

One day, a short time ago, I was mourning my lost chances.  Using them as spears to pierce my well being, I was absorbed in the task of hurting myself with my own thoughts.  Quickly, something much sharper poked through.  Inside my head a clear, strong voice speaks:

“Stop!  You are living the life you want.  The details may not always be to your liking but the choices you’ve made have brought you to today and it isn’t that bad.”

I was speechless.

The voice inside me added, “Don’t waste any more time wishing for something else and missing the moments.  This isn’t a dress rehearsal.  This is the show.  Make it a good one.”

I wish I could say that I have devoted myself to the task and never fell into old habits.  It’s just much harder to stay stuck there.

Reminders of the joys of the moment keep making themselves known.

This morning, I find a link to this video in my inbox.  It is my time to shine.

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/FlX6uUqS0lI” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

 

 

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

Honking or Car Dancing?

 

Someone behind me honks impatiently.

Apparently, they haven’t looked to see a woman in the crosswalk.  Turning left would be illegal and possibly deadly right now.  I’m not moving.  The woman in the crosswalk is moving very slowly.  I didn’t know you could move that slowly and not fall down.  The weary walker is about my age.  She wears a uniform like the kind the clerks wear at Safeway or at Subway some place that starts with a capital ‘S”.

My slow woman is lost in thought.  She doesn’t look happy.   I can only imagine what her day has been like.  Honking seems so unkind.  I glance in my mirror at the honker behind me.  A young and pretty face is scowling.  Great way to earn a few early wrinkles, I think to myself and then smile.  It’s better than thinking, “What a jerk!” which is what I often think if the truth be told.   Today, I’m practicing being mellower. . . Yes, I still have to practice.

Recently, I’ve become very aware of how impatience affects me in a negative way.  I remind myself that no one put me in charge of the world today, let alone Vancouver, Washington.  I don’t have to correct the wrongs of others or make sure justice is served.  All I have to do is to make way for a weary worker trudging across a road and to momentarily protect her from little-cutie-wrinkle-face behind me.

Finally, the slowest woman in the world is safe on the sidewalk.

The impatient female driver behind me honks again as if to say sarcastically, “Thanks for taking so long!”

As I accelerate to match the posted speed limit, I look in my rear view mirror and the impatient driver  is at least a block behind me.  She is looking down as if she’s texting.

“Why was she in such a hurry?”

“Let it go,” I tell myself.

My son has plugged his MP3 player into the car tape deck.  He pulls up “Gangum Style”.  At the stop light, the kids and I engage in some good old-fashioned “car dancing.”

The woman in the next lane looks over at my son.  His hair needs a trim and the curls and extra body gives him a bit of a wild look.  His head bobs to the music.  His arms punctuate the air.

Shannon says, “Andrew, that woman is smiling at your car dancing.”

Car dancing and smiles are a lot better than scowling and honking.  That’s how I want to roll.

“Play it again, Andrew!”

Carrying a Woeful Grace

Tuesday, I wanted to write about grace.  The days soon ran together with only a litany of unwritten words circling around my mind like dirty water around a drain.  It’s bath day and the youngest of nine has just taken the plunge in the tepid murky mess. Tired wet words are splashing on the floor.  A detached curiosity drapes itself around my neck as I watch.  I can’t turn away.

Yesterday, I wandered through the downtown library as we killed a few minutes between appointments.  So many books.  My heart beat faster with desire.   Ah, the words, the millions and millions of words that swarm around me and seep into my veins.  Words are like heroin in my blood.  Without them I don’t feel normal but with them, I feel still feel lost.  It’s as if the world knows a secret and it’s not telling me.  My mind feels sweet and foggy.

Maybe it takes more to get high these days.  My mind has gotten use to the noise.  The words feel different then they once did.

Continue reading

Shine

Inspired by the book I’m currently reading, Edward M. Hallowell, MD Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People, I’m devoting this Sunday to the “Shine.”

Dr. Hallowell’s intended audience is mainly managers in the business world.  Since managing myself is my greatest challenge there are some ideas in his book that I can apply to myself.   Shine is the end result of the “cycle of excellence.”

Cycle of Excellence

(Each steps builds on the other.  They all work together to create the last step, shine.)

1.) Select

2.) Connect

3.) Play

4.) Grapple and Grow

5.) Shine

Hallowell defines shine as, “. . . what happens as employees work hard and advance.  As they gain recognition, which affirms what they have done is valuable, they experience one of the greatest feelings a person can have (Hallowell, 38).”

Sign me up!  I want to shine.

Some times my soul wears a dull matte finish.  No happy beaming there.

How can I reflect the good in others back to them if I’m not shining?

On this January Sunday, as you look out on a winter world, ask yourself what shining means to you.  Then, go after it.  It’s a perfect task for a day devoted to the sun.

Smart Work

This Saturday’s child is in over her head.  My to-do list is a cruel master and I suffer under its watchful eye.  Last week, I felt overwhelmed, inadequate, like I’ll never catch up.  With so much to do, I felt like I didn’t do anything well.

This is exactly the kind of thinking that adds a greater burden to work than necessary.  I focus on what I don’t get done and fail to count what I do.  I also fail to plan.  This has got to stop.

I’m working too hard but don’t have enough to show for it.

First, I have to eliminate those things that eat up time but don’t contribute to my over all well-being, such as:

Online games

Worry

Clutter (inner and outer)

Procrastination

Eating for comfort and recreation

Lack of exercise (this is already a negative so eliminating a negative requires a positive.)

As I write this, I keep stopping to do something else.  This topic hits too close to home.  My office/sewing room is a bit too cluttered and I’m having a time focusing on one-thing-at-a-time.  I’ve got a handful of receipts sitting here that are begging to be carried to the shred bin but I’m doing my best to resist.

Now, that I know what I need to eliminate, what am I going to put in place to help me be more efficient?  Hmm. . .

1.) Creating a work and play schedule

2.) Committing to the schedule

3.) Building in rewards

I actually think it may be that simple.  Of course, if creating and committing to a schedule came easily to me, I’d have done it by now.  I’m more free spirit but I’m also done with the feeling of guilt that follows me around like a bad odor when I don’t get things completed.  Guilt interferes with satisfaction and it’s simply got to go.

I’ve got work to do.

 

 

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.

Connect

I am reading

The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)
0 / 170 Pages