Monday, October 24, 2016

Petrified or Drifty?

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Looking at these two images you might wonder what they are.  I use them to help me meditate.  Both items began as wood.  They grew upward and outwards.  They were impacted by the sun, wind, rain, and heat.  both of them grew quite large.  Then some force acted upon them.  They were cut down, or knocked down. 

The one on the left was tossed into the ocean.  It received tremendous pressure as the water pushed it down, down, down.  Water began to seep inside changing the trees texture.  The pressure was so tremendous that the strong, healthy, tree began to break apart into pieces.  Eventually this small part of a tree was washed to shore.

The piece of wood on the right was also interrupted in its growth.  It may have been knocked down by a tremendous storm.  Regardless of the method that caused it to fracture, it broke apart into many, many pieces.  Earth settled down over it.  Years, and years, and years went by.  The wood went further and further and further down under earth.  The deeper the earth upon it became, the more pressure that the wood experienced.  The pressure became so intense that what was once a live tree, wood, now became stone.

Now you recognize that the left piece of wood is driftwood.  I found it on a beach in Oregon.  The right piece of wood is petrified.  It was located in southern Utah.  It's interesting to me that although they came from very different locations the color of the wood is almost identical. 

The consistency of the wood is incredibly different.  The driftwood can be be broken into pieces with just the brush of a finger.  The petrified wood has become even stronger than it's origins.  It is stone.  You could not break it apart.

Both began the same way.  Both were similar creations.  Both faced damage, destruction, and pressure.  What happened to the driftwood?  It floated about with each thing that acted upon it.  As the water filled it, it became porous, soft, unusable for its original purpose.

The petrified wood is strong, resilient.  The intense pressure that it faced made it stronger, firmer.  If I throw it to the ground nothing happens to it. 

If I throw the driftwood to the ground it would shatter into many, many tiny pieces.

Which are we, the driftwood, or the petrified wood?  We all face pressure, difficulty, struggle.  Do we use the challenge to become better?  Or over the years of life do we allow things to weaken us, make us unable to fulfill our original function?

If you have found yourself drifting through life, allowing all things to act upon you, instead of being a force that is becoming stronger, it is never too late for change.  Growth is often less than pleasant.  I'm certain that the tree that was under the soil for so many years felt the pain of pressure and change.  Yet it emerged even better than it began.

What are you  Or petrified rock?   

Friday, October 21, 2016

I Love You

Three little words.  They hardly seem adequate to convey the wealth, the explosion of emotion that they represent.  What things do they mean to you?

My Papa was my hero.  He represented all things wonderful in the world.  He was at my side when I couldn't breathe in the middle of the night, even if he had to get up and go to work the next day.  I knew that I would be ok if Daddy was there with me.

When he passed, I sincerely did not believe that the sun could still rise in the sky.  I felt as though the best part of me died with him.

I grieved with all that is within me.

That changed one day at work.  I was speaking to one of my co-workers.  She said, "I'm certain that you're very sad about your Father's death.  I'm so sorry for your loss."

Then she continued, "I never knew my Father.  He was never a part of my life.  He left my Mother before I was born.  Maybe you can find comfort in the fact that you had a great Dad for so many years."

That idea changed my perspective.  I was blessed!  I had a Father who loved me in the most active of ways.  He sacrificed constantly for me, and yet never, ever complained.  He always made me feel as though I was an intrinsic, joyous part of his life.

He took me on my first date.  He explained how a young man should treat me.  He opened the car door for me, took my arm to walk into a church party.  We were there with other Father's and daughters.  He pulled the chair out for me to sit in.  He opened doors for me to walk through.

He never made me feel as though somehow I was less than, and that was why he opened my doors, pulled the chair out for me and took my arm.  He made me feel cherished, important, and showed me how young men should treat me when I dated.

It bothered me a bit that he hardly EVER said, "I love you."  Actually, I counted once and discovered that he had told me a total of four times.  I would always say, "I love you," at the end of a phone call with Papa.  His response would be, "Likewise," or "Ditto."  Somehow those three words were too large for him to use.

On the other hand, he showed his love, his constant, and unconditional caring in many other ways.  I came to understand that to him these words were not, and could not be, spoken casually such as the phrase, "Have a good day."  Those three words meant the world and more to him.

He was a tender, gentle man.  He was also a World War II Vet.  He was a paratrooper, and combat soldier.  He was very proud of the service that he gave to our country.  On the other hand, I know that he was tortured by the idea of harming another human being.  I marveled that a man who could not stop tears from forming in his gold brown eyes at the beauty of music, holding a new grandchild, or other poignant life experience, this tender man had once fought on a battlefield.

He helped to teach me that the world is filled with wondrous ways of saying the words, "I love you," that aren't words at all.  We say "I Love You," by washing the dishes for a sick friend.  We say "I love you," by listening to someone needing to vent the poisons of a broken soul.  There are as many ways to say, "I love you," as there are people.

Today...the very moment that you read this...say I love you.  Maybe not in those exact words.  Write a letter to someone and express reasons that you treasure your friendship.  Wash the dishes for your child, your Mother, your spouse.  Make a meal and take it to a sick friend.  Find some way to express what those three words mean to you.  You may be surprised to find that you will receive more love than you give. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Do You Have Good Taste?

I adore fashion.  I love watching the flips and fads that have occurred over my lifetime.  I also enjoy studying fashion history here in our country and abroad.  I also enjoy watching home makeover programs .  It fascinates me how they turn a dud of a house into a home of wonder.  I also enjoy looking through fashion magazines.

Having said that, I do NOT always find the styles that are promoted as pleasant or appealing.  In fact, some of the good folks who act as fashion judges on "Project Runaway," have the most appalling taste in clothes.

Do I have good taste?  According to me, I do.  On the other hand, as a writer I relish the sheer joy of being in my jammies as I write.  For over thirty years I woke up early, put on clothes that fit the job image (often a fitted suit, and a shirt that was also fitted...come on, it was the corporate fashion of the time).

My taste has often been driven by sheer financial need.  As a small child my fragile health caused our family serious financial problems as they struggled to keep me alive.  We would purchase most of our clothes from a thrift store, long before that became a fashionable thing.

We would go through an entire rack of clothing looking for a gem amongst the dross.  Often the clothes that I would bring home would receive rave reviews from my friends.  They would ask, "Where did you buy it?"  I would straighten up, look them in the eye, and say, "A thrift shop."  That offended some people.  Those folks who were stressing and straining to be popular did not find that appealing.

Throughout my life, even when it was no longer a matter of need I have continued my treasure seeking.  Nyle also enjoyed a good hunt.  He would look through electronics, I would head for the craft session for yarn, fabric, and/or patterns.

When Nyle was hired for the position of Associate Dean of Career Services at a prestigious Northwest College he walked daily with folks of a much higher class than I was used to.  Sitting at a luxurious round table one night, the good people began introducing themselves.  They would list the work that they did.  There were District Attornies, State and Federal judges, people of quality, and status.

And then it was my turn.  I stood up straight looked around the table at the distinctive people and announced, "I have my own childcare business, "Harmony Home.  Oh, and I'm married to this marvelous man."

There was an awkward silence.  Then people went back to chatting in legalese.  I simply enjoyed the delicious salmon dinner, and making small talk with the people around me.

By the end of the evening, every single person around that table came to me to ask about childcare, or childcare issues.  My own estimation of the work that I did rose.

Even though our status in the world had risen, I still shopped at Thrift Stores.  Who wants to pay $200.00 for a suit when they can get one that is a designer original for $20.00?  I admit, the style is usually so, last year.  I don't care!  I try to wear classic pieces of clothing that never leave the fashion market.  Then I dress it up with current types of jewelry.

When Nyle's elevated friends would compliment my clothes and inquire where I purchased them it made Nyle uncomfortable sometimes when I would calmly say, "Goodwill, or Saver's."  He like to go to the thrift shops himself, but he didn't want people to think that we couldn't afford to shop in regular stores.

By the time he passed away at fifty-four, he had overcome that mindset.  He was THRILLED to discover a thrift store that sold GORGEOUS men's shirts in his larger than life size for $4 to $6 dollars.  We had paid as much as $60.00 for one shirt for Nyle.  He passed away the proud owner of about 40 beautiful, high quality, 3XL shirts.  We have and will continue to make quilts out of those beautiful shirts.

Is there a point to this post?  I realize that as I write I often ramble from this topic to another.  Sometimes at lightning speed.  Are you ready?  Here we go.  Taste is dictated by the person who is viewing.  I spent a great deal of my life trying to fit in.  I loved the cozy cottage that we lived in while our children grew up.  I heard from others that it was too, "country," or "awkward."  I would remind myself, that they did not live in my house, I did.  My taste said it was charming!

One of my current favorite quotes says this, "What other people think of me, is none of my business!"  Did you hear that everybody?  We are NOT square pegs trying to fit into round holes.  We are people who have taste.  I don't need to try to be what someone else might like.

The other day on Facebook I saw a man who was determined to be different.  He had circles cut away in his cheeks exposing some of his back molars.  He had also had his tongue sliced so there were two slim pieces like a snake's.  I found his choice unhygenic and grotesque.  I mean, come on with holes in your cheeks your salivary gland would excrete saliva out the side of your face!  Having said that, I pulled myself up and thought, "Everybody is entitled to express their fashion sense in this world, and their own sense of reality.  It is not my place to judge anyone else...NO MATTER HOW MUCH I MIGHT DISAGREE.  If other people's thoughts are none of my business...that truly works in reverse as well.

My final words, viva la difference!

Friday, October 7, 2016

I Don't Want to Wash the Dishes!

The counter is piled high with bits and pieces of meals that my family has eaten.  Stubbornly those bits and pieces cling to the plates, cups, and pans.  I HATE washing dishes.  I've had plenty of experience.  When I was in my teens my brother and sister married within six months of each other.  Soon Sunday dinner became my parents and I, them and their spouses, and then one nephew, two nephews, and so on until the full compliment was eight children for my sister, and seven children for my brother.  How is your math doing?  That is twenty-two human beings sitting down at one table.  Twenty-two plates, twenty-two forks, knives, and spoons, and twenty-two glasses or cups.

Inevitably, the adults would finish the meal, gather their progeny, and depart to go home for a nap before church.  My parents would also need a nap.  We DID have an automatic dishwasher...ME!  I would scrub the sink clean, then fill it with hot soapy water.  It took about two hours to wash them all, dry them, and put them away.

Then my parents and I managed a motel with kitchenette units.  That meant that each time we rented a kitchenette we had to wash all the dishes and utensils and glasses when they checked out.  We had to wash them in clorox (it just ate my skin), then dish detergent (more skin eating) then last but certainly not least, we had to boil them in the hottest water we could create.

Summers were the worst.  We had air conditioning in our unit but it didn't seem to be able to keep up to 110 degree heat AND dish washing, sometimes all day long.  My Father worked at a warehouse for a retail chain during the day.  One day Mother called him at work.  She told him succintly to either bring home a dishwasher or not come home.  The dishwasher came home that night.  That was much better...but it did not load or unload itself.  This was in the 1980's and you basically had to wash the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher to sterilize them.  Better than handwashing only, but still a chore.

Then came marriage, children, and many, Many, MANY more dishes.  I would have no problem using paper plates if I did not realize what using them does to our environment, via our landfills.  It would also help if my hands did not crack, bleed, and then throb with each beat of my heart.

I can't use latex gloves, they worsen the situation.  I have a beautiful view out of the window while I wash the dishes.  It's always a good feeling when they are done, and organization and cleanliness is restored, until the minute that we are hungry again, and create more dirty dishes.

One of my Papa's cousins grew up in a two room cabin with six siblings.  They had to haul water in a bucket from 1/4 mile away.  After hauling the heavy water, they had to heat the water on the stove.  Then they would pour it over the dirty dishes, and add soap flakes.  She LOVED to wash the dishes.  She said, "It's so easy.  You just turn on the faucet, and VOILA, all the hot water you could possibly want is right there at your disposal.

One of my dear Grandma's would tell me that she couldn't go to sleep if there were dirty dishes in her sink.  She had ten children so there were always dishes to wash.

Sigh...I guess I've talked about it enough.  Now I must go and face them!  At least they'll be ready to use tonight when we eat whatever we eat tonight!

Even a Miracle Needs a Nap

My beloved Mama.  She always told me that all birth is a miracle, but that I'm 3 or 4 types of miracles.  She couldn't conceive.  She couldn't carry.  She couldn't deliver.  Yet here I am?  Then to add to the general stack of couldn'ts and shouldn'ts I was born with very little immune system, and allergic to literally the world.  I could only eat three foods without becoming ill, life threateningly ill.

I do not recite all of this to say, "Wow, look at me world.  I'm a MIRACLE!"  OK, maybe just a little bit.  However, being a miracle is exhausting!

Being a miracle means that I should spread joy, love, and warmth all the time, everyday, all day and all night, right?  I hate to admit it but I am not Mother Theresa!  She was a woman of driving passion for love, service, and sacrifice.  I...well, I like a good nap in the afternoon.  The time is two hours, and it involves lying in a comfy bed, letting my thoughts fly about in my head, and then AHHHH the delicious, exquisite nirvana of slumber.

Generally speaking I wake up automatically two hours later renewed, and ready to tackle the world again for 4 or 5 hours.  I call it breaking life up into bite sized pieces.  My beloved husband called it, "A waste of time."  I personally believe that he was just jealous.

Without that two hour break in living I become a slug in a chair, albeit a MIRACLE slug in a chair, unable to function other than knit or sew, and watch the television.  The programs I watch during that time would be close to what my hubby called "A waste of time."  I would call relax and enjoy.  Things like "chick flicks," or murder mysteries, or British telly.  They have such amazing programs!

I am unable to do much in the way of movement.  That includes movement in my brain.  (Apparently in my brain movement is required.  Brain aerobics are out of the question if that precious nap has been ignored)!

As a small asthmatic child, my Mother always insisted on an afternoon nap.  At the time, I resented it with all within me.  As a sixty year old adult I am aware that SHE probably needed the nap, possibly even more than me!  She had three wonderful children, and one of us was special needs.  She rarely slept through the night.  Asthma tends to erupt during the night for multiple reasons.  There was NOTHING to treat it with except a trip to the ER to obtain oxygen until the lung spasm passed.

Napping?  My husband said that it made him feel sluggish, and groggy.  Again I maintain, AHHHH Nirvana.  For two entire hours I completely give myself over to rest, and renewal.  I truly believe that we are all miracles, and as I stated in the title of this post, "Even a Miracle needs a nap!"