Wondering

Excuse Me, Do You Have Change for a Dollar?

Occasionally, we really want some change.

When the soda machine isn’t accepting bills and you’re due for a serious caffeine fix. All that stands between you and that Diet Coke is a thin piece of glass and a few quarters. Makes you crazy if you can’t scrounge some coins.

Our change jar.

Our change jar.

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve raided my change jar, or MSH’s change jar because his has more quarters in it than mine. Usually it’s cause I’m headed to the car wash. Sometimes it’s for the lemonade stand some kid has set up across the street at the park. Rare occasions it’s for the laundromat. Unfortunately, sometimes I’ve raided the coin jar just to buy a gallon of milk. That’s a bit awkward at the checkout stand, but hey, real life happens, right?

The change I’m thinking about runs with a different crowd. We don’t often want or go looking for this kind of change.

Today I’m talking the change we often get when things have been running along nice and smooth. Then BAM! some new twist propels itself into our lives. An illness, a job loss, new responsibilities at work, a child moves out, a relative moves in, a new school year begins, we go back to college, a death in the family or a close friend,  an accident, mental illness, aging.

This favorite saying of MSH used to drive me crazy.

“The only constant in life…is change.” ~ Heraclitus, a Greek Philosopher

(Lately, I’ve added and gravity. And the sun rising and setting, unless you live in Alaska. But that’s off the topic.)

Why did this quote drive me bonkers? Lots of reasons. The main one? Because we moved almost as often as those herds of water buffalo that populate nature shows. Seventeen moves in thirty years. One was across the street, literally. Four were within one mile of each other. From one coast to another coast once. We did stay put for about four years in several places. Almost enough time to feel secure and settled. Mostly I resisted putting up curtains, making the rental place feel like my own, because it wasn’t going to last. Nope, we weren’t in the military, just migratory.

Only thing, it wasn’t predictable like the annual migrations of bovines. Add a couple kids to the mix and predictability and a schedule seemed impossible. Add a couple more and you learn to roll, and weave and ride the waves of whatever comes your way.

Spontaneous and flexible became my new middle names. Easygoing rode shotgun everywhere we went. It had to, or I’d have lost my mind. Oh wait, I guess I did once or twice, early on.

Wouldn’t I love to own a home and live in the same house for the next thirty or forty years? Absolutely!

I envy anyone with roots like that like you wouldn’t believe. But I don’t let it bother me, or I’d go bonkers.

That’s the key to survival. Not letting things bother me.

The winds of change?

The winds of change?

Whether you’ve lived in the same place your entire adult life, or you move often, change catches up to you and happens anyway. Big changes, little changes, it doesn’t matter, life will change and whether you like it or not it will change you along the way.

Sometimes I’ve whined and cried about changes I’ve had to deal with. Honestly, a lot of times I’ve wailed and complained. Did it change the change? No. Did I feel better? Maybe for a second, but continuing to feel whiney only made things miserable.

Sometimes the change excites and tantalizes and I tentatively embrace it. Even then, the change can still pinch or sting a bit.

Do I have any great wisdom to share about change and how to deal with it? Not really. I’ve had some experience with it. It happens. I can initiate changes, I can accept them, I can roll with them, I can stomp around and yell about changes. In the end it’s simply me dealing with life.

I hope I’m changing for the better. I’d like to think others are, too.

What and when the next change waiting on the horizon happens I hope I’m ready. Eye on the ball, alert, attentive, awake, and definitely with my game face on.

“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” ~ C.S. Lewis
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The Hazards of Sleep

Ever grateful when sleep actually envelops me, I really shouldn’t complain.

And yet, this morning I find myself in a fog of sleep’s detritus, muddled, mired, heavy with the night’s work. For some reason the dream machine knobs all ratcheted up to extra high last night. Someone bumped the control panel maybe?

Only in dreams can a skateboard be a perfectly logical means of transportation on a freeway, as well as on a mountain trail.

Only in dreams does a wasteland of sandy desert intersect in clean lines with a dark thick forest of tangled growth and dangers.

Only in dreams can people leap from outlandish heights and end up landing gently in a moving vehicle.

Last night’s ultra vivid movie starred people from my past I haven’t seen in decades, as well as people I just spoke with yesterday. Complete strangers, of course, show up most often. As far as I can tell, no one had anything monumental or prophetic to say. Thank goodness.

Dreams fade fast, like sunsets.

Dreams fade fast, like sunsets.

Even now, as I write, most of what went on fades into the distance as quickly as a stunning sunset. Small glimmers of light wink on briefly but with no hand holds to grab for analyzing.

A couple of nightmares played into the mix as well. Being chased by something dark and evil, a maniacal laugh behind me as I attempted escape. MSH shaking me awake from my frightened cries. I shudder a bit even now as I think about the fogged over memory of it.

Years ago, when MSH traveled frequently for work,  I had a nightmare so real that when I awoke I held the nightstand over my head and was screaming at a non-existent intruder to get out. My children had run into the room and turned on the light and were yelling to wake me. Poor dears were more frightened than I by the whole thing.

Luckily, that’s the only time I’ve been up and about in a dream.

At two and three years of age my son experienced night terrors. What a helpless feeling to see your own child, eyes wide open, screaming, terrified, moving about, but unable to wake up. It took two of us to wake and calm him, one to hold him firmly, the other to get a cool washcloth for his face. Then both of us to talk him into wakefulness.

These remind me of a dream's ethereal and fragile nature.

These remind me of a dream’s ethereal and fragile nature.

I seldom remember my dreams or my nightmares. The few I remember still sit on a memory shelf at the forefront of my mind waiting for me to take them down and replay at will. Those, of course, pack a wallop of meaning and symbolism. Often, when I review the details of those dreams the meaning changes slightly based on changes in my life. I wrote one down once and emailed it to MSH because he played a prominent role in the dream. His interpretation, of course, fell in different lines than my interpretation did. Still does. Otherwise, my dreams stay in my head. No writing about them.

Writing a dream down gives it a different shape and texture. Assigning words to a thing as ethereal as a dream takes away some essential element and replaces it with a less refined, more sluggish substance. Even speaking about them out loud takes away part of the dreamlike quality, like attempting to capture fog in a glass jar.

If I could place an order for a dream or two I’d ask for a dreamy garden stroll with my maternal grandmother. I’d also like a dream of a day fishing with either or both of my grandfathers. And my  paternal grandmother and I at an NBA basketball game would be a dream of epic proportions. And of course, I really want a dream where Kathy and I could chat endlessly. And because it’s a dream and everything could be ideal she’d be the one driving the car and running with abandon and jumping on the trampoline and working on some hair-brained but brilliant project in the garage. Oh, and a dream of being on a cruise for a week would also be nice and relaxing. Of course, the real version of that would be better.

Yeah, I’d like to place my order for those dreams. So if anyone who knows the Sandman and can put in a good word for me, I’d appreciate it.

Awake feels good for now.

Let’s get on with the day, shall we?

Categories: Mental Health, physical health, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Wondering How I Got Here and Where I’ll Go Next

It’s Gratituesday! Very late but still Tuesday. And so, thoughts on Gratitude. Today I’ve been thankful for the various roads, side paths, trails, meandering walks, and, yes, even detours I’ve taken so far in life. I never set out to be standing where I am today. I don’t think I could have planned such a thing. But here I am, wondering how I got here. Wondering why I got here. Wondering if I can feel gratitude for where I find myself.  I got here by taking a variety of roads, some reluctantly, some eagerly. Some with a frightening naiveté, some with willful rebellion, and some with no choice whatsoever.

A mossy path like this makes me want to walk barefoot.

A mossy path like this makes me want to walk barefoot.

Moss growing amongst stepping-stones happens slowly. Edges become softened by years and footfalls, snow and ice, sun and rain. Such a work of creation takes patience which few of us possess anymore.

And yet, so much of life requires this elusive persevering ability. Simply allowing the passage of time to do its slow, steady work feels so unproductive. Sitting and staring into space can’t possibly be accomplishing anything. And yet I find an odd emptying out and filling up happening when I let such slowness happen.

Some days it feels as if all I’m doing is pouring sand back and forth between one container and another, like a small child in a sandbox. The same thoughts, the same subject, the same recurring aches, back and forth, side to side, up and down, around and around. I’m not even digging, just reviewing details over and over and over.

Maybe, someday, I’ll have a cobblestone path edged in soft green moss that I can wander through in my mind. For now it’s all sharp rocks and pointy edges and dirt. The following quote makes this idea vivid and memorable:

“The best teachers have showed me that things have to be done bit by bit. Nothing that means anything happens quickly–we only think it does. The motion of drawing back a bow and sending an arrow straight into a target takes only a split second, but it is a skill many years in the making.” ~ Joseph Bruchac

An open meadow can be it's own kind of meandering trail. Or a perfect spot for to doze.

An open meadow can be it’s own kind of meandering trail. Or a perfect spot for to doze.

This next idea by Emerson sounds profound, but I’m not sure I buy it. Sure I get that he means to be a trailblazer, be a leader, be brave, think outside the box. All those ideas that back in his day were shocking and revolutionary.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m not so sure leaving trails everywhere we head out falls under the wise and wonderful category.

I was grateful to wander off the trail into this meadow recently where I didn’t want to be followed or even necessarily find my way back there again someday. The experience of a few perfect hours, my back against a log, snow in the shadowed spots, silence and sunshine beginning a long slow healing process can’t be replicated.

Would you consider a sidewalk, even a bendy, curvy one, a trail?

Would you consider a sidewalk, even a bendy, curvy one, a trail?

Unlike sidewalks which are cookie cutter copies. We have the strangest sidewalks in my little suburban town in the desert. Winding, bending, meandering contraptions. They look quaint and a bit artistic. But if you need to actually get somewhere in a decent amount of time, it’s a bit of a nuisance to be zigzagging your way there. A one mile stretch gets much longer when you’re lollygagging to and fro. Even riding a bike on such a path gets annoying and inconvenient. Add in the bonus of temperatures above one hundred the lovely, landscaped concrete path is downright silly.

I understand the concept, really I do. I’ve wandered hand in hand with MSH on a moonlight evening on this very spot. Maybe it’s a subliminal message telling me to slow down. Take in the moment. Don’t wish away the spot you’re at for one further down the road. Learn from the path you’re walking.

But what if the road you’re on hurts? Pinches? Burns? Aches? Then what? Am I still supposed to somehow enjoy the journey? Don’t count on it. Not from me. Not here. I’m not one of those “grateful for my hardships” kind of people. And yet there’s this:

“The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast, and you miss all you are traveling for.” ~ Louis L’Amour

I learn my most profound lessons from children. This one in particular points the way toward joy more often than anyone I know. The quote reminds me that distraction and physical nourishment can’t fall by the wayside.

Forget the sidewalk, I'm splashing my way through the gutter. Isn't that what it's here for?

Forget the sidewalk, I’m splashing my way through the gutter. Isn’t that what it’s here for?

“The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, and you should try not to forget snacks and magazines.” ~ Anne Lamott

It’s the little things that can make all the difference in how bearable or delightful an experience turns out.

Lots of pebbles on this particular path. I've learned to wear shoes, not sandals.

Lots of pebbles on this particular path. I’ve learned to wear shoes, not sandals.

But, surely sometimes it is the little things that bring the world crashing down around us.

“Often it isn’t the mountains ahead that wear you out, it’s the little pebble in your shoe.” ~ Muhammad Ali

But sometimes it definitely is the mountain itself that explodes, avalanches and crushes you. Or maybe it’s just so dang steep  and constant that you’re worn out.

What then? Where do you get your oxygen from? How do you lift the weight off and dig yourself out? Or do you have a higher power that help you do that? Friends? Family? Faith? Hope?

I’m not sure if those are little things or big things. It depends. But those make a difference.

All the metaphor and symbolism in paths, roads and trails happens for a reason. It’s a no-brainer. We see life in a line, one thing after another, just like a road. I’m not always thrilled (understatement) with the road I’m on, but eventually I can look back and see a few things. I can see progress, sometimes. I can see something I thought I couldn’t do, that I did miraculously manage to do. I can see stuff I learned, or failed to learn and might need to learn again. I can see traveled byways strewn with gratitude and tears.


			
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The Odd Ways We Say Goodbye

Everything drips with symbolism lately.

photo 2-1 copy 5

Whether shiny, sparkly or pale the gold looked stunning next to green boughs.

I’ve undecorated the tree this afternoon. It’s time to let go. In fact, it’s past time. The needles are dropping faster, brownish tan slowly outshines the evergreen color. Sure, in a certain light, night-time,with just the small twinkle lights on, it looks vibrant and adds such ambience to the room. But in reality, a fire hazard stands in the living room.

When we first became acquainted, this tree sent its voluptuous pine scent wafting about the entire house. I thought it seemed happy here. But truly, it was simply on its last few weeks of a life spent outdoors, gazing at the stars, tucked in under the snow, basking in the sun, drenched in the rain. Then it found its life cut short and quickly waning. For a brief span of time it glowed and sparkled with beauty and light and life, its last bit of energy expended giving joy and lifting hearts.

photo 1 copy 5

A well-lived life draws to a close.

But now, fully spent, its time has come to move on. Perhaps a few of her needles will become part of the mulch that nurtures next autumns flowers into a radiant bloom. Perhaps a chill night will be brightened and warmed by her last few embers. Perhaps in years to come a photo of a decorated tree, fallen over with the weight of too many ornaments and not enough balance, will lighten the heart of an aged woman. Or another photo of that same tree redecorated and standing proud and straight with a sweet smiling man at her side will bring cheer into a grandchild’s mind.

This sweet Christmas tree oversaw a bittersweet holiday.  It did its job with honor and aplomb. If there were medals awarded for Christmas tree service above and beyond the call of duty, this tree would have earned and worn an extras star of honor.

Now a small brass angel oversees the last of the boxing up of the gold and white bulbs, the untangling of the white lights from the branches. Tonight that tree will look up at the stars once again and dream.

photo 4 copy 2

A few baubles waiting to get boxed up for another year.

Tonight, my living room will feel empty. I’ll walk in and feel lost knowing something important is missing. The empty spot will continue feeling empty regardless of the rearranging of furniture or placing of photos and lamps.

Now you see that I’m a silly, melodramatic woman, with far too much time for thinking and not enough to keep my mind and hands occupied.

I keep saying goodbye in such odd ways.

Maybe this year, this new set of twelve months, will be spent doing just that.

Categories: Death, Holiday, Memory Lane, Relationships, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Got My New Shoes On

My cool cousin introduced me to this song. It’s pretty kicky. (Ha, notice the pun? Shoes-kicky?) I dare you not to feel like dancing while this song plays.

Some things in life elicit an automatic response. No thought required.

  • For me, a new pair of comfy shoes makes me want to dance.
  • Something fun to look forward to can kickstart my endorphins.
  • Breathing the scent of mountain air relaxes me all the way to the molecular level.
  • Those smile wrinkles at the edges of MSH’s eyes melt my heart.
  • Happy laughter makes me want to join in and laugh along.

Of course, not all automatic responses are good feelings.

  • a cop running into a store I’m just walking out of makes me want to run to my car
  • a baby crying makes my heart flip-flop
  • feeling cold and not able to warm up sets my nerves on edge
  • hearing someone yell at someone else skyrockets my blood pressure and discomfort level
  • a near miss in traffic instantly triples my heart rate
  • the phone ringing late at night or early in the morning sets off the panic system in me

Neither of those lists begin to touch the depth and breadth of possible autonomic responses we humans come programmed with.

English: Mountain Combat Boots

What I don’t get is why some people purposely expose themselves to those triggers. Haunted houses, for one small example. Why is the Sam Hill would anyone want to feel terrified for an extended length of time? I don’t get it.

Or jumping out of an airplane? Never, ever, not even for a million bucks. No way. I’d die of a heart attack on the way down if not the instant I leaned out of the plane. Can’t, won’t.

I’m glad some people can overcome natural responses. Firefighters for one. Police officers for another. Doctors, nurses, teachers.  (Okay, maybe I exaggerate with the teachers, but only a little. Have you been in a classroom lately?) Military people.

I suppose some people don’t have a reaction to the sight of blood and such. And some love the sound of shelling and gunfire. And it’s possible that danger just feels great, like a new pair of shoes maybe, to others. I can’t imagine it, but it’s possible, right? How else to explain people who take on risky, scary, nauseating, crazy jobs.

My new Naturalizers! Mmm, so comfy!

My new Naturalizers! Mmm, so comfy!

I just meant to write about how great my new shoes feel on my feet. Like a little hug, supportive, warm, snug, protective.

Who knew I’d end up being grateful for people who are okay with the uncomfortable, cold, lonely, not-so-safe, daring pairs of shoes or boots.

Well, why not? If you’re one of those people who make sure I’m safe  and can walk around protected in this crazy world, this “THANK YOU” is for you!

Categories: Gratitude, People, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Is It Just Me?

Is it just me or have things gotten a bit foggy?

Fog

Maybe I’m not getting enough sleep, but I don’t think that’s it. I just seem slightly off kilter, kind of how you feel during those first few stumbling minutes after extricating yourself from the tangle of sheets and the magnetism of the pillow. Except I’m that way all day long.

In fact, my personal dialog after regaining some form of consciousness in the morning usually goes something like this:

“Can I work a nap into my day? How soon? Can it start now? Maybe I can call in sick today? Is there anything in my life more important than sleep?”

Even after a shower and all the getting ready for the day, including fluffing my hair and getting my game face on, I just want to fall face first into the pillow and pass out.

I don’t think I can blame it on a seasonal change thing, or a time change thing, because A) we don’t do the time zone change thing here in Arizona and B) it’s now the glorious weather season when being outdoors isn’t toxic to our health. If anything I’m getting outdoors more now than in the past eight months.

The days are shorter, I’ll grant you that. Sunrise at 6:40ish and sunset at 5:30ish. That’s ony eleven hours, less than half a day of full on sunshine. And I’m not a fan of darkness. Not a fan at all. I sleep with at least four lights on in the house, that’s how much a fan I’m not.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Maybe it’s the onslaught of the shopping season. Notice I didn’t say Holidays, or site any other holiday at all. I walked into several stores yesterday and found myself immediately and definitively assaulted by REDandGREENandSPARKLEandCINNAMONandHOLIDAYMUSIC. For Pete’s sake it’s only November! I felt like Charlie Brown walking past Snoopy’s dog house decked out in ridiculous, nonsensical outlandish overkill.

“Oh, brother,” I said, shaking my head and leaving the store as quickly as possible. I did not want to shop, I did not want to find a sale, I did not want to spend my money there. I know, you think I’m a Scrooge. Maybe I am. Bah.

But I don’t think that explains the foggy brain either.

Yes, the month is busy, but it’s a happy busy.

Maybe it’s a good thing I’m taking a much needed, but very rare, break this weekend. Yup, I’m getting my vacation on. Living la vida loca!  Becoming a wild woman.

Well, probably not all that wild. If you define wild as going for a hike, walking the rocky shore of a lake, sitting on the patio watching the sunset, simmering in a hot tub watching the steam rise into the below freezing air, then yeah, I’ll be a wild woman. Maybe I’ll return all “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” as my Dad used to say.

Hammock - Polynesia.

If that doesn’t do the trick at lifting this fog then I’m in deep trouble.

Maybe I should just give in to that siren call of a nap. What harm could twenty or thirty minutes do? It’d probably be just what I need. Maybe it’s as simple as that.

I think I’ll book myself a little trip to dreamland and see what happens.

Categories: Mental Health, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Own Personal News Hour

English: Canary Wharf stock ticker

Canary Wharf stock ticker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Life could use a ticker tape. You know that scrolling thing across the bottom of the screen during the news that has stock numbers, brief headlines and weather for major cities? Yes, that thing. I need something like that for my daily life.

Why? Doesn’t Facebook already sort of serve that purpose, you ask? No, thank goodness, I reply.

No, I’m talking about a quick update about what’s going on in my body and brain and heart that might explain the why’s behind what I’m doing.

Like a little news blip that pops up about a traffic accident on the interstate, you’d know before you left the house to take a different route in to the office. If something like that let me know that there’s a psychic fender bender that’s not even in the clearing stages yet, I could reroute myself around the mess and avoid some tears or heartache.

Delays at airports over two thousand miles away make sense when explained by a little news note about heavy storms in a city with a major airline hub. In like manner, if a little news scroll reminded me of what I ate just before bedtime, mixed with the not so wise choice of dinner condiments, I’d be better informed about the reason behind the morning headache or the sluggishness I’m feeling.

As interconnected as the world works there’s no need to register surprise when something in Eastern Europe affects the stock market in the U.S.

Brains and bodies work together in even more intimate ways than the world operates. A little heads up that the worries I’ve stuffed into the dark closet in the back of my head are contributing to some sleeplessness might change how I deal with both issues.

Maybe more than the news ticker, I also need a couple of analysts in the background, my own personal Gergen and Shields, debating the merits, causes and results of various choices and events. They’d be way better than a shoulder angel and a shoulder devil because they’re unbiased. Well, maybe not completely unbiased, but they wouldn’t get emotionally involved. Imagine how intelligent, efficient and effective I could become with such well-informed people weighing in on my life.

I suppose that’s not really practical or affordable for an ordinary person like myself who’s isn’t trying to run a country or a large corporation or anything like that.

And the ticker tape thingy would get annoying pretty quickly, to the point that I’d ignore it, or resent that it’s covering up part of the screen.

I probably just need to pay attention to my life a bit better. Maybe it’d help if I were more mindful of what I eat, how early (or late) I get to bed, whether I’m thinking things through or just rushing in without much thought.

“Life moves fast,” as Ferris Bueller says.

I guess I need to “stop and look around once in a while” so I don’t miss what’s really going on.

But wait. Does that mean I need to speed up? Or do I need to slow down? I guess that’s the problem with taking advice from a fictional teenage character. Not really the most solid place to get life coaching from.

Where are Gergen and Shields when I need them?

Categories: Mental Health, People, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s The Little Things

A Facebook friend yesterday pointed out something I hadn’t thought of in a long time but which is having a significant effect on me lately.

Small and simple things wield immense amounts of power.

If you doubt that think about the following:

  • photo-20 copy 5A small shard of glass stuck in your foot
  • A sliver in your finger
  • A paper cut
  • Sand in your eye
  • A kidney stone no bigger than a grain of rice
  • A pebble in your shoe
  • A mosquito
  • A single hair in your food
  • A drop of ketchup on a white shirt
  • Spark from a spark plug
  • One single flame on a candle
  • An apple seed
  • A hairline fracture
  • The rudder on a large ship

In “The Hobbit,” Gandalf says, “Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” J.R.R. Tolkien knew his stuff didn’t he?

Some of the most powerful aspects of my life are small and simple everyday things.

  • A hug
  • A smile
  • A handshake
  • Thanks expressed
  • photo-18 copy 17A wink
  • A short prayer
  • An apology
  • An offer of help
  • A note of encouragement
  • Laughter
  • A phone call
  • Tears
  • A plate of food
  • A text
  • A loaf of bread
  • An email
  • A shared meal
  • A letter in the mail
  • Condolences
  • A glass of water
  • A cool washcloth
  • Concern
  • Caring
  • Love spoken

It’s amazing how a few small things make the difference between a dark day and a day filled with rays of light breaking through the clouds.

I’m lucky to have so many sources of light willing to shine for me. I hope I can likewise be a small light to others in some small way, every single day.

Categories: Gratitude, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

On Attempts at Keeping the Unwieldy Tamed

Sunday Quotes

I’ve found I don’t always make clear transitions of logic that others can follow. That’s particularly true if I’m not well, or slightly medicated, which is the case today. So please bear with my leaps of sensibility and know that it made sense in my mind at least for a time.

I’d never read this poem by Robert Frost until this week. Not sure where it’s been hiding. Thought I’d share it with you today.

                  God’s Garden

photo-19 copy 10“God made a beauteous garden

With lovely flowers strown,

But one straight, narrow pathway

That was not overgrown.

And to this beauteous garden

He brought mankind to live,

And said “To you, my children,

These lovely flowers I give.

Prune ye my vines and fig trees,

With care my flowers tend,

But keep the pathway open

Your home is at the end.”

~ Robert Frost

Isn’t that a lovely picture as we wander and wonder through life, pruning and pinching back the wildness around and in us?

photo-18 copy 16Then I found this thought, which seemed to fit with my week of pain and impatience.

“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.  Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours.” ~ Oswald Chambers

Never been much of a fan of God’s timetable. But then, sometimes, usually I’ll admit, God’s timing is perfect. What else would it be. It’d just me thinks the timing is off. Patience is not one of my strong points. Especially if pain is involved.

Also, never been a fan of Stephen Covey, but this rang true to me. Not sure if this idea fits with the previous two, but I like it anyway and so it gets inserted here:

photo-23 copy“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.” ~ Stephan R. Covey

I think what I like about this is the “pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically” approach to saying “no.”

And clearly, this brief paragraph by Beryl Markham (aka Karen Blixen from Out of Africa fame) doesn’t fit with any of the three thought preceding it. But, I feel I’ve reached past the fourth day of unkempt and wild and thought I’d share the sentiment in her poetic words, with which I’ll close today’s post.

“I had never realized before how quickly men deteriorate without razors and clean shirts. They are like potted plants that go to weed unless they are pruned and tended daily. A single day’s growth beard makes a man look careless; two days’, derelict; and four days’, polluted.” ~ Beryl Markham

photo-20 copy 4

Categories: Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Making Change

My first job as a teenager, aside from babysitting, was at McDonald’s.  I learned a heckuva lot at that job, and not just about work ethic or stuff like that. I learned to appreciate what it’s like behind that counter trying to work with a diverse and strange group of people. I recognized that turning over the running of a restaurant to a group of teens and twenties had potential for disaster as well as for leadership and growth.

We used a preprinted pad of paper for the orders. A customer would tell us what they wanted and we’d write as fast as we could, then figure out the math on the paper, then key in the total on the cash register. Sounds so archaic now, doesn’t it? Seriously, it wasn’t that many years ago. Some places still do it that way, amazingly. (The fabric store I worked at ten years ago did it that way, too.) I’m not sure how the till ever balanced out at the end of the day using that method. Boggles my mind.

photo-17 copy 15I used to take great pride in my ability to figure out change. Nothing quite matched the satisfaction of reverse counting in my head and then forward counting the customer’s change into their hand. Occasionally, I’d catch myself in an error as I counted it out to them. I’d apologize and make the correction, glad for the process that double checked my math.

Even now, when I make a purchase using cash I have the change figured out almost before the computerized cash register does. And I double-check the money in my hand since the cashiers rarely do that counting back thing anymore. In fact, I’m not sure most of them even understand that concept or could figure the change without looking at what the computer tells them.

So why would I bring this up today?

I’m talking around a topic I don’t want to address directly.

Change.

Making change in the monetary sense is easy. Always has been.

Making change in my life. Not so much.

Cash Register

Yes, this is an actual cash register. (Photo credit: tarale)

It’s Monday and I just had one of those weeks where every flaw I possess seemed highlighted by neon markers and flashing red and blue lights in the rearview mirror. I’m not just talking physical flaws, but also bad habits, misplaced priorities, skewed ideas, and misaligned ways of thinking. I found myself wondering how often I justify dumb decisions and behavior with little lies I tell myself.

Went to bed last night weighed down by it all.

Woke up this morning determined to do something about it.

Almost noon and I’m feeling buried.

Maybe I need to slow down and figure out the balance owing and what change is due. Y’know, get a handle on things. Stop acting like an emotional tornado.

It’s tough to be objective about your own life. It’s easy to see all the crap and garbage and think that’s reality. Others see only what you allow them to see and you know they just don’t really know the real you. I know that somewhere between the two perspectives reality sits, waiting for me to acknowledge it and get my groove on.

Does reverse counting change exist for making change in my life? Can I forward count the change somehow to see my way out of the weighed down math-challenged thinking I’m stuck in?

Piggy Bank

Piggy Bank (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)

It’s awfully tempting right now to swing by that drive-up window and get an order of fries and a coke. Throw in a Big Mac while I’m at it. Throw in an apple pie, make that two because they’re cheaper that way. Eat away my sorrows. Forget the math. Tell the cashier to keep the change.

But I won’t. Not today.

Today I keep the change and the whole wad of cash. Today I begin to make change happen.

Categories: Hope, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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