10 things about me

Here are ten things you may or may not know about me…

  1. I am 59 years old and will be turning 60 later this month. I am a work in process and haven’t figured out much about how life works. I have gotten better about faking it though. I’m starting to worry that everybody is faking it and we should all be more honest about it.
  2. I have been married for 37 years (yesterday) to a very patient and understanding guy. Most days we are pretty happy. Some days, not so much. Overall, I consider getting married one of my best grown-up decisions. Our secret to a long marriage was deciding early on that that whoever left, took the kids. It’s kept us together so far.
  3. I have 4 kiddos ranging in age from 30 to 17 and one grandson who it 2 years old. He is going to become a big brother in a couple of months so I’ll soon be a “Nana” to two little boys.
  4. I am a mixed media artist who spent years becoming comfortable with saying “I am an artist” and am now trying to figure out what that means I am supposed to do. I’m working on just making stuff because it’s who I am and letting go of expectations.
  5. I raise earthworms. They live in a bin under my desk. Their favorite food is watermelon, but I’m just guessing because they are pretty quiet and don’t talk to me at all. They seem happy when I give them watermelon though. I don’t really know what an unhappy earthworm looks like so I’m really just making a lot of this up as I go.
  6. I studied Creative Writing and Fine Art at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. I have two Bachelor’s degrees and am 3 hours short of a third in history. I would have happily stayed in college forever. I was a natural student and can fake my way through almost any test or paper…except for math. I’m an idiot when it comes to math.
  7. I moved a lot when I was growing up. I’ve lived in Ohio, Alaska, Florida, Louisiana and every major city in Texas…also quite a few minor ones. I have no idea why we moved so much. My parents’ never chose to share that bit of wisdom with me. I’m sure I’ll forgive them some day. They had their own growing up to do and mistakes to make.
  8. As as result of moving so much as a kid, I’m not the most social creature on the planet. I can fake being an extrovert and have no trouble speaking in front of a group of people…familiar or strangers. One on one, I struggle and often have to “hibernate” to recover after a social event.
  9. I was working towards a calling as an ordained minister at one point in my life and have not been active in a church since that didn’t work out. I have some trouble with calling myself a “Christian” and prefer to consider myself a follower of Jesus. I’m quite spiritual, but don’t talk about it too much and am leery of organized religion.
  10. I have a lot of opinions…some of the quite strong, but overall consider myself to be pretty middle-of-the-road with slight deviations to the right and left depending on the topic. I try to think things through and examine both sides of an issue before making a decision and at this point in my life understand that very few things are clearly black and white…you have to wade through a lot of gray to figure out the truth. It is rare that I will ever embrace confrontation to make a point, but when it does happen it will involve a situation that affects me or my family personally.

I’m going to throw in one more – why I write this blog…

Honest answer; I’m not always sure.

I enjoy the process of stringing words together in an understandable and cohesive manner. It’s like a puzzle to find the right thoughts and words and assemble them to communicate with someone else. I enjoy it.

And sometimes, ideas write themselves in my head and I feel the need to type them out and share them. Every once in a while, someone responds back in a positive way and am glad that I took the time to share. More often, nobody seems to notice, but that’s okay. We don’t always get to know what we’ve accomplished or whether our life has deep meaning. Answering a spiritual calling or sharing what we are good at is the purpose of why we are here.

Affirmation is nice but never promised.

Nobody ever claimed we would get all the answers.

We find our own happiness within ourselves…and by sharing what we have with others.

Blessings on your day!

I Don’t Know

I had another post in mind to write today and it was even a little bit funny.

And then a bit of real life entered my little world and this post is in response to that reality.

I don’t know.

I don’t know why bad things happen to good people.

I don’t know why some young men die and some don’t.

I don’t know why someone who is doing a lot to make the world a better place gets cancer.

I don’t know why some people work so hard and can’t make ends meet.

I don’t know why life isn’t fair.

I don’t know what to say when the people in my life are hurting and struggling with difficult situations.

I don’t know how to make it better or explain it or make the pain go away.

I’d like to think that there is some master plan and that all the pieces work together in a way that would make sense if I could see the “big picture”.

But, sometimes I think that if I had a bird’s eye view of the world, I would  see a million card tables covered in unfinished jigsaw puzzles because the dog ate some of the pieces.

That maybe it doesn’t make any sense at all and it just is.

I don’t have any words that make any of it any better.

Sometimes it just hurts and we cry and we scream and we get mad and we feel guilty…

I pray that my faith is strong enough to keep me upright so that I can support those that I love.

I pray for wisdom to know what to say and when to remain silent.

I pray that I am present for those that feel alone…even when I know that we have to do the hardest things by ourselves.

I pray for hope that when we can’t see the light, we can at least see the faintest twinkle of the stars in the darkness.

And I try to make peace with what I can and cannot do.

And believe that we are not all in this reality alone.

Peace.

Addendum:  So I typed this post and headed off to my cleaning job – not realizing that I had failed to hit “Publish”.

As my daughter and I were driving into town, she did that “magic” thing where music from your phone plays on the car radio.   I don’t pretend to understand most electronics.   The mystery of it all is too much for me.

Anyway, she subscribes to some kind of service that sends you song selections that you might like and you pick and choose what you enjoy.

This song by Sam Smith came on the radio.  I’ll just post the lyrics and you can listen to it somewhere if you are interested…

Pray
I’m young and I’m foolish, I’ve made bad decisions
I block out the news, turn my back on religion
Don’t have no degree, I’m somewhat naive
I’ve made it this far on my own
But lately, that shit ain’t been gettin’ me higher
I lift up my head and the world is on fire
There’s dread in my heart and fear in my bones
And I just don’t know what to say
Maybe I’ll pray, pray
Maybe I’ll pray
I have never believed in you, no
But I’m gonna pray
You won’t find me in church (no) reading the Bible (no)
I am still here and I’m still your disciple
I’m down on my knees, I’m beggin’ you, please
I’m broken, alone, and afraid
I’m not a saint, I’m more of a sinner
I don’t wanna lose, but I fear for the winners
When I try to explain, the words run away
That’s why I am stood here today
And I’m gonna pray (Lord), pray (Lord), maybe I’ll pray
Pray for a glimmer of hope
Maybe I’ll pray (Lord), pray (Lord), maybe I’ll pray
I’ve never believed in you, no, but I’m gonna
Won’t you call me?
Can we have a one-to-one, please?
Let’s talk about freedom
Everyone prays in the end
Everyone prays in the end
Won’t you call me?
Can we have a one-to-one, please?
Let’s talk about freedom
Everyone prays in the end
Everyone prays in the end
Oh, and I’m gonna pray, I’m gonna pray, I’m gonna pray
Pray for a glimmer of hope
Maybe I’ll pray, pray, maybe I’ll pray
I’ve never believed in you, no, but I’m gonna pray
Songwriters: James John Napier / Jose Angel Velazquez / Larrance Levar Dopson / Samuel Frederick Smith / Timothy Z. Mosley
Pray lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Peermusic Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Clay Music Corporation
I turned to her and asked if she had read what I had written on the blog and picked out this song for me.
She said no.
Maybe it’s a coincidence?
Or maybe not…

 

 

Live. Create. Tell the Story

 

live create tell th story

I’ve been asked how hard it is to write and share personal details of my life on this blog…

(and the tears start now)

To be sure, some of what I have written has been difficult to share. Some of what gets typed never gets published. Sometimes the mouse hovers over the publish “button” and time passes…and more time passes…and I take a deep breath…and “send” what I have written out into the world. And I worry that it sounds stupid or that I shared too much or that nobody will read it or care.

One of the things that I know to be absolute truth (and there isn’t much that fits into that category) is that, as human beings, we are called to share our stories. It’s why I once believed that I was called to the pulpit as an ordained minister. Now, I tell my stories here to a different audience.

I don’t know who needs to hear what I have to say…that I struggle daily with the uncertainty of whether I have value and purpose and am deserving of continued existence.

Writing a blog is an interesting thing.  To sit down in front of a screen and keyboard and “talk” to an audience that you can’t see.  There are no reactions, no head nods, no eye contact that allows you to gauge how receptive your audience is.

You just have to believe that your stories…

and by extension, all of our stories  – of our experiences, successes and failures, the documentation of the steps we take are what matter.

The relationships, the sharing, the moment when our being on this planet for just another day makes sense…that’s why I write…

– for myself and for someone out there who might be needing to hear what I have to say

– someone I will probably never meet

– someone who is wondering if their story matters

We are all important and we are all part of the story that is being written every moment of every day…

sometimes by what we do (or don’t do), by our words, our brush strokes, our act of kindness, our prayers, our presence.

Some of us accomplish big things that attract attention and praise…

most of us will never be noticed or acknowledged or even know that what we did today mattered…

So, let’s try this –

Tell your story today.  Share.

Let someone know that the “words” they wrote (or are writing) in your life matter.

And  (most importantly)  if someone who was a part of your story has somehow disappeared in the midst of all the busyness of life, find a way to let them know that their words are important..

That they matter.

They made need to hear it.

Live.

Create.

Tell the story.

Repeat.

P.S.  This is not at all what I sat down to write today.  The words just took on a life of their own and this is what happened.  Life and stories are funny that way…

 

 

 

Today Needs a Prayer

I don’t talk a lot about my faith on this blog.  It’s not that I’m embarrassed about what I believe or out of some sense of political correctness. Mainly, it’s because at this point in my life, my faith has become more personal and inward. I think it may be a growth period for me after a long period of dormancy.

In any case, for the most part, I believe political correctness is a load of manure. I do, however, believe in being respectful of others’ beliefs or lack thereof.

But today needs a prayer. Feel free to substitute any vernacular that fits your life: happy vibes, positive energy, smoke signals, loud and raucous profanity, meditation, or the like…you get my meaning, right?

Today needs a prayer for those going through changes. Any change, whether perceived as good or bad, can be traumatic. It may involve a wide range of emotions including, but not limited to grieving, anger or joy. Change is hard for most (if not all) of us.

Today, I pray for those trying their best to find their way in the world. Especially for young adults trying to figure out this thing called “being a grown-up”. Wanting to be free of the constraints of parental control and influence…flapping their wings madly…terrified of all the choices and possibilities…peeking back over their shoulder at the shelter they are leaving behind. Some have a nest they can be welcomed back to if the need should arise, but so many don’t have that option, if indeed they ever did. My prayer is that they find a safe place to rest when their wings are tired. A soft place to rest their head when the journey is too hard. A springboard to launch from on the next leg of their journey.  Growing up is hard and should not be done alone. I pray that they have community with friends and family or friends that are family.

Today, I pray for parents whose children are referenced in the above paragraph. A prayer for patience and tolerance and forgiveness…that they remember their transition and act wisely. That they open the door for their children and hug them as the leave. Most importantly, that they leave that door open and are ready to give another hug when their child returns…either triumphantly in success or despairingly in failure.

Today, I pray for those experiencing loss. Especially for those who have lost a parent. Even as an adult this loss is hard. You may have achieved independence and become the “grown-up, but the child within is always there. You are an orphan. The person who has always been there is no longer there. You can no longer peek back over your shoulder at that shelter you so desperately fled years ago. We never lose the need for that anchor.

Today, I pray for those dealing with serious illness and aging. For those coping with the changes that are occurring as their body no longer performs for them as they have become accustomed. For loss of independence and freedom. For endless hours in waiting rooms and treatment rooms and recliners trying to rest and heal. For the uncertainty and loss that is a constant part of this new life they are living.

Today, I pray for the caretakers…the folks who are sheltering the ones in need, making casseroles, fetching glasses of water, running errands, and standing ready for whatever…

Today, I’m rearranging things to welcome a loved one to our home, attending a funeral, checking in on a family member, and planning a piece of prayerful art work for a friend.

Amen.

Time

I never intended to let so much time go by between blog posts.  I had every intention of writing about our graduation road trip, our Christmas activities, humorous family anecdotes, exciting New Year’s plans and how the decluttering effort impacted all of it.

Nevertheless, almost a month has passed by and not a word has been typed here (until now).  That’s the thing about intentions.  They may be good intentions and there may even be a plan (of sorts) about how you are going to carry out said intentions, but…

Life has a way of slipping away – a day or two, a week, a month, and then, before you know it, things just didn’t get done, plans are neglected, and life is passing by – sometimes at a seemingly alarming rate.

And this is my segue into my topic for today:  2016’s theme, plan, dream and hope for the Barrow family.

Last year I chose “be the change” as my focus phrase for the year.  I had grown tired of my complacent and sometimes whiny attitude with regards to my life.  “Be the change” helped to remind me that it is my life and my choices made the difference in whether things got better, stayed the same or worsened.  It worked well.  We implemented a budget, became more intentional about our spending, and paid off some of our debt.  In general, we just became more aware of how we lived out life.  Simply phrased, we picked up a paddle and started steering the boat instead of drifting along in the current of life.

This year, we are taking it a step further.  The family has chosen a phrase together.  “Turn your can’t into can and your dreams into plans.”

We’ve identified some goals and hopes for the upcoming year and are continuing to add to the list.  But, it’s more than a list.  Every idea or goal has an action plan with it. Concrete, definite plans that can make it happen.

We are creating a “life” wall where we can post each action plan.  There the lists will stay as we add to and cross off each item.  In our face and unavoidable.

One of the foremost things on our list is home improvement.  Some major repairs need to be done including floor repair and exterior paint. Lots of cosmetic repairs are included as well.  We’ve talked about these projects off and on for a while, but that’s where it ended – talk.  There was always a reason we didn’t do it – time and money mostly.  Next payday, next weekend, when the bonus comes in, during the holiday break….  We’ve realized that the condition of our home directly impacts our life, our happiness, and contentment level.

We are working on a major plan where each room is assigned a month for the projects to be completed.  Every task, every supply, every detail is listed so that there is no question about what is needed to complete the job.

How are we going to pay for it (and continue to pay down our debt)?  That’s a very good question.  Honestly, there is a certain amount of faith and optimism attached to our plan.  Hopefully, the action plan will help keep us focused on the goal and we can live more intentionally and direct our money towards the projects.  Some hard choices will need to be made, I’m sure.  With the plans in place, the hope is that we can pre-purchase or source needed materials when a great deal comes along.  We’ll know what we need ahead of time.  There will definitely need to be some creativity and ingenuity involved.

The decluttering effort will also continue.  Right now, the house looks very lived in.  Very, very, very lived in. Details would just lower your opinion of my housekeeping abilities.  I definitely have a low opinion of my housekeeping skills right now.  I think that, overall, the decluttering I did before the holidays helped, but there is more to do.  Lots of life gets lived here.  I just need to figure out how to make the living easier!

What People Need

It’s Friday evening and another week is ending.  My husband and son are off to work.  Both are temporarily on the night shift prepping for inventory.  Oldest daughter is still at camp.

Second daughter who is home during summer break is not actually home but at a friend’s house.  Her summer session online class started already:  She is taking Introduction to Philosophy.  I watched part of her first online lecture with her last night.  I think I’ve lost a lot of brain cells since college.  I took  Philosophy a few or more years ago and made an “A”.  Last night  I felt like I was watching the professor’s lips move, but didn’t understand a single thing he said.  Either he is the worst lecturer ever or I need to start exercising my brain.  It’s probably me.  Those were some really big words he was using!

It’s just me and the youngest at home tonight.  She is tired from a week of getting up early (for us) to go to Vacation Bible School.  She was invited by a friend from the homeschool group.  She had a really good time and made me quite proud with some of the things she shared when she came home each day.

I guess I’ll share here that we aren’t active in a church congregation and haven’t been for many years now.  There was a time when I was the one running the show…Vacation Bible School, Sunday School, etc…  I’m still a believer in Jesus, but have lost interest in the organized church.  I don’t begrudge anyone who attends and do believe that there are some great churches doing great work out there in the world.  I’ve just moved on, in a sense, to a different place and it isn’t a good fit for me anymore.

I have a lot of friends who live in a lot of different belief systems – some are followers of Christ to varying degrees and quite a few who aren’t.  I’m good with that…more than good.  I love being surrounded by people who think differently than I do.  I love the discussion of and exposure to differing ideas and ideals.  I can’t imagine only hanging out with folks who believe or live just like me.

I personally choose to believe in a God because it gives me comfort knowing that life isn’t a series of random events happening for no particular reason in no particular order.  I need to believe in something.

Mostly, I just desire to be a good person.  A person who does good things and will leave the world in a slightly better condition when I move on.  The concept of Jesus works for me in that respect.  Kind of like a great role model.  The Bible is also a pretty fascinating piece of literature with some good stories and guidelines in it.  Do I believe it is meant to be taken literally in all aspects.  Ummmm, NO.  The world changes and the people in it change and we have a brain that we should be thinking with.

You won’t find me preaching here although I’m sure my beliefs will slip in every now and then.  This blog is about my life so it would be hard to leave out much.  What I’m trying to say is that’s just not what I’m here to write about.  It’s not so much that I don’t want to offend anyone or am trying to attract a certain type of reader.  My faith is just an intrinsic part of who I am and I don’t feel the need to share at every opportunity.  Once again, I’m not judging or rejecting different viewpoints…I personally follow blogs that are very “Christian” and some that aren’t at all.

As people we are all so different…we come from different backgrounds, experiences and cultures.   As a result, we have different needs.  We will just naturally believe in different things.  We are all seeking something – some truth.  Many times we are talking about the same thing, but using different words to describe or express it.

What a beautiful world we could live in if we were all more tolerant of our differences and embraced our similarities!

I’m aware that there are those that would classify me as a lousy sort of Christian and some who would believe I was way too Christian just for writing what I’ve written.  I’m a people pleaser so it saddens me to think that anyone wouldn’t like me for any reason, but since starting this blog, I’ve become braver.  I’m just doing the best I can in putting together a belief system that helps me to lead a  life that is good for me and beneficial for the world I live in.

Back to what led me onto this “rabbit trail” in the first place…my youngest came home from VBS the first day and told me that she needed to bring an offering the next day.  Ooops – been out of church for awhile and forgot about that.

She volunteered that they were collecting money to send talking Bibles to Africa. Okay, not really my thing, but okay.

The next day, she came home and told me that one of her teachers had a collection jar on her desk to provide meals for children in Africa.  She said,”I hope it’s okay that I put my money in there instead of the Bible collection.  If people are hungry, they need food. I think that it’s more important that we feed them first.”

I just smiled and told her that I thought that was a good idea.

The Next Day

A late night last night.  A restless night’s sleep.  A husband who had to be up at 5.  I am not a morning person unless the morning is starting around 9.

I still got a lot done.

I put my shoes on.IMAG0563

I took 11 boxes of paper and 9 bags of shredded paper to the recycling center.

I spent almost 2 hours balancing our checkbook and updating our budget program. It takes only a few minutes a day if I do it every day,  I hadn’t touched it in over a month.  I didn’t plan on ignoring it for so long…one day became two and so on.   I even sorted through a huge stack of unopened mail.  A classic case of ignoring a difficult problem until it becomes an enormous problem.

We sorted out some stuff. One more bag is ready to go to the thrift store.

I worked on my canvas.  I’m really trying to push some self-imposed boundaries. You’re lucky that I can’t  post a photo of it because my internet is screwing up.   I hate it.  It’s ugly.  And terrible.   I think it reflects how I feel.

I am tired and discouraged.  I’m overwhelmed and really having trouble looking on the bright side.

My problems are first world problems.  I am so much better off than most of the world.  My problems are nominal compared to what’s happening all over the world and in my own backyard.

This is depression and anxiety.  Even well-managed depression and anxiety.  Even when you take care of yourself and rest.

Sometimes the day just “goes bad”.  Sometimes there’s a reason.  Sometimes not.

You can’t see clearly. A part of you knows that it will work out.  The house will get cleaned.  The painting can be re-worked.  There is a glimmer of financial hope on the way.  It could certainly be worse.  Just follow the news.

But you still can’t see clearly.  Your focus turns inward of it’s own accord and all you can see is your sadness.

The difference between yesterday and today.  Night and Day.

But I have faith and I believe.  Tomorrow will be a new day