Once Upon a Time

Journal page number…

Just my opinion…

So much noise

So much activism

So much pointing of fingers

So little love

At the end of this chapter

How will the story read

I believe that nobody will win

And there will be no happy ending

0625181714

If an act is done out of love, but requires an act of hate or violence to accomplish it, how does that work out?

I believe we call it war.

And we are fighting ourselves.

A Journey Shared

I think I’ll just start typing and see where the words take me today.  I have a story to tell, but there are many dimensions to it and I’m not sure what is the most significant element.

I’ll start at the beginning and we shall see where we end up…

Yesterday, I went to the grocery store with my sister to pick up a few things that the family needed.  I say needed because we’ve been in a sort of financial dilemma for the last couple of months.

By dilemma, I mean that a combination of miscalculations on my part and factors outside of my control have combined to mean that there is just not enough money.

We’ve eaten down the pantry and freezer and are being creative about meal making.  No worries, we are pretty creative types.  Still, honestly, there has been some stress around our household about the situation.

Anyway, I arrive at the grocery store with my sister and as we are parking we notice a young family with four small children standing around a car with the hood up.  Various car parts that appear to be from the engine are leaning up against the car.

It is obviously a bad situation, but since I know nothing about engine repair and don’t know what I might offer to do to help in this situation, I continue into the store with my sister to purchase what I need to feed the family through the weekend.

I complete my purchases, excited that by combining markdowns, sales and coupons, I am able to buy quite a bit for a relatively small amount of money.  To be completely honest, I didn’t spend more than we had available so I won’t overdraw the account.  Life is good.

On our way out of the store, that same family is at the service desk.  The four children are sitting quietly nearby,  Mom and Dad are doing something with some Western Union paperwork.  My sister walks over to talk with them and upon completing the conversation discretely hands the dad all of the cash that she has.  My sister does stuff like this all the time.  She’s a giver.

I help my sister out to the car and while unloading our groceries, I ask her what their story is.

The mom had landed a job cleaning at a hotel just up the street from the grocery store.  The hotel was letting the family stay in a room while she worked there.  She got laid off because they were overstaffed.  The family had resorted to living in their car which had now broken down.  They had found someone to fix the car, but were attempting to make arrangement to get everything done.

Four kids, no job, no home…

I don’t know what choices or decisions guided them to that grocery store and that parking lot and that situation.

I’m not even sure that I completely understand the choices and decisions that have landed me where I am today.

The journey is complicated and we make a thousand choices and decisions along the way.  Sometimes, we take the right turn.  Sometimes, not.  Anyone of us could end up homeless with a broken down car in a parking lot.  Of that, I am sure.  For millions around the world, that would be a step up.  Life is crazy that way.

What I do know is that in that moment I was hit full force with the realization that “need” is relative.  I had just purchased groceries that I was certain that I was in “need” of.

Now, in comparison with the “needs” of this family they seemed like luxuries.

I did some calculations in my head and went back in and purchased a gift card for the family.  The groceries I had purchased for the next few days will need to stretch further than I had planned.  I’m okay with that.  I’ll be eating them in my house at my dining room table.  My family will have a car to drive to work in.  There is a paycheck coming in the future.  It won’t be enough, but we will make it work.

I wanted to do more, but at least I know that they won’t be hungry for a day or two.  And I hope and pray that they hold hope in their hearts and that there journey will become easier.

I have continued to think about that trip to the store.

Did I do enough?

What else could I have done?

What was my responsibility?

If “need” is relative, what standard do I use to determine our needs vs wants?

Many questions.

Many choices and decisions.

Lots more to think about.

Need vs Want.

Sharing.

Kindness.

The journey continues.

kindness

The Walk

Yesterday, in an attempt to improve my health, I ventured into unfamiliar territory with my dogs.  It’s a route that I used to walk all the time, but haven’t traveled much in the past year or so.  The homes in our neighborhood are on 1 to 5 acre lots and its got lots of gentle hills…an ideal place to walk.

So, I leashed up Matilda the Basset and Barret the Dog and we started walking. We walked about a mile down the road, hit the dead end, and turned around.  The weather was beautiful and we were just slightly winded…having a good time.  All is well.

On the way back, however…

One of my neighbors, who I had not previously met, had let out (into her fenced yard) three of the biggest, bad-ass looking dogs that I have ever seen.  They may well be the sweetest dogs on the earth.  I try not to judge by appearances.

Matilda is one of those dogs that thinks every human and every dog on the planet is here to be her best friend (and rub her belly).  She is also very vocal.   Barking away, she tries to run up to the fence and say hello.

I try to discourage her.

She does not want to be restrained.

She really wants to meet these dogs.

I am becoming entangled in her leash.

She pulls out of her collar.

I am completely hobbled by her leash.

She is at the fence.

The three dogs go wild.

Matilda is baying.

The three dogs are gnashing their teeth and lunging at the fence.

Spittle is flying.

They are all running up and down the fence.  Matilda is apparently unaware that they want to completely rip her to shreds.

Barret decides to come to her rescue.  Barret is a very, very scary dog when he gets riled up.

The neighbor comes outside screaming.

I am still tangled in the leash and my shoe has become untied.

The dogs are raising holy hell.

I can’t hear what the neighbor is screaming so I think she is yelling at me.

I’m apologizing…we are in her yard and my dog is loose.

Turns out she is yelling at her dogs and not me.

I am trying to get untangled and retrieve Matilda and keep Barret from going over the fence and introduce myself.

At this point, Matilda grows tired of “playing” with the three dogs and catches the scent of a rabbit.

When a Basset catches the scent of a rabbit, what little brain function they have shuts down and pure instinct takes over.  They will run for miles.  This property backs up to over 300 acres of undeveloped cedar and rock.

As I finish the pleasantries with my neighbor (which we are yelling at each other over the chaos of the four dogs trying to kill each other) I manage to free myself from the leash and hand Barret’s leash to my new friend.

“I’ll be right back!”

I take off after Matilda. I can hear her baying as she runs.  The path she has chosen is uncleared , cedar covered, rocky terrain. After climbing and sliding through a 6 foot deep rock ravine about a half mile away, I finally catch up with her.  She has come to a wildlife fence and stopped to rest. She is very pleased with herself and happy as can be.

I pin her in place with one knee and finally tie my shoe.

Then, I hoist up her long, wriggly, loose-skinned 50 pound body and balance her on my shoulder. I’m not trusting the collar again.  We hike back through the ravine and cedar.  Matilda is drooling down my back.

I retrieve Barret from the neighbor and once again apologize for the whole fiasco.

Then begins the long trek home. We still have almost a mile to go.

Today, I think we’ll take another route for our walk.

Happiness and Balance

I woke up tired today and tempted to just go back to sleep.  The bed was warm and the dogs were snuggly.  The house was quiet and I was alone.  Nobody would know that I was being a slug.

But, the to-do list was quietly beckoning me and there are things on said list that I have been ignoring far too long.

I spent two hours in the yard working on bringing it up to the standards of my  Homeowners’ Association  as outlined in the letter that we received at the end of October.  I disagree with their use of the adjective “tremendous” in describing the “debris” around our house, but it was their letter to write.  I have been mentally composing a letter in response, but have exercised tremendous self-control.  I don’t disagree that there was work to be done.  We’ve been working on it.

We’ve also been working on repairs inside and going to work to pay bills and a few other small matters…like trying to get the lawn mower repaired and come up with the money for a dumpster to haul off debris from the repair and improvement projects.  Basically, we’re just trying to find a balance between the expectations of others and a realistic outlay of resources with regards to money and time.  Hopefully, everyone can be reasonably happy.

I’d love to devote hours and dollars to my yard and home. It does matter to me.  I also want to live harmoniously and realistically with the existing wildlife around me.  Part of my yard will remain “wild” and uncultivated.  The critters were here first.  It’s only fair that I share and cohabitate.  (I am not including the party mice in this scenario).

Moving on…next on the list was a long walk with the dogs.  I’ve slowly gained back a considerable amount of weight that I lost after surgery almost two years ago.  I’m back at risk for a repeat of that same health problem as well as diabetes and uncontrolled hypertension. Several miles a day needs to go back on the list and remain there. I started with today. Healthier eating has to become a routine again also.  The chickens are enjoying some yummy treats today.  I just can’t have some things around the house.  I definitely have an issue with food.

I’ve also decided that decluttering is back on the list.  I thought that I’d gotten stuff under control, but it appears to be a never-ending battle for me.

As this year steadily approaches it’s end, I am thinking about the things that I wanted to change and the progress that I wanted to make.

Overall, I’m happy with my progress.  It would be easy to be discouraged and note that I’m still talking about some of the same issues…my house and yard, my weight and health, an overabundance of stuff, and the challenges of finding balance…but I’m choosing to understand that most of these issues will never be fully resolved.  There are certain things that will always be an issue for me.

I think that identifying them was an important step and that staying aware of my status with regards to them is the continual journey.

Steps forward, steps back, battles won and battles lost…I’ll just keep trying to make progress and most importantly, trying to be kind to myself in the process.

The grass will keep growing, the leaves will keep falling, food will still tempt me, and stuff will keep coming into the house.

I’ll mow some grass, rake a few leaves, work on making better choices and try to live more intentionally.

And be as happy as I possibly can in the process.

Peace.