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.

The Sky is Not Falling

Two days fraught with anxiety brought on by my own lack of mindfulness. No journal pages and no progress on the house.  Loss of sleep and busywork that has little to show for it.

Nobody to blame but myself, but mistakes happen and it’s okay when they do.  I just need to learn (or relearn) from it and move on in a more intentional way.

I need to remember that my anxiety is a living entity that can be controlled, but never eradicated.

And one of the symptoms of my anxiety is that I tend to take personal responsibility for everything.  Then the depression hits because I can’t do enough.

In a group situation where a problem is brought up, I think it must be me.

Someone says they need to talk to me about something, I wonder what I’ve done wrong.

Something needs to be fixed, I try to figure out what I should be doing.

Sound familiar to anyone else out there?

The specific situation that triggered my anxiety this time?

The border crisis, of course.

I have a lot of friends who are social activists. I have conservative friends and liberal friends.  I have friends who rant and rave, and friends who quietly go about making the world a better place (I have to say that I like them best).  I do believe that it takes all of us working together to get things done.  but it doesn’t seem like we are doing a very good job of that right now.

This post isn’t really about what’s happening in the world right now.  I’m aware of what’s going on in the world.

But the sky is not falling.

Bad stuff is happening.

And worse stuff than that.

That’s not new.

Good stuff is happening also.

That’s not news.  It doesn’t sell or raise ratings.

My anxiety prevents me from taking responsibility for the world.

I can live with that.

In fact, it’s the only way that I can live.

I’ll take my philanthropic advice from Mother Teresa…

numbers

So, I’ve blocked a lot of folks on facebook.  I’ll continue to use it to keep in touch with friends around the world, but not to be told that I don’t care about the poor children because I’m not hysterically posting hateful words (and yes, I was accused of not caring).

The news is off for now.

And I’m going to focus my attention on my actual neighbor that is in danger of losing her family’s home because life has been particularly challenging.

And I’m going to take care of myself and my family because I do care.

I care an awful lot.

 

 

And now…today

new begin

What’s happening around here today…

Using the above quote as a mantra for today – a new week and a new day.  Trying not to worry so much about what I haven’t gotten done and what I’ve screwed up and all the projects I’ve been avoiding.

Today is a day to start anew and set reasonable goals…and practice grace.

Loving this quote (so much that I put it on a card)

0326181204Still wondering how this happened when I just went in to buy dog food…

0326181219Twelve chicks to add to our menagerie.  We only have one mature chicken left after the last fox attack and she is no longer laying eggs so chicks aren’t an entirely bad idea. Just not planned for right now. They are busily growing and cheeping in the guest bedroom.  The dogs are very intrigued – including our new addition, Skye…

61D4FB93-4268-403B-A49D-55042D7909A9

She belonged to a friend and got in trouble for trying to “play” with their neighbor’s pet rabbit.  We took her in to keep her out of the shelter because what’s one more dog, right?

Getting ready to start preparing these cards for an art mail project that I’ve been wanting to do.  I’ve been putting it off waiting for the “right time” to do it.  That’s code for me worrying about not doing them “well enough” so I just don’t do it at all.  I found this quote and put it on the jar holding the cards to remind myself that I just need to do it…”the smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention”

0326181249a

Anticipating this little guys arrival in August and my new role as Grandma.  The big news I’ve been waiting to share!

0326181229

And finally sitting down and actually typing out a blog post which I’ve avoided because I haven’t been doing it…which isn’t really a very good reason not to be writing, but it’s the only one I’ve got.  Technically it’s an excuse, not a reason, BUT…

today is a new day and full of grace…

so there you go.

Hoping that today finds you living in a new day full of grace!

Peace.

This is Where We Are and What We Have

john-baker-349282
Photo by John Baker on Unsplash

This post consists of some observations that swirled about in my head last night as I sought sleep. It is not meant to be too political or controversial or in any other way annoying.

It is brought about by a real life events in my “neck of the woods” and the resulting thoughts that accompanied it.

First…last night on our neighborhood social media page we were alerted to the fact that a sheriff’s department chase involving the pursuit of criminals resulted in an accident.  The two suspects escaped on foot in very close proximity to our home.

A lot of information, but not a lot of information at the same time.  What were they suspected of doing?  How dangerous were they?  What direction were they going? 

It was recommended that we secure our homes and arm ourselves. 

Depending on where you live you may have a different viewpoint on this recommendation.  We live on a county line out in the country.  This occurred in the county next to us.  Our county is quite large and depending on where the deputies are an any given time and their call load, can have a response time to a 911 call of 20 minutes to 40 minutes or more (give or take, just an estimate)  That’s a lot of time in an emergency. 

We’ve got a gun.  I’m okay with it.  I’m also okay with using it if the circumstances warrant it. 

Again, your circumstances may be different as may be your choices.

Hence, these ramblings…

Observation # 1:  Life is not fair.

While growing up, my kids were not allowed to say “it’s not fair”.

I wanted them to become grown-ups who understood that sometimes, despite your best efforts, shit happens…

  • Sometimes you work really hard for something and do your best and you don’t get what you want or deserve.  Work hard anyway.
  • Sometimes good people die in a senseless way before their time and you won’t understand why.  Grieve and live in a way that honors the memory of those lost.
  • Sometimes even when you do the right thing, you get in trouble…in this world there is a difference between legal and moral. Choose to live with honor.
  • Sometimes no matter how much you believe that what you believe is absolutely right, it isn’t.  You are one person in millions.  Discern the facts and seek truth.
  • Sometimes people are impossible to deal with and love is hard.  Loneliness is harder.  Love others anyway, but first of all manage to love yourself.
  • Sometimes the people in charge appear to be incompetent because they aren’t doing the task at hand the way you would do it.  Always remember, that until you have walked in their shoes, you can’t fully understand their decisions.
  • Sometimes people will mock you or ridicule you for your beliefs. Stand up for and uphold those beliefs, but don’t denigrate theirs in the process.
  • Sometimes violence happens.  There are bullies in the world and they come in all sizes and different guises.  Don’t start the fight, but once it is unavoidable, fight to win.

Observation # 2

There are 3 kinds of people in this world.

  1. People who generally share the same opinions and beliefs that I do.
  2. People with whom I appear to have nothing in common with.
  3. People who don’t appear to have any opinions about anything and don’t really seem to believe in much either.

I try to remember this saying that is written on the wall at Holy Cross Primary School in North Belfast:

“If we had been born where they were born

and taught what they were taught,

we would believe what they believe.”

That doesn’t mean that I have to agree with them.  Or like them.  Or hang out with them.  Or argue with them to try convince them that they are wrong and I am right.

It just means that there are people different than me.

And that is a good thing.

Even if I don’t always like it or if it tends to make me uncomfortable or just really makes me angry sometimes.

Observation # 3

In my opinion, the world was a better place before instant and continuous coverage of events. I’m not going to use the word “news” here because I don’t even know what that means anymore.

Instant information.

Selective coverage.

Opinions printed as facts.

Stories before the facts are even known.

Speculation and exploitation.

Words.

So many words.

Sent out to a massive faceless audience overwhelmed by the vast unfairness of it all.

Life is not fair.

We will never all agree.

Some of it cannot be fixed.

And yelling more and yelling louder at each other isn’t helping.

In conclusion, what’s the point of these words.

I would like to live in a world where there were not guns and violence and criminals, and mental illness.

I do not.

I would like to live in a world where we could all peacefully come to a mutually agreeable solution to the above mentioned problems.

I do not.

I am here.

And you are here.

We live in this world.  The one we have in all it’s imperfect glory.

I will continue to seek out joy to the best of my ability.

I will seek truth.

I will listen with respect.

I will try to patiently understand our differences or learn to be tolerant of them.

Please join me.

 

 

 

 

 

Serendipity

serendipity

Ah, two posts in one day.

Some things are just meant to be…

serendipity definition

I don’t usually give advice (preach) here.

It’s not that I don’t have definite ideas about how the world should work.

I just prefer to share my stories and sow some seeds.

There are plenty of other people out there shouting about what everyone else should be doing, thinking, feeling or believing.

I have trouble enough managing my own life, thank you very much.  I’ll leave the advice giving to others.

Except for the occasional moment of serendipity…like today.

Mondays are hard for me.  The weekend is over.  It’s time for a new week of accomplishment and there is always so much to do.

I’m having a sort of creative revival at the moment so there is really a lot of pressure to accomplish.

I didn’t want to miss blogging for a day because I’ve go a streak going so…

I asked my son what to write today (after sharing my thoughts about what I wanted to say).

You know that face your kid makes when he’s little and you explain to him what needs to be done?  The one that, without a word, makes it clear that you are a clueless idiot that is totally out of touch with reality?

Well, yea, they never stop making that face.

He told me to just say “hello” instead.

So I did.

Then, just a few minutes later as I was clearing space in my studio to work, I came across a note that was in pile of things to deal with later…from many years ago.

A handwritten note that was left for me to find at an art retreat I went to years ago.  It was from a guy I met and shared studio time with.

1106171055 (1)This is a gift.

A gift then and a gift now as I reread it.

Someone took the time to connect with me and say hello…that I mattered.

Serendipity.

I write a post that says “hello” and I find a handwritten note from years ago that reminds me of a time that I “connected” with someone.

Serendipity.

So, I know you are busy today with a lot of things that need to be done.

But, despite our constant “connectedness” we, as human beings, are more isolated and lonely than ever before.

Surely something on your “to do” list can wait.

Take a moment and write someone a note.

It doesn’t have to be on a beautiful hand-made card or an expensive Hallmark purchase.  You don’t have to make a special trip to the store to do this.

Grab a scrap piece of paper and tell someone hello.  Send it in the mail.

Or send an email.

Jot a note on the back of a store receipt to tell a cashier that you appreciate their effort.

Hit the like button on a blog post and write a comment.

Use your imagination and listen to your heart.

Enough people are writing words about what’s wrong with the world and what needs to be done to fix it.

Let’s write some words that are real and personal and directed to a real  human being that has somehow touched our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just So You Know

Hello again.

Once again, this is not the first post I’ve written today.  I tried two other topics and several versions of each.  It just doesn’t seem to be the right time for those ideas and words to come together.

I’ve decided that this is my thought for the day.

I don’t know if the world as we know it is on the verge of imminent collapse…the very fabric of our society torn beyond redemption.  I don’t know for sure what’s going to happen tomorrow or next week or…..

I do know that I choose to live in hope.  That may seem like denial or avoidance to some.  I don’t really need to know either way.  Please don’t feel a need to comment on my failure as a human being because I’m not “taking action” right this minute.  I’m okay with my choice for today.  There are things about me that I would like to improve…I work at it every day.  That’s why there is an “intentional life” tag on my blog sidebar.

Today, I am choosing to be optimistic.  I am done with listening to rhetoric about the impending rise of a Hitleresque society.  And yes, I do know a little something about that period in history.  As a matter of fact, I did know someone who was there…pretty well as a matter of fact.  I just feel that the terms are being tossed about lightly and without a true understanding of their meaning by some.

I’m not an idiot.  I know things aren’t great right now.  They also weren’t “great” 6 weeks ago or a year ago.  I understand that it’s about more than happiness or contentment.  There are real issues.

I’m just not choosing to live in fear over everything that might happen or could happen. In my opinion, that’s sort of a crazy way to live.  It would make me crazier anyway.

So, unless you have some inside information from a reliable source…God, for instance, I’m going to go continue my life with it’s laundry, dishes, art projects, and dog hair.

And for my evening entertainment (since I am home alone and the TV remote is mine) I shall watch a cheesy movie about “the” big earthquake that takes out California. Then maybe a good zombie move.   I find it helpful to pick up life survival tips with this type of research.

And just in case, everybody else is right and the world is ending, I’m going to eat the last donut in the box because my weight won’t matter.

Sunday Lunch

Disclaimer:  I am not trying to be provocative, argumentative, divisive or dismissive.

Oh, and for my non-U.S.A. readers, my apologies.  I don’t mean to drag our mess onto your doorsteps, but this blog is about my life and this post is about my personal experience during Sunday lunch with some family and friends.  Also included is a personal observation which relates to it.  You may even be able to relate to some of it.  Please bear with me.

First, the observation.  In reading the news and social media posts over the past few days, one would start to believe that these United States of America are in total chaos and turmoil.  I am not saying that people aren’t emotional or hurt, or afraid, or that things are business as usual.  These are troubling times.  The melting pot has definitely been stirred. Lots and lots is going on.  I’m aware of it.  I recognize it.  I acknowledge it.

The thing I’ve noticed is that the news is a big part of the problem.   “News” is a business and there is big money in it.  Their goal is quite simply to attract our attention with whatever works.  The powers that be in the news industry aren’t interested in making this a better country or in improving our lives.  They are a business.

I know that there are acts of violence and harassment taking place right now, as I am typing this.  I know that discrimination and intimidation exists.  There are assholes of all colors, sizes, genders, and whatever else, committing heinous acts right this second…and last month and last year.  Maybe the acts are increasing.  I don’t know.  The news isn’t really sharing that information.

The news is just working overtime to report every single bad thing that is happening. They are busy throwing fuel on the fire of our fears.

It’s in their best interest.

Violence sells,  Atrocities sell.  Protest sells.  I don’t put a lot of faith in the major news sources.

I do, however know what happened during our lunch on Sunday.

We went to eat Chinese food.  We went to a Chinese buffet.  It was new to me, but my kiddos have eaten there before so we went.  It was crowded.  We waited in line for 10 minutes to pay and over 20 minutes to eat.  There was probably a good 200 people there. It’s a big, big place.

As we were waiting, I was looking around and doing what I normally do – people watching. After a bit, I noticed that there were 6 white folks there. Yep, we were definitely in the minority.

The minority as far as color went, that is.  The main thing I noticed is that we were just a bunch of people, families mainly, that were there to eat some Chinese food (and chicken tenders of course, because you can’t have a Chinese buffet without chicken tenders.  Oh, and donuts)

Nobody looked frightened or sad or fearful for their very life.  Nobody was crying or angry, or waving a sign.  Honestly, there was a bit of high emotion whenever the shrimp ran out, but they brought out some more so it all worked out just fine.

“We” said hello and thank you and excuse me and “they” said hello and thank you and excuse me right back.  It was just fine.

It was more than fine.  It was Sunday and we all sat at our tables and shared a meal.  It was  as fine a Communion meal as I’ve ever shared.

It’s not all doom and gloom.

There’s good stuff happening too.

I’m not saying that there isn’t work to be done and that everything is just fine because I had a nice lunch.

I’m not saying that there aren’t horrible things going on and that there is nothing to worry about.

I am trying to say that it might be better to quit relying on the news industry for all our information about what is going on in America.  Maybe we should be spending more time getting out there and venturing outside of our comfort zone.  Maybe it would be a good idea to actually talk to someone face to face who has a different viewpoint or opinion than we do.  Even better, maybe just listen to them.

 

 

Surf’s Up

Today is a good day.

I voted.

And that’s pretty much all I’m going to say on the subject.  Except maybe, that I’m glad this election season is over.  I’ve grown weary of the anger, rhetoric and fear.  Of the voices growing louder and louder as they attempt to convince themselves and others that their choice is the correct one.  Of friends that I know to be kind and good people posting things on social media that they (in normal times) would never dream of saying face to face with a real human being.

I will not be spending the day anxiously watching the news to see what’s happening.  I will not join in the media circus that has fueled so much hate, divisiveness, and frenzy.  The votes will be counted, the decisions made, and pretty much no one will be happy with the outcome.

Life will go on.

Life today will consist of a visit to the local library and we might even get a few book that are “educational”.  We will certainly get a huge stack of lovely picture books far below our actual “reading level”.  Youngest daughter and I will snuggle on the couch and pretend it’s a blustery fall day and share some stories.  We have at least turned off the air-conditioner for the first time this season.  It is November, right?

We will continue to shred cardboard and paper for use in our chicken yard.  We have quite a pile to work through. Our chickens do such a lovely job of composting it for us.  We are still far from a zero-waste home, but we are trying.  Recycling is a challenge because we don’t have curb-side service.  We have to haul it quite a distance away.  Mainly, we’re trying to focus on not bringing in things that we can’t reuse or recycle easily.

We will be especially aware of Barret the dog’s behavior today.  He just completed his third round of steroids for his meningitis.  The last two times he completed his medication, he fell ill almost immediately.  We’re experimenting with immuno-suppressants now to try and care for him.  He is the biggest, goofiest, clumsiest mess ever.  He has grown huge.  The shelter definitely missed the call when they claimed he was two years old.  They missed a lot of things – including that he was seriously ill.  Now we are “emotionally invested” in the big mutt.

The move into my new studio is almost complete.  I’ll spend some time moving things and finding the right place for everything today.

I guess I haven’t actually shared that news with you.  With only one kiddo left at home full-time, we’ve found that we have more than enough space and have spent some time envisioning what we might do with it all.  We have a huge room at one end that is going to become a small “apartment”.  We’re moving the classroom and studio space out of it and into the two extra bedrooms.  We lucked into a great deal on appliances from an apartment complex that was upgrading – a Whirlpool stove, fridge, dishwasher and microwave in excellent condition for $100 total.  The space will have a small kitchen, bathroom, living area and it’s own outside access.  When it’s complete we will have a space for family members in transition and friends in need.  It’s one of those ideas that just came together as if it was meant to be…I’m very excited about it!

The annual pre-holiday decluttering activities look a little different this year.  So much has been decluttered in years past, that it’s challenging to find much to box-up. Nevertheless, a box is ready in the hallway as we work on tidying up and preparing for the holidays.  This season we are focusing more on better organizing our belongings and finding suitable storage for what we have.  It doesn’t matter how much stuff you have if you don’t ever put anything back where it belongs!  I am so guilty of that.  Piles of stuff everywhere!

Today is a good day.

A day in a free country with the right to cast my vote.

A day in a home that I can organize, tidy-up and share.

A day with family that I love and that love me.

A day to jump in the water and enjoy the waves…

Unfriended

“Unfriended” – is that even a word?  I suppose it is because it happened to me…on facebook.  Today.

Honestly, I’m the type of person who just wants everyone to like me.  Insecurity?  I don’t know what it is, but I get really upset when I realize that someone doesn’t like me.  I immediately start to question my behavior, my attitude, myself – and conclude that I must have been in the wrong.

This time, that didn’t happen.  Maybe I’ve been making progress in silencing my negative critic. Maybe I’ve changed a bit in the last year and am more confident in who I am.  In looking over what happened to cause this “unfriending”,  I don’t regret what I said.  In fact, I don’t even think that I should have remained silent.

In short, she posted an inflammatory comment and I responded.  She was offended. She suggested that I unfriend her.  I replied that I don’t unfriend friends because we don’t agree 100% on something.  She unfriended me.

I don’t want to turn this blog into a rant on controversial topics.  I try my best to be a kind, considerate individual who respects everyone.  I may not agree with you.  There may be subjects we agree to disagree on.  There may even be topics that we mutually agree to never broach.

Am I perfect? Hell No!  Do I have my share of prejudices?  Yes.  We all do.   I love this quote from Holy Cross Primary School in North Belfast Ireland for that very reason:

If we had been born where they were born and taught what they were taught we would believe what they believe.

I try to be open-minded and think (and re-think) through issues.  There are times I find it necessary to redefine what I believe and there are some things that I stand by steadfastly.

I believe we live in a scary world where bad shit happens.  Sad, tragic events that leave me afraid, depressed and weary.

And I firmly believe that the journalists (and their corporations) can be biased and exploitive.  Bad news sells better than good news.  They are in a rush to break a story and by the time all the facts emerge, it’s old news and we never hear of it.

I also know that we live in a world where good is happening…all the time.  Change is occurring.  Slowly.  But, we’ll rarely see it featured in the media.

People are complex, glorious creations.  We will never agree on everything…and we shouldn’t.  I wouldn’t care to live in a world where individuality was sacrificed on the altar of conformity.

I believe in human rights.  There are some things that all should have…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness come to mind.  But…you can’t provide someone their human rights by taking away the rights of someone else.  That would be like building up someone by criticizing someone else.  Equality is equality.  It must be balanced and fair for all involved.

I believe in the American dream.  But that was founded on the precept that you work for what you get.  No one handed those first pioneers anything.  They struggled and worked for it.  Some succeeded.  Some didn’t.  Life isn’t fair.  Bad shit happens.  To all.  There are good times…and bad.  If you’re looking for perfect…being a human being may have been the wrong choice.

I believe in one race.  The human race.  It’s what I write on every form I fill out.  Race?  Human.  I’ve had a clerk tell me that’s an incorrect answer.  I replied that it was the only answer.

I could go on and on citing specific situations and offering my opinion, but I think I’ve said enough.  In short, we all have our opinions and there are going to be differences in our thinking.  Sometimes it’s a good thing to keep our mouth shut.  Sometimes it’s important to stand up for what we believe in.

My opinion will occasionally be expressed here.  That’s probable.  I hope it will always be well thought out and rational.  But…I have been know to mess up…a lot.

I don’t want to live in a bubble where everyone around thinks the same way I think and believes the same way I believe.  Diversity is a beautiful thing.

Let’s agree to this…if something is ever written here that bothers you or that you disagree with strongly…let’s discuss it.  Let’s see if we can meet in the middle or agree to disagree.  The world needs more friendship, more conversation, more civilized debate, more open-mindedness, more positive interactions…

“Unfriending” is not the answer.