Ugh.

Or maybe Yuck.

One word to describe the way I feel physically and emotionally.

I’m still tired and coughing.  It doesn’t help that the weather is changing every hour.

Hot enough to wear a t-shirt and shorts going barefoot one day.

Then a t-shirt, flannel shirt, sweater, jeans and socks the next.

Can’t the temperature be relatively the same for at least two days in a row.

Cedar and mold and dust…all at the same time!

We’re all carrying rolls of toilet paper around.  I’m too cheap to buy Kleenex.  I’m very into multi-purpose home supplies right now.

The studio has stayed clean.  I know it’s been less than twenty-four hours, but I’m going to cheer myself on with a win anyway.  I was able to find everything I needed for my art class today without rummaging through piles of stuff.  That felt good.

This second class that I’m teaching is older kiddos…junior high and high school.  I’m really enjoying it, but they are all super-talented.  A couple are more naturally talented than I am.  At least I have more experience than they do.  It’s going to be challenging to keep up with them!

Today on the home-front we sorted through wedding stuff and got a lot of it boxed up into some sort of order.  New lists and more lists – things we forgot and things we didn’t think of.  I think it’s going okay (except when I start panicking and lose it!).

The bridal shower is tomorrow and guess who forgot to get a gift.

Then we just have two more weeks until the big day!

I’ve made a decision to leave Facebook for a while.  I just can’t deal with the drama, the arguments, the name-calling and the total suspension of respect for differing opinions.

If you read my posts as they are shared on Facebook, you can continue to do so.  I will not be getting notifications of comments or “likes” however.  To stay in communication, you will need to log on to faithacrestudio.com and “follow” me here.

This was not an easy decision.   I’ve “unfriended” a lot of folks that just couldn’t let up with the continually negative posting. I kept thinking people could or would calm down and relax a little.  That maybe we could start sharing our daily lives again and keep in touch about the little stuff – the little stuff matters too.

We can’t live in a constant state of fear, panic and readiness to battle every anticipated tragedy.  I know this because I’ve been doing it since childhood and my body is worn out.  I’ve shared this before.  For my health and sanity, I just refuse to do it anymore.  I’m bowing out of the front lines.

When you wake up every morning looking for the next horrible thing that has happened, or more likely the next horrible tragedy that hasn’t happened yet, you miss out on the simple beauty of the everyday.  We see what we are looking for.  I am choosing to look for hope and joy.

I’ll still be here…sharing my stories and my moments.

Our stories and sharing are what is most important right now.

The goodness is still present.

There is still hope.

The steps we take in our daily lives will always have more of an impact on the world than any march.

Little things matter.

Our love matters.

Never stop believing that.

Thoughts from the Shower

It’s easy to believe in an absolute truth when standing in a crowd of those who believe the same thing.

When we are children we are taught in black and white, right and wrong, good and bad.

At some point we should grow up and start experiencing the potential truth of other values. In part, I am referring to value as it exists in art.  Value is the lightness or darkness of tone or color. There is a whole lotta gray out there between the black and white.

If you spend all of your time in the same place you’ve always been…the coffeehouse, the workplace, the congregation of fellow believers, your neighborhood, your comfort zone…you are not challenged.  Absolute truth is comfortable.

If you hear something over and over again, you’ll tend to start believing it.  That happens in our childhood when we learn basic values from our parents…our family…our people.

Then we start venturing out into the world.

By high school, we are usually full-on challenging our formerly held “truths” – the truth of our parents.

I don’t believe that means we are always thinking for ourselves.

It often means that we are just taking on the beliefs of the crowd we are in.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong.  As humans, we need others.  It’s nature.  It’s science.  It’s who we are.

There can be safety in that crowd, that herd, that gang of like-minded individuals. Comfort even.

But there is even greater danger.  Danger to those that are not in the “in crowd”.

In the next couple of days, if you look around you and find that you are in a crowd that believes in the same “truth” that you do…

Make sure that you have shone an intense light on the truth that you are espousing.  Have you thought it through?  Are your thoughts your own?  Are those thoughts comfortable?      Are you challenging and redefining that truth?  Do you feel the need to “defend” it? Are you comfortable and safe?

If you consider yourself a champion of the oppressed, the different, the marginalized, does your protection apply to all people who believe differently than you?  Does everyone matter?  Did you decide who was worthy of your efforts or was it a group decision that you threw your hat in with?

It’s not brave to stand in a crowd and defend your “truth” in the safety of numbers.  A majority of voices doesn’t define what is true or good or right.

Truth is not found in argument, in protest, in noise, in conflict, in chaos, in darkness.

Truth is when you are alone, in contemplation, in intelligent thought, in light…

Make your voice known.

Share your truth.

Make the world a better place.

Recognize that truth, as you understand it may differ from the belief of the person standing next to you.

Rejoice and be glad that you are able to stand next to and with someone that you do not agree with.

That is freedom.

That is these United States of America.

 

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…

An Idea

I’ve got an idea.

Let’s cut through the bullshit, the rhetoric, the politics, the divisiveness, the “funny” social media postings that are really just offensive….

And let’s just support one ideal.

ALL LIVES MATTER.