Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Taking License(s) on the Highway

Hot Darn! Kate Skates!

O HAPY DZ. Kate skates. Spell check would go into overdrive deciphering license-plate speak during a 1346-mile drive from Florida to Massachusetts. The long, unwinding road from I-95 Exit 156 in Sebastian, FL to I-495, Exit 31, Littleton Common/Groton, MA gets boring. Scenic it is not. The leaf-filled trees overhanging Connecticut’s Merritt Parkway in are a welcome sight after Newark's factories, the gritty streets of New York, and merging hell trying to access the George Washington Bridge. Keeping track of license-plate speak is a great way to keep my eyes busy and my psyche alert.
Personalized license plates abound these days, but it’s hard to figure out what DONUT H8 (do not hate) means when you’re barreling down the road at 75 mph. Having a willing scribe in the passenger seat is helpful at such times. My scribe, my 18-year-old son, however, was not willing and complained most times I called out “FA8 WIZ—write that one down!” Slow-motion, tortoise-style, he would reach for the pen and pad of paper and say, “What was that again?” Meanwhile, I would repeat, “ENDURANC—endurance without the e at the end,” five or six times so I wouldn’t forget.
My enthusiasm was not shared. Some plates were so bad, he refused to even write those down. “I want the bad ones, too!” I would say, “for comparison.” Nothing doing. “I am not writing P LUTTU,” he would flatly state. I finally convinced him to write each one when I took my hands off the wheel and said, “Give me the pad and the pen!” He (wisely) figured anything was better than having his distracto-matic mother writing while driving—even if that meant writing – STAR – when it was the last thing he wanted to do.
Had my scribe been more cooperative, and looked for plates with me, our count would have exceeded 51 I’m certain. Of those 51, a smattering are worthy of sharing (and, of course, my comments).
DOCS MOM and DR MOM 18 mean at least two moms on the highway are proud their offspring is a doctor. Perhaps that child went to an Ivy League university, like one driver. Not content with bragging rights after being admitted to Harvard, he decided none shall forget he still meanders the Cambridge campus: IN HARVD.
Misfires are more common that we might think, even if spelled differently: MIS F1RE and MSFIRE.
When one licensee is not driving, he is doing something else: IRUNALOT.
This driver advises stressed out fellow commuters: ORUN MILA.
It would have been interesting to see these two cars side by side:
Veterans want us to know they have served and I salute them (in my mind, I must keep my hands on the steering wheel): VETREN and IRAQ 02.
I am blessed to have two of these: GR8 SI5.
Did someone get weary from too many honking horns? RU DEF 2.
One family bought a huge van for their pet: 4R POOH.
I couldn’t figure out if this person likes a state or a gaming console:
One driver would B HAVNA better time if she did not spend so much creeping down I-95 in Virginia (along with hundreds of other motorists inching forward minute by minute). At least R RAGIN didn’t get too upset and crept along with the rest of us. Another driver was nonchalant: SHRUG.
“That one’s dumb! I’m not writing it!” said my scribe. “T ROSE is my favorite perfume, so just write it!” I retorted.
We saw an OGRE 5, a misspelled CHOLE, LE DADDY passed us twice, and the University of Florida fan plates must be taken for the most part:
G8TOR 5.
My favorite? K8 SK8S. I picture Kate, ponytail flying behind her, as she whizzes down a sidewalk alongside the Indian River Lagoon, a huge smile on her face. HOT DERN!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Water Is the Hand That Holds the Staff of Life

Thirst That Isn't Always Quenched

Thirst is on my mind these days. Thirst defines my craving throughout the day. Thirst defines the state of my yard. Thirst defines the state of my state—Florida. Summer officially started mere days ago, but we swelter here in the southeast and northwest areas of the state. We are scorched. We thirst. Our land is parched. Water levels in our wells are diminishing. Lake Okeechobee is diminishing. Rainy season is delayed. Mother Nature or whomever is in charge of the skies and the earth in this dehydrated place has turned aside and from a distance views the dusty roads, the evaporating canals, and the withering lawns.
Not enough clouds in this sky
Obsessive-compulsive proclivities in full gear, I watch the sky, I check weather.com. I wait and delight in dark clouds, yet am disappointed when the few spits of rain that fall are quickly sucked into the hot griddle path of concrete that wends it way to my door.
Water glass at my elbow, I quench my bodily thirst throughout the day. Were it so easy, I would attach an elbow and water glass to the outside world and have it replenished as soon as it is drained.
Patience is difficult as I see the green of the earth fade to browns and tans. I want it to rain now. Wanting doesn’t make it happen.
I don’t have facts, figures, and statistics to prove how much the greed of civilization has hastened the browning of the region in which I live. I read about estates using millions (millions!) of gallons of water each month to keep landscaping lush, green, and tropical. During the heat of the noonday sun, I drive past houses and see sprinklers fling precious drops of moisture into the baked air. Others, I am certain, hide under cover of darkness and irrigate away to keep their properties verdant.
I appreciate water in these dry days. I conserve it, and use only sparing amounts to keep my herbs and flowers alive until the rains come. Physical thirst is easily slacked, but even that can be trying. Softened water flowing from my faucets has too high of a sodium content for me to safely drink it. Every week, we head to the reverse-osmosis water-filling station and fill our jugs. We are blessed. We have access to potable water, when millions throughout the globe do not.
I am grateful for that blessing. I am grateful I can take a glass and fill it and drink. Treasuring this gift, I will not waste it.
Artesian describes the well at my home in Massachusetts. It’s 300 feet deep; the water is clear, cold, and tastes marvelous. When I return to New England, at the end of my 1350-mile drive, I pull into the driveway, stop the car, get out, and stretch. I hug the people I love, and then I walk to the kitchen, get a glass from the cabinet, walk to the sink, and fill the glass with that delightful liquid, which I then cherish as every drop flows across my lips and tongue and into my body. “Ah, water is good.”
It’s more than good. It keeps us alive. It’s important to be aware of how we use water, of how we abuse water, of how much it matters to us. If bread is the staff of life, then water is the hand that holds that staff.
What’s the best water you ever tasted? When you next take a drink, can you be grateful for the life-giving essence of water and be mindful of how you use it, how you conserve it, and how you honor it?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Courage to Connect

Missed Connections of the Non-Craigslist Kind
Can I Find the Courage to (Re-)Connect?
Courage to connect? I’m a coward. I am now living my fifty-ninth year of life. Even with the Internet, Facebook, e-mail, and snail mail, I could make a long list of missed connections, and I don’t mean the Craigslist kind. As we age, must our social circles always shrink? I feel the limits of time, the limits of responsibilities, the limits of work and pleasure. Time left over, that nebulous thing called free time, I tend to spend in the circle that emanates toward those with whom I share biology—my children, my grandchildren, my sisters, and their families.
Biology circles, however, have limits. In my biological circles, I share similar cells, DNA, and heredity I embrace as well as heredity I do my best to avoid. Family is foremost, but it isn’t always first in many life experiences. Other connections once existed in abundance for me. I miss those connections. In my teen years, I stayed as far away from my biology as I could. Friends and their families provided me a refuge, because the term dysfunction does not do justice to any definition of what awaited me in that place I lived; it cannot be called home. A living horror, an alcohol-soaked, violence-laden existence was prevalent there. If biology was destiny, I was having none of it.
As an adult, I have managed to escape much of that biological destiny. The scourge of alcoholism and drug addiction are not a part of my life, nor that of my children. I can attribute that to self-determination—alcohol and drugs would not define me, would not be my life. Self-determination aside, during my teen years, I had friends who afforded me a glimpse into what life could be like when I visited their homes and even lived in some of those homes for months at a time. Those glimpses, each one a hiatus from hell, provided me a respite from the dirty biology I faced when I opened the door to a broken house, a broken home, the place myself and my siblings went when there was no place else to go.
I am grateful, infinitely grateful, for that respite, for those times of laughter, love, safety. But I have lost those connections. Time and distance and fear, yes fear, keep me disconnected. I am marked by the days of hell on Date Palm Drive. I fight them, but I’ve been left with a lack of sense of home, a sense of place. I am afraid. I never felt good enough, and I still do not. And it’s not the fault of those with whom I’ve lost connection. They never made me feel less than, not good enough. It’s me. It’s as if I’m afraid I haven’t transcended those awful times, that even the glimpses of normalcy I gained and since achieved were never enough, are not now enough. I’m afraid that someone will think, “You know, she really hasn’t come that far from Date Palm Drive.”
My fear cripples me in many ways socially. Biology is easy. Family is coming… I’m comfortable. I’m free. They know the past. They accept me. But my dis-connection with those outside my family circle hurts people. I imagine they wonder what they’ve done… nothing. I am pained over the connections I have clipped—those I have kept clipped because of my misgivings about myself. It’s time to stop. Even writing this… today’s prompt… is difficult because I have to be honest. I’ve hurt people. I hurt myself. It’s time to widen the circle, to transcend the limits of biology. Friends are part of my destiny as well.

Today, June 22, 2011, this blog post on the “Courage to Connect” is part of participating in the #Trust30 30-day writing challenge from ralphwaldoemerson.me. The prompt for June 22, 2011 can be found here: http://ralphwaldoemerson.me/david-spinks

Love My Enemies? How about No!

Must I Really Love My Enemies?

Love my enemies? I don’t think so. The word enemy precludes that whole notion of love. If someone is my enemy, there’s a reason for that status, usually a pretty solid one. I don’t just randomly decide, “Okay, you are my enemy, and I don’t love you.” No, to attain enemy status, a person must commit a grievous error, sin, or action toward me, or especially toward any of my children. Therefore, I do not love that person. In fact, once someone has achieved enemy status in my scorekeeping book of life, I don’t want anyone else to love them, either.
Love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness (a whole other topic) are difficult enough to extend to those I love on a regular basis because relationships are a challenge. After someone has crossed into enemy territory, it becomes a gargantuan feat to even think about love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. A huge part of me prefers the “eye-for-an-eye” approach, the feud that passes from generation to generation, the path of “I don’t love you, and I’ll do my best to make certain that no one loves you.”
Ah, but it’s a rocky path. That path, the enemy path, is harder to navigate than the one of love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness. I make that path and cultivate thorns on it. I place vipers where footsteps fall. I nurture tangles of poison ivy. I keep it just navigable, however, so that even though difficult to traverse, I can continue my sordid quest.
It’s wrong. I know it’s wrong. The verse I read this morning in Luke 6:27, “Love your enemies,” doesn’t say anything about it being easy to love my enemies. Buddhism, Judaism, and other world religions advise against holding a grudge and keeping the fires of hatred burning. The very word “holding” implies the weight of any grudge we carry. To keep a fire burning, it must be fed. To continue to hate my enemy, I have to gather the wood to feed that fire, the wood made of anger, hurt, pity, resentment, and minutes, hours, and days of my life devoted to that bitter harvest.
But, I don’t want to love my enemy. Hating, criticizing, trashing, gossiping, and carrying grudges generate a huge adrenaline rush. Adrenaline is addicting. However, do I want my inability to love my enemies to suck up my life force? Do I want or need anger and lack of love to produce negative energy?
“Can’t I continue to not love my enemies?” I ask myself. “No, you can’t!” echoes the voice inside my head. Maybe it’s God, maybe it’s a good friend, maybe it’s someone who loves me in spite of everything I’ve done to become their enemy. (The voice also sounds a bit like Jillian Michaels in the 30-Day Shred DVD.) In any event, it’s clear. No, I can’t continue to not love my enemies.
Conversely, agape, selfless love of one person for another, produces a feeling of calm contentment. It’s light, airy, free floating. It’s a tall order to focus on agape, to let go of anger, hurt, and resentment--to banish adrenaline-inducing enemy emotions to another arena in which I no longer am a combatant.
Love my enemies, really love my enemies? Just thinking about it produces a thud in my gut. Can I do this? Is it possible? Great examples exist of loving our enemies: Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesus. Nameless, non-famous people also move about our lives with a cheery smile, a warm greeting, a hand held out to help, a happy disposition, a free heart because they have learned to love their enemies.
It’s unrealistic for me to say, “Okay, I’m better now. I have changed. I will love everyone.” That probably will not happen quite so quickly. Aspiring to any change, a positive change, is the beginning of making such a change. Perhaps the next time I enter enemy territory, I won’t wield my spear, but instead take a silent step forward, my heart open, my hand extended in peace and my white flag lightly lifted by a cool breeze. It’s not exactly love, but it is a step on a path that in my heart I know I want to take.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Enthusiasm Versus the Blank Page

Enthusiasm is not a solo emotion. Enthusiasm experienced alone can and does go flat. Enthusiasm speaks to me of sharing words, thoughts, energy, action. Enthusiasm can cast its aura on everything I do, but when I am in a solitary state, that enthusiasm can be lonely, and can lose its spark. I am enthusiastic about my work, when I can silence the voices telling me it’s not my work. However, when my work is done, if I have no one with whom to share it, the venture becomes stale. I see my enthusiasm wilt; it deflates like a week-old helium balloon. The Internet and blogging certainly help stimulate and maintain enthusiasm. Stories and books and poetry are no longer banished to closed spiral notebooks stacked on a closet shelf (although some probably should be). I can write, edit, and publish, and bring my words to others. I can say “Ha! I did it!” as soon as I push the publish button.
To be more excited—yes, enthusiastic—about my work, I long to share it with a colleague. Three summers ago, I worked on a series of preschool through middle school-level tests with a friend/writer/editor. Our best days were spent parsing a phrase, turning a word, basting a paragraph to perfection. I miss that, but writing is a solo venture. Writing groups help, editors help, but when it comes right down to it, writers face a blank page, a blank document, and a blinking cursor.  else but enthusiasm, even if it is a keen, quiet, determined, and focused enthusiasm, can fill that page, fill that document, and move that cursor along the line.

Today, June 21, 2011, with this blog post, I am participating in the #Trust30 30-day writing challenge from ralphwaldoemerson.me. The prompt for June 21, 2011 can be found here: http://ralphwaldoemerson.me/mars-dorian.

Light, Warmth, Energy

 Summer Solstice Is Today at 1:16 p.m
Notice the Sun

       It is ironic that today, the first day of summer, which heralds days of heat and light, summer fun, summer sun, is also the Summer Solstice, which marks the sun’s trek away from the Earth. Today, at 1:16 p.m. in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun begins to go south.

Light, let there be light. Light is more abundant today, this longest day, than on any other day. As the sun moves toward the shortest, darkest day (December 21), we would be remiss to not notice the sun, to not notice the light, to not express gratitude for the live-giving, life-sustaining source of energy, warmth, heat, light, food, shelter.

Summer solstice has been celebrated as long as humans have had rituals. Several rituals marking this Solstice are considered pagan, but don’t let religious separatism prevent you from being aware of this longest day. Early Celtic groups celebrated Summer Solstice with a bonfire. If you live in sun-parched Florida, Arizona, or any other drought-stricken area, don’t try this at home. European festivities include gathering flowers and herbs.
       Foods served at Summer Solstice gatherings focus on sun colors, red, orange, gold, yellow—think summer squash, corn, tomatoes, watermelon, peaches, nectarines, raspberries, strawberries. Honey, golden rich and the bounty of bees dancing among the spring flowers and early summer blooms, also is served at Summer Solstice.
Foods served at Summer Solstice gatherings focus on sun colorsred, orange, gold, yellow—think summer squash, corn, tomatoes, watermelon, peaches, nectarines, raspberries, strawberries. Honey, golden rich and the bounty of bees dancing among the spring flowers and early summer blooms, also is served at Summer Solstice.
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What will you do with the extra light today? Take a few moments to appreciate the precious gift of the sun. I know it’s hot outside. It is summer, however, as the sun leaves us for the day and the Earth cools, sit outside, take a walk, pay attention, celebrate the sun.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Oh, the Tangled Web of Sabotage We Weave

Sabotage: Malcontent employees destroying an employer’s property or manufacturing ability; action taken by a civilian or enemy agent to hinder a nation’s war effort; act or process tending to hamper or hurt; deliberate subversion. (Based loosely on the Webster’s definition.)

I expected sabotage to be defined as deliberately thwarting one’s own goals or life purpose because that’s how I often use the word. I was surprised the first definition relates to the work world. The second definition relates to war. The third, to hurt or hamper, is closest to the definition I sought.
When I consider sabotage, however, it often relates to work. I am the employee, my own employee, yet I sabotage my personal work. War? War is the battle when I sit down to write. I wage war against my fear, war against my insecurities. Unless and until I start writing (my work), the enemy wins.
My manufacturing is hampered and hurt when I allow disruptions by life’s minutiae—fold the laundry, talk on the phone, check e-mail and Facebook, the weather, the news—my factory grinds to a halt, my war effort is interrupted, and more life passes me by. I don’t call it deliberate subversion; but I should because when I fritter away my energy on the Internet, share oh-so-compelling family drama via the telephone, e-mail, or status updates, my subversion might as well be deliberate.
I sometimes sabotage myself in more dramatic ways. My recent full-blown sabotage began May 18. While perusing various blogs, I stumbled on one by Scott Young: “The Really Simple Way to Get Things Done” (http://zenhabits.net/simple-work). I have trouble getting things done. I write lists, I set goals (often unattainable), I stumble, I fall, I sabotage.
May 18 was exactly 12 days before the first of several houseguests would arrive to celebrate my son’s graduation. On June 4, 15 family members would join us. I wasn’t certain how many would bunk here, but I planned on about ten. On May 18, I was overwhelmed. I had a lot to do.
“The Really Simple Way to Get Things Done” seemed like a Godsend—it is and likely would have been had I not sabotaged everything. I had 12 days to prepare for company and a party. I also had to work full-time. However, I figured I had a simple way to handle everything—and more. I committed to the simple way for a month, certain that in 30 days, I would have an entirely new life.
The heart of the plan is having a weekly set of goals. My goals for my first week were the following:
1.   Weed whack/trim the entire yard.
2.   Organize stacks of papers on my filing cabinet (about two months’ worth).
3.   Begin purging files in desk and inside filing cabinet.
4.   Exercise every day.
5.   Write and publish seven blogs.
6.   Organize the linen closet.
7.   Sew new covers for the patio chair cushions.
8.   Clean the garage; put boxes in the attack and pack up yard sale items.
9.   Cook dinner at least five nights.
     10.  Hang new watercolors.
     11.  Plan menus for guests and the party.
My work goals included proofreading ten chapters of several book projects, copyediting a book, and proofreading a 600+ page book, which meant at least 50 hours of work. The work and home goals were in addition to my daily and weekly routines. I signed on for much more than any normal person, but I would get everything done because I had the really simple way.
I was so confident that I e-mailed the blog’s author to tell him about my 30-day commitment to his plan. I would give him weekly updates. (I contacted him once to tell him about an important paper I found during the garage purge, but haven’t since because I’m too embarrassed.)
At the end of week one, my spirits began to lag. I was exhausted from 10-hour workdays and my dervish efforts to do everything else. The Sunday before company arrived, I started sewing the chair covers. Five minutes later, my sewing machine broke. I crossed one thing off my list.
June 1, I drove 90 miles to the Orlando airport to pick up my daughter and her boyfriend. Near that date, the Domino Project sent me an e-mail about a Ralph Waldo Emerson writing project (http://ralphwaldoemerson.me/?utm_source=Ralph+Waldo+Emerson+Pledge&utm_campaign=0ec9e0428c-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email). Signers up committed to daily writing and posting from an e-mailed prompt for the next 30 days. Simple? Of course! I signed up for that, too.
When the rest of my guests arrived, I had trimmed the entire yard, cleared off the filing cabinet and purged a few folders. The garage was navigable, but not clean. The pictures were hung up, but no boxes were in the attic. The linen closet was a mess. I hadn’t had dinner in four days. I did have a meal plan and grocery list. I bailed on exercise and writing. I was behind on my work and frazzled. I vacuumed, cleaned the bathrooms, and washed bed linens. The day before graduation, I was on a ladder in the kitchen cleaning the light fixture. “This is so wrong,” I said to myself and climbed down.
Early on party day, my guests were at the beach or shopping. Everyone else would arrive at 3 p.m. Everything was done, except food preparation, kitchen clean-up, and tidying the bathrooms and the patio. My sewing machine was repaired, so at 11:30, I sat down to sew the cushion covers. I checked the clock and calculated hours left. “This is crazy!” I said aloud. I put away the sewing.
The party was great, the food delicious, and everyone left full and happy. However, in the back of my mind, I was anxious for Sunday afternoon when the house emptied, because I was behind on work and had missed a deadline. Sunday at 4 p.m., I was at my desk before the last car left the driveway. I worked until 10 p.m., got up at 6 a.m. Monday and completed the project. I worked on other projects the rest of the day. Two guests returned from a trip to the West Coast Monday evening, and my other daughter and her boyfriend came for a late-evening visit.
Tuesday afternoon, I again drove to the Orlando airport. Once home, I continued working furiously to meet deadlines. The Simple Way to Get Things Done was forgotten. I was slogging through what I hadn’t done. The 30-day writing project? Another commitment gone awry.
Thursday evening I was in bed, shaking with chills. Friday I ignored my symptoms even though I ached all over and froze in the air-conditioned truck while I house-hunted with my sister. Friday evening, I was flat on my back with a fever. No more sabotage, no more lists, no more exercise. No simple way to get anything done, because all I was going to do was lie in bed and alternately shiver, sweat, and ache.
Four days later, I was back at my desk, more behind than ever, but a bit more aware. I sabotage my life. I take on too much. I want to get more done. I have goals. I have two houses. I have bills. I have a job. But I feel even guiltier when I sabotage my own efforts. It’s time for a realistic look at my life, at what I can do, what I want to do, and what I will do. Time for a look at how I sabotage all of the above. When I take that look, I will be realistic about every aspect of my life. I am sorely tempted to pick up Scott Young’s Simple Way… and try again, because it is a great way to get things done. However, in a week I leave for New England, where I must ready a house for lease or sale. This is not the time to finish sewing the pillow covers, organize the linen closet, or purge the garage. I must get several things done before I leave—sewing, organizing, and purging are not among them. Nor do I have time for sabotage—my own especially.
When I return from New England, I will revisit how to get things done and I will revisit the simple way. I will check for sabotage before I begin and I will get more done. I will relieve myself of guilt. I will feel less like a failure. I will be more relaxed. Maybe I can even stay well.

P.S. I took a break for a few minutes and stepped away from my writing. As I got some ice for my drink, I pondered prying the melted ice away from the freezer edge. I was about to fetch some hot water and spray the jammed mess when the word “Sabotage” flashed in front of my eyes. I closed the freezer and walked back to the computer.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Alarmist Thermometer

Already sick?
Some thermometers are guaranteed to make you feel worse!

I’m ill. In typical invincible style, I pretended that wasn’t the case until Friday night when I shook with chills. I checked the house thermostat and nobody had lowered the temp from my cheapskate 81 degrees, so I knew something was up. I kind of already knew something was up, but I ignored and explained away my symptoms. I ached all over, but did yoga the two previous days and figured I was sore because I been away from my stretching routines for too long. I had an awful headache, but figured that was because I had been out with my sister all day Friday and didn’t have much caffeine. I kept moving, closing, and changing the air conditioning vents in my sister’s truck because I was cold, but chalked that up to her preference for a cooler ride.
Trembling with chills as soon as I walked inside at the end of the day, I could no longer rationalize my symptoms and instead added them up to some sort of virus attacking me. I went to bed. I’ve been in bed since Friday night and will likely stay here, with my hot tea, my cool drinks, my card deck, and the TV. I read a book yesterday, but I’m bored with reading, especially because my concentration level, in opposition to my body temperature, keeps getting lower and lower. TV doesn’t appeal to me. I have Steven Pressfield’s books, The War of Art (http://www.amazon.com/War-Art-Through-Creative-Battles) and Do the Work (http://www.amazon.com/Do-Work-Steven-Pressfield), hidden beneath a pile of pillows, but am avoiding them because I know that not having the energy to fight the Resistance and Do the Work will frustrate me.
About the only thing that provokes much of a response in my fever-addled brain is my thermometer. It’s digital and I have no idea what brand. It’s the standard beep-when-done model, except with a twist. If your body temperature is within a degree of normal, normal being 98.6, you hear a beep, beep, beep tone when your maximum temperature is reached. A fever, however, provokes a much different response: The sound is a few decibels higher and it shrieks Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! It’s unnerving. It’s like the thermometer is yelling, “You’re really sick now! You have a FEVER! Get out the Tylenol, Advil, aspirin, Aleve, and take something quick! Subtle it is not. Like I need to get more riled up about being sick. With some trepidation, I remove the thermometer and check it. Thus far, it’s gone only as high as 101.6, so I cannot imagine what it would sound like if I pushed 102.
After the most recent shrieking beep that announced I’m 100.6, I took some ibuprofen and put the thermometer aside. I marked the time so I don’t subject myself to more fear-invoking temperature taking a moment too soon. Four hours from now, I’ll face the beep again, ibuprofen and water nearby. When I’m sick, and cannot accomplish anything except fester and sweat, I tend to make lists of all the things I’m going to do as soon as I feel better. Number one on the list for this illness: Buy another thermometer.

Monday, June 6, 2011

There’s a Button?

When you’re waiting to flush a toilet, water pressure can be a problem. Is the tank full yet? Is it time? Nope, still hear that water running. What to do? Count to 1,000? Sing the ABC song? Search for compelling bathroom literature?
Such conversations are the types I often have with my family. We had that rather humorous discussion about bathroom water pressure just days ago. I didn’t have the while-away-time-time issue while waiting for tank filling. But I did have another issue I’d been waiting for years to discuss.
Self-flushing toilets are a wonderful invention for public restrooms. When they work well, a weary rest-stop traveler is guaranteed to be greeted by clean water in the bowl. It’s that clean water thing that was the problem. Sometimes, when I was in a public restroom, the sensor would go off too soon. I wanted the next weary traveler to also be greeted by a fresh bowl of water, so I shared my issue with a select few family members.
Just how does one trigger the sensor once again? I asked. I described my efforts: Stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down. Move from side to side. Walk the half step to the door, walk the half step backward. Stand up, sit down—again. It sometimes took a few minutes to trigger that sensor and it was frustrating. I figured there had to be a better way, or at least my family could empathize with my frustration after I shared my experience.
It didn’t quite happen that way. After I described my dilemma and efforts to fix the problem, my daughter Vee looked at me and said, “Uh, Mom? Why don’t you push the button?”
My response sent everyone into fits of laughter: “There’s a button?”
A discussion of how to access said button ensued. Now for years to come, the hilarious “There’s a button?” story will be shared at every family gathering, and probably at times of which I will be unaware.
“There’s a button?” could be a question for many aspects of our lives, however. How many times do we do something the hard way? How many times do we continue doing something the same way because it is the way we have always done it? How many times do we stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down, move side to side, and walk forward and back, when we could simply push the button?
The next time we get caught in a spiral of doing things the same way—that way that isn’t working or takes just too much effort, perhaps we should ask: Why don’t I push the button?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Backward Living

I have been living backward for too many years. Toni Morrison’s inspiring quote calls for a change: “We are traditionally rather proud of ourselves for having slipped creative work in there between the domestic chores and obligations. I'm not sure we deserve such big A-pluses for all that. ” (from Newsweek interview, 1981)
* * *
I want to live a life in which I slip the domestic chores and obligations in there between the creative work. I want to live a life so packed with creativity that I don’t even notice the domestic chores and obligations.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Milquetoast Musings...

Vanilla flavoring, white rice, pale lips, white shirts, faded Levi’s, flip-flops, subtle gold jewelry, quiet acceptance, hold my tongue, hold that thought…
All day, I struggled to find a strong belief, something that overtakes me with passion. I find only a void, and realize how long, too long, I have shied away from passion, power, risk.
Real vanilla extract, bittersweet chocolate, quinoa, red lipstick, green silk blouses, tight black pencil skirt, stilettos, dusty amethysts and diamonds removed from the box, shined and worn, speak up, speak out, walk tall, run into instead of away from the rain, face the fear, wake up—passion.

June 2 marks my second day of the  #Trust30 30-day writing challenge from ralphwaldoemerson.me

Single-sentence posts will join my other blog posts until the end of June as part of the "Trust Yourself (#Trust 30) Writing Challenge" from the Domino Project. It's "an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June 1, #Trust 30 Writing Challenge

Memories step into the present, retying broken threads and reminding me that it's always the relationships that are important.

Single-sentence posts will join my other blog posts for the next 30 days. Today begins my "Trust Yourself (#Trust 30) Writing Challenge" from the Domino Project. It's "an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself."