Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How to Find Utopia? You Can't!

How to Find Utopia: You Can’t!

Oh, Utopia. Don’t we all want to go there? I can’t. You can’t. We can’t.
It's Greek to me. Utopia: from Greek ou not, no + topos place
Its most concise definition is no place.
Utopia: Its other definition is a place of ideal perfection, especially in laws, government, and social conditions.
* * * * *
Whichever definition you choose—Utopia does not yet exist. It’s up to you, to me, to all of us, to create something close.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cracked Grace: Reckless with the Abundance

Cracked Grace
Awakening to Gifts 
One, two, three, four—gifts of the day—so far.
Still sleepy, not quite energized after spending yesterday in bed nursing a stomach bug, my pace was slow as I headed to the end of the driveway. Yesterday’s and today’s newspapers sat in a pile. The mail also needed fetching after sitting in the cold, black box through the afternoon and evening while I rested my illness-weary self.
Perhaps it was the scent that awakened my senses and lured my eyes toward the gardenia bush, where I spied four early-season blooms.
One . . .

Two . . .

Three . . .

Four . . .

“Gifts! Such beautiful gifts to begin my day!”
Reckless with the abundance (and first checking for buds that will bloom soon), I snipped them all and brought them inside where the scent, the white petals against the green and blue, and my gifts will continue to bless me.

Where will you find your gifts today?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Cut in Line? How About I Cut You?

Line Rage
Roid Rage, Road Rage, Line Rage
Rage… Rage… Rage…

In just moments, I went from this . . .

To this . . .

“Cut in line? Well, how about I cut you?”
Earlier in the day, my sister and I had discussed road rage in all its ugly manifestations. It’s a scary thing, especially in concealed-carry Florida when rap rage (anger from loud music) resulted in a young man’s death. Our society has several forms of misplaced rage. I could cite “He/she/they done me wrong examples all day long.” I could also cite “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” examples all day long. Citing them doesn’t do much. However, a bit of personal awareness and putting a check on my own behavior changed a little rage-full episode I felt coming on later that Saturday.
I had never experienced line rage—my own, that is. I noted a mild form of it a year ago when a man got angry when I let an elderly, motion-challenged couple in line in front of me. I defused that quickly when I took myself to the end of the line in their place.
This time, it was my turn to feel the rage. I’d shopped the “Everything 50 Percent Off” sale at a local thrift shop for an hour. I schlepped my treasures to the store’s checkout counter. I had a stash to the side of the counter that I kept bringing forward for payment. As I waited for the cashier, who was occupied, a woman stepped to the counter, and in the space between my things and the cash register, she put her items down. “Huh?” I said to myself, at first. I was too stunned to be angry, but that didn’t last long. I felt the bile rise and I started forming the words in my throat. “Who do you think you are? You cut in front of me! I’m first! Go to the end of the line!” I put the brakes on that and zipped my lips as I turned to get more of my items to pile on the counter. I was ready to blast the woman with a spew of self-righteous scorn and venom. I felt my anger bubble, bubble, toil, and trouble to the edge of my lips.
It was then that I remembered my road rage discussion earlier in the day. I checked in with myself and noticed that the rage I felt was so disproportionate to the situation. I stopped myself from speaking long enough to decide that “It just wasn’t worth it” to get into a confrontation with the woman. I was still angry, but decided to just let it go.
Not that it was easy. It wasn’t. I had some serious indignation to deal with. I still felt the “Who do you think you are?” thoughts, and the “Entitled just a bit, don’t you think?” judgment, but I kept tamping it down because in the big scheme of things, in the pattern and plan I have for my life, I never added “Scream at woman for cutting in line at thrift shop” to any of my life goals.
That pause, that observation of what was going on inside me, kept me from changing (in a most negative way) what was going on outside me. That’s the pause, the mindfulness that keeps me from being my worst self. I’m grateful for it when I'm aware of it.
I was surprised in the most pleasant sort of way when the cashier finally turned to us and said to the line-cutting person, “She was first” pointing at me. I had an opportunity to be magnanimous and I took it. “Go ahead,” I said. “You have only a few things.”

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

French for "That's a Lie"

Cracked Grace
You Can Change the Past 
Yeah, yeah, the saying goes “You can’t change the past.” Au contraire. (That’s French for “That’s a lie.”)
At the beginning of each day, you receive a gift. Open that gift and seize the opportunity to create a past of which you are proud. A past that makes you smile. A past that holds no shame. A past that holds no regrets. Each of your actions during each new day creates your past. Choose wisely.
You can change the past.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I Want It . . . You Can't Have It!

You Can’t Have It!

                             Lovely to look at,
                    A delight to behold,
You can’t have it
Because it’s SOLD!

Lipstick? Not for me. I don’t like the stuff. It’s dark, it smears, and it tastes funny, even the fruit-flavored kind. Most make-up tends to the unnatural, but lipstick? Who in the world has red, purple, black, orange, or hot pink lips? Worse, whenever I tried to apply it, I looked like a toddler who found Mommie’s makeup.
Lipstick plants? I love them! The waxy leaves, the colors, the trailing strands, the fragrance that filled my car Saturday after I bought one at Gardenfest in Vero.
It’s sheer luck that I got the plant as far as my car. After I paid for it—a most splendid specimen and a bargain at $20—the vendor agreed to hold it for me until I was ready to leave the event. He wrote “SOLD Chris” on yellow tape, which he then wrapped around the plant.

When SOLD Does Not Mean Sold
“Sold” didn’t mean “sold,” however, to some persistent folks. When I fetched it on my way out of the park, the vendor told me the problems he had keeping “my” plant. Several times, he nabbed people in the process of removing the tape. He said he had to rewrap the “SOLD Chris” ribbon so often that he finally attached it with several tight knots. I thanked him and I imagine he felt some relief as I walked away.
In the crush of crowds attending a popular event like Gardenfest, I’m guessing people steal plants. Many vendors have the same or similar plants in look-alike plastic or terra cotta pots, and it probably doesn’t require slick sleight of hand to remove an identifying tag.
I wonder how often people refuse to take no—that is, “Sold”—for an answer? I can’t answer that question. However, I continue to question and be surprised at the pervasive sense of entitlement in our culture. I’m stunned by the insistent efforts of those who see something, decide they want it, and go to untold lengths to get it—simply because they think they should have it, regardless of whether someone else already has it. Perhaps they need to take a clue from the Who’s “Magic Bus” lyrics: “I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it. You can’t have it.”

Lipstick plants, Aeschynanthuslobbianus, are beautiful, fun, and easy-to-grow.