Crocus Strong

12 04 2013

 

crocus-2Spring is having trouble booting in the midwest this year. My bulbs came up in sunshine and warmth only to be covered in ice twice and snow three times.

The little golden patch of crocus keeps trying. When the sun comes the buds are glorious and open, petals outstretched as arms embracing the hope of newness. When covered in ice or snow (or both), the buds are shut tight. Patient. Protected.

My crocus (or is it crocuses, or croci?) are resilient. Even after every type of weather dumped on them from confused clouds, they endure.

My little gold-buds contain wisdom. The perfect time for blooming is built into their bulbs and they obey the instructions without complaint or frustration.

My spring heralds are hope-harbingers. They are pretty, however the joy they deliver is also due to the promise of the new life they signal– spring returning after death and harsh barren cold.

My returning friends are delicate as butterfly wings and as strong as sub-zero ice. Their beauty is powerful and their strength is radiant.

My tiny droplets of colorful hope lead the entire garden community, sleepers still, waiting for safer days. The others are not strong enough to be a crocus.

I wonder if I am.





I Know Too Much

7 07 2012

I know too much.

And I have too much.

.

What I don’t know, I can find out.

What I don’t have, I can save for and buy.

.

I like to learn new things.

I like to buy new things.

.

What I could know used to be limited by my personal and local library and newspapers.

What I could buy used to be limited by local stores and the Sears catalog.

Now both are as unlimited as the Internet and as vast as Google’s search tentacles.

I have more new books (thank-you Amazon!) than I can possibly read this year; and more decisions on what to buy when I have extra cash (thank-you wishlist-enabled vendors!) than I care to evaluate.

I know too much; I have too much; and I shiver in my flip flops, for “to whom much is given, much is required”.

The Internet is only partly to blame (if guilt needs to be assigned).  A stack of conference notes and booklets begs to be reviewed and summarized.  Books I’ve finished recently wait their turns to be skimmed one last time (especially the underlined sections) before shelving.  Seminar CD sirens call to me through a growing layer of dust, hoping to wreck my urgent to-do list resolve on the jagged rocks of taking a listening break.

I don’t think I’m alone in my over-saturated paralysis.  But I may be a product of my pre-Internet generation.

I’ve noticed that my younger friends who grew up on computers and cell phones aren’t bothered by not being able to weigh all the options.  They don’t miss the daily paper (because they never had one to read) but get their news piecemeal from blogs and Internet news digests.  They look until they find an answer (sometimes verifying their findings with a supporting source) and move on.  They take what they need and leave the rest.  And there is a LOT of “the rest”.

My brain cries out for rest.  My soul longs for it.  How much more do I need to know?  Especially since I don’t have time to act on everything I know.  Just getting “do unto others as you would have them do to you” keeps me busy.

So why do I need to know more?

To be kind to myself, New is fun and energizing.  But the rate of New coming at me is morphing fun into high walls— killing fun and keeping real life out.  Ignoring email and Facebook for a day floods my inboxes that have become unmanageable with 100’s of messages as I write this.

I really don’t need more.  More has become paralyzing.  I need order—or at least a survival plan!

I have been looking for a plan this year.  My One Word is simplicity.

THAT is something I need more of!

————————

How about you?  Do you struggle with this?  Have you discovered strategies or coping skills?

One that I have been trying out is acting on what I know instead of consuming more info.  More about that next time.





The Other Half of Me

30 06 2012

I have my mom’s slight frame, her sister’s smile, and her great-grandma’s eyes.  My sister’s daughter looks like me when I was her age, and my brother’s daughter looks enough like me to be my daughter.

For all 49 years of my life I have seen myself as my mother’s daughter.  I’m not a prude – I know I wouldn’t be here without my dad.  It’s just that I’ve never identified with him or his side of the family.  We didn’t spend much time with them when I was younger, and I don’t resemble anyone on that side of my family tree.  And he and I didn’t have much time together; he died soon after my 16th birthday.

A recent conversation has redefined how I see myself.

I was sitting outside at dusk on a picnic table talking to friend who was asking questions about my photography background.  His questions reminded me that my dad was a newspaper photographer before I was born.  “I never made the connection until now that we both enjoyed taking pictures,” I wondered aloud as the sunset yielded to the first stars of the night.  “We never got to share our interest.  My dad died before I bought my first camera.”

That got me thinking.  Dad had also been a staff writer at the newspaper.  I vaguely remember him congratulating me when I won an essay contest in junior high, but we never really talked about liking to write.

And this week my mom added another surprise to my already churning thoughts.  She mentioned that Dad kept a detailed scrapbook of his published stories and photos.  My dad a scrapbooker, too!  Maybe I’m more than just my mother’s daughter.

I started making a mental list, tracing photography, writing, music, love of nature, playing practical jokes, long walks in the woods, the quest for a simple life, doing what’s right (not popular), back to my dad’s influence.  How did I not see that before?

Unconsciously, I defined myself through a filter that didn’t include an important half of who I am.

Lately, I’ve been enjoying getting to know my dad— and myself— through the interests we shared.  At every stage of life I have grieved not having him around.  Now I find myself wanting to ask him how he would have framed a shot.  And I would love to know if he would have made the jump from film to digital.  I wonder if he would have had a blog; or at least subscribed to mine.

The dawn is putting out the stars as I finish writing in the quiet of a summer morning.  Looking out the window at the rain, I am mourning that we missed each other, like the two ruts of a forest trail—both going in the same direction, but never meeting.   And yet in a sense, as I turn to focus a shot, there he is, smiling beside me.

I am my father’s daughter.

 

A grade school photo of my dad





Noticing

20 06 2012

Why does it take you so long to vacuum?  I’m glad you asked.

Get vacuum out of closet, unwrap cord, and plug in. 30 seconds.

Notice dog nose smears on window, get rags and cleaner, clean window and windowsill.  3 min.

Notice other windows have dog smears including the back patio door, continue cleaning all windows within reach of dog nose. 5 min.

Notice plant by back door is dusty and in need of trim.  Find scissors, trim and rotate plant. 1 min.

Back to vacuum.  I am now 10 minutes into vacuuming but haven’t turned it on yet.

Notice couch is frumpy and in need of a detox.  Lightly spray couch and pillows… and dog’s chair while I’m at it (WIAI).  2 min.

Notice end table is sticky when setting spray bottle down.  Get a clean rag out and wash/dry table.  Clean light switches WIAI on the way to drop the now-sticky rag into the washing machine.  5 min.

Start vacuuming, ignoring the light globes that need washing and the black entertainment center components that are a dusty shade of gray, but not the piece of Christmas wrapping paper peeking out from behind the couch.  (“How long has that been there?” I wonder, in a dazzling display of mental duh-ness.  “Since Christmas,” I answer myself, giving myself a mental headslap, since my hands are holding the vacuum handle and the shard of wrapping paper.)  Living room floor is vacuumed. 10 min.

Now I deal with the light globes and dusty entertainment center. 15 min.

Standing on the dining room table removing the light globes, I notice the couch spray on the table, so I flip the cushions, vacuum them and under them (such a lot of crumbs for a couple who don’t have a lot of parties!) and spray the whole thing again.  18 min.

One hour later, I am pushing the vacuum through the kitchen into the family room.

There are four more carpeted rooms in my house.  My husband can vacuum them all in 30 minutes.

This is one of the few times I wish for male-pattern blindness.





The Pleasures of an Ordinary Life

7 11 2011

By Judith Viorst

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It’s been awhile since I’ve posted.  Too busy enjoying my ordinary life, I guess!  I found this little poem in a book my mother gave me for my birthday earlier this year.

Some people have commented that striving for ordinary is a cop-out.  I disagree.  The Ordinary Life is full of adventure, great joy (and pain), and mystery.  But only to the one seeking to be truly present and to not miss the treasures (and pleasures) on an ordinary life.

——————————————-

I have had my share of necessary losses,

Of dreams I know no longer can come true.

I’m done now with the whys and becauses.

It’s time to make things good, not just make do.

It’s time to stop complaining and pursue

The pleasures of an ordinary life.

 

I used to rail against my compromises.

I yearned for the wild music, the swift race.

But happiness arrived in new disguises:

Sun lighting a child’s hair.  A friend’s embrace.

Slow dancing in a safe and quiet place.

The pleasures of an ordinary life.

 

I’ll have no trumpets, triumphs, trails of glory.

It seems the woman I’ve turend out to be

Is not the heroine of some grand story.

But I have learned to find the poetry

In what my hands can touch, my eyes can see.

The pleasures of an ordinary life.

 

Young fantasies of magic and of mystery

Are over.  But they really can’t compete

With all we’ve built together: A long history.

Connections that help render us complete.

Ties that hold and heal us.  And the sweet,

Sweet pleasures of an ordinary life.





Rapture 2011

20 05 2011

I’m not a prophet, but the end of the world is here.

Tomorrow, May 21, 2011, is the day Jesus will come back according to Harold Camping, and the world will be destroyed five months later.  Some have spent crazy amounts of money helping to spread the news so that no one gets left behind.

Most people familiar with the Bible know there is a verse in which Jesus states that no one knows the hour or day when time will end except Father God in heaven.  So it seems more than a little presumptuous that any minister of the Word of God would be bold enough to name a time.  More than a little!

However, think a little longer with me about this.

Walk down a theater ramp, suspend your disbelief, and listen to the movie theme rising as the house lights dim.  About 15 minutes into the show disaster erupts and people are dying all over the place without a hero in sight.  Tension builds as plot lines intersect until the climax, when civilization is rescued (just barely) by an average guy who cares so much about those in harm’s way, he takes on almost super-human strength and qualities.  An emotional domestic scene wraps up the loose ends as lovers, and former enemies, put pettiness behind them for what truly matters.

Now step back into reality with me, trading daylight for the imposed darkness.  A little shift has occurred in my mind and heart; I am not the same as I was before I entered the theater.  How about you?

So, what if tomorrow is our last day together?  How would that change today?  What pettiness would become unimportant, and what priorities would become clear as metaphorical dust settles in slow motion through sunrays?  Statistically, a pretty big group of people will exit life’s theater tomorrow into eternal reality.  I could be in that group.  So could you.

Dates and equations, histrionics and drama aside, maybe Rev. Camping isn’t as crazy as everyone is saying he is.  And maybe I am a prophet.





Living Reality

16 05 2011

Praying outside changes everything for me.  For one thing I’m usually walking, and that makes it hard to fall asleep.  Not that prayer is boring, but when I’m sitting in the dark with my eyes closed, my heart rate slows, and I begin to relax… until I suddenly jerk myself awake with a snort.  Those around me snicker, and I want to crawl under the brand new olefin-upholstered chairs.  Instead I go outside the walls.

Outside the air contains no polymer vapors.  Even walking alongside exhaust fumes from the heavy traffic, I feel the freshness scrubbing my insides clean of closed up dankness.  My soul prays faster.  (Is it possible to have a prayer speed?)  “Scrub out the insides of my heart; replace it with the fresh wind of your Spirit for Your breath gives me life; carry me along into the fast lane of your will and get me off my comfortable behind; send your Spirit to wash over me like the rocks in this brook carrying away my bad attitude and frustrations that act like the quicksand that almost sucked me; and let me run – run and jump and dance and twirl like the leaves blowing ahead of me as I sing your praises that reach past the clouds holding back the sun into Your holy presence,” my heart gasped for breath.  Because there was more.  Much more that came tumbling out like lilacs so heavy with fragrance, the alabaster vase tipped over and broke, spilling their scent freely and profusely everywhere.

I stopped suddenly, captivated, during a break in the traffic while the leaves fluttered to earth in a slow motion lull as I prayed, taking in the cemetery across the street.  In the momentary stillness I heard a chorus praying with me.  Not audible voices, and not all saying the same words, but praise rising.  Not from the rocks (I was praising Him, so they had to be silent), but from the gravestones.

Many of those whose bodies are buried in the secluded glens across the road are singing in the presence of the Most High God, not needing to catch their breath as I now caught mine.  Through the quick temporal crack, I worshiped with them, inspired by their deafening inaudible song and encouraged by their present reality.

Praying outside changes me.








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