Don’t give it away

20 01 2017

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Don’t give it away

This weekend a president becomes a former POTUS, and a president-elect takes office. Very few Americans have an ambivalent opinion about the change. Hysteria reigns on both sides.

There is, however, a massive group of people who won’t be affected by this changing-of-the-guard, even if people in it have strong feelings. These are America’s Read the rest of this entry »





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!

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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





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.

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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.





Tree Flowers

4 04 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are flowers on the trees.  Not brilliant splashes of color like the crocus in my garden, but deep red bunches, each individual bloom the size of a small pea, covering the ends of every small twig of these trees.  From a distance they might be mistaken for last year’s berries, not fresh growth announcing the birth of a new season after the death of winter.

Their under-stated beauty appeals to me.  While contributing to the cycle of life by eventually producing scads of those twirling helicopter seeds, each one is delicately radiant.  The rich red color that originally attracted me, covers the surface of a solid green base-every one a mini-powerhouse of activity adding to the high pollen count this week no doubt!

There are no showy petals like the tulips will soon wear in order to cajole bees to visit and provide transport for their pollen.  How are the tree-flowers pollinated?  I didn’t see bees on the branches or hear the steady hum that will soon surround our crabapple tree when every branch bursts into bloom.  I wonder if the wind does the work?

Spring winds, full of new warmth when the earth is still cool, blow life back into my soul while touching my cheeks with roses.  They blow away the soggy wetness from the melting snow and spring rains that washed off the filmy dust-dirt of winter, allowing the earth to be new again.

Soon the tree flowers will fall making rusty puddles on the path.  But today they are brilliant against the infinitely blue sky-simple, full of life, and beautiful.

Originally published on my old blogger site, April 2009








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