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Posts Tagged ‘musings’

It came in a dream some nights ago, free and clear.

It was in the latter part of sleep, the part where you have bypassed all cycles theta, alpha and beta.

Yes, this was delta, the heart of all sleep.

But there it came, plain as day, a blank check. It was for another Purpose, though, given to me by someone not fully known.

In a stupor I held the check, bewildered that such a thing could transpire. I was transfixed and transformed, unable to fully comprehend the breadth of its unconditionality.

What was Amazing were all the para-realities it represented, all the other blank checks I’ve been given throughout life – including some I may not have even yet recognized.

The dream suspended me in the vortex of its unreality and its vivid, delta-demanding reality.

Who would write a blank check like that?

How does one make sense of its reality?

Why did it happen? to me?

Why, oh why, can’t we harness that alter-dimension?

Maybe it’s best that we can’t.

How many blank checks have you cashed?

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I’ve been posting pictures lately instead of words, so in honor of this blog’s One-th birthday, I thought I’d have a few words pop out of this virtual cake.

But not many…we’re headed to the ‘goon today with my dear aunt visiting from Bah-ston. (Yankees love cheese grits-n-shrimp, lemme tell ya…an’ she’s gonna love seeing pipefish while snorkeling, no doubt).

Here’s what I’m wishing for when the candles are blown out:

1.) For all my bloggy friends to have a fulfilling year of blogging – I’ve learned a lot from this and from you in a year – I’m humbled!

2.) To remember where I am (at the beach! in paradise! woo-hoo!) when my current heap-o-messes overcome me (there is Ahhh in the Arrghhh!). And that wasting away in Margaritaville is always superior to hoping a Mayan event will whisk me away from longsuffering.

3.) That I might resume my quest this year to overcome obstacles (like bull sharks, jellyfish and a torn ligament) and swim across the bay. Simply because it’s there. Y’all come man my pilot-boat, k?

4.) That when an adrenaline-inducing lightning storm (complete with big fat hail) zapped out my office phone on July 4th which now pretends to be in service by letting you leave a voice mail, but it isn’t, and the purchase order for a new one will take damn near two weeks to fill, that all those nice people leaving me voice mails under the assumption that I am receiving their calls will understand that I am not and they will have to call back in 2 weeks. I’m there, really I am. I just can’t hear you. Please call back. I can make no outgoing calls. I am not complaining – my workload got easier. Perhaps there is bliss in lightning. Hot-cha-cha, n’est-ce pas?

5.) That the key lime pie will not disappear from out of the fridge before I’ve even had a slice.

6.) That the proper Southern Baptist ladies on the bleachers at baseball this spring had never admitted out loud that they all read “50 Shades of Grey.” I knew my religion was right all along…

7.) That the still-young water heater will magically start working again and that the washing machine, which flooded the kids’ room today, was not responding to yet another supernatural event. Not to mention our laptop dying totally last Thursday. EGADAMIGHTY. Get me to an un-haunted house. I am tired of spending more time with Mr. ShopVac than my family. And what good is the extended warranty if you have to send the laptop off for 6 weeks? Oh, sure…just take all my personal information, be my guest. Tra-la.

8.) That I will use this blog to transmit peace, blessings and goodwill.

9.) That the guy in the white pickup next to me who smiled at me last Monday at the intersection as I put away my orange sticky note after writing yet another thought down during the red light, would reappear and tell me why he looked so bemused and kindly. Who were you? Where were you going? Why were you studying me to the point of not being ashamed to let me catch you smiling down on me? I was only wearing capris that day, not something more, um, truck-honking-worthy. And curses to the semi who did that to me coming out of the tunnel the other week – shame on you – you almost caused an accident. Tsk-tsk. Commuting is weird. I’m just trying to collect my thoughts, eat my bacon and drink my coffee. Don’t make me turn down my Ed Sheeran and other music. I’ve got plenty on my mind without you throwing a mental monkey wrench into my subconscious.

10.) That my lately-not-so-little-guy with Down syndrome would quit ambushing every birthday cake he comes upon and beating the birthday person to the punch by blowing out the candles because he just can’t restrain himself…because he knows what one does with candles on a cake. On second thought, I will let him step up to the plate here on this blog and blow away…and give him, and Him, the glory.

Happy birthday, baby.

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Pierhenge

 

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Did you ever have something happen in your life that made you realize that it wasn’t God that was bigger than a problem, but it was YOU that got bigger, and God had stayed the same as He always was? He is, after all the Rock, they say. He doesn’t shift and grow. We do.

I, in all my self-imposed Christian wisdom (along with self-righteous Biblical interpretation (which justified my self-imposed Christian wisdom), was taught a huge lesson this week in spiritual perspective.

I had always thought, believed and “known” that “my” interpretation of God’s way was right (or pretty right, anyway), and that others were just blind to the truth. Poor them. Poor me.

This week God put a child in my path who has shown me that He has not, is not, and will not change. It is I who must change.

Today I spent 6 hours in a classroom/lab and learned how the Gulf of Mexico has a current that goes from southeast to northwest, which is why it always appears that my family has moved their encampment on the beach way to the right, after I’ve been boogie boarding the waves for more than 15 minutes.

And this week my sands shifted just a little bit, thanks to His righteous current.

I had the sensation I sometimes had riding the “L” in Chicago, or a roller coaster when slightly disoriented. Your brain knows it is you moving, but for a brief sensation of a moment, we are buffaloed into perceiving that we are not moving, but rather the contents outside the car appear to be moving…concrete sidewalks, walls and all.

Or like when I couldn’t even see my family, much less any strand of beach, once I’d swam all the way out to the border-buoy.

Or like when we find ourselves gazing up at the stars on a clear night with no earthly interference. We see the stars so clearly; their winking twinkle is comforting…like a baby strapped into a baby-contraption. There is security in knowing our place. All is well when we are dependent on One who is greater, stronger. That primal feeling then gives way to the realization of how SMALL we are…and the insecurities of our insignificance quietly simmer and bubble forth as we gaze.

We are so miniscule!

How we strive to jockey for our perceptions of greatness on this tiny planet! No wonder we think size matters.

And yet, there is so much more beyond, in the universe and in the unknown dimensions.

I, who have always advocated for X, Y and Z in my Christian walk, was introduced to a little fellow – and I mean LITTLE – this week, who has seen all, done all and been there done that. No child should ever have been exposed to what he has come to know as normal and right. So I now find myself in a position of having to help this child, and the only way to help him, to bring him closer to half a chance at a decent life, to bring him closer to God, is to help him in ways that I had previously been indoctrinated NOT to do.

How confusing is that?! The ways society and Christianity says are “right” and “good,” and now a child is so messed up, that the only path for him to have a crack at right and good flies directly in the face of what man dictates is right and good?!

Yes, God is SO much bigger than any box we put Him in. Just when we think we have it all sewn up and figured out, God will set us straight….

Self-righteousness sux.

Perhaps the walk closer to Him means taking a more circuitous route. They say the path is narrow, but that doesn’t mean that narrow path doesn’t meander around and venture near the lapping flames of Hell, rendering one parched and singed, making the reward all that more refreshing.

How much more meaningful is meaning, after a desert of meaninglessness.

Cold water only feels good when you’re nice ‘n hot, baby.

Thank you, God, for expanding the puny universe of my pea-brain…thanks for greater perspective…and for helping me to color outside Your lines.

What has rocked your spiritual plumb?

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In the spirit of our fellow blogger Brainrants, I momentarily shed all manner of female Southern décorum to address the issue of driving:

1.) I had the misfortune – or blessing – of learning to drive in the nation’s 2nd largest city. Drive or get the hell out of my way.

2.) My very first driving lessons took place in a cemetery. “You can’t hurt anyone, they’re already dead,” I was assured. I may subliminally assume those around me on the road today are also dead (even zombies, the way some of y’all drive), unless you get my attention by trumping my driving skills.

3.) I knew nothing but manual transmissions until fairly recently – therefore, driving, to me, is an active sport, (note to texters and makeup appliers:) not a passive or secondary activity. Pull over, ya lackluster lollygaggers.

4.) I leave in plenty of time to get to my destination. It is you who is making me late. Likely causes of tardiness are typically due to the left lane-hog who believes it is their right to occupy the left lane at a speed equivalent to or slower than the speed-reverent driver in the right lane. On the west coast these scofflaws typically sport a Washington state plate. Elsewhere it is usually someone with a handicapped plate white-knuckling the wheel for dear life at gosh-awful speeds of 35 or below. I am not discriminating: I also have handicap designation on my car, too…but I do not drive with such overcompensating caution that I cause an accident by going too slowly or blocking lanes. At least go the limit, folks, or yield to those who do. Or surrender your license if you can’t handle the basics. You are not teaching anyone a lesson by forcing them into co-bumbling on the road. You are inviting road rage and use of impulsively creative sign language.

5.) I will cheerfully block you in the handicapped parking space by double parking or worse if you are parked there illegally just to “run in real quick.” I will wait for you to come out of the store to behold your dilemma, while I herd my handicapped child back in the car and sweetly say, “Oh, here they come, dear…we won’t have to wait now. Is your tummy still hurting? We’ll wait for the nice lady to give us ‘her’ space.”  I will pause and linger and savor every moment of your discomfort as you avoid eye contact with me and my disabled child. This topic probably deserves its own post.

6.) If I am not driving the cumbersome family tank and am in my sleek little commuter car, you better bet your bottom dollar I will zip into the nearest parking spot. When I lived north of the Mason-Dixon line (bless my heart!), I would have visually broadcast my victoriously smug gloating, as is customary. Here in the South, I will feign appropriate mea culpa and delicately cup my hand to my mouth and gesture for you to take the space as an afterthought, knowing full well it’s MINE. Then we’ll strike up a friendly conversation at the deli counter and I’ll let you go first. Then I’ll beat you to the checkout.

7.) Curses to you who pull out into oncoming traffic. You know who you are. Worse are the offenders who pull out into oncoming traffic, then slow to a grinding halt while you turn into the very next driveway. You make me want to tie you to the top of my car like a newly-cut Christmas tree and take you for a loooooong ride. With lots of sharp curves. You people should have your licenses revoked, honestly.

8.) Please do not slow to 25 mph as you approach an interstate exit (“freeway,” for our west coast friends who insist on calling it “free” when it really is not). Just the other day I passed a moron on a very long exit ramp (while I still had a legitimate lane to pass) who pulled this number. And yes, they had a handicapped plate. The speed limit on the ramp was 45. I think. Actually, I wasn’t paying attention. But long ones are usually higher limits, something like that. Either way, I was right, he was wrong. I’m pretty sure. go gO Go GO GO!!!

9.) Get off my ass. If we are enveloped in fog, heavy rain, heavy traffic or we happen to know it’s the last of the month and the cops are out trying to fulfill their quota for the month of speeding tickets, don’t ride me. There are plenty of other lanes. I will not hinder you or I will get over if I know there’s a cop ahead and you’re being an idiot. I would love nothing more than to see you tailgate me only to get pulled over ahead. Go ahead, buddy, ride my ass. I know you’ll enjoy the extra-bright lumens my newish car on regular beams foists upon your rods and cones once you’re happily ahead of me. And I’ve been rear-ended before – the pleasure is all mine from your insurance company. Blowing you a kiss! Mooowah…

10.) Hail (same pronunciation as “hell” in the South) to the multitude of idiots who are clueless that just because their car CAN fit between me and the guy in front of me (especially going at very high speeds), doesn’t mean that’s why I was maintaining a car’s length between me and the guy in front of me. Conditions, anticipation, experience and wisdom all contribute to that car length – or two – between me and the next guy. On a trans-water commute, there is nowhere to go but in the soup, if you screw up. Follow my lead and wait before you impose your vehicle in the safety space. Think, dope. I mean, really…where do you think you’re going to go so fast with all that traffic in front of you and nothing but water everywhere else? And hope you’re carrying a life vest in your car in case you decide to go take a dip with the sharks, jellyfish and the alligators. See ya.

11.) Do not, repeat, DO NOT tailgate me when I am going 82 or something like that, regardless of what lane I’m in. Unless you are the law and it is because I am  totally unaware of you behind me as I am blaring my favorite song for several miles or the song ends, whichever comes first. See #9. You are sharing the road with someone who once lived in open desert, where towns were 2 hours apart and the fastest way to get there was doing speeds close to or in excess of 100 mph. You kind of forget what the speed limits are out there, since the last posted sign was last seen over an hour ago.

12.) My being lost in thought does not give you permission to be lost in yours. I am counting on you for mercy when I need it, and you’re supposed to know when that is. I give the same to you in most cases. I even let some of you go first when you are trying to turn onto a busy highway from a same-side-street driveway. BTW, I’m not not paying attention, I’m probably busy praying for you.

13.) Speaking of which, I saw the ultimate act of driver generosity result in a horrible accident once last year: do not try this at home. Some bonehead decided he would be Sir Gallant and let a pitiful driver turn left, who was attempting to turn from the opposite side of a 4-lane highway. Sir Gallant stopped in the left lane headed north, there was no traffic (so they thought) in the right lane headed north, and pitiful southbound driver was trusting Sir Gallant to let him go ahead and make that turn – and he turned…just as an unsuspecting northbound driver in the right lane barreled into him, which he had not anticipated because Sir Gallant was blocking the left lane, stopped for no apparent reason to those in the right lane. Use good judgment and common sense when you try to be courteous – your courtesy may cost someone’s life.

14.) I am amused at the driving of my coworker-superiors and subordinates when they don’t realize I am driving near them. I will refrain from elaborating on this one for obvious reasons. Just know that you are being analyzed. But please don’t analyze me; I like to believe that I am invisible in my impenetrable auto domain. And I didn’t mean to cut that stupid curb in the parking lot trying to steer around the pothole. Twice in one month. Damnit, and right in front of the administrative offices. Hopefully they were poring over financial statements or something similarly riveting, and didn’t notice. Fix the damn pothole, already.

15.) My IQ doesn’t go down when I get behind the wheel, yours does (if I don’t know you).

Now excuse me while I go whip up a big ol’ pot of Jambalaya for game day. We now return to our regularly scheduled Southern décorum (straightening and smoothing my dress, here, along with a fresh re-application of lipstick. Ahem).

And thanks, God, for getting me everywhere I need to go, safely.

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For my new followers from the last post, welcome – and allow me to confess that the heart-wrenching style with which that post (and several preceding it) was written, is only half of me. The other half is the ghost of Erma Bombeck, albeit merely a wish for a sliver of her master wit. Like the big, red clown nose one of our nurses wears on the children’s unit, humor is one sure way to counterbalance what otherwise would be very difficult profession for one’s heart to manage.

And I have not been very funny lately, since about Labor Day weekend – come to think of it, those were the last funny post out of my fingertips – because there was nothing all that funny while I was furthering my education and cramming for a national exam during the past three months. A grim undertaking at best, it is over. It was about as much fun as untangling my bra straps fresh out of the dryer.

I am beyond happy to report that I passed, have achieved a new and improved professional stature which only my colleagues give a rip about because few others can recognize the futile, haughty jumble of alphabet soup behind our names, anyway. Doesn’t really matter…I never hang my credentials in my office anyhoo…one, who cares, as long as you get the job done, and two, it’d be just my luck to hang ’em and have some kid go into an aggressive rage and break one the day after they were hung.

At any rate, I am finally starting to regain feeling in parts of my numb skull (no comment), which was due in full to said academic undertaking. I am vaguely aware that I have been nominated for the Versatile Blogger award, for which I am most honorably flabbergasted, but I will not be able to fully acknowledge nor make good on my responsibilities for this until I altogether come to. This acknowledgment shall be forthcoming, I promise.

Besides, I have yet to sit down and master the fine art of linking in text here. I suck at reading directions. And I’ve limited patience for fiddling. Yes, I’m the one who’ll be responsible for the off-balance, cockeyed tyke bike under the tree Christmas morning, the one with the handlebars coming out of the side of seat and the horn attached to the spokes of the wheel. And hauling my bleeding kidlet to the ER shortly thereafter.

That is, if it weren’t for my left-brained, instructions-guru husband, who tirelessly crouches and grouches over the assembly-required items at 11pm on Christmas Eve, while I innocently sip hot cider in bed playing online Scrabble. Rest assured our respective roles in this matter were decidedly determined after our first child’s Christmas, when we battled it out for which way was right, Cog A into Slightly-Off-Center-Grommet-B (“damn the manufacturers, gimme the drill”). No, sweetheart, go to sleep…that wasn’t Daddy and Mommy, just Santa’s reindeer on the roof. After that first Christmas, our roles were clearly defined in this department. Bless this one-flesh of mine…he has mastered the assembly details to where he now comes to bed within 30 minutes of the young masses falling asleep. Cool.

As I rub and blink my weary eyes and insert myself back into my life as I knew it in September, I have awoken to the results of the sole female in a house of six, turning her attention elsewhere for a season. I have opened my eyes and behold, entered the season of destruction. Season’s greetings, ya slackin’ mama! Thankfully, the Christmas tree and accompanying decorations have managed to materialize. The children made it through another semester, husband has been sufficiently trained not to expect me to cook for him anymore, and the houseplants resemble a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, but alive – nothing a little Miracle Gro can’t help.

On the flip side, the pantry is filled with man-snacks, as though I have irreverently entered a remote hunting camp, minus the skinned and hanging deer. I am being asked to believe that the floor was just swept two days ago when dust bunnies the size of Texas loom underneath the buffet. And the teenager responsible for doing the dishes has managed to chip every last bowl, plate and saucer in the cabinet. Evidently, hollering out from behind my book in the bedroom clear down to the kitchen, “I SHOULDN’T BE HEARING ANYTHING CLINK WHEN YOU EMPTY THE DISHWASHER!!!” wasn’t enough.

During my mental hiatus, I am quasi-aware of some less-than-intelligent conversations which took place. Monday afternoons found me chauffeuring the children to piano lessons, which take place in the town’s most upscale subdivision where lonely, looming Munster-like but manicured mansions abound. You rarely see people in them because they are elsewhere, off fetching the salaries they need to pay for the homes they barely get to enjoy. Except, that is, for our piano teacher, who has cleverly set up shop in her parlor.

Each Monday I recall being talked into letting them roll the windows down while we waited for the last one to finish his lesson, and each Monday I recall having to shush all of them getting verbally rambunctious, their playful shrieks from the backseat echoing off the stately homes surrounding us. One Monday I wised up and the windows remained up. But last Monday, it was unseasonably warm, so down came the windows to enjoy the sweet breeze. Within moments, they were back to their shrieking shenanigans, and I absent-mindedly joined them: “Y’ALL STOP ACTING LIKE A BUNCH OF HOODLUMS IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD…WAIT’LL WE GET HOME, OKAY?!”

Driving off after the lesson was over, I found myself wondering just what I meant by that.

Another intelligent conversation transpired yesterday while I held my 13-year-old captive on a drive to and from a nearby island:

Me: “So what else do you want besides an Xpensive Box?”

Him: “Well, I know what I want.”

Me: “Well, what do you want?”

Him: “I’m not sure.”

Brilliance. I suppose the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

In other waking observations, I see the three-year old has not been adequately disciplined to date. I submit to you Exhibits A, B and C:

Broken beads, balls & Buzz

Exhibit A: Freud missed a stage; the proper stages should have been Oral, Anal, Nasal, Phallic, Latent and Genital. Here is the Mardi Gras bead (from the string he broke) which he inserted into his nose last night, another bead he was ABOUT to insert into his other nostril, and the crude but useful implement Daddy fashioned in order to extricate the offending orb Made In China. We escaped an ER copay and the child escaped Daddy’s operating expertise, when a small miracle (the forceful snort the child emitted when we had him pinned to the bed to examine the problem) caused the bead to descend on its own out of his nostril. I do believe Daddy and Mommy were more concerned, because as we frantically considered our options, Snuffy, bead up nose, nonchalantly asked for an animal cracker.

Exhibit B: Behold the multitude of broken Christmas items. Each child is allowed to pick a new ornament each year. The little one took it upon himself to locate each and every shiny, red icicle, the ones chosen by eldest brother, and snapped them all into at least two pieces. See the shards of the remains of another brother’s hand-painted (glass) ornament. And somewhere in that melee of mess is a lone jingle bell without its ribbon. We thought we could get away with not having to put all the ornaments halfway up the tree out of reach this year. Apparently not. He may have a future in advertising when the guy in the Allstate commercials retires.

Exhibit C: The top off a Matchbox race car. No clue how he pried it off so clean – he’s going to make a fabulous burglar someday. The little duckies from the farm set – baby duck ripped from its family, mother duck absent altogether, no telling where he put her. He probably ate her. And last but not least, Buzz Lightyear. Note the dangerously exposed wires where his left hand used to be. Left hand is now unceremoniously filed in the kitchen tool drawer of no return – you know, the one that has no actual tools in it, but instead has scores of broken household parts we mean to get to “some day.” Buzz’s amputated hand now holds the spring which held his hand in place where the wires now dangle. He still talks with authority when you press his buttons; he’s just not as believable anymore. Maybe the mishap occurred when he crash-landed by mistake, that’s what we’ll tell ’em.

Of unrelated interest is the distressed coffee table on which the exhibits lie. It did not become distressed until we first became distressed and gave up trying to keep the kidlets from playing on it “to keep it nice” (for what?! coffee?! made a much better surface for wood-scratching toys like Legos and cars). Luck of all luck, the “distressed look” came into vogue right about the time I was about get a new coffee table. Always me, fashionable by default, like the boots I bought in 1984 which came in handy 20 years later. I suppose I will postpone the purchase of a new coffee table until  (lessee, 18 minus 3…) um, 15 years from now.

As if these gems weren’t enough to collect in one day, I present to you Exhibit D:

Crunchy Christmas

It is our custom to decorate the children’s bedrooms with Christmas lights each Christmas. We had just put him down to sleep last night, and within 20 minutes, we heard an unearthly choke followed by a blood-curdling wail. Running in the room, he was spewing red and orange glass from the Christmas lights he tried to eat, all over his jammies and the floor. He had inquired as to their taste earlier in the season, and we lectured him thoroughly on the dangers of consuming Christmas lights. He stayed away from the lights the rest of the time, and we’d had them hung high on the top bunk and near the ceiling, not anticipating Curious George to climb up, pull them down and chomp on one. No, not one, but two. I wonder if he liked the taste of the red one so much he had to try the orange. The happy news is, no implements or ER trip necessary, once again everything came out just fine on its own fairly quickly. Lesson learned. Lights removed. We’ll try again next year.

Lastly, I submit Exhibit E:

Christmas Cow-Tipping

Yes, the naughty little shaver had to go and mess with baby Jesus after breaking his brother’s nutcracker, placing the head where the star should be on the manger scene, and tipping over the cow for good measure.

It’s a wonder we haven’t had a third incident involving the septic tank this year, as busy as he’s been. I guess he’s gone from putting things down the toilet to putting things down his hatch, breaking big things like plumbing systems to breaking small things. I will consider this a blessing, and progress.

The only thing keeping him from getting a lump of coal in his stocking was what he urgently said today as he noticed all the leaves had fallen off the maple tree out front: “We need to get more leaves for the tree for Christmas!”

Ah, the season of destruction just may yet yield to the season of giving!

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Carl Jung, the father of analytic psychology, thunk up the notions of introversion and extraversion, among other things. Most people commonly associate the terms with the contrast between being shy versus being a social butterfly. However, the terms actually refer to how people recharge and get their energy, in my understanding. Extroverts draw energy from being around and interacting with others, while introverts feel and do best when alone.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (a personality test, of sorts), concocted by an astute mother-daughter team and based on Jung’s work, helps the test-taker determine what sort of person they are using four personality polarities, one of which is the introversion/extraversion scale. A psychological horoscope, if you will. Like most of psychology, it is a way to find fancy titles for characteristics about yourself that you already kinda sorta knew anyway, just like a juicy-sounding diagnosis brings pseudo-relief to the afflicted simply by validating their internal experience with a formal external label. “Oh, is THAT what it is?!”

The emperor has new clothes!

I have long teetered between being an introvert and an extrovert. I fluctuate and fluidly morph between the two. This has confounded me to no end. I want to know which I am, and I don’t seem to be able to nail myself down. And yet most of the time, I can tell which I am. I have somewhat of a bimodal cycle: over the long term, I can see eras of my life in which I was more introverted or more extroverted. And within those cycles, I can identify days in which I was one or the other, within the context of the overall trend.

A recent interview I heard with Chris Martin reminded me of this…he was talking about how he balances fame and self-awareness; he said he stands on the outside trying to get in by flaunting his fame, “Look at me, I’m famous, let me in!” Then he gets in, and about ten minutes into his flaunting and attention-seeking, he says something he realizes makes him look and feel like an idiot, and, shamed and humbled, he slinks back to his rightfully humble place in his mind.

This struck a chord with my teetering (which I suppose we all do – it is how we balance ourselves between any two extremes). I will sink my teeth into a goal like a dog with a bone, and I savor each and every moment, living it to the fullest. I do not quit. I am out there for the world to see, and proud of it. Determined. Driven. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. Then after some time, something will happen to slow me in my tracks. I am going so fast, so focused forward, that it often takes me a bit to perceive the interruption, a bit more to acknowledge it, even more of a bit to comprehend it. I may even slow down and turn around temporarily, humoring it long enough to shut it up so I can proceed ahead again. I love the brink, after all. Adrenaline’s curse. But eventually it sinks in, and I, like Mr. Martin, am forced to assess my direction and slink back to my rightful place in ho-hum moderation.

Don’t get me wrong; ho-hum moderation is a good place to be. I just have to work harder to convince myself that I can stifle my penchant for the higher levels of stimulation I crave. And force myself to remain buckled in with my seatback in the upright position and the tray secured. It is really hard, really really hard, to discipline myself as such, when I believe in my heart that it is far more interesting to roam about the cabin and experience every bump of turbulence while simultaneously in perpetual motion. You get more effect that way. And perspective. You get to see out of many windows instead of just a couple. Taming the tiger in an adventure-seeker is no small task.

Then again…perpetual motion prevents us from seeing the slow-and-steady, which purports to win the race.

Balancing the opposing extremes is a delicate process, after all – and certainly not for the faint at heart. No, those who squarely know which side of the fence they’re on, rarely teeter. They find safety in their identity as clearly one or the other. They are either this or that in their personality, wont to change over. Sweet or salty. Indoors or outdoors. Hot or cold. Overly controlled or lack of control. Pre-dishwasher rinsers or throw-em-in-filthy. Ginger or Mary Ann. Spender or saver. Tastes great or less filling.

Once upon a time I took to the stage to express myself. Like my stagemates, most of us worked best solo. With each season and each composition, it was almost like a classic group therapy experience:

Stage 1: Getting acquainted: Everyone was thrilled to be working with each other. Everyone said nice things about everyone. Everyone’s ideas were great. It was going to be the best show ever.

Stage 2: Transition: After the niceties and rolling up of sleeves, then came the clash of ideas. Everyone wanted their vision of the final production to be realized, and began to get edgy and snippy when having to accommodate others’ ideas. Too many introverts who like to show off and remain private, thrown into a closed room for too many hours. Battles ensued. Tears flowed. Tempers flared. Assorted footwear angrily removed and violently hurled across the stage. It was bad luck of somebody didn’t go stomping off stage in a dramatic display of defiance. Hours were spent, but not wasted. It was necessary gnashing of teeth. It almost had to happen, to be gotten out of the way to give way to productivity.

Stage 3: Work phase: Everyone had seen each other at their worst and each had been nonverbally assigned a role in the family (e.g. mover/shaker, scapegoat, placator, intellectualizer, devils advocate, wet blanket, natural leader, etc.). Finally the work could begin, take place and get done. Then it was refined, and refined some more. Bonding happened. Give and take, gave and took. Everyone began to get pumped by seeing the possibilities and realizing them. Things came together. The energy gelled. The ugly turned beautiful, beyond everyone’s wildest imaginations, surprising even the most optimistic.

Stage 4: Wrapping it up: The performances. The joy of doing well, and all sharing in how good it was. The joy of making a mistake, knowing the audience missed it, and being able to laugh about it together. The pinnacle high of a job well done. The curtain call and applause making it all real.

My favorite part was being able to be an introvert in an extroverted role. Very much on display, yet encapsulated in my own world, shielded from the eyes of others by the glare of the stage lights. For all I knew, all that darkness in the theatre with only the exit light glowing in the way-back, was the same darkness I’d rehearsed to so many times before, whether with my stagemates, or alone, like going into a church to pray alone at an odd time, and having the whole place to yourself. Thanks to the blinding lights and deafening sound, the filled house was no different from the countless times I couldn’t sleep and went to rehearse alone in the silent dead of night. Thank the Lord for some forms of sensory deprivation. I might have been embarrassed and self-conscious if I had been fully aware of the audience.

Later, in broadcasting briefly, I enjoyed the same dichotomy of on-display anonymity. And now, ditto for blogging. You subscribers give me the willies. In a good way 🙂 I cannot see you, I will not know you, and vice versa, except through the safety and security of what I choose to share. You remain out there in the dark balcony seating, but I can do what I do best in the comfort and privacy of my inner being. The introverted extrovert who, no matter who acknowledged what I had done “privately” in the public, had the privilege of keeping a piece of my introverted heart to myself. Carefully letting others know me as I wished for them to know me, yet guarding my inner reality. No one could ever know that, no matter how bright the lights.

No one can ever penetrate the deepest of depths. Not even ourselves, really.

Perhaps I’ve answered my own question…I sound like an introvert. But stay tuned…this is prone to change. I am told that according to careers and personality types, I am supposed to be an outgoing extrovert, hands-down, no questions asked. I scoff at that notion. Rather, I find myself having a greater understanding for those I help: the bipolar who struggles for balance. The schizophrenic trying to reconcile one reality with another. The traumatized who is driven to trust but cannot. And any of them who find themselves at the tip of a double-edged sword who are haunted by one extreme, yet cannot do some of their most remarkable work without being at that extreme.

There is genius in walking the non-normative ledge. Innovations always come from risk. And innovative people and those on the fringes of the bell-shaped curve are never fully understood or respected by the masses inside the safety of the “normal” curve. Am I such a nut for the exhilaration I experience, running long and hard in diagonally-pelting rain, when my best ideas are generated in those moments, and life’s problems seem entirely solvable? Perhaps one must be a bit unstable themselves to help the unstable. There is value in understanding and appreciating the need – nay, the drive – to scribble outside the lines of life.

One day when I have all the time and money in the world, I hope to submit myself to advanced training (which basically amounts to selling your soul, investing what will be your last dime 30 years from now and  sequestering oneself for several years, cut off from income and subjected to selective human contact – otherwise known as pursuing a doctorate). (You have to be cut off from the norm to think on the edge, eh?). Then I hope to be qualified to masterfully and expertly analyze what is and what is not…the conscious and the unconscious, the real and the surreal. And, like all good psychology students, figure themselves out and put an end to the question of whether I am truly and introvert or an extrovert. This will determine whether I become a well-adjusted, smiling, actively aging person like in an ad for assisted living, or whether I become a well-adjusted, scowling, opinionated curmudgeon. I see the value and worth in both, and I can see myself perfectly happy in either role, justifying either based on the positive and negative experiences I have had throughout life. Aging is, after all, finding a healthy balance between change and stability, risk and security.

There is risk in investing in the mirage of security, and safety in taking calculated risks.

Well, how about both? Who says I can’t be a well-adjusted, opinionated, smiling, active curmudgeon? Maybe God made me that way on purpose. Perhaps there’s merit in straddling the line between extremes. Teetering means constant change, and change keeps us young at heart. Somebody’s got to make it look fun and exciting to be introverted, to the extroverted crowd. And just maybe I can better understand how and why God made people very much on purpose, precisely the way He made them…inside or outside the curve, or squarely in one camp or the other…or flitting between the two.

Vive la difference!

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Pie on the Porch

Welcome, friend…and happy Thanksgiving to those in the U.S.

Thanksgiving at the beach is delightful. It was sunny and warm both indoors and out.

You know what the beach looks like, and you know what Thanksgiving fixins look like. So instead I will share other scenes from heeyah today:

At approximately 18,000 pounds each, these cotton modules are worth about $17K apiece.

Our equine neighbors were enjoying their Thanksgiving, too.

Down here, camellias are now in full bloom and their bright, colorful flowers will carry us through the winter..

 

As we were clearing our plates, it dawned on us that we should have dined al fresco today. So instead we had pie on the porch.

 

Our pet gecko had a happy Thanksgiving after we spotted the grasshopper behind the azalea bloom...can you?

 

We planted pineapple tops on a whim this summer...and they are taking off! Who knows if they'll actually yield fruit, but they love the sandy soil.

 

A seasonal stoplight, the Japanese Maple is green in the spring and summer, yellow in autumn, then red in time for the holidays.

 

Our family tradition is to walk it all off down on the pier every Thanksgiving sunset. Arriving a bit early, the sun illuminates the bubbly fountain.

 

At ease, sailor...

 

We hope someday to meet Chloe & Isabelle; they loved their Yaya & Gpa...and we'd like to ask them what they meant about the elevators...

 

An uprooted tree still left over from Katrina reminds us of the things we're all thankful for today. How quickly we forget....

 

Yo, dude, check out that dark-haired chick right under ya...she's busy texting and just outta my range!

 

Last check on the crab traps near the Loch Ness Log

 

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“So Adios to California…Nothing to do but turn around…” ~~John Hiatt, from Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns

How many times have we envisioned something, fed our beliefs with ideals and convinced ourselves that something surreal-ly out of reach could become ours? That we could somehow insert ourselves into a new reality that had all appearances of being superior to our current circumstances?

And how many times did we arrive at the sign that officially designates the precise spot where the Greener Pasture actually exists (“Pinch me!!”), only to discover it wasn’t quite what we had in mind? Fell short of our expectations, somehow…didn’t quite measure up. This may have come in the form of an actual place, a person or people, a job/career, a vacation, a material object, whatever. You know, peel back the sheets at the 5-Star Grand Poo-Bah Resort, only to find a nice specimen-strand of someone else’s DNA awaiting your plunge into the pillows.

I remember the first time I finally arrived at what I thought was the destination of my dreams. I had seen pictures, gorgeous pictures of this place, and was finally in a position to be there (not here, dear reader). It seemed like the perfect area, perfect climate, perfect people, perfect opportunities. It had everything. The last 50 miles or so of the drive drove me bananas with anticipation.

Upon arrival, however, the reality of the place did not hesitate to show me its true colors. It was Cold. Damp. Blustery. Gray. Rocky. Unwelcoming. Unforgiving of my folly of idealizing it in my head for too long.

Dismay is an extreme understatement to my initial reaction.

Nothing to do but turn around.

Dream-chasing has distinct advantages, though. It is what propels us forward and keeps us from stagnating. It is what gives us hope and motivation. It provides us with purpose and direction. It breathes life into us.

If we did not strive for that which we idealize, life would be terribly dreary. We would get stuck in the mud. And wither. And die.

I was never a fan of dream-catchers even though I understand their cultural purpose; there was always something so interruptive, arresting about them. I always liked to think about dreams as a fluidly beautiful, ongoing process, full of possibility and meaning. It’s a hell of a double life, for what it’s worth, imagining ourselves in another dimension as we go about life in this one. So what if they never materialize?

The joy is in savoring the trip, even if only in privacy and comfort of our own mind. And if we find ourselves on an actual journey to a destination that falls short, well, hey – we have still broadened our horizons. There is value in the salt of our tears and the stretching of our parameters. It’s a win-win. We have taken a chance and pursued passion.

Besides, sometimes dreams DO come true.

Thanks, God, for giving us that passion.

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How is it that some things that are right on schedule, still manage to take us by surprise?

It was a precursor, to be sure, the new teenager in the house asking a Very Good Question last night which required a Very Good Answer. The Answer came thoughtfully, passionately and chock full of wisdom he was supposed to absorb and carry into the next generation. He sat there at the table, pausing from eating his supper to feed on this Very Good Answer. He even appeared interested, smiled at appropriate times and exuded all the love of one of those shiny-faced children in the Children’s Bible where they sit and eagerly listen at Jesus’ feet while He gives Very Good Answers.

Then, when I reached the end of the Very Good Answer, his fork still paralyzed in mid-air with what I perceived as rapt attention, he quietly asked, “Mom, why does there have to be a lecture every night?” My bursting into laughter eased his sweet sensitive disposition into laughing, too, and I told him it was because he asks such great questions. Point taken, I assured him, awareness noted and filed away.

In one meek question he managed to inform me that he had reached the age of not really wanting or needing Very Good Answers, simultaneous with still needing to ask Very Good Questions. Hmmm. These years are going to be tricky. It was all well and fine working with Teenagers Who Know It All at the hospital – they let you know in no uncertain terms when they’re finished listening, even before you open your mouth. But my own son was so gentle about it, it took me off guard.

Kind of like how hot and humid yesterday was. I had grown so accustomed to it, my favorite season, lasting for so many months here. They had warned of the winds of change approaching, and so I milked the day for all it was worth, as though it was the last day of the world…holding therapy sessions outdoors, making that extra trip up the hill on a whim at the end of my run, windows down flying across the water with music full blast. No, I wasn’t going to let my favorite season go without a fight. I clung to it and all its memories, fiercely.

Quick as an email delivering hard truth into the inbox that you knew was coming but didn’t want to read (but your eyes draw you to reread and again), the wind picked up its punch during the night, rendering me sleepless. The things which awoke me were all expected when wind blows. But when you’re in that sleepy state of denial, it comes as a mix of startled surprise and anxiety, with no wherewithal to get up and address the problem. Easier just to close my eyes and let the wind blow as it may.

With each breath of the wind, my bedroom door sighed open and shut, the latch brushing against the door jamb gently. I never did decide in my half-sleep state if it was annoying or comforting, like the rhythm of a rocking cradle. Open, closed, open, closed. It was kind of like the tide at the beach, its rhythm dictated by the wind. Then came the dog barking at imagined threats, probably in the form of tree limb shadows lunging at him. There were the unexplained rattles and creaks imposed on various appendages of house parts. I noticed I went from way too hot to burrowed under the bedding. In my quasi-dream state, I remembered commenting to the children on the way home through the cotton fields yesterday, when we spotted a visitor’s license plate from up north, “Look, the Snowbirds have arrived already!”

The wind had gotten stronger, faster, colder, and I could not deny what it was bringing. And what it was taking.

Then, with great force, the bedroom door slammed, waking me early for the day, the wind announcing it was time to drag myself out of bed and face the now-cold, dark morning. I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t like these changes. I don’t want to leave that Season behind, it was so much fun and so happy and so full of interesting things. I don’t want to bundle up. This to me is symbolic of being a prisoner, and I am now under arrest. No attorney can get me out of this pickle, having to march forth into a cool season with I-don’t-know-what’s-ahead-but-surely-it-can’t-match-what-was.

Resistant, stubborn girl.

So I will get up today and face that wind head on. I will pull out the necessary clothes and put on my October game face. I will learn to tame my lectures to my son and keep them brief but powerful. I will put my seasonal mourning away, and focus on what is in front of me. I will face this season with courage and productiveness. Besides, I heard the weather dude say we’d be back up into the 80s in a matter of days. Okay, I can deal with this.

God, help me to do just that. You know how I hate letting go of favorite things, but I know how You give us new tethers to hold and follow just in the nick of time. I can’t see it or feel it yet, but I know You will make it okay. Help me to have forward vision by hastening the mourning of my losing the vision of looking behind. Be with me, Lord, through the bluster and the cold and the grief of loss and the season of change, through the slamming of doors and the sun rising again anyway. God, bless my friends who are also feeling stuck, and bless those who are forging ahead too fast. Let us all have the necessary perspective from either position, to be able to see Your will…and to follow the tether You provide out of the cold, dark wind, back toward a season of warmth and good times.

Lord, hold me up and rock my cradle. Don’t let me fall.

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