Holiday incongruencies

This year, while some are making Much Ado – make that a Hamlet of a to do, or not to do – about shopping on Thanksgiving;  I continue to make it my aim to stay away from stores after Halloween. There are two reasons for this. Reason number one has nothing to do with the people or the commercialization of Christmas. I abhor the tedious traffic and random road work.

Despite my best intentions; I found myself in big box retail areas the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

As soon as I exited my car, I heard the Salvation Army bell ringer.  Ah, the red bucket, now that’s nostalgic. A generous creature of habit, I reached for my coin purse.  What did I find there?  Two guitar picks and a drum key.  I don’t think that is what the charity is looking for. Bingo.  No money in the wallet is reason number two for not shopping anytime after Halloween.

Sprouts Farmer’s Market is my new favorite grocery. I stopped there to pick up a few fresh ingredients. Crowds of organically, ecologically inclined customers were bustling about, smiling and swinging along to upbeat pop tunes of the 70s, little sign of shopping for anything beyond the pleasant anticipation of cooking and feasting.

Meanwhile, at Hobby Lobby, long lines formed to pay for mounds of Christmas decorations while other shoppers seemed driven as they searched through glittering aisles of red and green, silver and gold.  There was something a bit non sequitur about the funeralish organ rendition piping through the speakers, “And….he walks with me and he talks with me.” By the time I made my way to the cash register, the instruments were crescendoing a gentle reminder, “Climb every mountain, search, high and low, follow every byway, every path you know…”

Here’s hoping you are warmed and fed and feeling peace this holiday season. And may all your incongruities and non sequiturs be not too jarring or jolting. 

Baseball talk and employee chatter

He was tan and blond.  100 pounds of lithe, sinewy athletic 10-year-old. I was his girlfriend.  His sister told me she saw my initials penned on his palm. He certainly knew the delicate balance between teasing and pursuit – and I loved him. But he didn’t know that.  Tardy as I was to return his attentions, someone else ended up with the prize. I met him at old-time summer league baseball.  I was the coach’s daughter.

Today, I am not writing to bemoan the one that got away. What I remember is his poise on the mound – and the encouragements his father hollered from the stands.   He was a pitcher, quick and confident. I heard his dad describe him as high-strung.  Once he cautioned against cockiness.

When our team was in the field, and batter up, his dad called, “Let’s hear some chatter out there.”  Not only does chatter intimidate and confuse the batter, apparently it encourages the pitcher.  Who would have thought it? When I am concentrating and focused, I like quiet. The last thing I want is all my co-workers setting up auditory chaos.   Despite the chatter, the savvy ten-year-old could pitch that ball right across the plate more often than not.   When he gave up a base or a run and was incensed with himself, his dad would call, “Walk it off, baby; walk it off.”  When he was wound tight as a drum with adrenaline and riding a cloud of success, we heard the same admonition, “Walk it off, baby; walk it off.”

Pitcher would pace.  Pitcher would scowl at the thieving runners leading off from base.  Then, Pitcher would wind up and deliver a strike.

It works for me.  It works when coworkers start that infernal chatter of intimidation. It works when family conversations become derailed. It works when I see opportunity coming down the pike and I know without a shadow of doubt I will be called on to rise to the occasion. Serenity and a calm, clear head are essential to success.  I get those things when I take a hike in the great outdoors; one foot in front of the other.

Walk it off, baby, walk it off!  And then, wind up and deliver!

Life is like a pair of eyeglasses

Many years ago – in a past life – I worked as a dispensing optician.  Yes, I was certified to help people see clearly – to improve their vision.  I’d like to think that is what I still do through my writing, my music and my work.

Life is like a pair of eyeglasses.  Sometimes the thing you think will work is exactly the opposite of what is needed.  “My glasses are sliding down my nose.  Tighten them up,” is a common request heard by an optician. There are several adjustment options for loose frames; tighten screws, bend the earpieces, curve the front – or the front corners – to name a few. But in reality, if the glasses are sliding down the nose, the frames may be adjusted too tight.  It is like squeezing a water balloon; the tighter you squeeze, the more the water escapes and bulges on either side of your grip.

Relationships are like that, also.  You can hold on to people you love too tightly – or too loosely – with equal result.  Either extreme and someone dear may slip out of your grasp, be jettisoned away like a Tiddlywink.

Recently, someone endeavored to remind me that relationships take self-sacrifice; giving up of some (or all) things you want to do personally in order to give more to the relationship or family. I agree.  I am no stranger to self-sacrifice.

However; life is like a pair of eyeglasses.  Sometimes the thing you think will work is exactly the opposite of what is needed .

You can never love too much-but you can hold too tight.

You can never love too much – but you can do too much.

You can never love too much – but you can smother another’s initiative when you steal their opportunity to give reciprocally by your insistence on giving all.

Influence and power to better the world

Last week, I watched a football movie – The Blind Side.  It was more, much more than a football movie.  It was a movie about power and influence and talent; charity and loyalty; opportunity and emotional healing.  And yes, it was a rags to riches story.  Financial wealth played a key role.  Money made possible many things – for both the teenage foundling and his mentors; but the integral message I got was about the incredible influence and power of one woman to change the world. Even the money came from nature and nurture.

I am a huge nature AND nurture believer.

In my lifelong pursuit to find out what makes my children tick; the purpose was to tailor my nurture to give them the tools they needed to succeed. Why do I remain skeptical of power? Why does power get such a bad rap from me?

Yes, money is power.

Intellect is power.

Beauty is power.

Physical strength is power.

Talent is power

Why don’t I own my power? Because power gets what it wants.

I was taught – and somehow have always believed – it’s not nice to get your own way.  Is that true? What if I ruled my household as a Southern matriarch; getting what I want because it is righteous and good?

Is all power a bad thing; or just the abuse of power?  Power, like money, gets what it wants.  Is money the root of all evil?  Or just the love of money above all else?

A little power – like a little wine – can be a good thing.  It’s the intoxicated or drunken part that is abusive.

Owning your power is different than assuming power; just as self-confidence is not the same as arrogance.

Owning your power does not mean seizing or amassing power so much as it is using what power you have. Am I using my power to best advantage?

Do I have wants?  Yes.  Do I have needs?  Yes.

Why don’t I get what I want or need?  Because I will not utilize my power.

What power do you have?  Are you comfortable with it? Luxuriating in it?  Using it as your gift to the world?

Pick up the power tools.   It feels good to use – not abuse or neglect-your gifts. 

Mid-Fall is for the birds

So stunningly beautiful, I forgot to fumble for my camera. I watched, mesmerized waiting for a second flash of the red tail that captured my attention at first.  A five-foot span of downy white underside, the color of an expensive sheepskin rug, lifted on the breeze and soared above me; spiraled, ever more distant toward the rising sun.  It was a red-tailed hawk, female by the size, soaring on the morning thermals about an hour after sunrise.

Last weekend, a Dusky Blue Grouse came to visit us at work. Dendragapus obscurus does find a place on the bird list at Colorado National Monument, but sightings are listed as accidental / casual and then only in winter season.  She must have become separated from her flock, we surmised. On Sunday morning, she continued to haunt the outskirts of the visitor center.  Several times she flew at the window as if trying to bond with her reflection. She seemed confused, disoriented, bereft. Or am I projecting?

When the morning sun is at just the right angle, windows can be deadly for birds.  During the same hour the Blue Grouse was pursuing her reflection, a small, sparrow-like bird came to grief and sat stunned for several minutes regathering its bearings and equilibrium. Finally, it flew away.Image

Meanwhile, the dusky hen made her way around the building and chowed down on some juniper berries.  At least she is not starving in her solitary situation.

Yesterday, while hiking, I saw a fair number of Pinion Jays – but they will never sit still long enough to get a picture.  Frankly, I have no desire to trick them with windows or mirrors; nor delay my progress on the chance one will forget my presence and alight close by. It is enough to know I am the only human in a one-mile radius.  I am content to enjoy without capturing so much as a photo.

The Desert Bighorn Sheep, it seems, really do own the road.  They have even learned to read.  Not often that I see six or seven rams bringing up the rear of a heard of 40 or more sheep.Image


Denied the privilege to grieve

I  am currently at work on a story about a woman named Precious (you can read the first chapter in the tab above).  Many of her capable, dependable and charitable efforts are expressed in the phrase, “Why cry about it if you can do something about it?”

This is a call to action; and a victorious vision to leave off being the victim – to quit feeling hopeless. I am rethinking Precious’ character – wondering if in her ownership of her emotion and actions she is denying herself some healing grief.

I have a friend who each year honors the anniversary of the passing of her late husband with a fresh, but maturing grief.  Even though they were legally separated at the time of his death; the loss of decades of relationship and shared memories is very real.

Another friend was called to the bedside of her ex-husband as he lay dying. There, they made peace, and reciprocated forgiveness. He had been a jerk and both were long remarried. Did she grieve his passing?  Yes.  Some might have said to her,

“What’s there to grieve?  He was a jerk.  Now he is gone.”

Or to the one who left, “You made your own bed, you can lie in it.”

There is much to grieve in this world.  Each person, jerk or not, has value.  Whether it was a good relationship or a bad relationship – it was a relationship.

You think the founding fathers didn’t grieve at being separated from England?  Mother England with the delicious stiffness of tea-time?  Did that stop them from pursuing and insisting on freedom?  Do you think the enabler who decides to leave a spouse suffering with addiction does not grieve?

When you grieve.  Grieve heartily. Weep well.Things ungrieved weigh you down.  It is such a weight to not have the privilege to grieve.

Sure, some, seeing your grief, are bound to wag their heads and say, “Look how (s)he weeps.  (S)he is coming to her senses.”

Don’t let them deny you the privilege of grieving the things that were – or the things that might have been.