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Archive for September, 2008

Have you ever had a time where you were just going along, minding your own business, thinking one way when WHAM!  Out of seemingly nowhere life tosses something at you that completely shifts your way of thinking?  Completely shifts your focus?

I’ve just had one of those experiences.

In fact it hit me hard enough that it woke me up at 1:30 AM and I found myself unable to go back to sleep.  So I’m sitting here at 2AM writing.  (It should be interesting to see how cogent any of this ends up being—given that I’m working on so little sleep!  J)

Life’s been extra good to me recently.  I’ve recognized that I’ve made some progress on the personal stuff I’ve been working on.  Work has said I’m doing well.  God’s sending people into my life to give me really good feedback and exciting new experiences.  I’ve felt lighter lately—the weight of the world at least temporarily removed from my shoulders.   (And I’m sure shedding 13 pounds of weight has helped with the lighter feeling.  LOL!) 

Yesterday morning someone did something unexpectedly kind for me.  No need to go into details—just know it was kind and I found it to be very encouraging.  That small act of kindness combined with several other things had me literally grinning through most of the day yesterday.

And given the national politics of yesterday and the plummeting action of the stock market, grinning is pretty impressive.  The company I work for manages investments for our clients—so the stock market upheaval will potentially have a direct impact on my company and possibly on my livelihood.  But I didn’t feel any of the weight of that yesterday.  I recognized its potential impact, yet it didn’t add one ounce of true stress to my day. 

I was too busy grinning!

I recognized this was a new and different behavior for me, and was really enjoying it.  I kept thinking maybe I was making progress.  (And I still think I am.)  Maybe I can actually choose different reactions.  Maybe I’m starting to make the changes I want to make.

Are you noticing something here?  It’s all focused on me.

Every bit of it.

So I’m be-bopping through my evening.  Complimented Mr. Spuds on a wonderful dinner.  (I don’t cook—trust me, this is in the best interest of everyone involved!)  Tried to offer encouraging words to a friend going through a tough time.  Tried to keep in touch with another couple of friends.  Checked out the activity on my blog.  Checked out the Internet in general—what’s going on in the world (besides economic doom!) that ‘s interesting to me?

That’s when (out of seemingly nowhere) life stopped me in my tracks by showing me a few of the details of someone else’s life.

I won’t go into specifics here because it’s not my story to share.  And the impact this person’s words had on me is what’s keeping me awake, is what’s behind my 2AM ramblings.  Their story, important in its own right, is not what I’m choosing to focus on.

I knew this person (we’ll call him Edmund) had experienced a really painful event in his family’s life in the past decade.  Since I haven’t known Edmund for a decade, I know the Edmund family went through this only because it was mentioned once in passing.  But that one mention stuck with me.  “Wow!  How’d the family get through that?  How did they manage?  I cannot imagine going through something like that and coming out of it so positive.  I’m really curious but it’s not my place to ask.”

I do that a lot—I’m curious about something someone says in passing but feel it’s not “my place” to ask about it.  I fear stirring up painful memories, or causing pain to those I care about.  I want to ask what I can do to help, but am pretty certain there isn’t anything I can do.  And assume if the person wants to talk about it they will.  And if they don’t, they won’t.

So I’ve known for a couple of years that Edmund and his family have gone through a super tough time.  And offered up a prayer or two along the way when it weighed on me.  Yet never really asked about it.  Again, I felt it wasn’t my place. 

So yesterday, again seemingly out of nowhere, I found out some of the details.  On a day when I’ve been totally self centered (not in an altogether bad way)—when I’ve been so wrapped up thinking about myself, my life, my day, my changes.  God decided that’s it’s time to get my attention and to remind me again, “It’s not all about you Spudsie.”

Here’s what I feel like I heard God say to me today.

“Spudsie, I think it’s great you are making these changes.  I’m delighted you are beginning to see things differently, are beginning to feel lighter.  Keep on working on you.  At the same time you should never forget you aren’t the only potato in the world.  I love all the potatoes I’ve made.  And you need to love them too.  You need to think about them in addition to thinking about yourself.  Some of the potatoes out there—they are going through some of the worst stuff imaginable at the same time you are so happy.  Don’t forget about them.  It’s not all about you.  As much as I love you, it’s not all about you.”

And since we all know that if you don’t listen to the gentle taps God gives you on the shoulder he’ll keep trying to get your attention.  And if you don’t give it to him, he’ll resort to using a two by four to wake you up.  And I’ve learned that I prefer to listen to his gentle taps and avoid the two by four whenever possible!

So I’m trying to make sure I “get” this lesson.

The work I’m doing on making changes is good.  I need to keep doing it.

At the same time, I need to remember there is a world of people beyond the end of my nose.  I’m not alone in this world.  People aren’t here simply to meet my needs.  (Keep repeating this Spudsie……people aren’t here simply to meet my needs.)  They are going through “stuff” of their own.  And I need to be just as interested in being involved in their lives, in being an encouragement to them as they are to me.

It’s not all about the potato.  It’s all about the potato living in community with those I care about.  And those I don’t yet know.  (And even those I don’t really like.  Yikes!)

And it’s about letting people know I care about them—not to make myself feel better, but because they deserve to know how important they are.

Soooooo…….

Stephanie, Ann, Erica, Amy, Brenda, Brenda, Christina, Darci, Bob, Kim, Chris, Glenda, Heather, Diva, Ellen, Karne, Jane, Julie, Kari, Leslie, Liz, Lisa, Jill, Pat, Roz, Belle, Aubre, Tom, Jeff, Jeff, John, Leah, Matt, Carissa, Lindsey, Dave, Cori, Jim, Dennis, Nancy, Darren, Kenya, Natalie, Dave, Dave, Nancy, Jack, Brad, Chad, Kari, Steve, Theresa, Don, Brian, Ken, John, Dianna, Art, Susan, Dave, Celina…….listen up, I have something to say to each one of you.

I love you.  I love each and every one of you.  Each one of you are important to me in a different and meaningful way.  I don’t want a day to go by without knowing that I’ve told you how important you are to me.  You are the most amazing group of people.  I am so blessed to have you in my life.  Thank you for sharing a part of your life (big or small, open-ended or limited, frequent or occasional contact only) with me.  My life is truly richer for it. 

Life is precious.  Time is limited.  I want each of you to know how I feel about you.

And since most of you don’t even know this blog exists, it looks like I’ll be taking some time in the near future to share that with you.  I look forward to it!

I’ve you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to be hugged by a potato—this is it!  ((((((((((HUGS))))))))))

And Edmund (if you read this and recognize yourself) thank you for being more open with your life’s story than I could ever imagine being.  I’m fairly certain you do so by conscious choice, and I can’t imagine it’s always easy to do.  Please know it is greatly appreciated and impactful.

Phew.  It’s now 3AM.  I hope this makes sense.  I’m going back to bed to see if I can drift off to sleep again.  J

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Ahhh….the unanswerable question.  Also phrased as, “If God’s so good, why is there suffering in the world?”

Or even, “If God really exists, why do such lousy things happen?”

The church Mr. Spuds and I are visiting has started a sermon series called “God, I have a question…”  As I mentioned last week (or at least I think I mentioned last week) it’s a series of lessons trying to answer some of the basic questions we would like to ask God.  Last week’s question was about God’s will for our life—and trying to figure out what that will is.

This week’s question is (and this time I remembered to bring a bulletin upstairs with me so I can get the exact title) “God, I have a question…how is allowing children and innocent people to suffer not cruel and inhumane?”

The message was amazing.  And I apologize to Tom (the minister) in advance for the gross oversimplification of his message that I’m about to write. 

In short the answer to the question “Why does God allow suffering” is…….because He’s God and His ways are not our ways.  Kinda similar to the “I’m the parent and that’s why” answer that we often give children.  God knows faaaaar more than we could ever know.  And He does NOT answer to US.  Period.

(Note:  Yes.  I know this is a wholly unsatisfactory answer.  It leaves you…well, at least it leaves me frustrated.  Tom’s sermon provides a much more in-depth answer—using analogies and examples and scripture to help the listener understand.  If anyone’s interested in hearing his message, leave me a comment and I’ll see if I can provide access to a pod-cast of it.  It’s well worth the time!)

“Spudsie, I’m disappointed in you.  I’ve come to expect better insights…better explanations.  This is nothing more than what every religious person says.  They all answer the same way.  What’s so amazing about that?”  I can hear you asking that question.  Stick with me…I’ll try and explain.

You’re right.  The essential answer isn’t that amazing.  At least not to me.  I’ve grown up going to church and have heard a number of sermons and lessons over the years that gave essentially the same answer.  There’s not much room for amazing new theological discoveries in this area. 

The way Tom presented his lesson was great.  The outline followed a slightly different path than I’ve seen before.  The analogies were spot on and memorable!  (When’s the last time you heard a preacher make a “Desperate Housewives” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation” reference in the same sermon?  Kudos Tom!)

To recap….the answer is pretty unsatisfying, the answer isn’t that different from what I’ve heard in the past, but the analogies were great.

That’s it?  That’s the reason you felt compelled to write about it Spudsie?

Nah….that’s not all there is to it.  There is an amazing twist.

Spill it Spudsie!  Don’t keep us in suspense!

The most amazing part of the sermon, the lesson, the message happened near the beginning.  As Tom was introducing the lesson he read the question again.  (In my paraphrase, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”)  And he told us upfront, “I’m not happy with the answer.  It’s not a satisfying answer.  I want more.” 

Wow!  Where I come from no one admits they don’t understand or aren’t happy with God’s explanations.  Certainly not in front of an entire congregation of worshippers!  Tom did something I’ve been longing for…for as long as I can remember.  He made it real.  He personalized his lesson.  Told us his own personal thoughts and struggles.  Admitted that even as a person with a passion for sharing God’s word, even as a person who is devoted to God, that about once a year he struggles with the question, “Is God really around?  Is He really active and participating in all of this?”

I’ve never heard that shared in such a personal, honest way from the pulpit before.  Not hiding behind anything.  Not needing to keep the “I’m-the-minister-and-need-to-have-it-all-together-for-the-flock” mentality. 

Most churches I’ve attended (within memory) have said, “We’re not a gathering place for saints, we’re a hospital for sinners….we’re all sinners.”  And know they all believed that.  They all want to live that.  They all want to model that spirit. 

Yet today was the first time I really FELT that from the pulpit.  Today was the first time I’ve seen that level of vulnerability from the preacher.  The first time I’ve seen someone willing to take the risk of opening themselves up to a group of people they are trying to teach, to lead and say “I don’t have all of the answers.  And the ones I have I don’t always like.”

Maybe it’s because his speaking style is different.  Maybe it’s because this is still a new congregation to us.  Maybe it’s just because I’m looking for authenticity and I see it only because I WANT to see it.

Or maybe, just maybe I see the authenticity because it’s truly there.  And that’s enough to keep this potato going back for more.

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Brow furrowed…..eyes squinting….concentrating…..looking…..looking….

Is that…..could it be…..am I imagining things?  Is that actually light in the proverbial tunnel that I’m seeing?  Hmmmmm…

At the beginning of the year I was in a pretty dark place.  I’d closed myself off to almost everything and everyone and every feeling.  I was gritting my teeth and trying to blindly get though day by day.  One foot in front of the other….one minute at a time…..motivated only by…..well let’s be honest, not really motivated by anything.

I felt like I was living in a dark, closed off room.

(Are any of you candle freaks like I am?  I have an entire closet shelf full of candles waiting to be used.  You know the soot that they can give off if you don’t keep the wicks trimmed?  It can get so bad it turns your clear votive holders black.)

I felt like I was living in a dark, closed off room.  A room with concrete walls covered with a super thick layer of candle soot.  Totally black. 

This room also has a door.  And I thought coaching would help me get rid of the darkness of the room by teaching me how to open the door and walk out of the room.

(And yes, I’m speaking metaphorically.  I do actually know how to open a door!  LOL!)

But that’s not where I started.  Coach Jim had me start by cleaning the walls.  (Again, a metaphor.)

At first I thought, “What?  Are you crazy?  I need to LEAVE the room…not clean it.”  But being committed to the process and at a loss of what to do without help, I sighed and started cleaning the walls.  “Maybe he knows something I don’t,” I thought.

He certainly acted and spoke like he knew something I didn’t.  Kept saying things like, “You can’t even see what’s ahead of you Spudsie.  The world is going to open up with possibilities you can’t imagine right now.  You’ll have a world full of choices.”

Okay Jim.  You’re the coach.  Even if I can’t imagine how your words can be true, I trust you.  So I’ll start by cleaning the walls and trying to ignore my urge to flee the room.

So I’ve been scrubbing walls for 6 months now.  Along the way I discovered some unexpected things.  Hey!  There’s clean water running into the room.  Where’d that come from?  And how’d I learn to clean?  Hmmm…that’s progress. 

And somewhere along the way it changed from ignoring the door and ignoring the urge to flee to something different.  More like, “Yup.  I want to run.  I see the door.  I admit I’m tempted.  But I’m going to set that feeling aside for the moment.  I’m choosing to focus on the task at hand—cleaning the soot off the walls.  And that’s enough for now.  The rest I can take care of later.  When I’m ready.  When I have more skills.  When I know more.”

So.  Scrubbing soot off the walls.  And more scrubbing.  And more scrubbing.  A few blisters along the way.  A few bits of soot in the eye.  A few (okay….several!) times were I threw down the cleaning tools, crossed my arms, squared my jaw and argued with an empty room.  (Not very productive just in case you wondered!)  But mostly cleaning the walls.

And then something really interesting happened. 

I originally thought the walls were concrete.  I may have been wrong.  I feel like I am beginning to see something different.

This week has been a really good week.  At work I had the best review I’ve had in 10 years of working for the company.  (And a nice raise too.  J)  I’ve had some amazing conversations with friends via e-mail—really thought provoking and touching.  I’ve been more open to other points of view and learned a lot about people.  And I’ve had really meaningful conversations with unexpected people.

I’ve felt…..well…this will sound odd but I don’t know of another way to say it…..I’ve felt lighter this past week.  I’ve been humming to myself.  The weight of the world must be resting somewhere else at the moment….’cause it’s not on my shoulders.

I was getting ready for bed the other night and felt….well…I felt odd.  Different.  Strange.  Weird.  “My face feels funny” I thought.  “What’s going on?  What is this?  Am I…….am I …..could it be…am I SMILING?”

Yep.  I was smiling.  For no reason.  Just smiling.  I’d had a long day.  Not everything had gone well.  Some things had.  But some hadn’t.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Just a normal day.  And at the end of it I was smiling.  For no reason.

Is this what calm, peace, happiness feels like?  Hmmmm…….how odd.  How different.

Wow.  Peace.  Happiness.  Calm.  Enveloping me.  Me living in them.  Wow.  This is cool!

So I’ve been thinking about this.  Been thinking about the walls I’m scrubbing and how they look different.

And I have a new theory. 

I don’t think the walls I’m scrubbing are made from concrete after all.

In fact, I don’t think they are traditional walls at all.

I think they are actually glass.  I think they are windows.

And I think I’m starting to see a glimmer of light beginning to peek through the soot. 

And maybe if I can get the soot of 30-some-odd years scrubbed away I WILL be able to see a world of possibilities. 

Maybe the door won’t matter.  Maybe I won’t have the urge to flee the room.

Maybe I’ll leave the room sprinting forward, running towards my future.  To embrace it–whatever it is.

Squinting again.

Hmmmmmm……did Coach Jim know the walls were glass all along? 

Hmmmmmm……  I’ll bet he did.

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Yesterday’s ramblings seem a little “whiney” to me.  And that’s really not a state of mind I want to stay in.  It’s okay to end up there every now and then…..but I want to move beyond that.  There’s no need for me to stay stuck in self pity.

So…moving forward.

Mr. Spuds and I have been trying to visit different churches for the past several months.  Several things seemed to conspire against us and it turns out today was the first Sunday we were able to visit  new one.  We decided to visit one within 3 minutes of our home.

Clearly God had a hand in this—they started a new series of lessons/sermons today titled something along the lines of “What questions do you have for God.”  And the first week’s was “Hey God, would it kill you to make your will for my life easier to understand?”

I love it!!

I’ll butcher the finer points of the lesson, but hopefully I can manage to put the stuff that really hit home with me into words.

The minister started by presenting 3 separate areas of God’s will—His Sovereign will, His Moral will, and His will for each person individually.  The Sovereign will is like God’s room that He doesn’t let anyone else into.  It’s His will and He alone knows it.  We don’t need to know it, we aren’t required to know it, we just need to know that it exists and that God’s in charge.

God’s Moral will is communicated in the Bible.  It’s the set of guidelines we need to live our lives by.  It’s knowable and we are responsible for following it.

The third area the minister talked about made me wary.  He started talking about the “one right and perfect set of circumstances” that God has planned for our lives.  And that it puts a lot of pressure on us as Christians to learn what God’s will is—because if we don’t we can make a mistake and miss God’s perfect plan for our life.  And then we end up living on “leftovers.”

Um.  No.  I don’t think so.  But I kept listening.  Where’s he headed with this?  I don’t agree- but I’m curious.  What is he basing this on?  What Scripture?  What’s his foundation?  So I keep listening.

Ahhhhh….it turns out I have nothing to fear.  The minister says he has a radical suggestion to make.  This third area of God’s will doesn’t exist.  It’s something we’ve created on our own.

Yes!  Keep talking!

He goes on to explain that if we as Christians have decisions to make and we make them within God’s moral will and with His will in mind, we can’t go wrong.

If we look at our options and eliminate the ones that are outside of God’s will and seek wisdom (through other Godly people and through reading the Bible) in eliminating other choices, all remaining choices are good ones.  Are ones we are free to choose from.

This isn’t making sense.  Let me try again.

If I have 5 job offers to choose from here’s how it might work.

1.   Which of the choices could be eliminated because they are outside of God’s moral will?  Hmmmm…will we can probably rule out the drug dealer and stripper offers.  So that would leave three.

2.   Out of the three remaining choices are there any that I can eliminate based on wisdom that others may be able to share or that may be eliminated because they don’t’ help advance my faith or God’s kingdom?  Well, the bar keeping job probably isn’t the best choice for helping me live a Christian life.  There’s not necessarily anything wrong with it—it’s just not the best choice for me.

3.   That leaves a choice between HR Director for Amnesty International and Food Taster Extraordinaire for the Michael Mina restaurant group.  (Quite the range of job offers eh?  J)

Normally I’d get stuck at level three.  Which offer does God want me to choose?  I’d pray.  I’d ask others—which would probably be less than helpful.  Everyone has an opinion—but none of them would have to live with the consequences (good and bad) from the decision.  I’d pray some more.  I’d wait for divine inspiration to hit me. 

And I’d stress myself out.

Working for AI or Michael Mina at any level would be an amazing opportunity.  How could I tell which one God wants for me?

Well guess what.

God’s given me the freedom to choose whichever one I want.  It doesn’t matter.

That may sound simple, but for me that concept is brand new and is HUGE!!  God’s given me the freedom to make that final choice.  There is no wrong answer.  I CANNOT MAKE A MISTAKE.

Wow.

Wow.

I can’t make a mistake.  Either decision would be right. 

Do you know how much fear I could eliminate from my life if I could remember this?  It’s astounding.

One of the ultimate goals I hope to achieve from working with Jim is to figure out what I want to do with my life when I grow up.  I still don’t have any idea.  And that’s been a little frustrating for me lately.  I crave a singular direction to move in.  I want to know the path and want to start moving along it.  (Mind you the fact that I’ve gone 6 months without throwing a tantrum because I don’t have a defined ultimate goal is pretty impressive progress for me!  J)

I’m trying to be content with building a more solid, firm foundation before moving up.  I can’t very well be picking our paint colors for the curtains of the castle that is my life if I don’t even have a solid foundation laid yet.

And now (if I can remember it!) I have the knowledge that whatever decisions I make along the way will be the right ones.  As long as they are in keeping with God’s moral will, and I’m seeking His will for my life,  I’m free to make the best, most enjoyable, most fun, most adventurous, most bold, most unbelievable, most “I-never-would-have-thought-of-that-but-in-hindsight-it’s –perfect” decision I can.  And it won’t EVER be a mistake.  No matter what I choose.  I don’t have to fear.

Wow.

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As I sit by my window gazing at the amazing pink anemone flowers now in bloom I’ve realized fall is literally hours away.  (Well…..I suppose it’s technically always a given number of hours away.  But that number is much smaller now.  Grin!)  Fall.  It can’t be fall already, can it?  It seems like just yesterday I was counting down the days until spring!  Time flies….

It was March when I started working with Coach Jim—a little over six months ago.  Jim recently said (well….wrote) he thinks I’m moving forward faster than I realize.  I really hope he’s right.  Because I don’t always feel like I’m making progress.  I know I’m moving….but I’m not really certain of the direction.  You know the spinning tea-cup rides at carnivals or Disney?  I often feel like I’m on an emotional version of those.  (Fortunately it’s one that doesn’t move fast enough to make me sick to my stomach!  J) 

Am I making progress?  Am I moving forward?  I dunno. 

I’m making changes—that’s easy to see.  I have different body postures I use as needed.  I’m making healthier choices.  I’m writing for the first time since junior high school. 

Yet none of it seems to have a distinct direction.  I feel like I’m so focused on trying to make a dozen small changes that I can’t see the big picture.  It keeps escaping me.  I know I’m a detail person—and that I typically do details well.  And often in life when I try to look at the “big picture” it just feels overwhelming and confusing. 

Have you ever worked on an IBM AS400?  I did years ago when I worked at Cardinal Health.  And Mr. Spuds (IT geek) has worked on them as well.  When an amateur (like me!) tries to run a query on the system that isn’t well written it can lock up the system.  Mr. Spuds says it causes it to “thrash.”  (Now I’m not sure if this is the official technical term or not- but it works for the purpose of explaining stuff.)  The system has so many requests with the same level of priority it doesn’t know which one to do first.  The system doesn’t know which piece of information to reach for first.  So it doesn’t reach for any of them.  It thrashes.

That’s how I feel at times.  I have so many things to work on I don’t know where to start.  What do I do first?  Where do I focus my time and energy?  I feel like I’m missing the big picture, like I don’t know what the final picture is —don’t know where I’m headed—feel like I’m moving in circles.

I’m trying to be okay with that.  And having Jim as my coach makes it easier—I know if I feel too far gone I can always ask for a glance at the road map.  J  It’s still tough.  I suppose it’s never easy to change.

So, what progress have I made?  (Even if I’m not sure of the direction I’m headed.)

In January my migraine headaches were out of control.  I had multiple migraines in a week.  I couldn’t go a week without having to take medicine for them.  It was horrible.  I missed only 2 days of work—but paid for it in the evenings and on the weekends.  I’d crawl home from work and sit in a dark room.  I couldn’t lie down—it hurt my head too much.  I propped myself up in a chair and moved only when Mr. Spuds brought me dinner.  I missed church frequently and missed Bible study just as often.  And I felt despair frequently.  “Will nothing help?  Will nothing make the pain go away?  Why can’t I get rid of these?  Why can’t I get back to normal?  Make it stop!  Make it stop!”

6 months after starting to work with Jim I’m amazed at the difference.  January, February and March were awful.  I started working with Jim in March.  In April, May and the first half of June I didn’t have a single migraine!  I was astounded!  The second half of June was not so kind—I had several within that two week period.  And the sense of despair returned—but not quite as strong.  It’s hard to describe—the pain colors my view of everything.  It robs me of any sense of hope.  It’s like the 2 and a half months without a migraine didn’t exist.

Fortunately I kept plugging along.  And I haven’t had a full-blown migraine since the end of June.  So fingers crossed that the trend continues!! 

What’s different besides the decreased migraines?  Well since January I’ve shed 12 pounds.  Yay!  At some point in January I had decided that I wanted to lose weight (this morphed in to a goal of “I will make healthier choices and decisions” after I started working with Jim.).  I wanted to lose 9 pounds in 2008, and an additional 5 in 2009.  So far I’ve managed to shed 12 pounds through simple changes in my diet.  I’m also more active—but no heavy duty fitness stuff yet.  So that’s another positive difference.

What else?  I’ve been working with my staff at work differently.  I’ve been meeting with them on a regular basis and working on improving our group communications.  We’re getting better—still room for improvement, but definitely better. 

What else?  Well most of the stuff is internal, foundational stuff.  I need to be happy with me before I can determine a direction for my life.  And I’m still not sure exactly who I am—much less know how to be happy with me.  And that’s been incredibly difficult for me to work on.

I started this year not even knowing who I was.  Yes—I know I’m Spudsie, wife of Mr. Spuds, employee of my company, member of my church, etc.  But beneath that stuff, who am I?  And how do I accept and love who I am?

Sounds easy, right?  Nope.  Not for me.  I’ve begun to realize I don’t have a very accurate picture/view of who I am.  I have awesome friends who say wonderful things about me.  And I’m convinced they are saying those nice things only to be kind.  I have the BEST husband in the world who says amazing things about me.  And I’m convinced he’s deluded.  I have people in my life who are encouraging and praise me.  And I consistently find some way to explain away the things they say.

I’ve had others in my life that were not as kind.  Who said…..well….unkind things about me.  And THOSE are the things I’ve listened to.

How messed up is that?  The people who love me and care for me—I ignore them, figure they are lying to me because they don’t want to hurt my feelings.  The people who are out to tear me down to help make themselves feel better?  Yeah….THOSE are the people I’ve decided to listen to.

This makes NO SENSE! 

And yet I can’t seem to get away from it.  I’m trying.  Really I am.  But it’s hard.  Unbelievably hard.  It sounds simple—just quit replaying the negative stories and start believing those who love you.  But I’m scared to believe the good stuff.

Why am I scared?  I can’t figure it out.  Recently the words “strength” and “strong” have been tossed around a lot by my friends and family.  Where the heck did that come from?!?!?!  I was having a conversation with Coach Jim where I was trying to define my core values.  After listening to me ramble for a while he suggested the word “strength.”  I’m pretty sure I laughed or rolled my eyes.  Mr. Spuds was there at the time.  So Jim asked Mr. Spuds if strength was a word Mr. Spuds would use.  Yup.  Mr. Spuds said he thought that was a terrific word to describe me.  I just about lost it.  I cannot remember the last time I felt so humbled by so few words. 

I said something about it to a group of friends I have.  They all agreed with Mr. Spuds. 

I don’t get this.  I don’t feel strong.  That doesn’t resonate with me at all.  I feel stubborn at times…but that’s not quite the same thing.  😉

So I stayed away from the idea for a while.  And I think I’m coming back to it now.  I think I’m finally at the point where I’m curious.  I’m curious about me.  That sounds odd doesn’t it?  (Grin)  I’m curious to know what it is that people see in me that I’m not seeing in myself. 

And for once it’s not curious so that I can figure out how to deflect the praise, the positive thoughts.  I’m actually curious to see if I can see the same things they see.

I’m not there yet.  I still can’t quite see it.  But I think I’m making a little progress. 

Maybe when I can see what they see the teacups will stop spinning and I’ll stop thrashing.

I hope so.

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Arrrrrrrr!  Ahoy mateys!  (I love this day!)

 

Why are so many mysteriously drawn to this day?  Deep down do we all love pirates?  (Pirates beyond the delectable Captian Jack Sparrow.  Sigh…..Johnny Depp with eyeliner…..sigh…..where’s the rum?!)  September 19th seems to bring out the quirky side of everyone.  Even my boss (from a super-conservative fairly formal company) sent out an “all employee” e-mail wishing everyone a happy PIrate Day and signed it using her “pirate name.”  Wow!  Didn’t see that one coming!  😉

 

Pirates always remind me of vegetables.  Talking vegetables no less!  If you have children (and an odd sense of humor–think Monty Python meets a children’s cartoon) and aren’t familiar with Veggie Tales I strongly encourage you to check them out.  Mr. Spuds and I have no children and laugh until we cry when we watch them.  Don’t even get me started on the “Cheeseburger” love song with Mr. Lunt! 

“Cause you’re his cheeseburger, his yummy cheeseburger, he’ll wait for yoooo-oooou, he’ll wait for yoooo-ou….”

Opps.  There I go.  Sorry!

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Farewell Much Loved Pin Oak

 

A friend of mine from Maine e-mailed me with sad news this week.  His wonderful shade-providing pin oak has blight.  And must be removed post haste to avoid infecting other trees.

(Pause for a moment of silence.)

Now I understand not everyone will feel the loss of a single (though it now sounds as if it may be multiple trees in need of removal) tree as deeply as I do.  And that’s okay.  Since this is my blog, I’m going to allow myself to wax poetic regarding trees in general.

(Clearing my throat)

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.— Joyce Kilmer
Okay.  Ya caught me.  I didn’t write that poem.  But I did cut and paste it from another site on the Internet.  So that’s kinda like it’s me waxing poetic….right?  (Chuckle)

(Side topic of poetry:  I have a vague memory of taking some lit class and having the instructor rip into this poem.  A real “this-is-everything-that-is-wrong-and-insipid-about-poetry” type of rant.  Mr. Spuds would strongly disagree.  This poem has everything Mr. Spuds looks for in a “good” poem—it rhymes!  Seldom can I quote the small bits of poetry I remember without Mr. Spuds glancing at me.  After being married for 14 years he doesn’t even have to say anything anymore.  “I know hun.  It doesn’t rhyme so you don’t think it’s a poem. “  “Yup.  Got it in one Spudsie!”    Grin!  Gotta love him….he’s such a hoot!)

Back to trees…..trees are so amazing.  Don’t belive me?  Go read Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree.”  ‘Nuff said.  Beyond everything I remember being mentioned in “The Giving Tree” trees also provide food and shelter for some amazing wildlife. 

From where I sit to write my blog ramblings I can glance to the left and watch the activity in our two 15 foot blue spruce trees.  Little finch and sparrows are constantly flying in and out—chicks twice the size of their parents following the parents and continuing to “beg” to be fed by the parents, and the parents trying to ignore them.  Nothing says “I will NOT be ignored” quite like an oversized chick!   Humming birds fly around the cones trying to find food.  Squirrels low to the ground creep along trying to hide from me as they crawl towards the bird feeders to steal seed.  And even cats and groundhogs hide underneath the low branches of the spruce—the groundhogs for shade, the cats to stalk the birds.  Ahhh…it’s quite the hive of activity!  I love trees.

After dinner this evening I looked at old photos to see if I could find one of the pin oak that will be cut down.  Sadly I do not have one.  The wanderings through old Maine photos were not a complete bust.  I found two of my favorite first-but-certainly-won’t-be-my-last-trip-to-Maine photos.

Here’s a couple of birds acting as goofy as I was.

Birds acting goofy

Birds acting goofy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here’s dinner—after he was de-clawed.  Good times.  Good times.

 

 

 

 

 

So what’s the unifying theme of today’s blog entry?  I didn’t start with one but I think it can be summed up with this.  Things I love.  Friends.  Trees.  Written words (poetry).  Birds.  Maine.  Lobstah. 

Farewell beloved pin oak.  Farewell to your shade, to your beauty, to your shelter for birds and bugs, to your example to always reach to grow beyond where you are.  You will be missed.

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