Still Dancing

Every morning I stand at the front door and watch my 28 year old daughter cross the short distance from the porch to the driveway, on her way to her car…to work.

This morning is no exception.

I stand and watch.

She walks.

Wait…did I see that?

Yes!  I did.

This morning she doesn’t just walk. She tiptoes and dances along the small, uneven stepping stones.

And, I am transported back in time to when she was 3. Her every step was light and every stone an occasion for exploration…every day a reason for dancing.

I smile – she still has reason to dance.

I smile again – my son expects a daughter’s arrival in 3 months.

Every day, a reason for dancing!

Forecast

Snow.

Beginning tonight, snow is in the forecast until Saturday evening.

As February morphs into March, the prognosticators predict snow will fall.

Slight chance.  Chance.  Possibility.  Likely. Probable.  These are the terms the forecasters use to describe their best guess (based on information, past experience, logic, computer analysis, etc.) as to whether or not we will receive snow and when.

Along with the terms listed above, percentages are given.

Snow Likely Chance for Measurable Precipitation 70%Snow Likely Chance for Measurable Precipitation 60%

  • 30% slight chance of snow, low of 33
  • 30% chance of snow, high of 40
  • 20% chance of snow, low of 33
  • 40% chance of snow, high of 39
  • 70% likelihood of snow, low of 29
  • 60% probability of snow, high of 37
  • 20% slight chance of snow, low of 25
  • 0% no chance, high of 39

I’m from the South and I’ll admit it gets my attention when snow is mentioned in the forecast Wednesday night, Thursday, Thursday night, Friday, Friday night, Saturday and Saturday night.  Those little pictures of clouds with snow falling out of them grab me every time and I return time and again to see what the forecasters say and if the forecast has been updated.

There’s a different way to look at things, of course, but even though it’s just as accurate,  it’s no where near as exciting.

Would you return time and again to the forecast below?

  • 70% likelihood of no measurable precipitation, low of 33
  • 70% likelihood of no measurable precipitation, high of 40
  • 80% probability of no measurable precipitation, low of 33
  • 60% likelihood of no measurable precipitation, high of 39
  • 30% chance of no measurable precipitation, low of 29
  • 40% chance of no measurable precipitation, high of 37
  • 80% probability of no measurable precipitation, low of 25
  • 100% assurance of no measurable precipitation, high of 39

I wouldn’t and doubt you would either.

Weather forecasters provide a “7 day outlook” in which they express their opinions of what the next 7 days will look like weather wise.

When you woke this morning – what was forecast for your day?

Was it 50% probability of rain? Or, was it 50% likelihood of clear sky with bright sun?

What was the outlook for your week ahead?

We often can’t do anything about the forecast.  And, we often can’t change what is or the chance of what will be. Some things are simply out of our hands and beyond our ability.

But, we can change our way of looking at things – our perspective…our outlook.  We can choose to see the 80% chance of sunshine and plan for and live in that forecast, and not plan our day around the 20% (slight) chance of rain.

I Think About Me

“I think about me and I know there”

That was at the bottom of yesterday’s draft when I returned to it after a brief absence.

I do not recall writing it nor do I understand what it means…is related to or what I was going to say next. Or, why.

The content above the incomplete thought bore no indication of what my thinking was when I penned that brief phrase.

I was away from the computer less than 5 minutes.  How could it leave me that quickly?

I think about me and I know there

I think about me and I know there…what?

Why was I thinking about myself?  And where was I going with that thought?

I think about me and I know there

  • are times when I think I’m all that and a box of chocolates (or bag of chips)
  • are a lot of mistakes and misadventures
  • are other places I prefer to be than here
  • is a dearth of depth and understanding
  • are others who don’t think about me at all
  • are times when I speak before thinking
  • isn’t all that much to think about
  • is more than meets the eye
  • are times when I mean well but don’t do well
  • should probably be a picture of me in the medical dictionary under psychotic
  • is much to change
  • ‘s a lot of love and caring
  • are places I still hurt
  • is a deep dislike for some things (spiders) and a profound love for other things (friends/family)
  • are better thoughts to think
  • lies undiscovered potential
  • hides fear and longing
  • laughs an idiot
  • lives a life in search of significance
  • there is more than me and mine
  • is you

When you think about you, you know there….

From a Different Angle

Fire Damages Gas Station Near Woodbine 

– A gas station near Woodbine was damaged by a fire early Monday morning.

The fire broke out just before 5 a.m. at the Phillips 66 on Glenrose Avenue.

First responders reported flames and heavy smoke coming from the building. Sky 5 HD showed multiple fire engines on the scene.

The fire was extinguished by 6:30 a.m.

No injuries have been reported. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

I woke a few minutes before 5, and again a few minutes after 5 – each time wondering, “Why?” Sleep was fitful and I finally rose at 6 to attend to a little work that was nagging me.

My usual morning pattern was broken so I saw little harm in checking the local news before heading here to write.  (You never know what inspiration local news might offer.)

I saw the headline above scroll past on the website of Channel 5 News.  “Woodbine” caught my attention.  I live in Woodbine but the gas station in the picture was not familiar to me – even with the street name listed, I still couldn’t place its location.

Of course, the picture was taken before daylight and from an angle I’d never viewed it.

I was stymied.

My mind hopped into its imaginary car and traveled the entire length of Glenrose Avenue.  And, then I “saw” it – a mile from my house.  Every time I head West I pass that station. Hubby drives past it every day he works. Daughter buys gas there when her tank nears empty.  We pass it on the way to church.

As a child, my friends and I walked to it, or the store across from it, and bought penny candy and chips and cashed in cola bottles we’d picked up on the walk down there.

I knew the gas station, but not from the angle presented in the picture.

All those fire trucks…”multiple engines on the scene” is how the news reported it…and I heard nothing.

All that excitement going on just a mile from me and I was unaware.

That bothers me for some reason, and I’m not sure why.

I didn’t need to be aware and I had nothing to offer those fighting the fire or investigating the scene.  But, still…it bothers me that I was so close and knew nothing.

It also bothers me when I learn of a friend who is going through a hard time or has suffered loss and know that I failed to hear the siren’s wail or see the flashing lights.

Or, that I viewed things from an odd angle and didn’t recognize familiar landmarks – made assumptions, took action or made comments – and messed up royally, putting my foot in my mouth instead of out the door.

Significantly Important

I dreamed last night – a convoluted dream that coiled and twisted through my sleep driven mind.

You know how crazy dreams can be – taking a piece of this and mixing it with a bit of that, tossing in some of the other and mixing it just enough to be familiar, but yet confusing.

In dreams such as this, there’s no way for me to describe the setting.  I can only pull from it various details and provide an overview.

The dream concerned a fire. Everyone in my dream knew there was a fire – but, there was no evidence of a fire: no visible flames, no evidence of burning, no smoke, no 911 call, no panic apart from my own.

The fire was at a church – a huge church – though it wasn’t just a church.  Above the church people lived and in one of the dwellings lived my mom, but I didn’t know this until toward the end of my dream.

I knew the church building was on fire – everyone there knew it was.  And, I knew something needed to be done because everyone was going about their business totally unconcerned.

I set about organizing the removal of important things (at least what I deemed to be of value) and employed the help of others, directing, dictating…driving all toward the goal of saving what could be saved.

Then it dawned on me – I’d not heard sirens.  Had no one called 911 and alerted the fire department?

No one had.

No flames, no smoke, everyone knew the building was on fire, no one was doing anything about it, no 911 call had been made – yeah, I know crazy dream, but you know how dreams are sometimes.

I wondered (in my dream) how we knew the building was on fire, who had spread the word about the fire, and why no one was doing anything about putting it out.

“Call 911 and report the fire!” I appointed that task to someone and made haste to clear the building.  Then I saw my mom come down the staircase.

My mom.  I was shocked to see her.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“I live here,” was her answer.

“Don’t you know this place is on fire? We need to get your things moved out and you to safety!” I said as I took her hand.

“No!  Let it go. Let it all go!” she said.

Startled and confused by her willingness to give up all that was important, I implored her, “Tell me what’s important and I’ll bring it out.  There’s no need for the fire to burn any of it.  There’s time, plenty of time! Tell me, what up there is important to you?”

My mind quickly scanned my memory for the interior of my mom’s house and focused on several things that I consider significant…to her – and to me as well.

She shook her head.  “Nothing.  There’s nothing important. Nothing I want saved.  Let it all go!”

Grieved by her words, I blurted out, “But what about the cards my dad gave you? What about the pictures? What about all of the photos? What about the memories they represent?”

“Let them go.  Let them all go!” was her reply.

I cried and begged her to let me go and at least save the memories captured in the pictures.

Finally she relented and immediately I woke.

Sweat dotted my brow…my heart pounded…my mind, oh, my mind was in a whirl – so many emotions, so many thoughts, so many questions!

Feel free to psychoanalyze my dream all you want.  I’ve done my share in the hours since I woke.

  • What imaginary/invisible “flames” threaten what I label “IMPORTANT?”
  • Do I hang onto the past too tightly – so tightly that I’m unable to fully grasp the present?
  • Are my hands so full of the past that they can’t open to the future?
  • Do I need to hold all things loosely?
  • Do I need to free myself from all that prevents me from living fully in the present?
  • Can I see myself throwing off yesterday as easily as I throw off the covers when I wake to a new day?
  • Why do I see my identity in my yesterdays when I can live only in today?
  • Do others see me within yesterdays’ frame? Or, am I new each day to them?
  • Why do I look back at my yesterdays when I should face toward the hope of tomorrow?
  • Why do I seek comfort in the past rather than create comfort for my future?
  • Why do I fear letting go?
  • What do I need to let go of today?

Today.

This minute.

That’s all I have. My next breath is not guaranteed.

I look around me and I wonder…what is important? And, why?

And, I wonder…what would I do if fire threatened…what would I think important enough to save and how much of this stuff would I truly grieve the loss of?

Would I be lost without my “important” things about me? Would I be me without my past? Could I be content without all this stuff? Would I be okay without my ties to my yesterdays?

I wonder….

…what can I let go of, today?

My Self and I

“February is a short month.” This is what I remind my self from day one.

And, without fail Self replies, “Yeah, I know…28 days this month, I know!”

Well, here we are – February 23 – and Self screams at me, “DO YOU REALIZE THERE ARE ONLY 5 MORE DAYS BEFORE MARCH 1?”

Every February I go through this with my self.  You would think after so many years, Self would finally get it.

But, no! Self doesn’t get it and I’m to blame.

I calmly reply, “Um, yeah.  I know.  Haven’t I told you every day for the past 23 days that February is a short month?”

Self is silent, contemplating her answer while cutting me a look that could curdle milk.

“Look, Self,” I venture, “I know you tend to panic when you realize February is only 28 days long.  And, I know it’s nice to have two or three days more to wrap things up before a new month turns the calendar.  But, it is what it is. And, sometimes we just have to accept what is and move forward into what’s next.”

Silence.

Realizing I’m not helping the situation and only making matters worse for my self, I ask: “What can I do to help you?”

Immediately, I see Self relax and I feel within that things are going to be okay.

Yes, there are only 5 more days before March storms in. But, 5 days are 5 days and much can be accomplished in those precious days and hours if we don’t fight with our self.

“Thanks,” Self mutters, and begins to lay out all that needs our attention and resolution.

Self is reassured that by focusing our energies and working together as one, Self and I can accomplish great things in a matter of days.

A confident Self is a happy self and if my self is content…well, there’s half the battle won.

I ask my self, “Are you ready to get started?”

Self answers, “No, I’m heading back to bed.  Call me when you get things organized.”

Sometimes I just don’t understand my self. She seems at odds with everything I attempt to accomplish.

Do you have trouble with your self?

Interrupted

6 to 8 a.m. – that’s my writing time.

The house is quiet. And, dark.

My mind, relaxed and open, is free to think beyond the day’s needs and frustrations…to reach beyond myself and my environment, and able to find words and put them into some semblance of order that resembles thoughts.

This morning, my writing time was interrupted.

I don’t like interruptions.

My chest seized as muscles tensed, and my jaw tightened.

Like I said, I don’t like interruptions – especially  not during the quiet time I’ve set aside for myself before the day begins.

Call me selfish. I don’t care.  I get up early for this one reason – to be still, to think, and to write.

Once my mind is side tracked that’s it.  Opportunity to write has flown.

Such is this morning.

Hubby rose as Daughter was leaving for work.

“You’re not getting up, are you?” I asked.

“Can’t sleep,” was his reply.

It’s not that I have a place I can go for quiet reflection.  The ONLY place in the house we rent is a common area that Hubby and I use as an office, dining room, living area. And, it’s right in the middle of our small house.

Make that, TINY house.

I’ll admit, I was a little miffed.  Body and mind would have enjoyed sleeping longer. My only reason for rising early was for the quiet opportunity to think and write uninterrupted.

Ok, ok, I was a little more than a little miffed.

OKAY! I was upset.  There, are you happy now?

Yes!  I was upset.  My plans had been interrupted in such a way that I could not regain what I needed to accomplish my goal of writing a piece for this blog before my day began in earnest.

I need to write.  I need to get things out of my head and into words through writing – whether with pencil and paper or fingers clacking on a keyboard – I NEED TO WRITE.  It’s like I need to download my brain to free it to take in more.

And, I need quiet uninterrupted time to think and write.  Poor mind has enough trouble holding onto thoughts without noise, talking, and activity breaking my concentration (aka interruptions).

Sigh….

I should tell you why hubby couldn’t sleep and why he interrupted my early morning plans.

Today is Friday.  Friday is payday. This is the last Friday of the month.  Bills are due.  Rent is coming up on the 1st.  Very little pay was expected (works on commissions).

When we moved here, Hubby had to transfer with his company and basically had to start over from the ground up. Hard to do in a new place, with new people, where you don’t even know how to get from point A to point B and then back home again – and let’s don’t even talk about working around rush hour traffic….

Anyway, Hubby, being the man that he is, was concerned (aka worried) about where the money was going to come from to pay our bills.

Long story short – when I rolled out of bed, Hubby woke to my kiss on his cheek and grabbed his iphone to check our bank account expecting to find nothing, but hoping for a miracle.

What he found was what prevented him from going back to sleep.

And, the reason he interrupted my quiet time.

What did he find?  He found a miracle – sufficient to pay all that was due.

It seems several months ago, a manager flipped a switch to undo something that was done regarding his sales account.  And, unknown to Hubby, in X number of months that switch would flip back and the $$ withheld would be released.

Today.

Hence my interruption during my quiet time.

Oh, yeah.  In all honesty I should tell you that when I sat down to write shortly after 6 a.m., I stared at my blank page and could think of nothing to write…NOTHING.  My mind was as blank as the page.

And, then Hubby interrupted and voila!

Interruptions are often blessings in disguise.

Thank you, God, for this and for so much more.

Good thing this piece is finished – Hubby just asked for breakfast….

Red Morn, Sailors Scorn

This morning I woke to an odd red glow.

The back of our house faces SE/S/SW, so our bedroom windows receive sunlight most of the day in the winter, with one of the windows receiving first light as the sun rises.

First light this morning was red.

Red light is not the first light one expects to see upon waking.

My mind immediately went into alert mode.  Red = warning.

I jumped from bed, peeked through the blind covering the window and saw a beautiful red sunrise turning wispy gray clouds a delightful shade of crimson.

A smile lit my face.

And, then a frown.

A phrase came to mind, “Red at night, sailor’s delight. Red in the morning, sailors take warning.” And, a quip I’d read last night did, too. It’s underlined.

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away. (Matthew 16: 1-4 NIV)

A quick check of today’s forecast revealed…you guess it – 100% chance of RAIN today.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could simply peek out the window and check early morning signs in the sky to know what the day holds for us?

On second thought – we might be more inclined to turn over and hide from what lies ahead than to grab an umbrella and bravely head out into it.

Who Determines Your Worth?

I picked up the Avon book (Campaign 4, 2013) lying on my desk and leafed through it.

I’m not a girly-girl and don’t find much interest in jewelry, perfume, makeup, or “fashionable” things.  (Who exactly is it that determines what’s fashionable and what’s not??)

But, I do enjoy looking at the colors and shapes of the things Avon wants me to purchase.

AND, I enjoy reading the descriptions of the items for sale.

Here’s one: “Put your best face forward. Leave your flaws behind.”  You’ve probably guessed this is an attempt to sell their foundation (makeup that covers your face and hides “flaws.”)

Isn’t that hilarious?

Have you ever considered that Avon (and others) assume you are ugly and kindly suggest their makeup is better than putting a bag over your head?  Read it again if you don’t believe me.  Would you buy something from someone who has the gall to assume that you are ugly without their makeup?

Hello?  Leave your flaws behind? What flaws?

  • The wrinkles that crease my face?  Hey, I’ve earned every one of them!
  • The freckles that grace my cheeks? Those are kisses from the sun!
  • The scar above my right eyebrow? I won that!
  • My rosy cheeks?  That’s the color of health!
  • That little bump on my chin? That’s proof my hormones are still working!

These “flaws” are what make me uniquely ME!  When I look in the mirror I want to see ME, not some Barbie Doll image of me.

Put my best face forward?  I only have one face and it’s the one my friends and family love to see.  Why would I want to cover it?  Who do I need to hide myself from?

My dad said “a little paint will make any old barn look better” and I guess there’s truth in that statement. Enhancing what we like about ourselves – that’s one thing.  Feeling we have to cover up “flaws” to put our “best face forward” is quite another.

And, I’ll admit it angers me.  If grown women are falling for this type of advertisement, what about girls?

When a girl reads Avon’s words: “put your best face forward – leave your flaws behind” her first thought is to look in the mirror and find her “flaws.” And, she will use the air brushed picture of the make up covered model as the template for determining what “flaws” she has.

Who determines your worth?

Companies and corporations that know nothing about us and care only for our money tell us what to think about ourselves, how to see ourselves, and that without their product we are less than we should be.

We believe their lies.

Why?

Because we want to look the best we can and care little about being the best we can.  Beauty comes from within – not from something applied to the surface.

Before you buy, ask yourself why.

At 6 years of age, I pointed to a young friend who had a mark on her face and said “look, she has a mole!”  Mom quietly corrected me and my opinion of her worth – “it’s not a mole, it’s a beauty mark.”

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Look in the mirror and see who you really are.  You might be surprised.

7 Days Sans Ketchup

7 days sans ketchup.  Does that make one weak?

I want ketchup.

The first 3 days were without desire and near misses.  I was on goal and on guard.

The 4th, however, was not.  I stood firm, but the lure of ketchup was almost more than I could bear.  Eating potato chips without dunking them into ketchup…what’s the point? Where’s the joy?  And, fried fish without an abundant amount of ketchup on the side (or on the fish)?  Um…no thanks.  It tastes like – fish!

The 5th found me standing before the open door of the refrigerator, staring longingly at the ketchup bottle.  I didn’t touch it.  I just wanted to look at it and remember the good times we’d had.

Day 6 provided the idea that I could substitute BBQ sauce for ketchup (thank you, Dear Daughter).  I didn’t.  But, I could have and it would have been “legal” because technically BBQ sauce (while it does contain many of the same ingredients) is not ketchup.  So I made barbeque chicken.

Yum….

Today, day 7 of Lent, dawned clear and cold.  I sit with a steaming cup of coffee beside me and think over my day ahead.  I also think over the food I have in the house – grocery day is tomorrow and I’m out of a few things.  No…I have plenty of ketchup.  It’s the little things I eat with ketchup like

  • potato chips,
  • french fries,
  • potato cakes,
  • fried fish,
  • baked fish,
  • scrambled eggs,
  • baked potato, and
  • potato sticks.

And, no, I don’t have any potato products in my house right now.

And, no, I won’t purchase any tomorrow. The temptation to slip into my old habits is too strong.

My purchase will be of new items – different foods that won’t lead me to ketchup or cause me to automatically reach for the ketchup bottle. And, I’ll be honest – with my food allergies/issues I’m finding it difficult to think of side dishes that I can eat – or will eat.

It’s not that I desire the taste of ketchup.

The thought of putting a spoon full of ketchup in my mouth repulses me. 7 days ago I would have gladly done so, savoring the flavor, aroma, texture – and gone back for more.

Today, just thinking about how it tastes is a turn off for me.

Then, why do I want it?

In the past 7 days I’ve watched the scale slip down 4 pounds.  I’m eating less than I did 7 days ago.  The foods listed above don’t interest me sans ketchup, so I’m not eating them.  And, I’ve not chosen other foods to take their place in my diet.

Ketchup was an easy cover up and a quick fix – perhaps for more than just the food I ate.

Perhaps my addiction to ketchup is more than just a physical addiction.  Perhaps there’s a mental/emotional aspect as well.  I wonder what else I eat that meets a need other than dietary – what else I eat because of the happiness it gives me, or, happiness I associate with it.

And, I wonder why…and what I should do about it.

The only things I know to do are:

  1. maintain my resolve to be sans ketchup throughout the 46 day season of Lent,
  2. discover what craving/desire/longing/need ketchup represents, and,
  3. make whatever changes need to be made in light of what I discover.

7 days sans ketchup – this is quickly becoming about more than just my tongue in cheek fast of ketchup.  If I allow, it has the potential to change my life.

I guess that’s what Lent is all about.