Aimless

Lately, I have been aimless, so I have decided to post an aimless, wandering blog post. Perhaps doing so will help to spur something interesting in my brain, something that is so deeply hidden that only wandering over it will help to pull it out of the weeds. In the past week, I have started numerous posts, but none has stuck. I have been entertaining myself with television and surfing the Internet, and my blog has suffered.

In truth, I have not been totally aimless. I have been completing my work—on schedule, I might add—despite the extenuating circumstances of my life. I am grateful that my online summer work allows for a relaxed work environment while still providing a paycheck.

This evening, I eavesdropped on a conversation of my children discussing the boxes in which they receive gifts. “What are those shoes?” one teen asked another, who quickly explained that that was just the box the gift was in.

He replied, “If everything you ever got was what belonged in the box, you’d have a lot of weird stuff.” I had to laugh as he proceeded to list the items my children would receive: Girl Scout Cookies, DHC Skincare products, dance shoes….

And then my cats became fascinated with the summer beetles and moths that were drawn to the outside light by the front door. I could hear the click of their claws as they batted at the bugs through the glass of the storm door. When I went to check on them (and close the door) I found some impressive two inch bugs making their way up the door. It’s good they stayed outside.

And finally, I will report that the message of my message blocks was finally… well … changed. Even though I wrote about changing the message back on May 31, it never happened. Now, I won’t say that the kids left the message completely alone. There were some small changes made to the spelling, the orientation of the letters, etc. There were comments made about the fact that the message remained unchanged, even after I had blogged about changing it. But no one could quite bear to rearrange the letters. In the end, it was appropriate that the cat—who sleeps on the shelf—pushed the message onto the floor. Dad was a fan of cats and would’ve loved this one. She has quite a purr-sonality! Maybe we’ll put the blocks away for awhile… at least until the cat can keep her paws off them.

Or maybe not.

Time’s Apprentice

I am an apprentice of time. This fact was made obvious to me this morning when I turned the calendar and found the words—right across the page all bold and bright—Imagine the Possibilities.

My mind immediately started to do just that. It was as if the suggestion suddenly took on life and moved under its own power. I could see it like roots of a vine digging in and taking hold. So much power in a simple suggestion! Not only did I begin to imagine all that the month of May might hold, I actually noticed the thirty-one blank squares that were arranged beneath the word “May.” Thirty-one days when I can take on new challenges, learn new things, develop my soul, and become a better me.

Imagine the Possibilities! Yes, let’s do that. The possibilities are endless, and when we imagine them, it is as if they expand and grow and become more… well… possible. Imagine!

I am an apprentice to this whole time thing (does anyone ever really master time?). Maybe not, but imagine what could happen if we open ourselves up to time and to all of its possibilities!

 

Teachable moments

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This weekend’s not-so-fun activity involved a morning trip to the Laundromat. After his last camping trip, W announced that his winter sleeping bag was “developing a personality” and needed to be washed. I don’t know about you, but when a 15 year-old announces that his sleeping bag is “developing a personality,” I sit up and take notice. And since his next camping trip is coming up quickly—next weekend, in fact—it was pretty much this weekend or after the upcoming trip.

But a winter sleeping bag is one of those items that cannot be washed at our home in our normal-sized washing machine. It has to be washed in a large capacity, front-loading machine, hence the trip to the Laundromat. Since we were heading there anyway, I decided to bring the comforter from my bed—another item that I have to launder outside of the house.

Of course, there was the need for tennis balls. I have never used tennis balls in the dryer with my comforter because I typically go to the Laundromat on a very windy day and I dry my comforter at home, outside. However, January is not such a friendly time for drying a heavy comforter outside, wind or no. So a stop at Target was necessary.

We picked up two containers of yellow tennis balls and took them to the checkout, where a gaggle of teenage workers was congregating, socializing. As we stepped up to the checkout, one of the teens broke away from the group to take her place at the register and ring in our three-dollar purchase. She thanked us and went back to her “social” group. As W and I walked by the group to exit the store, one of the teens announced to her friends, “I think I’m going to get a different job.”

Well then. There were so many things I could have said in that moment, but I walked past as if I hadn’t heard.

We were not even out the door before I turned to W. “You know what you don’t do?” I posed.

“Talk about how much you don’t like your job while you’re at your job?” he responded without a split second delay. Ah! He, too, had heard the young woman as we walked by. “I noticed that,” he commented.

“That is so not a good idea,” I told him, though from his quick response, I was certain he knew better. “It’s fine to want a new job. Not so much to announce it while you’re at your current job. And while you are standing around doing nothing….”

“Yeah,” he said. “I get that.” Some things are best left for when you are in the privacy of your own home, and perhaps complaining about your job is one of them. Then again, if you complain in public, I may just use it as a teachable moment.

{image credit: Freeimages.com/Ben C}

The Things that are Missing…

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At that university where I work, I meet with student writers from all walks and backgrounds. I mainly meet with undergraduate writers, but I also work with students who are professionals in the midst of careers—returning to school for professional development or to get a degree. And then there are the graduate students who range in age from 22 to 92.

Recently, I met with a woman who was an acquaintance of mine in a former iteration of my life—years ago when I was single and worked a different job. She is in a demanding graduate program, she works full time, and she deals with the every day stresses and curve-balls of life that we all deal with.

She was struggling. Her professor had told her that her final essay could end her participation in the program; she was under more pressure than usual, and she was taking it out on herself. Briefly, she let me in on the frustrations she had with the class—the only class in which she had struggled in the program thus far. Now, she felt the need to put exactly the right words on the page, which is never good for the writing process; she was over-editing because she felt under-confident.

I asked her how many classes she had completed in the program. Seven. And then I reminded her that she had seen me two years earlier—when she had first started her program—feeling almost exactly the same way. And I reminded her that she hadn’t seen me since. “What is it about these two classes that stripped you of your confidence?” I asked her.

Her response had nothing to do with school. She mentioned the loss of a loved one several years earlier; the holiday season without that person; the stresses of her work; a birthday celebration that needed to happen in the midst of everything else. And the pressure to finish this one last paper.

Often at this time of the year, we are too able to focus on what’s missing. The longing for what is missing blurs the present and what we have. And sometimes, we don’t even consciously recognize that we are struggling with loss or stress or the need to be everything to everyone.

And so I say this: be gentle with yourself, not just at this time of year, but always. You are not alone. We are all in this together. Chances are, if you are willing to say, “You know what? I am struggling today,” someone will step in to offer support and to lift you up.

My Soundtrack

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Today’s blog prompt asks, what would be on a mix tape of my life? And so I thought about it. Long and hard, I thought.

I thought about my life: Single mother with three kids, two jobs, three cats. Running all the time just to keep up with everything that needs to be done, picking up everything that needs to be put back in place. Catching the things that fall before they land. Stocking the fridge so no one complains, there’s nothing to eat! Sweeping the dust, drying the tears, pulling the weight. Juggling all the balls that are in the air, even when someone tosses in a new one. Remembering the details before someone else forgets them. Always on my toes. Chaotic.

And then it dawned on me. Of course, my life soundtrack would be completely instrumental. Because there are no words to describe my life. Truly, there are no words.

Reflections on what’s left….

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This evening, I was shopping in the craft store when I ran into a public figure. Now, I know what you are thinking. What is this woman doing in the craft store, AGAIN?? And I am happy to say I was there to pick up some items for an event that we are holding at work on Wednesday. But that doesn’t matter because this post is not about my addiction to craft supplies; it’s about the challenges that come with being a public figure.

As I turned down one of the aisles, I saw her, and I caught her eye. In a split second, she sensed I recognized her, and she quickly looked away. My mind was clicking through context clues to help me figure out if this was really the person I thought it was or if she was a mother with whom I had occasional contact. Her daughter—who was with her—was only a bit younger than my own, so it could be that I knew her from the community.

She carried on a conversation with her daughter about an item that was being placed into their cart. The voice was familiar as it reached my ears, bringing me back to recent political advertisements. I glanced her way, and she was looking at me. Again, she turned away, but I knew that the face matched the expectation I had for that voice, but what was she doing in the glitter aisle of the local craft store? Shouldn’t she be somewhere less… well, mundane?

But no, she could be wherever she wanted. However, it seemed she was not comfortable, knowing that people might recognize her. While she had chosen a life in the public arena, she certainly did not choose the rather public “firing” that she had recently received.

Politicians… they must understand that being “fired” by being voted out of office is a huge risk that comes with the territory. But I’d never really thought about how devastating that loss might be until this woman would not hold my gaze or smile. Instead, she chose to look away lest I recognize her enough to say something to her. And then I started to wonder what people might say to her when they figure out who she is. Because not everyone agrees with her.

As this woman exited the glitter aisle with her daughter, my boyfriend spoke to her. He is the type of person who will be on your side in any situation, advocating for you and supporting you. He complimented her, and thanked her for her willingness to serve the people of the country. In her response, I heard a hint of relief.

And I started to wonder about what her future might hold. She is now free to move on, to take her experiences and construct something new. Re-examine the life that she had and make it into the life that she now wants, however uncomfortable she may be in public situations for awhile.

In truth, sometimes things unravel for all of us, even if we are not public figures. And when that happens, we take the pile of what’s left and make something new and fresh and (hopefully) wonderful.

Christmas Lights

img_2667It’s nearly winter where I live. The shortest day of the year is less than three weeks away, and the past few days have been particularly dark and dreary with heavy clouds, drenching rain, and murky fog. The rain has offered some needed relief from the months’ long drought, and while it may seem as though I am complaining, I am not. In fact, I find rainy days offer an opportunity for introspection.

But sometimes dreariness lingers, as it has recently. So with the shorter days, I am doubly glad I put up my Christmas tree this week. I am a huge fan of LOTS of lights One small tree (well, it’s a bit taller than I am…), 520 colored lights. (Yep, I like the colored ones). It bathes my living room in a pinkish glow of cozy warmth.

I am intrigued by the fact that so many winter traditions include festivals of lights. Even the early people knew that lighting the deepening darkness was a good thing that might make them happy. As I sit beside my tree in my living room, I am grateful for the thoughtfulness of their traditions.

For the past couple days, I have been seeking refuge in this welcoming light—both early in the morning, as I drink my coffee, and late in the day, when the daily activity of my house is winding down. Over the next month, I will continue to find moments and create excuses to sit by the tree and think and hopefully, write. My blog challenge in November didn’t go as well as I would have liked, so I have downloaded two lists of prompts for December. If my creativity is not sparked by one list, perhaps it will be sparked by the other. And perhaps I will produce extra blog posts this month.

Because … hope. It “springs eternal,” whatever that means. And for this month, at least, I will sit in the light of my Christmas tree as if I am soaking up the vitamin D infused rays of the sun. And I will quietly wait for inspiration to land here with me in this space.