This past Sunday, I made an unusual venture to the Mall of America to look for a dress for the charity gala Steve and I are attending in Chicago this upcoming weekend. I hate shopping. I mean hate in the kind of way that I would do pretty much anything else…laundry, taxes, a marathon, the dentist, etc. But, I needed a dress so I went with the group of women who are also making the trek down to Chicago, and seasoned shoppers, to the Mall of America. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this modern marvel (tongue in cheek) according to Wikipedia, it is the most visited and largest mall in the United States. I had the same feeling about going to the MOA, as it’s called, as I did seeing the movie, “The exorcist” It is just too damn big, with too damn many people and while no one’s head spun around there was spewing of some pea like substance in the food court. We ended up in Nordstrom’s where the aunt of one of my friends was a personal shopper. After a having had a brief conversation the week before about our body types…she even knew what I meant when I said “troll-like”…she had dressing rooms ready with dresses all ready to try on. Here we were, four women in a large room in our “spanks” trying on evening wear. I was a bit horrified at what she pulled for me, but in the end they looked spectacular on. It was relatively painless until we went out into the “Mall” portion of the store. It is a taste of just how many people there are in this world. Since it is an international shopping hub, there are all sorts of languages being spoken…and they come just to shop. It made me go into my cocoon just a bit, to think of how much consumerism was going on around me. It was hard to image that the economy is suffering, because it certainly didn’t feel like it. I was glad to get back outside into the fresh air and natural light…and the relative quiet compared to the noises inside. I haven’t changed my mind about shopping, I still hate it, but at the gala this weekend…I’m gonna look good.
On friday all the businesses were available to our smallest citizens for trick or treating. These are two of our smallest and cutest patients. These tots are exactly what Halloween is for…not to mention those of us adults who love to take a break from our responsible selves and play along with the kids. Beyond the sugar, it is a great time to see neighbors and friends see in completely different way. It is so much easier to be kind and available when you’re wearing a costume. My boys are too old to go trick or treating, but we’ve invented ways in our neighborhood to accommodate the advancing age of our children…from spooky trails, to pizza and a scary movie and bonfires with scary stories. It was a full weekend of fun and fright, a much-needed reprieve from the grind.
Halloween always marks the beginning of a series of seasonal celebrations that, for me anyway, wind up a calendar year. It is my favorite time of year because it means opportunities to celebrate family and friends along with everyone in the country, and also marks the point when I force myself to slow down the frantic pace of life in crazy town. I literally haven’t had a moment to sit down and reflect and write anything for days. The other night I was forced to stop dead in my tracks and simplify in the blink of an eye because all the power in most of our county was out because of strong winds. I had my children doing homework by candle light (there were no other electronic distractions to temp them) and I sat with a cup of tea and a candelabra and read while the wind wailed against the house. It was the perfect backdrop for Halloween. I knew it wouldn’t last, but the quiet didn’t even last as long as the power outage. Just as I had settled into my big antique reading chair, I heard a very loud crash outside, which in itself is amazing given the wind was howling so loud you couldn’t hear much of anything else. It seems that the top of one of our old oaks came crashing down on top of the gate to our pool smashing it, and a large portion of the fence to bits. While I was thankful that said tree, didn’t hit our pool and damage it or our house, I was sad that the quiet and subdued light brought about the power outage was disrupted. The power finally came on two hours later, but those first minutes after the candles were lit were the best. I could breath again. I’m just sorry it took the wrath of Mother Nature to get me to come to my senses. I did get up in the middle of the night that night because the wind was so loud and forceful and I saw that one of the boys left one candle burning. It was so beautiful that it took my breath away. I slept deeply and dreamt amazing dreams after that……
Ok, no…I don’t wear a thong, this really was a picture taken in jest, but this is my attitude this week. I wish I could throw all propriety aside, and tell certain people to just kiss my ass and be done with it. I know there is a petulant child crawling up my subconscious with razor like fingers just dying to scream at the top of her lungs non stop until the madness stops. The details of the dishonesty, poor judgement, bad business I’ve faced as of late both inspire my tendency to don a cape and crush them with my super power mouth which can spew viperous wit faster than any known human, and want to break down in tears and get a job at the mall selling really awesome shoes. But, the higher self part of me still remains in control for the time being…although if you ask my thirteen year old he still might describe my higher self as ten kinds of crazy.
There are many lessons to be learned in the midst of this American crisis, and how to better one’s finger-pointing shouldn’t be one of them. We are all culpable for our own part in this mess no matter how miniscul…just by the nature of our citizenship no one gets off the hook. I’m reminded by the wise words of Jesus when he said, those of you who have no sin can throw the first stone. Imperfection is messy….and as far as I can tell, this country is still one great imperfect experiment. But we’re still here, and my hope is that if we quit trying to find a scape goat and share the difficulty of fixing our mess, things will get better. Its starts with each individual accepting responsibility for their own behavior, from problem solving to kindness, from accepting hard lessons to having hope that it will get better.
At the moment, however, after cleaning my own daily closet, I just want to say those who don’t….to just kiss my ass.
In a moment of frustration, I told someone, in reference to actors, that in some circles spending one’s lifetime pretending to be someone else could be considered a mental illness….The particular person I was spouting off to thought I was speaking in reference to the characters played and without a breath launched on a very long-winded soliloquy about “the craft” of modern storytelling. In it’s pure philosophical sense, I had no issue with most of what was said, except to say that I wasn’t speaking philosophically. I am speaking about a growing trend of celebrity that isn’t based on a craft, or a long history of storytelling…you know the kind that compelled culture forward, that moved humanity and evolved us to utilize more and more of the grey matter encased in our skulls, but are put on screen because of a baser appeal. I am alarmed at the themes and content of television programming, the cinema and a lot of music…it is just plain stupid, and not in the lesser pejorative definition of the word, but in the way Shakespeare’s head would explode if forced to watch or listen to it for any length of time. I know there are plenty of people who are offended by the sex, violence and inane messages of today’s stories, I guess I am too but in lesser measure than the the toll it has taken on our culture. Please understand me, I’m not being prudish here. Sex and violence are very prevalent in great works of story-art. Context is everything. What other point in history could a character named “Snookie” become more recognizable than heroes who fight for freedom, whether it be war, saving the planet or curing diseases? At this moment, if I were to envision the perfect incarnation of evil, it would be those media moguls who hide behind their “freedoms” to tell the kind’s of stories that have a better chance of producing sociopaths than leaders who will continue to use their influence to compel humanity to a greater future…all because the former is where the money is.
I am no fool, I understand how the world works, they supply what is demanded. But there should be wisdom there too, and a responsibility toward future culture. People shouldn’t always get what they want, it isn’t good for us…just look at the level of addiction in this country…not only from drugs, but to food and sex too. I want more stories that will make us better people, that will challenge us to think outside the box, and help us laugh without being perverse . There are great gems out there, great stories ready to be told, but because the industry makes it almost impossible to infiltrate they aren’t easily shared with a greater audience. I am also aware that there are those out there working for change, and I applaud you whoever you are. I don’t think it’s happening fast enough. Our culture is declining. Seriously folks, there is a fog spreading out there, and media, in all its incarnations doesn’t seem to be very efficient in helping dispel it so we can see things any more clearly…which is really sad given the present capability to reach just about every living soul on the planet…and outer space. What will future generations think when they revisit the most popular stories of today and find they revolve around the lives of entitled housewives, derelict young adults, vampires and all aspects of solving fictional violent crime? Or discover that language has been reduced to a hybrid of shorthand text speak that renders the population illiterate and unable to hold a simple conversation? Will they consider this the dark ages of the second millennium?
There is much to be done, and as you can probably tell by this diatribe, I am a bit frustrated and overwhelmed. The hope lies in our single, ordinary voices…to simply demand more. Think carefully about your viewing choices…it matters more than you may realize.
I know I’m showing the signs of my age, but I do think it’s important to continue to exercise and work hard at least three times a week. One of my indulgences is a class called “Body Pump.” It’s creator is Les Mills, and that is all I will say about that, except it has been a great way to stay fit and toned. I love the people who are willing to tough this fifty-five minutes with me three times a week. They have become great friends and an even greater support system to keep going during those times when my body feels it’s age. Face it, age isn’t something we can avoid… the marsupial like quality of my abdomen is vivid proof, but we can delay the effects of time by exercising, eating healthy foods and getting enough rest. Besides getting regular chiropractic adjustments, I have eliminated most gluten from my diet because of how it can increase inflammatory diseases in our bodies. I also make sure to supplement with a good multivitamin; CoQ10, an enzyme the helps rebuild healthy cells and; Moxxor, a high quality omega fatty acid and antioxidant. These simple choices have made all the difference in staying healthy and fit. Seeing so many people who struggle with health issues that are much younger than I am keeps me grateful, even with my own challenges. I don’t take enough time to be thankful for my health. Today, even with all my imperfections, I am grateful.
This past weekend marks the official beginning of fall for me. The last two weeks getting ready for school were crazy, as they are for most parents I’m sure. Our small little hamlet has its annual fair the first weekend in September, where good Christian souls sell pies and hand-made crafts and the noise of the tractor pull keeps me awake until the wee hours. The carnies come into town with their brightly color rides, and over priced prizes (this year the fav was toy guns that shot nerf bullets, last year it was plastic swords) and the parents watch in the distance in the beer garden while their teens hang cool in clumps and throw furtive glances at each other, and various bands play cover tunes. It culminates in the parade when the school marching band struts proudly (that’s my eldest to the left) and every organization in town throws out candy…this year I marched with the swim team. You can actually see us in the picture behind the cabin watch float in the light blue t-shirts. I am barely visible on the edge of the crowd passing out leaflets. Anyway it is always sad when it ends because it means that summer is indeed over and the days are really beginning to feel shorter.
This is one of my favorite pictures of my boys. Grandma made them knit hats that they wore all the time because the yarn was so soft. They used to laugh like this all the time…now they tend to sneer and growl. I miss those simpler days when they were the best of friends. These days, since their personalities are so different, they can barely tolerate each other. Really, we have tried to teach our boys tolerance and respect even when someone doesn’t agree with you, but when you’re 13 and 15 it is all we can do to keep the vernacular free from those kind of low brow words I’m surprised they know let alone use.
The first day of school is today, and maybe being in separate buildings will ease the tension a bit. At least my grocery bill will be cut in half and I won’t have to contend with two warring tribes…and it is so much quieter at my house. Between sports, school and driver’s ed (oh, there will be a lot more to come on this issue) they will hopefully be too tired fight.
I’m not a person who celebrates fairies, or frolics in the woods bare foot and free celebrating nature. As I was walking to the bank the other day, I found this patch of flowers by our clinic just covered with beautiful monarch butterflies. It was almost magical walking by and have the flutter around me so gently and not so I was grossed out. They just made me laugh and smile. So today, I brought my camera and took a bunch of pictures. The most amazing part was that they all sat still until I was done and then they all flew around me and away. It was way cool. Just call me butterfly whisperer.
I know I’ve mentioned this before on my blog, but I’ve had it on my mind a lot these days. I wear this symbol around my neck for a multitude of reasons, the most significant being its religious connotations. Christ said he was the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. I seem to have been born believing that truth. A long time ago, my father told me of a deal he made with God about my birth. Because of dangerous complications during my mother’s pregnancy with me, he told God that I was his, if in turn I was born healthy. Well I was, and I guess the rest is history. My father also told me that I wouldn’t let him touch me for the first six months of my life. My other father, was never in question. I just knew from the start that my heavenly father and I were intimately connected and the relationship would be nothing less than tumultuous. I say that not because I think I am something special…sincerely I really, really don’t. I think my life proves that. I don’t seem like a natural candidate for a religious vocation. What I do think is that God honored a simple prayer, and I was born with the simple gift of Knowing…which should give me a lot more peace than I feel right now, but it doesn’t always. Think about it, when you know something, or can see it clearly even when others do not, there is no excuse for a lack of faith in any process, or words, or the power of God’s grace. I see it as clearly as a green light telling me it’s ok to go ahead on the road to, I guess wherever. Call me crazy, and hey I have thought that about myself many a time. If it weren’t for hindsight constantly reminding me of a theme to my life journey I would have chalked it up to silliness a long time ago. For me, there are no excuses to just sit there and wait, only having the faith to move ahead because I lack the ability to really see it. I do see it and it gives me a lot of stress. That is why I wear the omega…as a constant reminder that the journey has already begun, and all I do in this life is directed toward the conclusion, establishing the kingdom of God. The saddest thing for me is how off track God’s children have become, and feeling the inability to speak in a way that helps bring us back on track. I don’t always understand the road I’m on, especially when it narrows and I don’t believe that it is possible to continue to travel on it. That is usually because I try to get too far ahead of myself. When I look down at my feet, though, there is always enough room to take the next step. It is hard to live in the moment like that, but it is too hard and stressful not to because God deems it necessary to keep moving forward to get where I need to go. Today, I grasp my omega and speak words of Thanksgiving for my gift and move one step closer, even though I don’t always want to.
I never thought I would lack such creativity living in this other world that I would feel the need to begin with a sentence about the weather, but it is so unbelievable humid and hot outside that I can hardly contain myself from speaking with a southern drawl about fried food and wiping a cool cloth all over. I even uttered a “hooey, it’s hot”. It feels foreign to me, this tropical heat. It sucks all the creativity from my being…hence the silence for this month. It is just too hot to think of anything interesting to say. But I can’t stay inside, I just can’t. I keep telling myself that when it is 30 degrees below zero next January, I will kick myself for not going outside and sweating like a trooper. This is the time to run through the sprinkler turn up the Southern Rock by the pool and sip tropical drinks with my Copertone tan. But the punch of humidity that hits me in the face keeps me inside, the general “wetness” of everything outside has made me an agoraphobic. The thought of turning on my oven even depresses me. I have all these lovely vegetables and no heart to cook. Why can’t the men in my house be happy with cereal?
It has happened to me before and I didn’t like it then, but this time…when some miscreant accessed my computer and infected it with a horrible virus, well let’s just say it brought out the warrior in me. I can’t begin to describe the hours spent trying to rid my computer, my access to cyber space, of this menace…so I won’t. What I will do, is recognize how well I handle a crisis like this, knowing when my expertise isn’t enough and having no problem whatsoever reaching out to, literally, a whole team of fine East Indian fellows for help. Of course it was worth the $90 to have them get into my computer and fix it…I actually would have blindly done a lot more, had they asked…but like a good doctor, they just wanted to heal my machine. Perhaps this is a sign of how we’ve begun to de-evolve into finding new ways to wage war on our own species. We already have bacterial warfare, why not viral cyber warfare. I ask why me? I really have nothing they would want, except to royally screw up my life and turn daily activities into more of a tailspin that they actually are. The invisible “them” simply gave me a lesson in problem solving and improving my awareness of their kind, who would be so much better off using their talents for good and not for the darkside…haven’t they seen Star Wars? Maybe I’m being tongue in cheek, but today, I am writing virus free and much wiser for it. Raspberries to you cyber criminals….
Most of the time I disregard all the male postering in my house, primarily because I really don’t care who’ stronger. Once in awhile, though I simply have stand up for myself. Even though all the men in my house tower over me, and are active in sports doesn’t mean the only role I play is to be a spectator. After my youngest son’s final baseball tournament, he was mocking me because he didn’t think I had a clue how hard a workout baseball is. What doesn’t seem to register is that his mother works out hard at the gym too. So I challenged him to a push up contest…one I easily won because I do my push ups religiously…I just don’t brag about it. Yes, he was embarrassed, and maybe I shouldn’t have had to prove myself to my 13-year-old son, but I thought a dose of humility was appropriate. I am a mother and a wife, but I am so much more than a domestic and administrative servant. I felt the need to show them that there are other facets to who I am as a woman. Next time, I think he might be more careful when he puffs his chest out and issues a challenge. Like I’ve said before, I may be small…but I’m scrappy.
When you were elected, I had this very vivid dream of standing by a deep river with a crowd of people. From the river, a huge American Eagle emerged that almost looked like it was from a Monet painting muted, and not fully detailed. It flew straight up and then arced to the west. The crowd was is awe and a bit afraid, but I calmed their fears by saying that this eagle was truly powerful and if they were simply careful it would not harm them. I felt like this was a good omen for our country and our future, power but not quite fully formed. I remember how glorious the inauguration was and how respectful and hopeful the huge crowd was.
I feel differently today, not because you’re doing a bad job, but because quite frankly, holding the office of the presidency at this point in time looks almost impossible to do well, kind of like climbing a mountain without protection and carrying the weight of the country on your back. I won’t speak for anybody else, but I think walking in your shoes isn’t even remotely fathomable. I can’t begin to imagine the shock of being privy to the true state of the union, which I’m sure most people couldn’t begin to handle. People are angry and afraid, and looking for someone to blame…which in my mind, is the center of the problem.
I could expound for a while on the apathy, the immorality and the general aptitude for complete abdication of any personal responsibility whatsoever of the citizenry but I won’t. What I would like, Mr Obama, is for you to put on the ferocity and regality of that American Eagle I saw in my dream. People should be angry and afraid…but not at you. We are where we are cumulatively largely as a result of those aforementioned vices. I am a hardworking American, but I also recognize that I am simply one of the masses of this great country of ours, the benefits of which were attained for me on the backs of other great Americans. We did not become this great nation by pointing the finger, and we will not fix those issues that plague us unless we all work together. You should challenge, no, get angry at those politicians who run on a platform of blame and partisan behavior. Last time I checked we were supposed to be a melting pot, rising above our differences to form a more perfect union, not one that suits personal agendas. Let the naysayers rale and blame; it’s always easier to sit in judgement than offer tough solutions. We elected you, you have the bird’s eye view of our nation and we should respect that. You can command that respect, you were elected afterall by not only the popular vote, but the electoral vote…unlike our predecessor. Let go of your midwestern nice and let your inner Lombardi come out…when the going gets tough, the tough get going…they don’t have a hissy fit about it and whine about what’s not fair.
The last thing I have to say, and already I am sorry for it, is that I am tired of stupid people. I am tired of dealing with people who want everything without the responsibility that follows. I am tired of bad information that is passed as fact, whose sole purpose is to rile people up and keep them from listening to reason. I am tired of people who personify the government as evil, but enjoy the boon of benefits it offers. I am tired of politicians who reek of moral depravity that somehow believe that they shouldn’t have to follow the same rules everybody else does. Mostly, I am just tired, and need to be inspired. So please, Mr. Obama inspire me, bring back the awe I felt in the beginning. I know we are in a mess, I really do. Challenge us to straighten up and straighten out and we’ll get through it.
Last night I dreamed of pulling out a red feathered fan out of a clear pool of water. The symbols are clear to me, something good is rising from my subconscious. It’s the conscious world that weighs me down these days. Today, I feel more like I’m standing in a long water line simply passing a bucket forward…long, repetitive , back-breaking and boring. I’m sure the heavy lifting is part of a great task somewhere down the line…but right now, it is exhausting to walk in my shoes and I simply want to abdicate any and all part of everything I’m doing right now. The dream encourages me to keep moving forward, because much of life is the slow rhythmic tedium of passing a bucket. We often celebrate those great moments, but it is important to remember that they don’t just happen, but are preceded by a lot of work.
One of our patients breeds pugs, and this little guy was pushed off a deck and suffered a major spinal trauma, paralyzing him. Steve told her to bring in the puppy and after the first adjustment the puppy could stand, and now after two weeks of treatment, he can walk again. The breeder was amazed, but also our other patients who are regulars are amazed as well. It is tiny little miracles like these, that really have inspired people. Imagine then, what removing subluxations can do for a human spine! Anyway, it was a great way to conclude a busy week.
I hear this phrase all the time, “I would love to…” It acts as a preface to the most irritating word in my personal lexicon…”but” I would love to but I…and because the synapses in my brain have created a defense mechanism to protect my cosmic optimism, my ears start to ring and I can’t comprehend what comes after the but… Personally I think we disrespect the word love by weighting it down with an excuse. Love should be the reason that everything is possible. As a force greater than the wind, the tides and gravity what follows the word love should always be full of possibility and optimism, not just a platitude for really lacking the faith to move into the possible. What more honest a phrase than, “I would really love to but I just don’t have the faith in myself that I could overcome the obstacles that may come.” or to those who are just looking for a nice way to opt out of doing something they never wanted to in the first place…shame on you, that’s as bad as a hormonal boy saying “if you loved me you would”…. Say what you mean, and if it truly is something you’d love to do….never ever include it in the same sentence as the word “but.”
I’ve been on a book buying moratorium lately as a means to curb over all spending and to fend off having to build an even bigger library at our house than the one we have…and is now full. Then I went to amazon.com to check the details of a book and somehow clicked on editor’s choice for 2009, and nine books later I was checking out sheepishly. I usually justify myself by saying it could be an obsession with shoes or jewelry, and at least I am enhancing my mind…..this time, I simply said out loud to my husband that I was going to act as if the money will just come to cover my indulgence. After the point and click and the order was complete, I continued on to a very hectic day and when it was done I was ready to collapse and watch my dancing show, and my husband asked me to go watch the town baseball team play….just for a little while. Just as the word “NO” was about to roll off my tongue, I had an unusual change of heart and said I would go. They had all these little raffles there to raise money for the volleyball team and guess who won a money prize…the exact amount of money that I had spent on books? I had to admit, I got the shivers a bit afterwards and am tempted to “act as if” all the time now…which would most likely ruin that kind of cosmic momentum. I did thank the universe for my little gift and now will relish every word…guilt free.
As a result of many challenging circumstances, I’ve had really interesting conversations with people about money lately. Almost every one of them believe that they don’t have enough…and desperately so. I fully understand the challenges of the world today, I know some who have lost jobs and homes…but, without being specific to any given person, is it because our society has just been too greedy for too many years? I know my parents had very poor childhoods, but still remember it with great fondness because, quite frankly, they had the love and support of their family, neighbors and their churches. My father remembers his mother leaving leftovers out past the back gate for the hobos on their way to the railroad. He does remember how difficult it was at times, but he was happy. He taught me to believe that we have exactly what we need for every given moment, and I really try to live by that axiom…even through the ulcers of trying to cover our expenses. And…I was feeling pretty maudlin about it all.
The next day, friends asked my husband and I over for “an opportunity to save some money” and because they are good friends and I didn’t want to hurt their feelings we went. By the end of the presentation I felt sick, not because it necessarily was a bad deal, but every person giving their testimony talked about how much money they made and all the stuff they were able to buy and how little work they had to do to get it and now lived the life of leisure which is every one’ s dream. Really? isn’t having too much stuff the core of many of today’s financial problems? I don’t want a life of leisure and endless spending and vacations. I want to feel passionate about the work I do, and have it benefit people. I don’t mind hard work, and building a practice where people feel welcome and we are trusted. What I do mind is the expectation that they shouldn’t have to pay for it. The sense of a fair exchange seems missing today, everyone wants something for nothing. One person commented during this presentation. “I make more money now doing little to nothing than I did my entire career.” I have to say, I was a bit appalled. Maybe I’m naive to think that life should be more than one long vacation. I walked away feeling more relaxed about my choices. Life is hard right now, I won’t lie…but I certainly don’t think a ton of easy money would necessarily make it any better. I don’t want something for nothing because it leads down a road that somehow discourages personal culpability. I want to celebrate the results of a strong effort and have the world be a better place because of it.
I don’t have much time to write, but I wanted to reflect on the sense of discontent I feel entering into this summer season. More than anytime before, perhaps because of the turmoil of the present time, from oil spills to a huge business closing in town, to the fragile nature of health care in this country on which our livelihood depends. I hate feeling unsure and nervous, but I also know that some of the greatest shifts in my life were precipitated by very hard times. I hold my breath a lot as I move day-to-day into the future, glad I made it intact through one more day. That is what faith is for I guess, and if things were peachy all the time, we’d never have to gird our loins and throw down exactly what we claim we’re made of as people of faith. I will be a better woman because of it and I keep repeating over and over to myself while I make it up this particularly slippery slope…”All things shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well” It keeps my eye on the horizon and not down, where I’m sure I’d be struck with vertigo at the sheer height of the climb.