Sunday, July 30, 2006

Purt Near

Well, after sending off that last post I noticed a misspelling and was going to go back in and fix it...but what the heck. I'll leave it this time.

I am reminded of a passage from the book "Mother of Pearl" by Melinda Haynes. The father in the story had built a house that was somewhat unlevel because he did the whole thing simply by estimating on sight: "It was two inches lower than the rest of the house with a slight lean toward the back because he believed more in 'eyeballin" a thing than proper measuring. Being Methodist he thought a house 'truly plumbed' was an abomination in the eyes of God."

When his daughter questioned him about this he said: "Perfection's for God, Luvenia. The rest of us got to get along with 'purt'near.'"

I think it is important to have high standards in whatever we take on. But I'm learning to let go of my old rigid expectations of perfection and mastery in all that I do. I've had prolonged periods of being immobilized in my desire to write, to draw, to do many things because each flaw or error was an anathema to me. "Getting it Wrong" was not an option - not to be tolerated - a crime beyond words. Too often in the past I allowed my fear of failure and intolerance for shabby results to stop me from trying things I wanted to do.

I don't want to play that game anymore.

I still think it's good to strive for excellence. But I'm also learning to be more gentle with myself. I have a framed picture in my office that says: "Use whatever talents you possess. The woods would be a very silent place if only those birds who sang the very best were allowed to sing."

What I write may not be very elegant or profound or even grammatically correct in places. But I'm finding my voice, and for me that has value.

In many areas of my life these days I'm trying to take more risks and be more willing to fall on my face, to experiment with things that I am not assured of a shining outcome. If I limit myself to only doing those things I know I can do well I will never learn anything new. It's high time I gave myself the chance to muck up a few things and enjoy the PROCESS as much as the final results.

Marshmallows & Delayed Gratification

I recently did a posting about Locus of Control, pondering the issue of whether or not the tendency to take personal responsibility for one's own mood and actions could be a learned skill set or if the degree to which some people tend to blame (or credit) external forces were an innate personality trait.

In a related vein, I'm considering the whole issue of delaying gratification... Some people seem to be very good at this and others are not. What makes the difference?

The old '70s marshmallow experiments clearly show that the ability to delay gratification in early childhood is closely linked to personal success later on in life from getting through school to staying off drugs or out of jail.

It's all well and good to OBSERVE and MEASURE gratification delay. But how do we TEACH it? I think that is the far more important issue.

Also, to what extent is "waiting for later" a good thing and when does it produce a diminishing return? I think that to some extent being able to delay gratification is an important life skill. Yet I also suspect it can be carried too far. There are some overly self controlled people who seemingly spend their entire lives "saving for a rainy day" but never give themselves permission to cut loose and enjoy NOW.

Sometimes I want dessert before dinner. Sometimes I want dessert FOR dinner.

And I think that's fine. The trick is not to get carried away with it.

How much do I expect to be able to embrace joy in THIS life and how much do I accept the idea that this fallen, mortal world is a time of testing and adversity, with the real joy juice coming in the hereafter?

How much bad or boring stuff will I endure now if I am convinced of a payoff down the road?

How about you? Any thoughts?


I was enjoying looking at some of Leo's amazing images over at Away With Words and also did some exploring on você é o que você ouve.

I love the pictures, the owl in particular. But I kept getting frustrated by the fact that I couldn't understand what the words said since I neither speak nor read Spanish. Several times I've been determined to learn the language, but alas all the tape programs and community center classes I've attempted have been to no avail since I seldom have an opportunity to actually use it, so I've not managed to develop any mastery. I can cuss and count, ask where the bathroom is and how to get to a hotel, but that's about it. (When I was 15 I had a boyfriend who told me he would teach me to swear in Spanish and kiss in French so I would be multi-lingual...did a pretty good job of both, but that's another topic entirely.)

As I was kicking myself yet again for not developing the fluency I long for, it occurred to me as I strained over each word that THIS is what illiteracy must feel like: to look at printed words, hungering to decipher their meaning, struggling to infer some context from the pictures and the little bit I could figure out - but ultimately feeling lost, confused, frustrated, and ashamed by my ignorance.

I've read plenty of statistics about illiteracy before and been concerned about the issue, but FEELING what it must be like to be unable to read really knocked me in my gut.

I've been an omnivorousous reader since I was a very small child. As years went on, whenever the chaos of my crazy homelife got to be too much (which was often), I'd grab a good book and head for the tops of the giant mulberry tree in our backyard where I could get lost for hours in books like Misty Of Chincoteague, biographies of Madame Currie and Jonas Salk, and my very first forays into the amazing world of science fiction.

Books were my best friends and my salvation in what seemed to be a very fractured, frightening world. To NOT be able to read would be worse than amputation, in my mind. It would be losing a part of me that is so integral to my being that I would become unrecognizable to myself.

When I was 22 I read the Thornbirds. In that book there is a scene where the main character gets headlice and must deal with it. ICK! But a couple years later when my young toddler son came home from daycare with headlice, the only thing that got me throught the disgust and sense of shame about "my baby having bugs" was to recall that passage from that book.

At other times other books gave me courage to meet other challenges. They also amused me, informed me, inspired me and more.

Reading opened up windows to the world for me, introducing me to people, place, ideas, information and concepts that I otherwise never would have known in my small repressive town.

I am so deeply grateful for the opportunities for education that I have had, recognizing that in much of the world girls and women are not considered worthy of learning.

And I may just give another crack at trying to learn Spanish. It's a beautiful language and would definitely be helpful for some of the travel I'm planning to do.

So thanks, Leo, for the spark of inspiration. And keep up taking those great shots!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Power of Words

I’ve been thinking some about the power of words.

I've long been familiar with the sapir whorf hypothesis - the notion that our language has a potent role in shaping the way we perceive things. But lately I am considering more about how the words I choose may reflect biases I wasn't even aware that I had.

I remember in graduate school I had a psych professor who wanted answers to questions on tests be written in EXACTLY a certain way or he would take off points, even if his students made clear they fully grasped the underlying principle. I thought this was stupid, relying too much on memorization and reguritation of words by rote repetition rather than demonstrating complex conceptual understanding that can be demonstrated in an effective paraphrase. But I have reconsidered that position many times over in the ensuing years. I now see some degree of merit in his claim: “precision in speech and writing reflects clarity of thinking. Sloppy expression is a sign of cloudy thinking.” It wasn't just that he wanted us to use HIS words. He wanted us to name and describe things exactly in a certain way, using our words as scalpel rather than sledgehammers.

More and more I am noticing ways in which words both reflect and shape the way we perceive.

Over on a post by Mr. H he writes of “babysitting” his newborn son. I chafe at that. There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. H is a loving and devoted father who is truly committed to his family. However, in my mind “babysitting” is by definition temporarily taking care of a child who is primarily someone else’s responsibility. When a mother or a father cares for their own child, I think of that as PARENTING, not babysitting. Mr. H. believes I am merely quibbling over semantics here. But I don’t think so.

In discussing the cause of the latest bloody conflict in the middle east we hear reports of two men “kidnapped” by Hezbollah. But when the other side “captures” people considered by them to be dangerous, that same word is not used. I am in no way excusing or justifying what Hezbollah did or continues to do. I am just pointing out that whether someone is a rebel or a freedom fighter, a terrorist or a patriot can often rest less in the actual actions carried out and more in point of view of what side you happen to be on.

In the immigration debate, does it matter whether I refer to the person who overstayed their visa or crossed the border illegally as an illegal immigrant, an undocumented worker or an alien?

Then, Katie, over at Joyously Becoming, brought up the whole issue of things like the phrase "Man and wife" (as opposed to husband and wife). Does one infer dominance and submission more than the other?

There are all sorts of "traditional phrases" laced throughout our culture that seem to be laden with inference of who gets respect and who does not.

So I am trying to pay more attention to my words and how I use them. I am listening to myself a bit more closely and clarifying other's messages more often before I automatically interpret and react to them. Perception is a subtle thing that can turn quickly before I've even caught myself in the process. I am trying to be more mindful of my intent and more aware of how I may be distorting both the things I mean to say and what I hear from others by the power I give or don't give to words.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Why They Call it Lunacy

I've been thinking some on the way bodies and minds and ocean currents are influenced by the phase of the moon. From tides to menstrual cycles to cycles of psychotic breaks, much of the flow of this world in somehow connected with lunar patterns. Why is that? From almanac listings of best days to plant to days or nights when fish are biting, the craterous rock in orbit around us seems to have an awful lot of say in our affairs. How might things be different if we had two or three moons instead of just one solitary rock? Can a moon have moons of it's own? If that were the case with us, would earth be the "grandplanet" (like grandparent) to the moons of our moon? How would earth be different if our moon were bigger or smaller than it is? I see several ways our moon effects us. How does earth shape conditions on the rock? Are we in symbiosis? Or just happenstance?

Why do I care? (yep, you can tell when I hit day 3 or day 4 in my insomnia cycle...the old grey matter starts drifting any ole which way.)

If Flannery Had a Blog

Many thanks to Pappa Herman for pointing me in the direction of "If Flannery Had a Blog"... a collection of quotes by and about that great southern writer, Flannery O'Conner.

Years ago I read some short stories that really impressed me. Perhaps it's time for me to dig in to her longer works.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Geocatching Adventures

Well, I still have not made up my mind on WHICH GPS unit to purchase, but I've been doing lots of homework into the whole world of geocaching. I found some good info over at Adventures in Geocaching. I'm hoping to do some exploring this weekend. My sister suggests that I try some basic orinteering/navigating with old school tech - MAPS, using the cache coordinates posted on the net and see how that goes before I lay out hundreds of dollars for a toy I may sedom use. Makes sense to me. So I plan to strap on my hiking boots and see what I can see. Should be fun!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Fried Possum Legs & Rattlesnake Soup

I found an interesting site called the "Roadkill Cafe" that gives a menu for all sorts of found-on-the-asphalt delicacies, as well as some interesting gift items. What made this all the more intriguing for me was that when I tracked the URL back to its point of origin it appears to be a student project from Tarleton State University, which is part of the Texas A & M University system.

I did some creative things when I was a student, but this is certainly a new spin...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Shopping for a GPS Unit

I've been looking around in stores and on the internet for a decent GPS unit. There are all together TOO many choices! I want to do a bit of Geocaching, but I was thinking I might get a higher end unit that could double as a car navigational unit with verbal turn by turn directions. After a little preliminary homework, and an assessment of the bank account, I'm back to looking at basic, no frills, hand held models.

Anyone out there have any experience with these puppies that would be willing to offer suggestions?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

People Like Us

In his powerful article, People Like Us, columnist David Brooks argues that despite the lip service Americans give to valuing diversity, in actuality we tend to be most comfortable when surrounded by people whose social characteristics mirror our own. I gave some thought to this as I began planning my weekend.

Last night I went to a play with a prosperous banker and his wife. Tonight I'm going to dinner with a friend who works three jobs to survive, who happens to be married to an immigrant from Mexico who has only a marginal grade school education. They are both honest, hard working folks who I enjoy tremendously. But their lives are very different from my own. Then I have plans to get together next week with some pals who are somewhere in the middle - neither rich nor poor, but again these are people whose choices, lifestyle and beliefs are quite different from mine. But we'll have them over for a game night and have a great time visiting as we munch on chips and veggies while playing scrabble and Tri-Ominoes.

I've had friends who are gay or bi as well as the "traditional" straight. Some of the people I've chosen to hang out with have been deeply religious (some Buddhist, some Orthodox, some adventist, as well as members of my own faith) and some have been practicing pagans or adamant atheists. I've had friends who were black, brown, red, yellow (by social distinction more than actual skin tone.) I've loved democrats and republicans. In fact, I married a man whose vote I cancel out every four years.

Brooks writes: "Some of us watch Fox News, while others listen to NPR. Some like David Letterman, and others—typically in less urban neighborhoods—like Jay Leno. Some go to charismatic churches; some go to mainstream churches. Americans tend more and more often to marry people with education levels similar to their own, and to befriend people with backgrounds similar to their own."

Really? Well, hmmm, I don't know where that leaves me.

It seems I have a very high tolerance for accepting those who are different than me.
I wonder why that is? And I wonder further, why do each of THOSE people choose to include me in their world?

It does seem that many people feel more comfortable associating with people who are more like themselves. So many folks rely on social division of "us" and "them" to guide them in navigating and defining where they fit in the larger world.

Brooks goes on to say: "People want to be around others who are roughly like themselves. That's called community. It probably would be psychologically difficult for most Brown professors to share an office with someone who was pro-life, a member of the National Rifle Association, or an evangelical Christian. It's likely that hiring committees would subtly—even unconsciously—screen out any such people they encountered. Republicans and evangelical Christians have sensed that they are not welcome at places like Brown, so they don't even consider working there. In fact, any registered Republican who contemplates a career in academia these days is both a hero and a fool. So, in a semi-self-selective pattern, brainy people with generally liberal social mores flow to academia, and brainy people with generally conservative mores flow elsewhere."

I think in many cases that is true. Perhaps it is because I've always wrestled with a high degree of personal contradictions, value ambivalence and far ranging interests that I have carved out a different path. In my double-think world of forever looking at issues from three different sides it just makes sense to surround myself with people as ecclectic as my own dissonance-based point of view. Or maybe it's because I've been judged or excluded myself based on arbitrary divisions that makes me all the more determined to not do that to someone else.

Whatever the case... I will continue to seek out people who are willing and able to share of themselves with the likes of me, who can accept me with all my own contradictions, rather than looking for anyone who necessarily looks like or lives like me. It may be an uncomfortable challenge for some, but for me, that's the path that fits.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


How many dolphins can you find in this picture? (answer will be in comments).

Monday, July 17, 2006

Christians - By Maya Angelou

A dear friend of mine sent me this poem today. What can I say, but AMEN!

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not shouting "I'm clean livin'."
I'm whispering "I was lost,
Now I'm found and forgiven."

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble
and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak
And need His strength to carry on.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed
And need God to clean my mess.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible
But, God believes I am worth it.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches
So I call upon His name.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not holier than thou,
I'm just a simple sinner
Who received God's good grace, somehow!

Friday, July 14, 2006


I found a web survey to test an individual's locus of control. The description says:

Julian Rotter (1966) devised a locus of control personality test to assess the extent to which an individual possesses internal or external reinforcement beliefs. Terry Pettijohn, the author of Psychology: A ConnecText, has developed the following test based on Rotter's original idea. Indicate for each statement whether it is T (true) or F (false) for you. There are no right or wrong answers. This survey will give you a general idea of where you stand on the locus of control personality dimension.

If you are interested, you can take the survey here.

I scored 50, which mean I have BOTH internal and external locus of control.

Why am I not the least bit surprised by that? Yep, that would be me, forever the walking contradiction.

Locus of Control

I've been having a bit of discussion with Stacy over at La joie de Dieu est folie regarding the issue of Locus of Control.

Basically, some people see themselves as being masters of their own emotional states and personal destiny. Others remain convinced that external forces- whether it be other people's behavior, the weather, the state of the economy or whatever - makes them feel or react the way they do.

How many times have you heard (or said) "You make me so angry!"

It seems to me that it has become entirely too pervasive in our culture to look for others to blame for our emotions, let alone any bad behavior or negative outcome in our lives. I'm wondering, how much can an internal locus of control be TAUGHT, and what strategies might be used to do so?

This is something that I include in my closing lecture of the online Sociology course I teach:

Have you ever been on a sailboat? When I used to watch sailboats when I was little, I assumed that when the wind pushed the sail, the boat would go in whatever direction the wind was blowing. As I got older, I realized that made no sense. If that were true, the captain of the boat would have no control whatsoever of where he or she was going.

Later I learned that sailors use a specific technique of adjusting their sails called "tacking". By pulling on various ropes they move the sails this way and that. Based on the angle of their sails, they can move the boat in just about any direction, so long as there is sufficient wind. It works sort of like playing pool - you can make a cue ball go in different directions depending on which side of the ball and from what angle you strike it. You make the boat go in different directions by changing the angle of the sail.

What does that have to do with Sociology???

SOCIAL FORCES are the wind of our life. We have little or no control over many social conditions such as our culture's attitudes towards race, gender or age. Sometimes events or perceptions will be thrown at us, which are less than ideal. Many times other people in our lives will make choices that have a huge impact.

However, we are NOT completely at the mercy of society or other people's behavior. We are the captains of our ships, and by adjusting our sails, we decide what directions our lives will go. How you present yourself in the world in terms of the vocabulary you use, the way you dress, the way you treat people in relationships, and what attitude you choose to maintain is in YOUR control. YOU decide what moods you will allow to become habits and which ones you will work at to let go of. And your life will have a very different outcome based on the choices you make.

I had friends in Michigan who sold their house and business, bought a big sailboat and went sailing around the world. They had a 10 yr old son at the time. They simply pulled him out of public school and got a good home school curriculum to take with them. They took an amazing adventure that changed all of their lives. They would write to me from various ports telling stories of how they came through storms, times when the wind stopped for days, and other challenges. Yet they were very much on track, going from land mass to land mass pretty much according to the schedule THEY had planned. The reason they were able to be successful in their journey is that they were very knowledgeable about the currents and wind patterns, and used that knowledge to their advantage.

I believe that as we become more knowledgeable about SOCIOLOGY, we become better equipped to make wise choices in how we relate to others. This expertise empowers us to move forward in the direction we most desire, regardless of some of the barriers that may occur as challenges. There are still lots of things over which we have no control. However, the better we understand the nature and power of social norms, groupthink, bystander effect, racism, sexism, ageism, and all those other things we have studied, the better equipped we become to thrive in what may at times be a very stormy world.

There will be storms. There will be calm. Through it all, take care in how you trim your sails. I wish you smooth journey.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A bit of harmless diversion...

Ok, just for the fun of it - see if you can guess what word each of these pictures depicts. Answers will be in the comments.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


The other day I stopped by a lemonade stand that a little kid had set up in her front yard adjacent to where the mom was running a yard sale. I already have a yard, so I didn't need a new one of those (or any more junk to clutter up the place), but it was a hot day and a cup of ice cold lemonade sounded nice. Besides, it was cute little girl running the stand and she looked like she was eager to do business. I asked her how much her lemonade cost. She looked up at me and said with full earnestness: "It's a dalmation!" I was a bit confused. She wants a spotted dog?? Fortunately the mom was listening and piped in to clarify..."No honey, it's a DONATION". I figured the laugh I got out of that was worth a buck right there.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Wisdom of Pooh

I found a great quote over on another blog that says:

"When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you sometimes find that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it." ~A.A. Milne

This is why talking things out with friends, a good therapist, or someone's spiritual leader can be so important. Things that loom large and wierd when kept silent in the mind can be sorted out so much better when expressed.
Perhaps that is also why I blog... it gives me a venue to figure out some stuff that is feeling thingish.... goodness knows there are plenty of things that go bump in the night rattling around in my brain that could use a bit of airing.

Work Stuff

I recently saw an ad for a job that I would really like to get (or at least I suppose I would...there is every possibility that the actual reality of the job is not at all like I have imagined it.)

It is a job I am most definitely qualified for and I think I would have a fair chance at getting if I tried. There's just one problem. It pays $10K less than I currently earn. OUCH!

Money isn't everything, I tell myself. This is a job where I could make a difference, a job I could take pride in, a job where more of my natural talents could shine. Also, it would put me back in the town where I used to work (Walla Walla), ending my exile to the land of Roundup cowboys. It would put me back where I would have access to spending more time with some friends I now seldom see.

For a lot of reasons, I am SOOOO tempted to apply for this job.

But...that would be a huge pay cut. What sacrifices would I have to make? Would it be worth it? I don't need to live large, but I also don't want to be scrambling for every dime. How much is enough?

My rational mind and my emotions are at war over this one. I can eloquently argue for both going for it or making my peace where I am currently employed.

What I have now is not a bad job. Granted, there are things about it that grate on my nerves, but wouldn't that be true in any job? At what point does it make sense to hold on to a less than gratifying job for the sake of the money and at what point to I go for broke and follow my heart?

No simple mind shifts and turns over this choice, giving me a kaleidoscope of different perceptions.

I think - APPLY - find out more, and then you can decide later if you want to take it or not.

But I also think NO - settle down. You still have things to learn and things to contribute where you are now. Another opportunity will come up later if you are patient that WILL let you use your talents. Trust that. But taking this would mean taking three steps back from all you have worked to achieve.

If I were to get this job I am quite certain there would be things I liked and things I didn't. I would not have so much LESS angst about my work, I would simply have DIFFERENT angst. Is that worth giving up the dollars that give me the current degree of freedom and independence to travel or help others or get stuff I enjoy?

AAGH!!! There is no clear right or wrong here, just open possibility. I probably won't go for it. But I will keep wondering if I should have. I can't help but imagine how things would be different if I DID take this path. Where would it ultimately lead?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Friendship, Losses & Transitions

Tonight I got an e-mail from an old friend of mine telling me of her heartache over the loss of someone she held dear. A person she had considered a rather close friend of some long standing has suddenly decided to pull back, giving no explanation other than "I can't do this anymore". My friend has no idea of what "this" referred to or what prompted the rift. She is left feeling a quagmire of loss, abandonment, rejection, and sadness without being able to comprehend why.

Talking her through this shambles of hurt feelings has got me to considering some of my own friendships, and reflecting over losses I've both caused and endured.

I had a best friend for a number of years when I lived in another state that I lost due to some things that happened that broke both our hearts. I tried to fix it. But apparently my efforts were too little too late. She chose to terminate all contact, refusing to return my calls. It has been nearly ten years since the final breach of that relationship. I miss her still.

More recently I have felt some pulling back from a relatively new friendship that I thought was going to be something really special and potentially long lasting. Someone I had started to trust and hoped to spend more time with seems to be backing off quite a bit. As far as I can tell there is no animosity or hurt feelings. It may just be circumstance of things she has going on in her world at this time. But for whatever reason, this person is either not willing or not available to pursue anything more than sporadic, peripheral contact with me right now. I'm not sure why. I really had believed we were on the road to being close buddies. So now I'm left wondering, did I misread the original cues or did something change? I try not to take the increasing distance personally. But of course, a part of my mind can't help but wonder, "Was it something I said? Was there something about me that made her pull away? Did I do something to make it so she no longer wants to share time with me?"

Then I think of a couple other occasions over the past few years when I was the one who pulled back...seeing clearly that some other person wanted very much to get to be my friend but for one reason or another I made the willful, deliberate choice not to carry on beyond a few attempts to get acquainted.

I'm trying to make sense of all of that. What does it mean to be a friend? What does it mean to have a friend?

How much difference from my own lifestyle and values do I like my pals to have? If they are too much like me it can get boring - we have nothing to contribute to one another. But if they are TOO different, that can cause problems too.

How much self revelation do I expect? How much can I give in return? If all I get from someone else is their public persona I may really like being around them...but it keeps the friendship more in the acquaintance category rather than allowing any significant trust and bonding to build. It is the very act of sharing a side of yourself that you DON'T give to just anybody who comes along that creates an intimate bond. If they are not willing to be more open with me in SOME way than they are to the average joe, then I feel less valued. However, the reverse can also be true...some people can share TOO MUCH private information to the point of making contact very uncomfortable. Where do we draw those lines? How much am I willing to adjust or accommodate my own expectations in this regard for someone who is more open or more private than me?

I look back at the friends who have graced my life...those who have stood the test of time are treasures I cherish with more reverence than they know. The few new people who have recently come into my world are shining stars that bring me joy and give me hope, but our histories are yet to be written. How much truth will these budding friendships withstand? There is almost a sense of courtship in the beginning with a new friend, as we each "put our best foot foreword" in our getting acquainted. It's not so much that we act fake or over-nice while getting to know each other. It's more a sense of moving step by step in testing how much of ourselves we are willing to share. Little by little we take risks of revealing more of our genuine, flawed selves and then wait to see if we are accepted still. If they know THIS about me will they still like me? How about if I say or do THIS? It's interesting to watch what things are easy to share and what things stay cloaked the longest time.

I also wonder about those that I was once close with but somehow let slip away just because one or the other of us changed jobs or moved, got married or divorced, or some other thing. Are those past friendships lost now or could they be resurrected? Is it realistic to expect to maintain close ties once the circumstances that formerly held us in each other's paths (like a job, serving together on a particular committee or kids playing on the same team) have ended?

Right now I'm really missing some folks that I've lost touch with in the past year due to these sorts of things...I still like them. They still like me. We just don't see each other anymore so it's hard to keep the torch of friendship alight.

In addition to having some people who I was once quite close with who I have since drifted away from, there are others who really touched me with their support or kindness that I never got to know well, but still appreciated with all my heart. Perhaps we shared a single important conversation or had some other exchange that brightened me, lifted me, when I needed it most. Maybe it was someone I met at a conference or workshop and then never saw again, but never forgot how much I enjoyed. Where do they fit in my bouquet of those I know and those I don't? Just because we don't hang out together now or keep in touch does not minimize the magic of what we did share.

These many different relationships are like the orchestra sound track of my life. There are high notes and low. There are all different instruments...some played better than others. Through it all, learning to love and be loved, to disclose confidences and keep them for others, to build and honor trust...all of that together is the music that makes me most human.

I think its time I reached out to a few folks I have had little or no contact with for a while and let them know how much I have valued them. We may not see each other often (or at all now) due to distance or other things...but good friendships are far to precious to let go by unacknowledged.

Friday, July 07, 2006


I've been thinking about my thinking, taking notice of the patterns there.

I'm working on some mind mapping to identify the thought directions I want to encourage and expand, as well as recognizing the patterns I would do better to nip in the bud.

I can't find the original source of the quote right now, but someone once said: "Thoughts are like birds. They are going to fly over your head, but you decide if they will make a nest in your hat."

So I'm trying to shift things around a bit. It's time to de-clutter some of those nooks and crannies. Somehow I seem to have collected some junk in the old grey matter that I'm ready to sweep out. It's like cleaning out closets and dusting the corners of my house. It's a whole lot of effort to tidy up what doesn't really show.

But, as the scripture says: "As a man thinks, so is he."

I've been thoroughly socialized to know how to deliberately choose and govern my BEHAVIOR. I'm housebroken. I brush my teeth. I know how to set the table. I know how to go to work, how to take care of the necessary domestic duties, how to pay the bills. I smile and shake hands and know the appropriate rules for how to interact with others. I play nice in the sandbox.

But sometimes, on the INSIDE, in the dark and quiet crevices of my brain, chaos reigns. Even when I go through the motions of having it all together externally, my internal thoughtlife is sometimes like a runaway train. From fleeting images to patterned, habitual thinking...the content and context of my mental images lately is not what I want it to be.

It's not so bad when I am focused on a particular task or consciously playing attention to a particular topic at hand. However, I have been working on shifting the landscape of what I am willing to hold in my mind during default mode - in those quiet times when I am not deliberately thinking of anything at all.

Our culture prods us to pay attention to all the wrong things. We notice what isn't working or think about what we wish were different rather than fully experiencing gratitude for what we do have. Too much energy is spent in regret over things from the past or obsessively worrying over the future.

I want my thoughts to be more consistently focused on the present and built on a foundation of gratitude. That does not mean I will put on rose colored glasses and paint everything pretty even when there are legitimate problems to be dealt with. But it does mean that how I construct my self talk in my head can be more routinely driven by the questions like these:

"What am I grateful for?"
"How can I more fully show concern and support for others?"
"What blessings could I be noticing right now?"

I am convinced that if I am fully armed with that sort of mental ammunition on a day-to-day basis, then I will be far better equipped to deal with the conflicts or concerns that arise along the way than if my thoughts are perpetually spiraling along the lines of "why does this always happen?" or "I wish I would have...".

What do you think about when no one is looking, not even you?

Thursday, July 06, 2006


It's late at night and here I sit listening to the thunder roll across the sky. Every now and then lightening will flash bright, interrupting the dark. Rain spatters on my roof and against my window panes. It feels good to be safe and cozy inside while I listen to the storm rumbling out there in the night.

I love the smell of the earth and sky after a good rain. I don't like seeing worms all over pavement. But mostly I like the rain.

When I was a little kid my siblings and I used to joke that thunder was the sound of the angels bowling in heaven. From the sound of what's going on right now, somebody is getting strikes.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Getting it Right / Getting it Wrong

So I was having this big serious conversation with someone recently on the topic of "RULES." We were discussing what it means to "get it right" in terms of every day life and what it means to miss the mark. I have a tendency to "should" on myself a bit overmuch, and then to catastrophize when I fall short. My friend was suggesting that I let go of some of that elaborate pileup of rules I self impose. Lighten up!

HMMMM. I dunno. My postion is, that while it might be healthy for me to find a bit more balanced perspective, some things are just WRONG and to be avoided at all cost...for instance...see photo attached.

At least I still have my sense of humor.

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