We had a little rain last night, for which I was thankful. However, we also had a microburst that resulted in me having a broken window at my house.
I couldn't sleep last night so I was reading in bed. At some point I drifted off, only to be awakened shortly thereafter to see the French doors between my bedroom and the sunporch were open. I keep them closed all the time, and even have a doorstop in front of them to keep them closed. One of them was open about two feet.
I went to see what was going on and the blinds had fallen, and the top half of the window was broken horizontally across. Rain was blowing in. I was standing there somewhat dumbfounded, unsure what to do. Eventually I taped up some garbage bags to keep the rain from coming in and figured the 107 degree temperature today would dry anything that got wet.
Thank goodness, my handyman was able to come over today. He went and got a board cut to go up there temporarily because we couldn't find anyone today who could cut a piece of glass this big. Fortunately, we have a "real" glass place downtown where they can. So, tomorrow I'll call and get that started.
Apparently there are places in town with big trees down so I guess I was lucky overall. But, I certainly didn't get much rest last night, and didn't get anything done today that I needed to do. So it goes.
Hopefully it will all be addressed in a short time. I'm so thankful for Bobbie and that he could work on it for me. In the meantime, I'm "that person" in the neighborhood who has a boarded up window.
This week I was asked to participate in a panel discussing rivers, and what they mean to people. I grew up near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. If you've read "Huck Finn," you have read about an Illinois spot I return to each time I go to Kentucky.
Not sure what I will say about rivers, but I'm certain I'll have no trouble with my couple of minutes. I remembered this piece I published on the blog earlier, and I think there are things here I might draw on. It's hard to believe this was written more than ten years ago.
In 2001, I gave pieces of driftwood I gathered at the river to some friends with the following piece:
I am a person of rivers.
For those of us born to rivers, they are life itself. We speak of them reverently. We fear them. We cherish them. We are drawn to them by a force we cannot comprehend but have no choice but to obey. They flow through our souls. They define us.
We go to the river for strength, for guidance, for solace. We cannot possibly find our way in the world without returning to the river periodically. It beckons to us. We cannot deny its call. We learn at a young age that there's no point in even trying. Not that we want to anyway. The river knows when we are away from it too long. It summons us home.
We gather at the riverside for family celebrations, baptisms, and catharsis. We have rituals, public and private, that are carried out only on those banks.
The confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers is a place I return to when I've lost my way in the world. I have said prayers of thanksgiving and prayers of entreatment from the same spot. I have sought direction and consolation. I will do both again as long as I walk upon this Earth.
I gathered this driftwood on an April Day of 2001 with the idea of sharing it with a few special friends at Christmastime. I had no idea then how profoundly changed I would be by the end of this year. My life will never be the same as it was that day.
I can't give you the river. I can't even explain its attraction for those of us born to it. But I want to share with you a small token of it. May this driftwood encourage you to visit what restores you.
I hope the holidays are a time of joy for you and yours this Christmas.
I'm not sure what my general "neediness" level is, but I think it's pretty low. Perhaps my friends will tell me otherwise, but I believe it to be minimal. Maybe I have a skewed sense of what a "normal" amount is. I do know my tolerance level for it is low.
Because I spend a great deal of time in social media, I see a lot of "virtual hand-wringing" from people on the periphery of my life. There is always a problem, often related to someone else in their world, and they need a lot of support from people. This requires their "friends" to tell them repeatedly that they're wonderful and the other person - the villian in this story - is terrible, will see the error of their ways, is unreasonable, will regret this decision later, fill-in-the-blank.
I don't respond because I just want to say, "Get these people out of your life and you'll solve this problem. Go cold turkey. Just stop engaging with people who bring this kind of drama into your life."
Some would say it makes me cold-hearted, but I just could not have anyone close to me who had this much drama in their lives. I can't muster energy for being supportive of disasterous situations that are completely foreseeable. Yes, I know we all have to learn everything. What I've learned is that I'm not good with that. It's just not something I can offer the world.
I would do almost anything for a friend or family member who needed something. But there's no one in my close circles who is "drama prone." When they have a problem, it's a real problem. And I will help them in any way I can.
Maybe this was formed early in life when I watched people be overly dramatic about things that didn't really matter. When girls squealed about how they would die if they didn't get a particular pair of jeans, I looked at them as if they were a different species. In my world, people really did die. It was nothing like getting jeans. So I just automatically wrote off people acting that way as people who couldn't be trusted to make wise decisions.
Was that harsh? Maybe. But it seemed perfectly reasonable to me then and, frankly, it still does. What kind of sense does it make to expend that much energy over something that has no real bearing on your life? How can a person who's that worked up about jeans or exes or any number of other things have the brain power and emotional capacity to make wise choices? Maybe they can manage just fine, but my instinct for self-preservation doesn't allow me to gamble on that sort of wild-card variable.
Many projects are percolating in my brain these days. Exciting things I've tried to figure out, off and on, for years. It seems the universe is providing me with ideas, and the people to make them happen, at just the right time. Resources are just appearing, as if by magic, to allow things to fall into place.
I've always felt I lead a charmed life, but these days it's all the more apparent. I'm doing my best to manage all of this appropriately, and to remain grateful. I am so incredibly grateful.
A few months ago, I scheduled a visioning retreat weekend with friends that is coming up soon. It is the perfect time for it. Such a blessed, and exciting, time in my life.
I'm in a place where I'm trying to figure out a number of things. I'm contemplating some new projects, and trying to decide what I should let go of to make room for them, or if there's room for everything.
As with every crossroads in life, there are layers to peel back. What you find beneath them is always a surprise, and sometimes it's just another layer.
While I'm in this process, my writing here may be sporadic and not make much sense. But rest assured all is well!
Everything has a life cycle, from plants to relationships. There's a time to sow, and a time to reap. While those are easy to spot, the inbetween time is a bit nebulous. We can't see plants grow, and we can't see relationships grow apart.
But one day you suddenly realize the corn is six feet tall. And one day you see the relationship is six feet under. It doesn't necessarily mean anyone did anything wrong. Circumstances just conspired to make it that way. Just like time helped the corn, time caused the relationship to become distant.
The trick is to realize that everything has a season, including relationships. It's just hard to see that when you're in the middle of it. Looking back, it's much more clear.
Twelve people are dead and dozens more wounded because of a shooting in a crowded theater in Colorado. Yelling fire in a crowded theater suddenly doesn't sound so bad.
Before the dead have even been identified and their families notified, the conspiracy theorists are at it. I find this incredibly cruel. Why add to the pain of grieving families?
It's fascinating that the people who seem most likely to believe in conspiracy theories are the same people who have no faith in the government. But somehow they believe this same government is able to plan, execute and cover up incredibly complex events. How can both of those beliefs coexist?
I do not believe in conspiracies. At least none that I've heard yet.
I think government does some things really well. But planning and executing complex events has to involve humans. And, covering up anything relies on humans to be quiet. Big, big, big flaw in the conspiracy plan. So far, throughout human history, that hasn't happened. People cannot resist telling what they know. How many crimes are solved because someone blabs to a bartender, or one inmate brags to another. Even Deep Throat couldn't resist revealing his identity before his death. We do not have it in us to keep what we know to ourselves.
So, no, I don't believe in conspiracy theories because it would demand capabilities that are beyond humans. However, I know there are others who do, and that's their choice. I do wish they could curb their enthusiasm for conspiracy theories until those who are grieving have some time to do that. Why be so cruel?
“I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don't have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.” ― Virginia Woolf
I spent a few hours this week in a series of classes about Amish culture. There's an Amish settlement a few miles from where I live in Kansas. They also live in multiple places I've visited in recent years from Ohio to Iowa.
The overriding concept is the idea that the community is the most important thing. The good of all takes precedence over the individual needs and wants.
The class was taught by an ex-Amish gentleman, and there was another ex-Amish man in the class. Both of them left because they wanted an education. The Amish don't believe in formal education beyond the eighth grade.
It was really fascinating to learn about a culture that I see from afar regularly, but have no intimate knowledge of. It's something I like about living here. Occasionally you'll be in a line and someone will come up to another person in line to say hello and before you know it, they're speaking German. I don't understand a single word of German, but I find it fascinating how people easily switch from one to the other. I learned in this class that most ex-Amish say they'll always think in "Dutch," which is actually German. (Pennsylvania Dutch is actually a reference to Deutsch, i.e. German.)
Multiple people asked about shunning, and he did talk about that a bit. He also asked the older gentleman to talk about his experience of being disciplined by the church when he was younger. He was never shunned, but he was disciplined for something he did that was wrong. The bishop came to see him, then he confessed in the church, and everyone stood up and he knew they forgave him. Something I would have missed if the instructor hadn't mentioned it that this forgiveness, like so many things in Amish culture, is visible. That theme kept repeating.
By the way, if you're wondering what this gentleman did that required discipline, he went to see a movie. While that may seem harsh to us, it's important to keep things in line so they maintain their culture.
It was an interesting couple of days. It gave me some insight I've been missing.
And, it reminded me that something that delights me is learning.
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I'm in a bit of a funk. At least that's what I'm calling it. I don't have another word for it, although "funk" implies something negative, and it's not that. It's more that I feel pulled in a dozen different directions and I'm not sure from moment to moment where to put my attention. I'm pushed and pulled this way and that. Somewhere in between I'm looking for the straight line that moves things along.
Obviously all will work out, as it always does. It's just the middle of the process and I'm trying to figure out how best to manage.
In the meantime, there are other things that are more fun beckoning me to spend my attention there. I think I will have to put those on hold for the moment and focus. Focus, focus, focus - not my best thing - but I will buck up and manage!
Finding one's purpose is a topic that keeps coming up these days. It seems it's on the mind of many people in my world.
Ironically, I just ran across these notes I jotted down from a book, podcast or show. Unfortunately, I didn't note the source. However, they seem appropriate. My apologies to the originator for not giving you credit.
Three Steps to Finding Your Purpose 1. Remember where you came from.
2. Figure out what inspires you and brings you joy.
3. Determine how to share that.
I think most of us get stuck on step 2. For me that's such a long list it's hard to narrow it down to what I should focus on. People have far worse problems, of course.
I do know one thing. I am incredibly grateful for the daily comfort and joy I experience. I am truly blessed in so many ways, and so thankful for it. It's easy to be jaded, but most Americans experience a daily comfort level most of the world will never know. (Typed on my high speed internet connection in my air conditioned house.)
The question is, what to do with that grace, that gift.
This seems an important question to answer, and one that could be a guide for life. Shouldn't we all be spending our time doing things that delight us? I think the world would be a better place if we were.
So, I've been thinking about this. I've come up with a short list of things that delight me. I will be adding to it no doubt.
Tea - It is not the beverage I love, but the experience of having tea with friends. I love the pretty, unusual food. It's a real treat to sit down and be able to relax, immerse myself in the experience, have delicious bites of different kinds of food, served on beautiful dishes in lovely settings. So, what absolutely delights me is the tea experience. I rarely drink tea otherwise. Art - Talking with my friend, Jocelyn, about art is always wonderful. We talk about possibilities and look at what's being created and think about what could be created. That absolutely delights me. Making art also delights me, but in a different way. Visiting art museums and seeing impressionist art delights me. Conversation - Talking with people about creativity, happiness, or other mutually interesting topics is a delight. I love that give and take we experience. Travel - being immersed in newness delights me. Especially if I'm interacting with people in new and different ways.
I am finding it difficult to define these things in a way that I can explain to others. That tells me I need to spend more time contemplating this question of what absolutely delights me.
I'm a big to-do list maker. My desk is generally littered with a variety of lists because somewhere in the day I realize the list I started out with needs to be subdivided.
In addition to tasks I need to complete for one reason or another, there's a list for the cool, interesting, fun things I could take advantage of. Because I live in a small town in the middle of the country, people think there's nothing to do here. Even people who live here think that. I think they're not looking very hard.
This week there are free movies, art exhibits and music happening in town. If I'm willing to drive an hour away I can go to three author different author events, and take advantage of a huge selection of art and music events. I could also visit two world-class museums in my little town, or within an hour's drive see everything from Egyptian mummies to historic firearms. I would add to this parks, trails and wildlife areas if Mother Nature weren't trying to bake us all at a high temperature.
The problem becomes what I should spend my time doing. I'm also taking a small class this week about the Amish culture of the area. I'm somehow sure this will necessitate me getting a cinnamon roll at one of the restaurants nearby. Just to get into the proper mindset, of course.
So, the question becomes what to do with my time. There are all of these fun things to do, and also things that need to be done. Then there are a host of things that need to be done for future projects - things like redesigning my business cards and website and such. Then there are the longer term projects - the "What am I going to be when I grow up questions." Answering that question and doing whatever needs to be done to achieve it isn't yet on a list. And those seem like pretty big things.
I'm reminded of the quote about the way to avoid your life is to keep it busy. The actual quote is far more eloquent than that, but you get the gist of it. I don't consciously try to keep my life busy, but it seems there are so many interesting things happening in the world and I don't want to miss them. I'm doing my best to live life fully, not avoid it. If only I could find more hours in every day.
When I hear people say they are bored, I just cannot imagine how that can be. I find each moment of each day drawing me in different directions, and having to make choices between multiple things I'd like to do.
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Earlier this summer I was invited to spend a week focused on writing. It was an extraordinary experience, and one I'm so incredibly thankful for.
I was in a beautiful place, with a full week to do nothing but work on my writing. I'm so grateful to the women who made it possible. It's such a gift to have the space and time to work on creating. These generous souls took care of all the details of daily life - from lodging to food - so all we had to do was focus on writing.
It was an incredibly productive time for me. Not only does the work benefit, but it feeds the soul to receive such a tremendous gift.
I took this photo during a tour of Hutchinson Fire Station, Number 1. It has been continuously occupied since it was built early in the 20th Century. That is the original brass pole, and it is still used.
In the last few days, my friend, Jocelyn, and I have spent some hours discussing these twigs. They're from a redbud tree and we're both quite taken with the stark white of the core compared to the darker bark.
We've talked about various ways they could be incorporated into art projects, probably for far longer than most people could stand to discuss twigs. We both found it inspiring to just be able to brainstorm in our own laid-back way. It certainly wasn't "corporate" brainstorming. It was more of a natural flow of, "oh, and you could do this, or turn it that way, or give it a twist, or put it on a different background."
Jocelyn is a very gifted artist, and generous with her talent. I'm glad to call her a friend. She teaches me.
Wisdom is that internal knowing that defies logic. It does not dwell in the place of worry over things like mortgage payments. Instead it flourishes in the space that does not require betrayal of your inherent self.
Wisdom means following the path of grace, when logic tells you that's not smart. But, wisdom knows better. Wisdom knows doing otherwise will cause pain to the true self. And self-inflicted pain is far more damaging than what anyone else can dole out.
So, I chose wisdom.
By doing so I made room for something better to fill that space in my life, and for me to be transformed into something better as a result.