Choices

A friend of mine readily admits some of her fondest memories involve watching “Pretty Little Liars” with her grandmother. Her nana.

Nana told me she had no interest in the program, but it was a way to spend time with her youngest grandchild on a regular basis. Despite her lack of concern for the fate of the various characters, she could handily talk through any given plot line from the show. Heather, her granddaughter, would proudly ask Nana a question about the series, and Nana would give a complete answer, smiling as she relayed the tale.

I’ve written before about the right or wrong of spending time doing something you don’t enjoy for the sake of one you care about. I believe sometimes you suck it up and go to the shower you’d rather avoid, because your love for the cousin who’s being honored is greater than your disdain for ditzy party games.

I understand the thinking of those who say “life is too short for me to do something like (fill in the blank), no matter who’s involved,” and in some ways I endorse it. There are certainly multiple opportunities to honor a loved one (and if there truly is only one chance, consider that fact carefully).

How do we balance looking out for ourselves first without being unnecessarily selfish? With children, it’s an easier decision. Sometimes the best way to build trust with a child is to watch a television show they love or read aloud a book that sends you screaming.

It would be a rare situation where I’d watch The Young and the Restless just to make a roommate happy. And yet, that’s exactly what happened nearly 30 years ago. My then-roommate and I weren’t getting along. We liked and respected each other, but living together presented challenges. We also had one television set between us. Compromise was essential.

We agreed to air the taped episodes two nights a week, and reluctantly I joined her. I never did embrace soap opera fandom, but watching and safely gossiping about those shows created a bond. We are friends to this day.

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In today’s world this example is a bit moot. With the ability to watch your favorite program at your leisure on your choice of devices, you can easily distance yourself from the undesirable family member or roommate.

But where does that get you?

I offer no answers, only questions to ponder. When is being selfish cutting yourself off from healthy relationships? On the flip side, when is it saving you from an antagonistic experience?

Life is full of choices, and the answers so often are ambiguous. The thinking process, however, needn’t be so vague. Ultimately, the decision is yours. And sometimes taking care of others is taking care of yourself.


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How or Why and Peace of Mind

Last night I dashed out to the local CVS to get some candy. I admit it. A quick trip, three miles or less.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a car, different make but similar style and color to mine, parked in the same corner I was headed. Then I noticed something else. The license plate number was almost identical, save for one number. Instead of an eight, hers was a zero.

A second later the driver of this car appeared. An attractive yet otherwise unremarkable young woman carrying a prescription and another small bag (maybe candy, who knows?). Yet it got me to thinking.

What if she’d just robbed the place? In the rush and panic that would ensue, what if someone mistook my car for hers?

Now that’s my active imagination,  no doubt. Here’s the problem: these things do happen. Given that she had long blonde hair and was clearly a good twenty years younger than me, chances are I wouldn’t suffer the worst. Still, in the world we live in today, I could.

The odds are worse for minorities, and we’ve all seen the stories. I remember one particularly troubling report on a news magazine, perhaps Dateline, of a man who was imprisoned for nearly 30 years for a crime he didn’t commit. Some might say, well, maybe he didn’t commit that crime, but surely he was guilty of something just as bad. Only in this case, there was no evidence of that.

He could have gotten out on parole years earlier if he’d confessed and shown remorse, but he refused, saying the only thing he had left was his name. I hope he was able to find peace once he was released, but odds were still against him after all those years of incarceration.

I hope others helped him find dignity, because he’d lived a long time without it.

We learn when we’re young that life isn’t fair. Yet we can’t live life with a constant awareness of our alibi for that moment or our excuse for doing something others might find odd. That, in and of itself, is going to raise red flags for some.

Why are our lives at times devoid of justice and peace? I don’t know. I don’t understand the imbalance in the world. But I do believe in a God who is just, even if we can’t comprehend how or why.

And that’s my peace of mind.


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A Good Time Ahead

There’s a lot happening this weekend.

It’s been a year (is that all?) with our current president. I’m with the majority of Americans, embarrassed by and weary of him. The news is full of analysis of his time in office, and it’s a little overwhelming. Enough said on my part.

On the exciting side of things (for some of us, at least), the NFL playoffs are this weekend, and my beloved Vikings are on fire. Could last Sunday’s game be any more exciting? I knew it was a good match — New Orleans is an incredible team — and I believed, right up to the final seconds, the Vikes would win. And indeed, it was during those final ten seconds when they pulled it off.

I don’t expect the same kind of excitement this Sunday, but I hope for a good game (ultimately defined by who wins).

I’m waiting for some news that could change so much for me, but more on that when it actually happens.

And, Sunday is my birthday!! Not only is it MY birthday, but two of my co-workers are due any day now. I’ve become friends with one of them, and would love it if her son was born on Sunday.

I haven’t been a good blogger lately. Other things have been pulling at my time, and by the time I get to my blog, I’m spent. I’ve missed out on so many of your posts as well, and I apologize. I hope to catch up soon.

Here’s to the coming weekend. Oh, I forgot, I get my hair trimmed tomorrow — always a good feeling. It’s going to be a good couple of days.

Go Vikings!

sentence JAN 21 written with chalkboard on a wooden table with t


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Consistently Changing

“Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.”
― Bernard Berenson

Hmmm. I get his point, but there’s value in consistency, too. Depends on your consistent pattern. Do you routinely come home, watch the same TV shows and eat one of the same three frozen dinners? Or are you someone who can be counted to stay up-to-date with current events, give comfort to a grieving friend, or dare to have your hair cut shorter than its ever been?

If you’re consistently exploring, you’ll be wiser and more informed a year from now.

A balance of routine and exploration helps prevent both chaos and lethargy. There is comfort in routine, although in the first scenario described above, I’d recommend you add a class (or perhaps a book club) and learn how to cook at least two new meals.

Having a regular pattern gives you structure, a foundation to build on the daring side of you. It also helps you be on time and maintain healthy habits. But the person so committed to that same schedule that they pass by on the bountiful opportunities our world offers is somewhat boring.

I got to wondering what I’ll learn in the next year. I’m not anxious for tough lessons, but rather, new insight into the world around me and the people I love. It means I have to get out of my comfort zone a little more and be willing to ask questions that might leave me vulnerable.

Vulnerable, because I don’t like looking ignorant or naÏve. Thank goodness for the Internet and search engines. But there are limits to what you can learn from Wikipedia, and I want to break those boundaries.

I’ve changed so much in the last few years, and sometimes I forget what I’ve accomplished. The difference is subtle sometimes, but I’m proud to say I’m consistently changing.

 

Three Years Stronger

Annually, I re-post my very first blog post.

Written on Christmas day 2014, it reflects the pain I was feeling then, as well as my resolve and hope. The latter, thankfully, still remains, but the loneliness and pain have left me. I’ve grown and changed since that day, and while the truth of what I wrote still reflects a part of myself, I’m standing stronger, in part because of the process of writing and the support of fellow bloggers. Thank you.

So here’s the original post, just as I wrote it then. Many of you likely haven’t seen it, but I know some of you did when I previously re-posted it.

Blessings to all of you!

resolutions and revelations

you bought me the book

I’m not motivated by New Year’s Resolutions. No surprise there, most people aren’t. No surprise what does motivate me either: trying to impress someone important to me is always a big one. Problem is, that comes and goes. Here’s the reason that actually works: finally realizing my life is truly better and I’m going to attract better things when I do things the right way. And typically it has taken failure in my life, and some humiliation, to get to that realization.

My friends say, oh, we each worry about those things a lot more than others do. After all, we have to live with our own failings, our stupidity, our repeated efforts to resolve what’s gone wrong with yet one more foolish gesture.

Right now I’m faced with what seems to me to be huge failure brought on by circumstances I had no control over. Wisdom from others tells me to learn to control what I can and live with what I can’t, but what I can’t control has taken over and felled me. Now I need to stand up and return to where I was only a short time ago. But will I fall again? Probably. That which I do not control will always be with me, and I fear that those I care about will leave me.

So I must do what I can to perhaps ward off the beast that follows me everywhere for longer than before. I must learn from this and pray I have another chance that will allow me to succeed. I weep at the thought I won’t, and realize I now have little control over that, but in and of itself there could stand a truth I need to learn. Truth that belies what I have held so dear for so long.

I face difficult yet not insurmountable odds. I tell myself I can take advantage with hard work and fierce resolve, with fortitude and purpose. No trite quotes for me, but strength of mind and character prevail. This year was better than last. I can’t guarantee next year will be better than this, but I’m hopeful it will be.


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Misunderstood

For several months now I’ve been avoiding a man I used to work with.

These days he’s the manager of the grocery store I frequent, and I refuse to drive an additional five miles to the next store just to keep from seeing him. Why have I been so reluctant to so much as say “hi”?

Because I assumed I knew why he was avoiding me.

The reasons for this awkwardness aren’t important, except to say, it has nothing to do with a failed romance (or any matter of the heart). We got along well when we worked together, but events transpired and each of us made an uncomfortable departure from that company.

Finally, I decided yesterday, enough is enough. The opportunity was right, so I started the conversation.

Turns out, he had no idea what had happened in my life. He thought I didn’t remember him, or worse. His discomfort had more to do with what he believed I thought of him than vice versa.

I’d seen him once shopping with his son, who’s adopted, and interracial. I asked if that was his son I’d seen him with, and he said yes, his eyes lighting up.

“He’s tall, like you,” I said.

He agreed, and smiled. Then I remembered what a friend had told me years ago: adoptive parents like hearing about nothing more than connections with their children, no matter how small.

Later I sent a text message to a friend who also had worked at the same company. “I completely misread his reaction,” I wrote.

My assumptions about what he was thinking were logical and consistent with what had happened with others, yet, they were completely wrong. How often do we assume we know what’s going on, even go so far as to say, “what else could it be?”

We don’t even have all the puzzle pieces of our own life, let alone others.

It could be plenty of other things.

You don’t know what you don’t know.


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Treasure for the Future

What happens to our words when technology changes?

What happens when the media we rely on today is more outdated than eight-track tapes, and no one can access what we’ve written, the pictures we’ve taken, the record of history our present day communication will someday become?

Who are we counting on to save the gems of personal expression we take for granted today?

It’s phenomenal how much data we can store on a tiny piece of finely-crafted metal and wires, surrounded by plastic. Over time, those drives will corrode or be replaced by newer devices, and much of what you store on them is likely to be lost forever. Think of what you saved on disks just ten years ago, and tell me where you can go to retrieve all of it.

We cherish diaries of our ancestors, no matter how mundane they may have believed their lives to be, as a peek into hearts and minds of the people whose history shaped our own lives. How do we leave this same wealth of information for generations to follow?

This information will be a treasure someday.

I love blogging, but I fear what I write here will be lost eventually. The alternative seems to be print out my entire blog, and that isn’t going to happen.

If anyone has an answer, a real answer, not optimistic speculation, I’d love to know about it.


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