The Simple Things

Life’s simple pleasures are the best, the ditty goes, and this is a time when I agree. I’ve been following the Facebook posts of a college friend — who lives 2,000 miles from me but is close in my heart — about her husband’s battle with ALS.

First let me say, Sue is just about the nicest person you could ever meet. I loved her spirit and humor in college, and she was a loyal friend. When she met her husband, he was a widower with a small son. She ultimately adopted that little boy and they have a healthy, supportive relationship today as he seeks the answers we all sought in our 20s.

It hurts that a friend has to watch her husband deteriorate, knowing the worst is to come. Sue has been very honest about her feelings, and one post tugged at my heart. In it she told us the hardest part was the little things, like holding hands when they take a walk. Jerry has to work so hard to walk that that simple show of affection is now lost to him.

So I say, think about the simple pleasures in your life and treasure them, for they may be lost to you tomorrow. Appreciate all that you have without fearing losing it, just  recognizing that we can take nothing for granted.

Because simple pleasures are the best.

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Faith Redefined

Years ago I thought I had the key to all the answers of my faith. It was to be found by listening to the teachings of my conservative Bible professors. Funny enough, I realized later they themselves would freely admit they had more questions than answers, and the more they pursued the answers the greater the number of questions.

I’m not completely dismissing the education I got at that Bible college, nor would I wish for anything to replace the time I spent there. I made friends then who are still among the strongest influences in my life — and whose support I depend upon.

But I do take issue with the idea that all of life’s questions can be answered by the Bible. I don’t think the Bible makes that claim, nor do I believe that any of the writers of either the Old or New Testament intended for us to seek all the answers from scripture. 

It’s designed to tell us about God, and again, there are more questions than answers to be found when dedicating oneself to reading any or all of it. God is bigger than all of us put together. Infinitely bigger. 

I’ve adopted a very Jewish way of thinking — it isn’t the answers to the questions but the questions themselves that are important. I’m comfortable with that way of thinking and believe it to be a more honest way of finding my faith.

So my faith has been redefined over the years, as has just about every other area of my life. The more we live, the more we grow, and the stronger we become. Well, on the inside. I would definitely have to say the outside is weakening.

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The Tide is Turning

Things are turning around. 

In the past few months, I’ve posted about my problems finding a job as well as the stress of having two cats who (suddenly) don’t get along. The latter was due to what’s known as “displaced aggression.” One of my cats, Mimi, saw something that upset her, and she took it out on her brother, Walter.

Well, I’m thrilled to say that’s changed. While Mimi still might growl a little if Walter gets too close, they’re almost back to their old selves. I can’t begin to express what a relief this is. For the past few months, any reminder of my cats brought about feelings of guilt and frustration. I had to separate them, and to do that, one was locked in a bedroom while the other had the run of the place. Then I’d switch.

As you can imagine, that gets a little tricky when you’ve got obligations outside the home. There were times when one of them had to be locked up for eight hours, and that killed me.

Now I even can leave my bedroom door open at night without fear there will be fighting. They’ve worked this out between themselves. Mimi stays with me and Walter goes to the living room. As much as I’d like to have Walter snuggle up to me at night, if that works for them, I’m not interfering.

On the job front, again, good news. I’ve got a freelance writing gig that looks like it will continue for several, perhaps even many, months. Like any new job I’m learning my way, but I believe I’ll be able to do it and do it well.

Thanks to all of you for the encouraging words. For so long it seemed like nothing was going to change, and even though I know that’s not the way life works, it was difficult pushing through it at times.

I’d like to get back to my blogging again, so I hope to see more of all of you soon!

Walter and Mimi are more than willing to help me with my blogging.

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Loss

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Kinzie and Tiffany

Tonight I am grieving the loss of my cousin, Tiffany, who was killed in a motorcycle accident last Wednesday. My heart aches.

She wasn’t actually my cousin, but by the way she came into my life she become one. Her husband, Joe, had previously been married to my cousin Jenna. Joe and Jenna had two daughters: Zoë, who died at the age of four in a car accident, and Kinzie. From what I understand Jen lost custody of Kinzie and another daughter, Peyton, and they went into the foster system.

At some point Joe, who’s had a longtime drug problem, sobered up enough to take Kinzie back. Tiffany became her stepmom and eventually adopted Kinzie. (Peyton, by the way, is living with her father, and the two sisters see each other frequently). We were all so grateful that Kinzie had found this love and support with such a wonderul woman.

Tiffany loved Kinzie very much and the two of them were close. Kinzie is now 15 or 16 (my apologies for not knowing her exact age). My heart is breaking not only for the loss of a truly wonderful woman, but for Kinzie, who has had so much loss in her life.

She’ll be living with her grandmother (Joe’s mom) and she’ll be able to stay in the same school district.

Some of you may remember me writing about the death of my aunt Mary two years ago. That was Kinzie’s grandmother, although Mary was court ordered to stay away from both of ther grandchildren. With good reason. Kinzie mourned that loss as well.

And Joe…I don’t know what’s happening with him, but my guess is it isn’t good.

I’m asking why? Why? and I know I won’t get a satisfactory answer. My loss is nothing compared to that of Tiffany’s children, parents and close family and friends. All I can do is pray for Kinzie and Peyton.

Of Mice, Men and Madison Avenue

I just saw a new ad for D-Con (which in case you didn’t know, kills mice) and found myself routing for the brave little mouse who risked his life.

I don’t think that’s what they intended.

Problem is, we live in a world in which rodents of all sorts are humanized and made movie stars. Mickey Mouse, for example. And the rats of Ratatouille. Little charmers. Chip ‘N Dale. Rocky the flying squirrel. My references may be largely outdated — although arguably, timeless — but you get the idea.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t want my cats catching any mice they find under our roof. But in my world, they’re kind of endearing.

Now I know the difference between cartoon characters and rodents. But seeing this ad made me wonder, what kind of subtle influences in advertisting have affected my biases without my recognizing it? Are there prejudices abounding in my mind because of the way hair spray once was portrayed?

For the first time ever I saw a television ad for WordPress.com. I already have multiple accounts here, but is my opinion of this platform going to change because of the ad? After all, I saw it shortly before the D-Con ad and now here I am, writing for the first time in four weeks (well, I’ve been doing other writing, so I should be fair and say writing on this blog for the first time in four weeks).

We all recognize that our attitudes about certain products are influenced by advertising. But how deep does it go? I’m sure there have been studies, but even reading about one of those wouldn’t tell me why I haven’t been to Burger King in 40 years. Way back then they had an ad that irritated the bejeebers out of me, but who would have thought I’d still be boycotting them?

So if an ad can annoy me away from a product, no doubt it can draw me in. I’d like to think I’m smart enough to avoid those influences, but I’m not.

Because if Mickey Mouse is endorsing something, I’m probably buying.

Some time ago I wrote about my precious cat Mimi, who’s experiencing a case of displaced aggression. That’s when one thing upsets a cat (in this case, a stranger cat peeking in through the front window) and she takes it out on another (her brother Walter). I’ve had to separate the two for six months now.

I tried last week to reunite them, and only succeeded in upsetting Mimi to the point she won’t leave my bedroom anymore. She’s cautiously approaching the door, but nothing more. I should add that Walter is placed in another room when I try to lure Mimi out, so she’s safe. But she isn’t so sure.

On Friday I was convinced I was going to need to find a new home for one of them. I was devastated and the grieving process began. I cried and cried — sobbed, really — and in the end realized I wasn’t ready to make that move. Saturday I spent all day knowing that, ready or not, it was inevitable, but Sunday I came up with a plan that will give each cat enough space to run around in while keeping them away from each other. It’s not ideal, but it’s fair.

Is this situation likely to resolve itself? Everything I’ve read says it’s a challenge and can take up to a year. Sometimes it never happens. I may have restarted that calendar by trying to reintroduce them too soon, I don’t know.

It’s painful all around. I don’t have any wise words to summarize my thoughts here.  Just thanks for listening.

Beauty and Hope

On my drive home from the grocery store today, I chanced upon a really beautiful sight. It was the end of a vibrant rainbow, right on the road in front of me.

This was a winding mountain road, so taking a picture wasn’t an option, but no matter. The important thing wasn’t capturing it on film. The important thing was the sense of hope it gave me.

Like the end of a rainbow,  hope is a beautiful thing.

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