Bleak

Why is it that when I’m sweeping all this dried mud up off the floor or scraping crusted toothpaste off the sink, there are whole paragraphs wandering through my mind (each of them Pulitzer worthy, of course),  but on this Sunday afternoon I sit in front of the keys with nothing but the mundane on my mind?  When life consists only of the mundane, there I am poetic, but when I have time to record my musings for posterity, then I am…bleak.

The sky outside is bleak, releasing huge splattering raindrops from time to time. And life these past few days has been bleak.  I keep finding myself pondering patterns.  How we set them, and carry them out without even realizing it, how we try to change those patterns, but they sneak back when we’re not paying attention.

Sometimes you feel powerless to change.

There’s hope, though.  I lost 8 pounds since January, and I’ve only gained 4 back.  And tomorrow’s another day, another day to set new patterns, to change my course.

Motivation has been on my mind a lot, too.  I question why I do what I do.  Did I take that soup to friends last week because I wanted to help them, or because I want them to like me?  Ah, some of it is sneaking back…this idea that I don’t trust people to like me on their own…I almost feel like I have to manipulate them (by doing things for them, etc) to like me.  And it makes me wonder…is it them I don’t trust, or me? Maybe I don’t trust myself to be likeable.

There are days where I stand, confident, in a newfound feeling that I don’t care what you think of me, whether I fit into the mold you think I should fill or not.  Those are the good days.

Today isn’t one of them.

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Meanderings

I just erased probably 200 words, decided they weren’t worth your time. Here’s a cute kid instead.
Mayhem: Mom, I slept wrecklessly last night!
Thora: Wrecklessly, huh? Do you mean restlessly?
Mayhem: Well, my covers were all thrown off and I almost fell out of bed.
Thora: I guess you were sleeping wrecklessly.

Filtering

Ever have one of those moments when you see yourself for who you really are–and it’s not pretty? Happened to me last night.

I was standing across from her, noticing her trendy, highlighted haircut and her pretty dress. She complimented me on my tights, I returned with a comment about her nifty boots. And then she had to walk away to take care of something, and as I watched her, I found myself looking for a flaw. Was there a run in her tights? Perhaps that dress didn’t fit as well as I thought?

And then I realized what I was doing. I wasn’t just looking for a flaw…I was looking for failure. I was trying to find some small area where I could say, “See! She doesn’t have that right! I’m better than her!”

What a pitiful, small way to live! And that’s been eating at me all morning. Is this really what I do? Do I really watch and wait, smile and compliment, all the while searching for something in the other person that I can find fault in, something to draw my attention off of my own failings?

If she speaks harshly to her children, then I can say I am better than her, I, who never raises my voice but can use it to cut. If I condemn her behavior, then I don’t have to deal with my own lack of self-discipline. If her haircut isn’t quite up to today’s standards, then my insecurities about my own style can be held at bay.

Except for this: I think I also assume that everyone is doing the same thing to me. If I am critiquing every person I come in contact with, then certainly they must have an equally watchful eye trained on me. What pressure! I sat at a Christmas party the other night, painfully aware that my socks weren’t working with my outfit. My socks. There’s this perceived pressure I’m dragging around with me all of the time, and I’m extending it to those around me.

And now it’s hitting me. Smiddy said something the other day, that he tries to see me the way God sees me. How often do I do that? Have I ever done that? I filter me, and those around me, through this sieve of failings, but that’s not how God sees me.

So…today, I’m trying to see me (and my children, and those I come into contact with) the way God sees me. I’m packing suitcases and fighting off this weird seasonal vertigo thing, and I’m trying to look past failings and irritations, trying to find the grace for myself that I know God gives.

Standing Still

The children were talking about an upcoming visit to Kansas this morning.  They are excited to fly on an airplane, and to see their friends again.  What I noticed was that they speak of their friends as if the friends haven’t changed in the ten months since they have been together.  I wondered if they will have trouble connecting with their friends–after all, my children are different people than they were almost-a-year-ago, and their friends will be, too.  

We change a little every day, and yet, because that change is so minute, we rarely recognize it in ourselves until we look back and compare our now-self to our then-self.  Not only that, but we affect those around us–and they affect us–in so many ways.  We’re growing to fit each other, usually, I think.  So when we move away, when our contact grows farther between and our lives no longer intertwine, then the little sprouts of our lives begin to shoot out in their own directions.  

I wonder if Mayhem’s quiet friend will still be willing to let Mayhem take the lead in everything, or if she will have found a voice of her own.  Will Frienzy’s clingy friend still need so much, or will it be Frenzy left wishing for more?  

All of these questions today, and even they are shaping me and my actions….because none of us are standing still.

Some Days

Some days, you wake up and you grab onto that sunrise, seeing it as God speaking to you, reassuring you, reminding you that He’s got this, He’s in control.

Some days, you use too many commas and you don’t bother to try to fix it.

Some days, you realize that what isn’t said is far more important than what is.

Some days, you write it all down, hoping that will help you remember what the issues are and what needs working on.

Some days, you find old letters to God, old pleas for help and comfort, efforts to sort it all out, and you remember that there is nothing new under the sun.

And some days–you work out and get on with the day because it isn’t going to get any better if you sit here moping about it.

Snippets

Mayhem: I saw a dress you might like, Mommy. But it was skinnier than you.

Thora: Well, it was nice of you to think of me.

Mayhem: It was taller than you, too. You’re really not that tall.

Thora: Any other compliments you’d like to pay me?

Mayhem (looks me up and down, finally says): Your shoes and your shirt match!

Gift in the Blackberry Patch

I was deep in the blackberry patch tonight, edging in around trailing thorns, reaching for that almost-unattainable perfect berry, ignoring petty scratches and hair blown into face. I crouched down for another clump of glistening dark, then glanced up to swipe hair away. And there, against the sky, was a gift.

It was just a weed, really, and one almost dead. But …spiring seed pod with tendrils reaching for sky, so beautiful that I stopped just to look. Each one stood strong, alone against the wind and the cars that shoot by, not knowing or caring if anyone would ever take the time to appreciate.

And my first thought was that I wanted to take a picture, post it to my timeline, text it to my sister, something, some way to share it.

But I didn’t.

Because, I realized, this gift was to be enjoyed by just me. It felt like a gift from God after a long week and a longer day…a reminder of strength and peace. And I didn’t need to share it or have others like it to validate the gift.

So I left it there, un-documented, lonely still.

I glanced back as I worked, noting the silhouette against the darkening sky, another clump of pods here and there.

I was refreshed. Like the rain fall yesterday…standing in the garage watching it sheet down over half-harvested wheat, filling my heart and renewing mind, bringing its own flood of thankfulness.

I may yet journey out with my camera to capture the stark beauty of the seed pods found tonight, and those images will be my gift to you…and my reminder that not every gift needs confirmation, likes, shares, validation, to be worth enjoying.

How Do I Loathe Thee?

CostCo, how do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways:

  1. Thine parking lots are much too small, causing much consternation amongst myself and all other road-weary travelers.
  2. Thou persists in hiding merchandise in the least likely spots, causing me to trek back and forth among the throngs of people, grumbling all the while.
  3. Thou carryest not in one store the products I find in another, meaning I canst not count on finding everything on my bulk list in any one trip.
  4. Thou dost NOT mark thine aisles with contents, so I must journey up and down each aisle to find the goods I seek…and must often consult employees, many of whom also know not where thine goods are kept.
  5. Thou hirest not nearly enough checkers, so that I must stand in line with three tired children, trying to not bump into or be bumped by all the other cranky housewives and their children, while the few available cashiers work as slowly as possible.
  6. Thou drawest crowds of people who prefer to walk slowly down the middle of each aisle, turning to the side only when I attempteth to passeth them.
  7. Thou art not, nor will ever be, Sam’s Club.

More Vic

The dutch oven was scraped clean, and the cake had a large portion cut out of it.  It was the peaceful part of a celebration where bellies and hearts are satisfied, that lull where everyone settles for a moment.

And then…gifts.

The girls loved the presents Vic had chosen, thanking her and Charles over and over.  Janie immediately put her wrap on, and the blue of her eyes sparkled against the cream color and her happiness.  Emmie wanted to go home right away to hang her wind chime, but Steven talked her into waiting until they’d had a chance to Skype with Michael.

They had planned to include Michael in the gifts, but somehow the internet connection from overseas wouldn’t quite connect.  They got glimpses of the face Janie longed to see, but couldn’t converse.  Finally, they decided to go ahead with the final gifts.

There were two envelopes, one for Janie, one for Ellie.  The girls opened them together, their gasps of excitement sounding almost simultaneously.  While they grasped the portent of their gifts right away, Vic did not.

Vic, Continued

As it happened, both daughters-in-laws had birthdays within two weeks, and they often chose to celebrate together. This year, Vic offered to host so each girl could have a night off.

As she stepped into the guest bathroom to do a quick swish and swipe, the new towels caught her eye. They were almost hidden in a basket near the tub, and Vic wondered if Janie would be hurt not to find them hanging from the towel rods. The thing was, when she put those fancy towels out, the rest of the bathroom began to look…drab. The buttercream walls she’d always loved, the simple green glass soap pump near the sink–suddenly the bathroom almost seemed in need of a makeover. And if it had reflected who she was, but now needed a makeover, what did that say about her?

It was bad enough, having that frilly apron stare her in the face every time she opened the kitchen drawer she’d stuffed it in. She had tried hanging it from a hook in the pantry, but it seemed to mock her, pointing out to everyone who passed by that it didn’t fit…or that she didn’t.

Vic gave herself a mental shake; she didn’t have time to spend pondering frilly towels and lacy aprons.  Everyone would arrive in an hour, and she still had to wrap gifts.  She’d chosen each gift carefully, trying to pick something that would be meaningful and useful.

For Janie, she had found the first gift at the store Janie worked at.  She knew Janie often admired the items for sale, but couldn’t afford the couture prices.  With a little help from a sales girl willing to point out a few of Janie’s favorites, and a well-timed sale, Vic had managed to purchase a frothy confection of creamy crochet and lace that the sales girl called a wrap.

The second gift, for Emmie, had been a little harder.  She had scoured garden shops, contemplated at nurseries, even wandered into a few home and ranch stores, hoping for something to jump out at her.  Finally, she’d found directions online to create a tinkling wind chime and spent hours assembling the thing.  She was sure Emmie would love it.

The smell of her famous southwest chilli mac seeped into the craft room where Vic was finishing her wrapping job.  She checked the progress of the dish cooking in the dutch oven and started to get the rest of the food on to the table.