Now You See Me…

 

Lest I Make A Spectacle of Myself!

A few days ago, a fellow blogger asked her readers to share daily practices that served them well.   By my own admission, I struggle with consistency and organization.  I’ll get into a routine and not before long, I will be on to something else, tossing what originally worked, not because I want to, but because I haven’t stuck with it long enough to remember what worked in the first place! Blame it on my three darlings, who have an uncanny ability to make my thoughts vaporize before I can get them out of my head and on to paper.  Nonetheless, when asked this question about daily practices, I didn’t have to think too long or hard before I could rattle off a list of things. I don’t do these things every single day, but I manage to do them on most days, and from week to week. Together, they’ve become an integral part of my life and are rudimentary to my being, as they ensure that I thrive as a wife and mother, and any other roles in which I am required to be effective. In order, I listed the following:

  • I love.
  • I eat.
  • I find and create the JOY within.
  • I post motivational words on Facebook, or quip about an observation that left an indelible mark on me.
  • I write.
  • I drink coffee.
  • I kiss and tell my husband and children that I love them…again…and again…I didn’t hear those words much as a child (making up for ‘lost’ time?).
  • I crochet orders for my business, HomeSpun Handmades.
  • I workout – 3-5x a week. It’s MY Prozac.  (This usually includes some form of cardio, and most definitely jumping rope and dancing, spinning, or teaching fitness, all while listening to some bangin’ beats!)
  • I dance…like no one’s watching! Seriously.

Though I’m pleased that I can do these things on a regular enough basis, I’m not so pleased about what I conveniently left out – those practices that I find myself guilty of not doing on a regular enough basis.  Undoubtedly, their incorporation would also serve me well. I think that if I am to engage you in conversation about authentic relationships, and owning up to our own truths, I should at least be transparent and allow you to touch and feel me in my wholeness – in my abilities as well as my limitations, in my convictions as well as my fears, and in my shortcomings as well as my successes.  I want you to get a glimpse of my fullness as I believe that it is what makes me uniquely designed for this ministry of writing, of inspiring, of relating, of creating. 

Therefore, in an effort to present myself whole, balanced, flawed, and human, I’ve put together a list of those practices in which I know I come up short.  (Warning: This list is by no means exhaustive.)

  • Pray – I would like to pray more…more actively…more fervently…more meditatively…without ceasing.
  • Intently study the Bible and the Quran, as well as other spiritual books and principles of thought on the subject of God, his centrality, his universality. 
  • Read.  Allow me to qualify.  I read, but I find that I don’t complete enough books.  On my nightstand is my nook, as well as a few other books that I go in and out of, all of which require completion.  On my windowseat is more of the same, including Wally Lamb’s “I Know This Much Is True“, Walter Mosley‘s “This Year You Write Your Novel“, my leather-bound journal, and a black hard plastic spiral bound notebook in which I also keep my writing.  I am often reading more than one book at a time, for different reasons.  For instance, I’m currently reading “The Crafts Business Answer Book” by Barbara Brabec, and “Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story“, by Sue Monk Kidd, and Ann Kidd Taylor.  (I kid you not! :o  Aside: One of my personal literary goals is to penetrate, explore, and ultimately demystify the mother-daughter mystique through my own experience, while referring to the vast knowledge already written on the subject.)  I imagine that the abundance of books, and simultaneous reading of a few, is typical and necessary for burgeoning authors.  Let’s hope that I’m right!
  • Be a master administrator.  I’d like to be more consistent in managing the administrative end of my home-based business.  Admittedly, it’s so much easier and rewarding for me to create the products than it is for me to track expenses, enter sales, and build an online presence.  Though I quietly acknowledge the importance of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into any business, for-profit or non-profit, I despise the minutia that goes along with it.  The devil is in the details, I know.
  • Give myself enough quiet time.  Ummmm…Namaste.  In the hurriedness of my day and managing my household and all that comes along with it, the desire to devour my to-do list whole, not burn daylight, and meet deadlines (many of which are self-imposed), leaves me with little unadulterated, unfiltered quiet time to do absolutely nothing.  This is a guilty pleasure in which I need more indulgence, as I’m certain that it will afford me clarity in many areas of my life, but I sometimes tend to override it when it’s within view because somewhere down the line, I’ve been trained to “get it done”.    

Whew! Glad I got that all out there! Don’t judge me! LOL! :o Are there some areas in your own life where you feel you come up short? Better said, are there practices that you’d like engage in more regularly, that you know without a doubt, would make you more effective?  Please don’t tell me that this is a one-woman show.  Do tell!

Just Can’t Keep it to Myself! (Pt. 1)

Though I had gotten my fair share of sleep the previous night, the onset of weather-related allergies made me feel unusually tired and groggy. My equilibrium was way off! I felt lopsided, and my head felt heavier than usual, forcing me to sit up long enough to grab the poncho that I had been crocheting and turn on the TV. It is rare that I get to watch TV during the “work” day, but I figured since my workday is pretty much all day, then that rule need not apply. Plus, I could no longer bear to stand without feeling off-balance. I toggled through the On Demand menu and settled at Oprah’s OWN Master Class, featuring none but Miss Oprah herself! As if that wasn’t enough, I felt like I struck gold when I saw that this was a two-part episode! (I believe it comes on sometime next week, but for those who can’t wait, part one is already On Demand.)

I came away with such incredible insight… beautiful nuggets, gems really…that I just couldn’t keep them to myself! Listening was like having a one-on-one with Spirit, through a wise old sage or modern-day griot; like having a private consultation with one who has already lived life as a great master teacher, one who was now taking the time with me to impart some life-altering truths, if practiced, and wisdom to get me geared up for the next leg of my journey. I came away from the session knowing that I was – still am – on the right track in this quest to live Life As An Art, masterfully and deliberately! It was the conviction and confirmation that I didn’t know I needed. What I gathered spoke so loudly to me. You better believe I had my notebook handy! I’ll do my best to capture some of these lessons below. Oprah’s words appear in italics. All else is courtesy of yours truly. :o

“You can’t survive in this world just believing in yourself…Your very presence comes from something greater.” One thing I liked about her sharing this particular truth, was her careful insertion that one, very decidedly, plays a role in creating the outcome, as “co-creators…co-creating life with a Creator”.

“The universe speaks to us always…first, in whispers, subtly…at first, it doesn’t seem to make sense…then the whispers get louder.” Then you have no choice but to act, right? This is how I was led to share this in the first place. So get quiet that you might hear, and then follow!

“Make a decision to do and be the best. Doing your best always puts you at the next level.” I believe this is especially true if you want to be effective. People know when you haven’t given them your best. Worse yet, is you know, so level up! Don’t settle for mediocrity, or with being average when you know that’s not good enough. Strive for excellence.

“Know your purpose, otherwise you’re wandering. The sooner you know, the sooner you’ll get to working…it feels like it’s the right space for you, where you feel most yourself.” Oprah’s is to inspire, to be a teacher, to teach and to learn. By this time, the hairs on my arms were standing upright! Could it be…? Be and act purposefully, ensuring that the things that you do are somehow aligned with this greater purpose. Be in tune, as well as attuned. Should you find yourself dreaming, then dream…on purpose!

“You are worthy.” You know I know, without a doubt! This isn’t being cocky, not one bit! I know that I’m worthy because I’ve been entrusted with the gift of life, to be used as an instrument, a conduit, a vessel, for helping others attain their highest selves. That gift is worth more to me than any accolade, publication, admission ticket, or any worldly validation…and oh, by the way, it’s not for sale. It’s worth? Priceless!

Last but not least, know that Everything is preparing you for the moment that is to come.” Oh, how sweet the sound! Acknowledge and Respect the Now!

Stay tuned for Part 2!

William Ernest Henley‘s “Invictus”

From A Distance

In response to a previously written post, titled “Stuck on Stupid”, one subscriber commented that the lack of empathy could be to blame for what, until now, I’ve perceived as open displays of stupidity.  To quote, she said: Funny business aside, I think there is also a severe lack of empathy going around.  Some people aren’t that stupid, they just don’t care!  It is just your problem after all.  Why should they care?”   While I maintain their separation, I agree that the increasing lack of empathy in our society is even more troubling than sub par intelligence.  The responses following the unprecedented earthquake and tsunami in Japan present a remarkable opportunity for making this case.  

Despite increased globalization, we remain worlds away in terms of our connectedness to people around the world.  Events that occur in places as far away as Japan and Libya are told as effortlessly and casually as if they were happening right down the street.  Before too long, we are bombarded with live, exclusive, and “raw” footage.  Moreover, the delivery turns into a rapid-fire succession of image after image.  It’s no wonder some folks are tuning out, and becoming desensitized in the process.  Furthermore, reporters relate the news with such detachment, and seem to lack the emotional intelligence required to connect with the people most affected by the events in any meaningful way.  You wonder if they are on autopilot as they segue into the next “breaking news” event, which may not even be news at all – could be a viewer-submitted video of a grandmother spraying a would-be robber in the eyes with her bottle of Charlie!   :o It makes no difference, because it is all communicated with the same indifference, stoicism, and urgency.  

I’ve got to believe that the viewer becomes overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude and scope of the events themselves, and the visual display that accompanies such devastation.  Despite our desire to do something, at some level, even the most empathetic among us feel that these problems are too big for our individual input to be impactful.  History has informed us that there is power in numbers, so instead of going it alone, some of us align ourselves with any of several social, action-based, volunteer-driven organizations to make a greater impact.  Some of us will act individually; we may write a check, give of our own resources, organize fundraisers, or partner informally with like-minded friends or family to raise awareness and do our small part. 

Then there are those that will do absolutely nothing…no matter what…period.  Let’s not be too quick to write them off as ne’er do wells , or as folk who weren’t raised as loving, compassionate children.  Still, I don’t believe that these are necessarily bad people.  I’m sure that their apathy isn’t as calculated as it seems.  I think that their response or lack thereof, is complicated.  They reserve the right to be as uninformed and disconnected as they want to be, and I don’t expect them to budge for anything.  Their supremacist beliefs and ethnocentric POV is a current that is almost impossible to stem.  Since I’m a believer that there’s more good in this Earth than there isn’t, I won’t occupy too much of my precious intellect on them.  Certainly, there may be an economic component.  Asking someone who is financially strapped, or can’t see their way to Monday, to give money may be asking a bit much.  But what about those who have resources, yet remain apathetic? Could it be that they’ve become so as a result of repeated news cycles?  Perhaps they’ve tuned out like the reporter? Or sadder yet, perhaps they don’t think it’s their problem. Could folks be that disconnected?  Is it an issue of judgment, even?  Does it have anything to do with what they feel is a “natural” order of things?  By that, I mean do they believe that if this is God’s will, then they shouldn’t run interference? Undoubtedly, these catastrophic events are of “biblical proportions”, but there’s nothing “natural” about them.  We don’t naturally conjure these occurrences.  They are outside the realm of most of our thinking…I hope.  Not even Stephen King could have whipped up this monster!  Okay, the jury is still out on that one.  :o  But let’s say, for argument’s sake, that the manifestation of these events is the fulfillment of prophecy.  Is it okay to then sit back and watch your fellow-man pick up the pieces from the devastation, for which he isn’t directly responsible? 

Sadly enough, I have heard several “faithful” people link world events to God’s displeasure about the practice of chosen faiths other than Christianity.  At the end of the day, aren’t we all God’s children, belonging to one race, and when affected by disaster, don’t we have the same basic needs and wants for our families – food, clothing, shelter, safety, love, and compassion?  These are clearly commonalities that define us all.  So while I agree that the magnitude of events is startling, I also believe that we have the power to act in transformative ways that can ultimately bring relief to those that need it most.  Whether it’s the neighbor facing foreclosure, a crisis called Katrina, harrowing hurricanes in Haiti, or a tumultuous tsunami in Japan, we have the ability to show empathy in ways great and small.  The choice is ours.

We cannot respond to everything; however, we cannot become so disheartened that we become paralyzed or powerless, and do nothing.  Purposeful or not, these events will challenge us on many levels, and bring our human limitations in fuller view, but we are more than our limitations, and as such, we cannot afford to take a backseat.  Should disaster strike even closer to home, we may very well find ourselves wanting and waiting, hoping and praying, and certainly yearning for the empathy of our own neighbors…from a distance, far or near.

Are We A Nation, Sweet Honey In The Rock f/ Yonas

 

Stuck on Stupid

Need I Say More?

The term “zero tolerance” is thrown about quite a bit these days. You hear it in school anti-bullying platforms, corporate quality control procedures, and more intimately, with regards to gender, sexual orientation, and race-based discrimination. But what about discrimination against folks that are just plumb dumb? Is that allowed?  Let me clarify that by “dumb”, I’m referring to a segment of society that acts as if somehow the possession of even an iota of common sense makes no sense at all.  These are folks with access and information at their fingertips.  The last time I checked, you didn’t have to be Harvard-educated to have some damn sense about you.  Great day!

Through a series of events over the last few days, I’ve come to discover that there are even lower levels of tolerance than zero.  It seems that I have a below-sub-zero tolerance for stupidity. That’s not redundant, if you’re wondering.  I want to make sure that you get “it” – my level of intolerance – that is.  (I’m holding up the peace sign, as made famous by Martin Lawrence, moving it from the front of my eyes to yours, to signify the connection that I’m trying to establish with you as we move this conversation forward.  You feel me?)  When crossed, my threshold for air between the ears creates an unnerving sensation in my body, and brings out the absolute worse in me.  The display just makes me want to reach across the counter and snatch somebody stupid! So much for anti-bullying! :o

Yesterday I was thankful for good healthcare, and today, I am just p.o’d at the folks that stand in the way of my actually getting this care, and the host of enabling systems and accompanying cast of characters – from the “I can’t think for myself/that’s not in my job description/can I do anything else for you today?” chick at the pharmacy counter, to the parent committee chair who simply regurgitates a presented problem, adding absolutely no value of her own, while refusing to even consider the recommendations that are given.  After all, considering a recommendation might actually require one to think, as well as act, and who has time for all that work?  So then I’m left to wonder if this is stupidity or sheer laziness.  I don’t know…I’m just saying. 

It’s as if these characters are on auto-pilot, paid not to think.  Perhaps they think they would be rendered incapacitated by a creative or independent thought.  I can’t imagine what would happen were they required to manually calculate change at a cash register.  Heaven forbid!  I’m not asking for them to fly me to the moon, but could you just go a little deeper…please…try me.  How am I supposed to maintain my composure and sense of decorum when I’m confronted with this foolishness?  I’m clueless.  So in the meantime, after numerous attempts at civility with pharmacists, receptionists, apprentices, and “customer service” representatives, I find myself boomeranging up and down two major streets, in between pharmacies, and then going home to wait on these dumb “professionals” to call me when they’re good and ready with something as vital as medicine for a sick child.  Daggone shame!  This just doesn’t seem right, especially when so many folks are unemployed.

Thanks for listening! You’ve been great! :o Now it’s your turn to quip about the subject. Come on, indulge me with your personal encounter of “Stupid in Motion”, and together we can probably come up with something for counteracting. Better yet, share with me why you think this phenomenon is sweeping the nation at such an alarming rate.

Related Articles: The Ten Commandments of Customer Service

Don’t You Touch That Dial!!

Stay Tuned!

Today was a beautiful day! I simply couldn’t have asked for a better one.  I was in domestic heaven for a better part of it. My three children were at their respective places of productivity; the oldest, my son, pored over my nook, reading one of the several Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, while my second, the oldest of my two daughters, held court with her little sister directing squiggly lines and curly cues, and drawing moms, dads, castles, and kids (their version of children). Seriously, over each head bore the labels Mom, Dad, Kid, Kid, Kid.) Ha ha!  Very funny!

It wasn’t even 9 am yet, but I was well in the groove – boiling eggs, washing greens, getting a leg up on dinner, thawing frozen bananas, and bringing butter to room temperature for making  banana bread. I swear by this recipe.  The counters were clean, and the floor was swept.  I had done a decent enough job of tidying up the place, and for the most part, things were in their proper places. Let’s just say I wouldn’t be embarrassed to invite guests in, should they stop by unannounced.

Whether by design or default, I felt very in tune with, and attuned to, the Spirit, which seemed to be grounding me in every, single moment.  I felt a remarkable sense of peace, patience, and persistence sweep over me as I went about my day. My children were close at hand, yet they didn’t seem needy or wanting of an infinite amount of attention…at least not today.  They finally seemed content with just each other, and weren’t bickering for a change. I must have died and gone to heaven! This day off school was shaping up to be a good day after all, though I was totally caught off-guard by it. It’s one of those holidays that I never heard of until I moved to Illinois, and I owe it all to Casimir Pulaski. Interestingly enough, when I went out later in the evening, I saw another Mom whose children also attend school in the same district, and she told me that she’d kick Casimir Pulaski’s ass (her words) if she got ahold of him, because her kids were wearing her out! LOL! I thought that was pretty funny. Shoot, I’d probably be right along with her had this had been a 2-day affair!

Getting back to the moment, I wished I could freeze frame it.  I dared not disrupt the flow of productivity that seemed to emanate from all corners, and the peacefulness that clothed the room. The joy and satisfaction that came from just getting to help Mommy mix the batter, then licking its remnants off mixer attachments, spatula, and mixer bowl was unbridled. I was deeply engrossed in the unfolding of every moment, and in meeting each request, because really they were only a few – for paper, paint, an occasional snack, elaboration on a new vocabulary word, and a question or two concerning a birthday party that’s still more than two months away! I could handle that.

With the exception of the one phone call that I got from a dear family friend – which only made the day that much sweeter – I didn’t care to chew the fat on the phone with anyone, or get into anything that would throw me off-center, including multi-tasking.  I was well aware that something special was taking place. As much as I wanted to listen to the sounds of Norah Jones’ “Sunrise” or Esperanza’s “Fall In”, which both seemed soothing enough, I was afraid to disrupt today’s natural, melodic flow. Moreover, I was afraid that it would be derailed by follow-up requests and petulant screams to hear Big Time Rush, or some other dumb Disney-come-lately artist.  I wanted to preserve the sanctity of today. Today was like finding a good station on the radio after relocating to a new area where the reception is less than optimal. I knew that even the slightest adjustment could create a disturbance, or worse yet, cause me to lose the station altogether, and I didn’t dare touch that dial!  I know good music when I hear it! Do you?

Keeping It Real

The other night, just before retiring to bed, I received a call from a dear friend, who I hadn’t spoken to in well over half a year. As her name flashed across the caller ID of my cell phone, I adjusted myself on the bed, propping myself up against two pillows, making sure I got real comfortable, in preparation for a possible long conversation ahead. Our conversations are always long when we have them, but this time, after the first few words and the measured silences in between, I knew that this wouldn’t be just one of our ordinary talks. There wasn’t going to be any “Girl, let me tell you(s)”…at least not yet. She had something to say that required more than a casual response or perfunctory comment, and she was going to make me listen! And listen, I did.

She told me that after much prayer and reflection, she thought that it would be a good time to share with me why the nature of our friendship had changed, and why we hadn’t spoken as often as we used to.  “You mean there’s a reason beyond our lives just being full? Who knew?” I thought.  So, to say that her explanation took me off-guard would be an understatement.  She shared with me that she had been harboring feelings of anger and resentment toward me for my not being more available for her during the two most difficult periods in her life.   Truly, I was taken by surprise because so much time had transpired since those events, yet this was the first time she was bringing it to my attention.  Obviously, these feelings had been brewing for a while.  Unbeknownst to me, there was no opportunity for me to acknowledge, let alone address them.  Rather than dwelling on that, I listened to her very intently, and thought, how big of her it was to even share this with me, after all these years.  She had no way of knowing what my reaction would be – denial, rejection, defense – yet she thought enough of our (real)ationship to call me and open up in this way.

I’m a firm believer that our emotions are personal, so who am I to contest them?  If you say you felt cheated upon, betrayed or otherwise, those are your feelings and you’re entitled to them.  Nothing I say or do is going to change that…such is the nature of our DNA.  Often however, I believe that we make assumptions about one’s intent.  It was never my intention to be dismissive or uninvolved, but my own life events at the time may have contributed to my limited involvement or what may have appeared as disengagement.  My immersion into my life transitions very well could have clouded my judgment, and obscured my perception of anything outside my nucleus of activity.  Throw in being newly married, starting a family, and relocation into the mix.  I can clearly see and appreciate her perspective. 

But this wasn’t about me. This was about her – her truth, and her moment to convey feelings that lied deep enough within her consciousness to result in the non-cultivation of our relationship.  I was fully open and receptive to letting her tell it, and readily apologized and accepted full responsibility for how hurtful my behavior might have been.  I was less interested in “explaining away” a defense and more interested in resuming relationship.  I reveled in the unfolding because I knew that we could not move forward without it.  Somewhere along the conversation, I had a series of epiphanies; one being how thankful I am for real friends – friends who think enough of the premise of our friendship to address uncomfortable truths and grow from there; another being the compelling desire to move on from our personal pain through the unveiling of our most deep-seated fears, anxieties, and limitations, in order that we may have authentic (real)ationship. 

Despite being exhausted, I committed to being fully present, and hung on to every word. I cherished the richness of our dialogue, as we shared memories and insisted on the unbreakable sisterhood that always characterized our relationship. Needless to say, we talked well into the night, for almost an hour and a half! Not only did we catch up, but we left each other feeling lighter, yet remarkably more whole. 

******

On an entirely unrelated note, I’d like to thank all of my subscribers and readers for helping me make it past my first 1,000 hits (mine don’t count :))…and still counting! It may not seem like much, but it hasn’t been quite three months of blogging, so I’m well pleased! More importantly, I write to release, touch, inspire, and hopefully convey life’s meaning in a manner that will resonate with readers, whether 1 or 1,000. The lessons are still the same, and the urgency to share them just as great.

Thanks to commenters and non-commenters alike. There is never any pressure to comment, though I do relish a good dialogue. I always welcome the opportunity to break bread as we partake in this feast of Life together, so your questions, feedback, or general comments are much appreciated, and will never fall on deaf ears.

For your listening pleasure: “You’ve Got a Friend,” as sung by young Michael.