Wednesday, March 31, 2010

So Much More

Today is dearest one's 50th birthday and my 22nd AA birthday. I'm writing this the night before because part of my present to dearest one is getting up early so we can drive in to work together tomorrow instead of taking separate vehicles. Driving anywhere together is one of our favourite past times. He starts work nearly 2 hours before I do these days so I will get work done in a very quiet office. I was supposed to be on holidays this week but that hasn't happened. I sound so altruistic right now, getting up before the crack of dawn, but I will never be a morning person. I hope my boss doesn't find me with my head on my desk snoozing when she comes in. At least if I drool on my desk while I'm sleeping it will be honest drool, not hungover drool.

Dearest one is a very handsome 50 year old. He looks younger than me. By years and years even though I am younger than him. It's the reason I dye my hair so that I don't get mistaken for his older sister or something worse. His students often think he is thirty something although that messes with their heads because they know he is old enough to be their dad. Wouldn't it be nice to look thirty something with twenty something year old kids?

One of the things I bought him for his birthday was a dozen roses. He loves them. His first ever bouquet of flowers. Who says flowers are only for women? Of course we can't the vase that fits a dozen long stemmed roses so they are in a clear plastic juice jug right now. There are only so many places I could have put that vase and so far I can't remember where. The other thing I bought him is in the back of my car because it`s too heavy for me to lift. I covered it with my spring jacket and a sweater. That is one kind of reusable wrapping paper.

We are having a small party tomorrow night with dearest one`s family (we call getting together with 6 out of 9 siblings and their families small) and then in late spring will have a huge party. When dearest one turned 40 I invited 70 people to a surprise birthday barbecue. It was a blast. So we`ll do an encore this year. Turning 50 is a privilege. There is one less sibling alive ten years later, one less nephew. Milestone birthdays especially remind us of that. Of what could be, but isn`t.

Twenty two years ago we celebrated dearest one's birthday by having a drink. My last drink. The only time I ever had one drink. The rest of the bottle got poured down the drain. That's a story and a half for another day. I'm just grateful I haven't had a drink since. When I was a teenager in years sober I seriously considered going on a drinking binge. In the time it took me to stop at one of those 4 way stops I had considered and planned it all out. Then I thought to myself "Holy Shit". Cunning, baffling and powerful indeed. I had no idea I would ever consider a drink again. It had been 10+ years since I'd been to an AA meeting. The whole thing shook me up enough to get my butt in a chair at a meeting and I've been doing that regularly ever since. I still feel like a baby in recovery. One of the lines I have highlighted in my Big Book is this:
"We feel a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough."
There is so much more to this journey than simply putting down the bottle. I am grateful to know that now.

Monday, March 29, 2010

As If He Took Dictation

"I'm so glad you told me because I often feel I must be full of shit when I feel prompted to pray something specific and that I'm imagining ever hearing anything from God."

We were having an after the fact conversation about how freaky it had been that her needs in prayer and my prayers for her had jived in a Twilight Zone kind of way.

I rarely pray anything specific for people anymore. I have no idea what is best for them. Well, other than those times when I think I know what's best for the whole darn world and everyone in it. I tend not to talk to God when I'm in that mood because I think I am God in those moments.

Most of the time though, when someone asks me to pray for them, I tell them that all I can pray is that God's will be done in their life. It makes me feel like a lousy prayer warrior, especially when I hear people pray so specifically, like they know God is waiting to hear from them in prayer before He takes action. And then there's the tension between praying the Lord's prayer and those Bible verses that say "ask and it will be given unto you." I used to spend much energy praying with a grocery like list of things that I rattled off to God as if He took dictation.

But this time around some specifics did come to mind and part of my role this past weekend was to pray for this friend in the chapel as she shared her story with the rest of women in another room. So I prayed and began to cry as an image of my friend's deceased husband interceding for her in heaven appeared in my head. I hate when I get blind sided by tears and as hard as I tried to stop them I couldn't. Eventually it dawned on me that maybe the tears had a purpose so I told God that I would cry on my friend's behalf whatever tears my friend needed to cry. I also told God that I thought I was full of shit to think I could hear anything from Him so please forgive my rambling, making no sense to me, prayers that I said between sobs.

Then the power went out in the building. That dried up my tears.

Within the space of a few moments I decided that the power going out could not possibly be God's will and so I prayed against it as if Darkness itself was in charge of the situation. If you only knew how easily I judge people who pray like that. There's a boogeyman behind every tree, don't ya know?

I envisioned my friend and those women in their room with only one small skylight high up in that ceiling. With no additional light there was no way she would be able to see the pages of her talk and all those women would miss out on hearing her story and it all depended on me to pray the exact right thing for the world to right itself. Lord have mercy. Save me from myself. Next I thought that the power must have gone out in that whole side of the city as a very real threat to our little weekend.

In reality I'm pretty sure the kitchen team had overloaded the power supply while they were cooking our supper. One flip of a switch and the power came back on. There was hardly a blip in my friend's delivery of her talk.

So much for hearing God.

I feel ridiculous when I find things out like that. It's why I don't trust what I think I hear in prayer. I feel like I'm picking petals off a flower saying, "Hearing from the Holy Spirit? Imagining Things? Hearing from the Holy Spirit? Imagining Things" until all the petals of the daisy are scattered around my feet. And still I don't know.

It's also why I rarely talk about what I think I hear from God, even if what I hear gets confirmed. Actually that's not true at all. I'm trying to make myself look better than reality. If what I think I hear from God gets confirmed I tend to want to strut around like I am some kind of saint with a direct line to God. Then I have to pray to keep my mouth shut because my ego loves that kind of stuff.

It was a powerful weekend.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bowing To Red Green

"See? I can change."
I say it with a grin because sometimes I get so proud of myself over very little things.
"And you're not even a man." he deadpans as he waltzes down the hallway.
There's a split second before I get his joke. My laughter follows him down the hallway.

We'd been having a conversation about my attempt to load the dishwasher the way he does. I tried it for no other reason than I could. We do most things differently. From folding towels to hanging toilet paper to shovelling snow. We don't argue about these differences anymore but we do notice them. And some days I try things his way just because I can. Which is both monumental and insignificant at the same time.

I was reminded of this the other day while talking to my mom on the phone. I'd asked her a question and she'd turned to my dad for clarification. There was an exchange between them and on her end I heard that My God, you are such an insufferable idiot full of contempt tone of voice that she uses with him. I hate that tone of voice. Hate it. I don't know if it's worse because they have been married nearly 55 years and I wish there was tenderness and compassion between them instead of this pissing contest that never seems to end. I can feel the tension building in my body just writing about it.

I know all about pissing contests and that tone of voice. It was the way I approached my marriage for many of the last 28 years. The world was out to get me, including dearest one, and I only felt secure when I had the upper hand. I forget that I used to look at life that way until I hear my mom's tone of voice or when I choose to do something someone else's way and find out it doesn't hurt one little bit not to be in control of the universe. And some days I still find a hint of that tone of voice coming out of my mouth. That happened the other day in a public place and I apologized instantly. That tone of voice is so, so ugly.

One time, several years ago, I made an offhand remark to dearest one about the way he folds towels. I can get pissy about the stupidest things. Any time I talk to my mom about these things she eggs me on in a men are such idiots and far inferior to us women kind of way. And that day dearest one said to me, "Show me how you do it." He meant it in the sincerest way and when I gave him a puzzled look he added that in his job they only succeed when they work as a team so why not try it at home. Team work never entered my mind. In any bit of life. His comment stunned me into silence and much contemplation.

I think of that conversation every time I look at the pile of folded towels in the bathroom. He has a knack to them now that I can't duplicate no matter how much I try. That conversation is also the reason I try to do things like loading the dishwasher a totally different way just because I can. And because I need the practice. The world will not end if it (or the toilet paper is on backwards) doesn't run according to the book of Hope.

And, God help me, if I keep on trying I might just be in the market for a pair of these suspenders before you know it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Restrain Thyself

The snow has finally stopped. Dearest one tried to drive to work yesterday but came home on the back roads after he felt the tire of the car drop off the edge of the road right when a big truck was passing him. It had been a total whiteout before the truck passed him. Dearest one was gone for half an hour and had only driven a few miles. The Puglies were esctatic when he came home again. Dearest one is the preferred human in our home although they set to howling and making noise when I came home on Sunday. The Yoga Pup sounds like he is a dying car battery when he howls. Just when you think he can't make another howl he gives it a valiant try and the car sounds nearly dead.

I'm off again tomorrow for a ladies' weekend. I'll be one of a dozen women sharing her journey with a great group of women. I just finished trying on the fancy schmancy new dress I bought for the occasion along with new shoes. I am going to take the shoes off as soon as I'm behind the podium. I had to try on the dress because I thought it might not fit. Do you ever have those days? The ones where you wake up and feel like you are a beached whale and are sure you somehow gained 10 pounds while you were sleeping? Then another day you wake up and feel like someone poked your skin like it was a balloon and you fit in your skin again? It is so weird. Most of the time I take that in stride but I had visions of slipping this very pretty dress over my head only to have it get hung up on my hips. It floated right over them which just goes to show me once again that what I think and what reality is don't always match up.

I always keep my chat windows closed on FB. I opened it the other day to try and get only daughter's attention and forgot I did so. This afternoon youngest son sent me a message and chatted with me and it made me feel important in his life. He just wanted to say hi and see how my day was going which was a nice surprise. When I unexpectedly got kicked off the chat thing I just about phoned youngest son to say that I was sorry I got kicked off, I'd be right back, but then realized how ridiculous that would be and gave my head a shake. While I'm not a luddite I sometimes wonder what affect all this technology is going to have on my grandbabies one day. I could have a rant about that but won't. My children are saying, "Thank you Jesus" over my restraint.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Snowing Grace

There are big, fat snow flakes falling as I type. I have a little musical snow man that turns around in circles to the tune of "Let It Snow." I wait until the first snowfall of the year to bring it out. And even though I drove several hours in snow yesterday I am not disappointed to let it play its song again today. It sounds like we will be getting moisture in some form all week. We desperately need it. Every summer we have many head of cattle on our land and without the moisture they won't be there long. Probably the thing that makes it bearable is that at this time of year is knowing the snow won't last long although one hopes for a slow melt so it soaks into the ground instead of running off.

I had a great weekend. The woman who rode with me and shared my hotel room Friday night - well - we have so much in common that it boggled our minds. There's not too many people here that I can say the word bunny hug to and be understood without explanation.

We discussed books we'd both read, music we both liked, and had many laughs as we shared our spiritual journeys with one another; how we had both needed to work through believing the God of our understanding would truly become everyone else's too, if they were sincerely seeking. We belly laughed at ourselves over that one. It's truly a work of Grace not have God is such a small box anymore.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Million Ways To Run


"Don't ask me why I'm not going because I can't explain it other than every time I thought about it today I felt such a big "no" inside."

Dearest one needed no more explanation although he was probably just as puzzled as I was. After all, the highlight of going away this weekend was that I was leaving a day early so I could go see only daughter in big city far away. I was even going to drive an extra 3 hours round trip to do so because I didn't want to pass up an opportunity of being that close to where she lived and not see her. (She lives 8 hours away so 90 minutes one way is too close to pass up.)

Yet there I was writing her an email a few days ago to say sorry I'm not coming. Yes, the forecast was for snow and freezing rain but the weather forecast is not always predictable. And yes, it was a crazy busy week at work and I hadn't had time or energy to get ready to go away. But when I really want to do something I can make it happen anyway even if it means doing laundry at the other end or driving slow because the roads are slick. I had even typed an email to one of my closest friends who lives in the same city as only daughter, making plans to spend the morning with her on Friday. I just couldn't hit the send button though and deleted it instead.

I rarely feel so strongly one way or the other about doing things. Often it's a no, I don't want to, have time to, etc. or a I could take it or leave it and then I either go or don't and sometimes it's a I really would like to do that. Sure there are many times when what I want to do is irrelevant and I do something that someone else is asking me to do simply because it's the right thing for me to do. And then there are the times when I'm trying to manipulate the situation to get my way or rationalizing why saying yes or no is really God's way, too. I can find it hard to trust my motives. So I sat there and checked how open, willing and honest I was being about going to only daughter's place and I was just as open as ever. I just couldn't shake that NO.

So I listened.

Last night came a phone call from someone in the fellowship. She was scheduled to go the same service commitment as me this weekend but every time she tried to make plans they fell apart. I'd already told my home group that I would absorb the extra cost of having a hotel room to myself this weekend because at the end of the day I just want my own space. The weekend will be full of people and for this introvert that is a stretch to begin with. And the only ones I could share a hotel room with would be dearest one, only daughter or my daughter-in-law. I've even told my sponsor before that I wouldn't share a room with her at these things because that's how much I like my own space.

I usually drive by myself too, because I love solo road trips. But you know what? When that phone call came last night I knew in an instant what the right thing to do was, my preferences irrelevant. Yes, I was disappointed that my way wasn't going to be THE way. I acknowledged that to myself and then let it go. So, I will have a passenger and I will have a roommate for one of the nights, too. I had originally booked a double room (that's how much I like my own space!)so there you go!

The change of plans is way out of my comfort zone but I recognize I'm being given the opportunity to see how being uncomfortable may very well be a blessing in disguise. We never know until we try. Oh, the years and years I spent being closed to anything but life going my way because being out of my comfort zone found me paralyzed with fear.

Had I been going to only daughter's this morning I would have had my weekend tied up in a nice pretty bow. I think God may be hugging me and having a belly laugh, too.

Although when I sense an answer one way or the other I don't spend much time trying to figure out the 'why' of it. That's really beside the point. Learning to listen and act is what's important in my books. So it's a bonus to see how things have worked out. And who knows if I am really seeing anything at all other than connecting my own little dots. I still find it presumptuous to think that I have God's will figured out in all this.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Expanding My View

Because of this wretched cold of mine I've had lots of opportunity this week to listen to my body. Some days I phoned in sick and others I went in late or left early. I wanted to somehow take care of myself and go to work. If that's not a touch of insanity I don't know what is.

Thursday night I went to a service commitment and came out of the meeting to snow flakes so big and fluffy that pedestrians were covered in snow as they walked. It was pretty to look at. Not so much fun to drive in. The only way I knew I was on the road was because of the tire tracks of the vehicle in front of me. Thankfully half way home the weather cleared and I could sit back in my seat again. Dearest one pointed out to me the next day that driving with my face inches from the windshield didn't actually help a person see any further than maybe 6 inches anyway. I didn't tell him that scrunching up my face and straining forward in hopes of seeing further made me feel like I was doing something. He told me I could have sat back in my seat and relaxed all the way home and still had pretty much the same view.

Which is something for me to remember the next time I get my panties in a knot about stuff I have no control over.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Want Some Cheese With That?

~ I've been sick all week and for the first time saw what a whiny, sick person I can be. I've always judged whiny, sick people harshly.
~ I took one day off work and spent far more than 15 minutes surfing the web that day.
~ Someone spent way too much time reading my blog yesterday. I alternated between thinking why would they? and holey moley, someone loves my writing. Then today, when I saw that someone else from a different country did the same thing, I got all conspiracy theory paranoid like they are getting ready to spam me or something evil like that.
~ I have 550 envelopes to stuff and get in the mail tomorrow. I feel too sick to care about getting that done.I hope the people getting those letters don't think I am spamming them.
~ I usually take life pretty much in stride. Today, little things at work irritated the hell out of me. After the third try at loading staples into our copier stapler, only to see them fall on the floor once again, I nearly chucked the whole lot somewhere, anywhere, but refrained at the last minute. I refrained mostly in order to protect my take it in stride image at work, not for any lofty reason.
~ After several phone calls to tech support where they asked me stupid questions I decided to stop calling them. I'd noticed my attitude was taking a nose dive after I continually answered the tech person's questions in monotone one syllable words. I've judged people harshly for speaking in a monotone voice when I thought they should be good representatives of their company.
~ The phrase fuck off, especially said with a pause between the words, fits that one syllable word category rather nicely. I don't think I've ever said it in a monotone voice.
~ It might surprise you that I write that word more here than I actually say it in real life.
~ I'm watching TV with the sound off. It drives dearest one batty. He stole the remote control before to change the channel, because in his mind I wasn't really watching TV anyway. I turn the sound off most of the time when I watch sports because I either can't handle the tension of the game or the commentators' comments make me want to resort to using one syllable words.
~ I'm going to spend the rest of the evening and all day tomorrow lying on the couch watching this great sport.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Amusing Myself

That's the way the Pugs look when you ask them questions. Dearest one was asking them if they'd had supper. It's a wonder they didn't look at each other and ask, "Have we?" even though it was before noon.

On a totally different note, I've been busy the last few weekends being with a group of women readying ourselves for a retreat at the end of the month. Sharing my story this time around has left me feeling exhausted and vulnerable. I've long believed that the worst of our lives gets redeemed when we share the reality of it with others. That has motivated me to be as honest as possible when I give one of these talks. As I wrote my story I kept in my line of sight this quote attributed to Ernest Hemingway

"All you have to do is write one true sentence.
Write the truest sentence you know."

I don't know how well I did that because one of my friends came up to me on Saturday to talk to me about my story. From what she said she had me on a bit of a spiritual pedestal. That does not enthuse me at all. True, through some really shitty life circumstances, especially this past year, I have learned to hide myself in the shelter of God's wings. That does not negate my humanity though so I looked at her and said,

"Well, there are days when I say to God, You have got to be fucking kidding me."

She laughed and said, "I gave up that word for Lent. My husband told me yesterday that I wasn't doing so well." I told her I had been so tempted to have that line in my talk but we agreed that it probably would have got critiqued out of it had I done so. And then her face relaxed, and we had the most wonderful conversation about life and God and persevering on our faith journeys.

Later, I thought of this litany of my friend's Lenten word fast (plus some) from the movie In Bruges. If really crude swear words (you mean some aren't crude)offend you, please don't watch it. There's some in that first link that I never use but the movie itself, I love it.

Between that and the Pugs, some days it takes so little to amuse me.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Here Elky, Elky

These Elk were in our field when dearest one took the dogs outside this morning.There were 17 of them altogether and they moseyed across our field and out of sight. Dearest one let the Puglies back inside so he could take pictures without little dogs suddenly thinking they could put the run on the Elk. I was stuck in a yoga pose so the Pugs thought it was a great opportunity to lick out my ears. I was grossed out and laughing at the same time.

It's going to be a good day.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Outrunning The Fear

My dreams were filled with fear last night.
Tornadoes being the biggest one.

Over 20 years ago I was driving with the kids - all preschoolers then - when it started to rain so hard that I could hardly see out the windshield. I turned on the radio to hear a tornado warning for the exact spot I was on the highway. That's when I saw this huge black cloud coming towards us. It was raining so hard I had to press my face inches from the windshield as I drove, trying to out drive the tornado. My fear in my dream last night was worse than the fear I felt that day in real life.

In my dream I called a new friend who spouted off Bible verses to me as a means of comfort. They were of no comfort because there was a frigging tornado coming at me,ya know? In real life 20 some years ago I was a new Christian and I told my kids to pray as we drove while I prayed out loud. We made it home, the tornado, when it reached our town, split in two and went in two different directions. At the time I was quite ready to take the credit for that happening. Lord, have mercy.

In my dream my overwhelming fear came from dearest one and I living in a house trailer (in real life we do)and it offers zilch protection from tornadoes. There was nowhere to be safe. I was setting to hang on for the ride and see where I would end up.

Which is just like some days in real life.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

No Popping Allowed

"If people were supposed to pop out of bed they would sleep in toasters."
That is a lovely quote by Garfield.
I'm so not a morning person.
For the past week my fatigue has been way too high.
I was in bed by 6:45 last night and am still not rested.
The geneticist has always told me that Ehler's Danlos is a syndrome of peaks and valleys. I hope this is just a little dip, not a valley.
Probably the best thing about it though is that if I do not pay attention to what my heart is trying to tell me my body will. When I get this tired I have to look at where I am at emotionally. There always seems to be a connection between the two. So last night I said out loud that you know what - that plan I had for my working future - um, no I really don`t want to follow that path. That helped.

PS You have to be a certain age to appreciate the picture of the toaster in this post. I remember burning my fingers as a child on one just like this one. Certainly couldn`t pop out of that toaster now could you....