Itty Bitty Treasures

Life isn’t tidy. It’s not organized into categories for us to tick off the boxes as we go along quickly. Done! There are no rules for life to follow. Life is like a thing with mechanical clockwork, moving faster and faster as we age. Occasionally, we get lucky, and the gears chink and even stick for a moment.

You look up and see a kitten in a window.

Kitten in a window
Cats are everywhere
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
― douglas adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

I was on vacation a few years ago. Remember vacations? My son and his wife invited me along on a trip to France. There were three areas of the country we visited. I experienced a fairytale of a vacation in Aix-En-Provence. We ate genuine French cuisine, drank wine until late, sat out in the sun, shopped in the markets, and went to a museum, all before leaving for Nice and Paris, our other two destinations. I won’t bore you with my details regarding the flight or the ordeals I had before I took off to fly across the big pond. I’ll allow you to believe the flow of my life is perfect.

At a museum I toured with my daughter-in-law, I made a new friend.

A French kitty

My life is busy, painful, and rushed. But there are moments. I remember disagreeing with teachers on their beliefs and opinions. No! I do not have to live my life the way they believe. I am not confined to the rules of another. I am a success or a failure because of my standards, not anyone else. Life is active. It rolls, flows, moves, bumps, rises and falls. Sometimes it even stops. Enjoy the breaks. They don’t come often enough.

“Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
― George Bernard Shaw

What Is Your Compass?

What if no point of view is correct? We both are wrong. Me in my strong moral righteousness and you in your idea of keeping America safe. Is it possible I am wrong? Is it possible the wool was pulled over both of our eyes? Is truth in neither of our hearts? About this, I have always worried. What if?

What if there is someone who has a reason to keep you and me apart? If we are not a whole group, we can never be healthy if we are always at odds. The strength of the people–against all the odds–will undoubtedly win. It’s a winning team. Why would that be bad? About this, I have always worried. What if?

What if we can never heal in this lifetime? Is love not enough to heal a nation of people, a race, a community, a world? I have been on both sides of the political ticket. Once I was a Republican, then a Democrat, I’ve known both sides’ frustration. I walked in the shoes of the Fundamentalist, the Christian, and the Agnostic. In the middle of this country, walk a group of people who are hungry for truth. They long for it. We believe we are right. Until a new reality shows us we are not. About this, I have always worried. What if?

“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”  Augustine

--Around the year 2000, I was awakened to a reality I didn’t know existed. It was as if someone turned on the lights. About this is what I’d always worried. I could see that I’d been stumbling around blindly looking for a pot of gold, but the rainbow’s end had been moving. Now I knew why. There wasn’t a goal. There’s no end of the rainbow to locate. No certainty. I’d been cheated. I was lost and so alone, even in the middle of my own family. I cried and prayed. The word came from inside of me, saying, “Go back to what you know for sure.”

All I knew for certain was love. It was and had always been my compass. Follow love, and not fear. It was the only commandment from Jesus. I grabbed that as if it were my lifeline. Right now, I’m throwing that out to you. Your lifeline is love. Guide your life by love. Follow the light of love.

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”  John 13:34-35

“Let all that you do be done in love.”  

1 Corinthians 16:14

Melancholy

I’m battling through overgrown weeds of depression and the bramble of my mind, getting my thoughts in order. Following the confused tangle causes me to lose my balance. And direction.

I indulge in my despair and failure.

I’m comfortable sitting on the forest floor, and I cry. Scream. I can’t stay here forever. So, I get up and go …again..

Janet West
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

The holidays are a difficult time for me. Our culture has high expectations, and there’s no way for most of us to live up to those. We are disappointed. Somehow I must change my way of living. I need a new view of life, so I will not cry half of the day for two months.

My challenge is yours. Start your own traditions by creating a holiday or non-holiday for you and your family. Live on your terms. Release yourself from other’s chains. And may each year be better than the last

Happy days ahead!

Makeup and Neckties, Following Social Norms

If orange is the new black, I find myself wanting to wear blue. Colors are trendy. Early summer may be eucalyptus blue, while in the middle of Autumn, people will be tired of the pale colors and want vibrant colors. Oranges and reds will seem comfortable. It never seems to change my mind about what I should wear, though. My palette comes from an inner need.

What drives you?

Wearing makeup is about fitting in and blending for some women. For others, it’s a statement. “This is who I am,” they say. Audrey Hepburn had a classic style. Bold eyeliner with black lashes. Crisp and classic. We love this style. Marilyn Monroe had a rigid formula for her makeup. Besides the eyeliner and eyelash routine, she added a white line on the outside corner, which extended her eyes’ width.

Statements.

When I read the article, Kamala Harris wears white, I had forgotten about the suffragettes. I didn’t remember Hillary Clinton’s white pantsuit or Geraldine Ferraro wearing white when she accepted the nomination to become the first female candidate for vice president in 1984. Heck, I didn’t grasp the significance of women and white suits. 

First Lady Melania Trump wore a blouse with a pussy bow to a presidential debate in 2016.

USA Today

There are groups, movements, non-conformists who refuse to wear what the tribe wears. Few men wear suits today, just as few wear hats or wigs. But there are still those who love to wear matching khakis and shirts—uniforms. There are many more who enjoy following the trends.

What Your Clothes Say to You, Not About YouAnd how they make you feel.Forbes

Style can be a statement or expression. I like options.

​Healing Your Space

Space, we call it a thing. Star Trek started its program with the words, Space, the final frontier. Conquerors of times before claimed lands, they planted homes and flags saying this area belonged to them, and they now owned it.

Personal

Disclaimer: this article was written pre-COVID-19

Personal space isn’t so easily defined. Do you run and hug a new coworker? Is a handshake necessary? When talking with someone do you leave a two feet distance? What about crowded places, are you in their space? Every culture has their own comfort level. And within each culture there are variations. Children and parents can hug and snuggle without discomfort, but you wouldn’t walk up to a stranger and act the same way. Not unless you wanted to be punched. For etiquette read- >Don’t Stand Too Close.

Some days boundaries are natural. Put up a fence. Close the door. Hide in a closet. I can do these things. The one thing I have trouble with is an emotional cut-off. How do you close the door without hurting people? Clearing your emotional space is as important as cleaning your room. Sometimes they go hand in hand.

Emotional and Mental

If you were raised by controlling parents, emotional and personal space is probably an issue for you. I didn’t have the right to my own religion. Barely had the right to my choice of clothing. There was no arguing about politics or doctrine. In my state this is normal. Strict parenting meant good wholesome children. Spare the rod and spoil the child.

But when a child has no right to privacy, or they are threatened for having an opinion that is different, a line is crossed. I call foul. Emotional space is every bit as important as physical. Don’t let anyone take your life – space.

There’s a lot of information about boundaries. Here are a few links.

Getting Space in a Relationship

The Emotional Space Theory

BOOK – Codependent No More – Melody Beattie

The above blog post was originally posted in the winter of 2017, but became corrupted. Reinstated today, October 11, 2020.

Confinement

Stay in your lane, boy.

The other day, my therapist asked me how I was doing in this worrying time. Without familiar touch and close contact, some people become depressed, she said. I smiled and told her I’d enjoyed the freedom this time has brought me. I don’t like human contact except with my closest family.

Every culture has their comfort level. And in each culture, there are differences. The area is not so easily defined. How do you decide how close to stand to someone? Are you in their territory?

“You create within your mind your own cages that confine you.”

Steven Redhead, Life’s Impressions

Reset

Moments such as these are history makers. They are a little uncomfortable, a little too tight, like a pair of new jeans. If we break them in, they’ll be old favorites. But until then, we have to learn to live as they are today. This is a time for rethinking our lives.

It is not a right or wrong challenge, contrary to the talk around the water cooler. We don’t need to pick sides. Let the others dispute over the correct number of people allowed to gather. Or, if any, should congregate.

Know one thing, it matters how well you can adapt.

When Everything Changes, Change Everything.

Book by Neal Donald Walsch

For me, this is time for space clearing. Healing, learning, and creating are on the list today. I can do things differently. When the rules are changing, pay attention.

I wish you health and joy in the coming days. And remember to take care of those you love.

Namaste.

artwork by Arna Baartz

Urban Dictionary: rat-licker

Urban dictionary

The masks we wear today are not so hideous as the ones from the early 1900s. FYI, I found some remakes on Amazon. For fun, I include the link.

Bubonic Plague mask

If you want to have a bit of fun online, you could always use this as your profile picture.

BTW this is just a little light-hearted look at masks.

The mask or not mask argument is hot. People are willing to lose friends and family over this protective device. Could we be taking our stance, our seriousness too far? Imagine if your mask were the beak of 1917?

My mom was having a difficult time wearing masks. Unable to drive due to health issues, she only had access to my dad’s black utilitarian ones. I find this sad since there are so many pretty, trendy face coverings available. I don’t know if she will wear them, but I purchased her a couple if she needs them.

Amazon masks

Let’s make this time fun. Make it a game or make it practical. It’s your choice.

Say It, And Speak Clearly

Honking is an annoying noise to me, so much so that it took me a full year before I realized the one-year-old car I purchased didn’t have a working horn. Hmmm, darn. My warranty was gone by that time. I’ve had the car for ten years now, and it’s still not repaired.

People honk, and it’s difficult to know, are they telling me, “Hey lady, speed up!” or “Yeah, you can move on into the spot in front of me.” A loud noise is a loud noise. It startles and offends. Honking rarely accomplishes it’s purpose unless the purpose is for the person honking is to yell. In those situations, it is useful. Honk, honk, honk, honk. Just like being downtown in Chicago.

I’m contrasting this to those who complain. My mom complained when I was growing up, and it was difficult for me to learn the difference until more recently. I asked her to voice her concerns to her doctor, which she had spoken so freely to me, and she said she didn’t want to complain. I was baffled. She told me my dad didn’t approve of this behavior, and then I understood a little more. He is the one who keeps things to himself. He is always alright. He would never let the doctor know of his issues because it exposes weakness. So, mom’s complaining to me is her way of telling me she has a problem, but she has no way of getting help.

Voicing an issue is a good thing, in my opinion. Speaking up, and even protesting is a right we should protect with all of our beings. If we don’t want to lose our humanity in this age, we need to wake up and use this time wisely. Speak up. If there’s an issue on your job, or at your apartment complex, or anywhere that is affecting your life, use your right to say something.

Community

This society we live in is built upon these customs. The structure our ancestors chose were laws, rules, and the ability to stand up for ourselves. We sometimes need to request help from others stronger or wiser than we are to speak for us, but the purpose is the same, don’t sit in the mud and complain about being wet and dirty. Find a way, ask for help, holler, cry, kick, and scream if you must, but say something until you are heard and can grab a hand that will pull you out of that mud. But whatever you do, don’t stay there.

I live in an area where complacency is the norm. This is the way it is. We’ve always lived here and don’t you dare think you’re better than anyone else. I’m watching businesses die because of this attitude, and these are ones that could update their equipment, update their ways, and stay in touch with the times, but they refuse. It reminds me of when typewriters were going out, and computers came in. So many talented older women didn’t learn how to use these new pieces of equipment. Modern ways came in and left them behind. I shouldn’t be sad, I guess. I should let it go, but I find it disheartening because this is what I see happening in my government as well. It’s time for a change. I don’t know what it will look like, but the old way isn’t working. We have to speak up.

Say something. If you have opinions and you have ideas, say them. If you are in a position to do something in a local area, use it to your advantage. Make wise decisions. Move forward.

If you’re a person in need, don’t give up hope. This is a day for you. The sun is rising. Decide what you want, even if it seems impossible. Imagine if it were. If you were not sitting in the mud, how would you live?

Esraa Zidan’s artworks Above image saved from Girl God Trista Hendren’s Instagram

Fortunately

Fortune favors the bold.

The Roman dictator and consul Lucius Cornelius Sulla was said to believe in the influence of the goddess Fortuna in his life. He was a consummate risk-taker, achieving martial distinction by taking risks on the battlefield such as wearing disguises and living among the enemy.

EnglishbookinGeorgia Marketing Team

If yesterday was a dud, try again tomorrow. I believe in second chances. Keep on trying. And I believe in faith. The type that has high aspirations. It’s not the kind you sit and wait, but the kind that gets you up at the crack of dawn. Yeah, I believe in reaching for your dreams. The old fashioned silly type of faith. It’s Hollywood style.

What do you believe?

The Goal is Being Alive

I had been restless, tired of putting up with leftovers. I’d had a lot of second-hand crap. Friends invited me to concerts–if their original date didn’t show. Or sometimes, I stayed in the car while she and a friend met the band and received autographs. It sucked. How did I get into this situation? One day I woke up and realized I wasn’t the first choice in my friend’s life. I was putting more effort into relationships than I was getting. It pissed me off. I’m not the second. When had I started down this path? I didn’t intentionally date taken men or choose friends who didn’t want to hang with me. But it all cracked, and I had enough.

It tested me…

I grew up in a hard-knocks rural lifestyle. If you don’t earn it, you don’t deserve it. Work hard, and take pride in your accomplishments. Park them in the driveway so the neighbors can see. But I was also torn between two worlds. I had earned my old world, the one I left, the mom me. Since I left it, somehow, I no longer had access to the worthiness I had achieved under its umbrella. My ex-husband kept the money. Society withheld the honor.

I couldn’t square the old with the new world I entered. In this modern world, I was a penniless, lonely, divorced female. I didn’t like this person I had become. I was sad and unfulfilled. I lived only to make it another day.

On the advice of a therapist, I planned to make some solo journeys. It seemed reasonable. It would be time away from toxic relationships, and I could readjust my expectations. Recalibrate. Learning to feel good on your own isn’t easy, but that was the plan. Solo Journeys. At least, it was the door I kept trying to go enter. Heaven is my witness; I tried. 

The universe or God had a surprise. I met someone who liked doing the same things I enjoyed – hiking, drinking coffee, etc. I could do it alone. I was willing to prove I could. But maybe I’ve done enough. I don’t know. One thing I’m learning is that not everything is accomplished through hard work and pounding on doors. maybe I’ve done enough. I don’t know. I’m adoring my journeys currently. I’m making peace with my life. I’m alive.