Hope Prevails

I think this is a Cactus Wren nest and eggs
I think this is a Cactus Wren nest and eggs

If you’ve read my blog any time during 2015, you’ve probably gathered this hasn’t been the best year for me.  I spent the entire first half of the year submerged in darkness and struggling against an undercurrent that pulled me under whenever I caught a glimpse of hope. Keeping with the water theme, I noticed the tide changed in July.  I was able to hold on to my first glimpse of hope that tomorrow could overcome the gloom of today.  There have been setbacks since then, but for the most part, I’ve kept hope in my sights.

Over the weekend, while visiting my parents, my mom found a nest in one of their cactus plants.  They have several different variety of cacti, each with varying degrees of pain associated with them.  (I am not a fan of cacti at all.  See, just the weekend before, I helped my dad clear out one that had blown down during a monsoon storm.  I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I may have enjoyed using the ax a little too much :) )  Even with thick leather gloves, I managed to get cactus needles in my fingertips.  And I know I’m getting old(er) because, although I could feel them, I couldn’t see them at all.  That’s another blog post entirely…

Monsoon storm broke some Mexican Organ Pipe and Prickly Pear cacti... we finished them off
Monsoon storm broke some Mexican Organ Pipe and Prickly Pear cacti… we finished them off

So, back to the bird’s nest.

When I saw the nest tucked into the seemingly inhospitable “branches” of a cactus, I couldn’t help but relate this to my life.  See, my life this year has been like that cactus.  The spiny cactus isn’t the most welcoming home for most species, yet the wren is able to live there- the conditions even providing protection from many predators.  (Would you go near that???)  My life hasn’t been conducive to fostering hope, but I’m finding that in the absence of ideal conditions, hope still exists.

As I ponder life, both of cactus wren and my own, I can’t help but marvel at the resiliency of it. With the light of hope, I see the beauty of life again.  Even through all the stuff that could turn my heart cold, I feel the warmth of “good” moments.  That is hope.

I hope you feel it, too.

Have a beautiful Monday!

P.S.  I’m still so far behind on reading blogs.  Thanks to everyone for your patience as I try to get caught up… I have posts from May that I still haven’t read!  And I thought life was crazy before school started, haha… let the games begin (again.)

It Rained.

06-04 Deck

For some time, I’ve been researching, reading, watching videos and asking questions about repainting decks, as I’ve never done this type of project before.  On Wednesday morning, I finished the final step in the prep work: scrubbing and rinsing.  I was finally ready, and I had big plans to cross the deck off my checklist by the end of the weekend. I planned to apply the primer tonight and spend Sunday finishing the two coats of paint.

Then, it rained.

The weather wreaked havoc on my plans. I looked at the forecast and there is a greater than 50% chance of rain for the next two days. Since the deck needs to dry at least 48 hours before painting, there is no way this project will be completed right now. I was disappointed, and a little angry.  (It’s Arizona… it never rains…. why now?)  It was as if the time spent prepping it had been wasted, and I was devoured by pesky mosquitoes for nothing.

I couldn’t help but notice the parallel between the deck and my life. The “plans” I make keep unraveling at the seams leaving me with only threads to grasp onto. I used to know (or think I knew) what my life was about, but over the last few months, I’ve come to the realization that I have no clue. Funny thing is, I’m starting to accept this. It’s not always easy. I want to revert into the coziness of plans. I long for the stability of being able to anticipate tomorrow based on what happened today.  Sometimes I seek the shelter of “same” only to find it doesn’t exist.

Life is changing me. I’m frantically grasping to make something from the undone plans less and less. I’m learning to let them go so that new un-plans will happen. So, it rained; I can’t change that no matter how much I want to.

I could choose to sulk in a sour mood, but instead, I’m ready to embrace whatever life brings me this weekend.  Besides, there’s a great chance it will be much more fun than painting :)

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You may have noticed I haven’t posted much lately- or read others’ blogs as I used to.  The  nearly 500 emails is evidence of my neglect.  I’m sorry about this, and I do intend to get better about both.  It’s a struggle to just wake up most days, but I’m still fighting it.  I think my next post will be a fiction story for Emilio’s photo that he sent me for May.  However, if life has taught me anything, it’s that I can’t plan on that, so I won’t make a promise I can’t keep :)

Low No Expectations

My older son held a crystal in front of me and asked me what I thought of it. It was the tenth rock I’d seen and they all looked fine to me. Then he said he was going to give it to his brother. Before I could say that was nice of him, he added, “this one isn’t as nice as my other one, so he can have it.”

And so my thoughts began…

Dying flowers make me sad...
Dying flowers make me sad…

Giving:

In one way, I can acknowledge that a gift of any kind should be appreciated. But I can’t help but be bothered by this.

First of all, a gift that is knowingly “less than” really isn’t much of a gift- it’s pawning off something that didn’t mean much to you. It’s not a gift of thought or heart; it’s more an act of convenience that serves to make the other person think you are kinder than your intentions are. It’s deception.

Perhaps gifting is an art that must be learned so that we might recognize a gift is more than an object.  I am honored to receive a gift that shows a person pays attention to me and knows the little things that make me smile.

I'll look at the pretty colors, but I won't eat them (except for maybe a couple purple ones!)
I’ll look at the pretty colors, but I won’t eat them (except for maybe a couple purple ones!)

Receiving:

On the other side of that proverbial coin, receiving a gift that is devoid of thought or meaning just leaves me feeling sad and unappreciated; like I’m invisible. It’s worse than not receiving a gift at all.

When presented a gift that is completely not me, I force myself to put on my best gracious smile and say, “thank you.” I hope my smile covers up my hurt because even though I’m devastated inside, I would feel worse if I made the giver feel bad about the gift.

I realize that my expectations sometimes get in the way. I do expect people that know me best to have some idea of who I am and to be able to choose a gift accordingly. Or, if they are still stumped, just write a note; tell me why I matter.

Maybe if I can learn to expect nothing, then I won’t be disappointed. I’m not there yet, but no expectations might be just a gift away.

At My Worst

If we wait long enough, there is always a break in the clouds...
If we wait long enough, there is always a break in the clouds…

Last week, I hinted at fiction for this week… that’s still on- for Thursday, I think :) But tonight, as I work through some stuff in my head, I had some thoughts I was moved to share.

When we have a disagreement with someone, we often comment that we’ve seen them at their worst. On the surface, the disagreement seems like a negative thing. In the aftermath, we tell ourselves the hurtful person that emerged and attacked with well-aimed emotional missiles was just a result of the situation. It’s not really who they are.

It occurs to me that this “worst” isn’t always an abnormality in behavior, but rather the truest sense of the person that appeared from behind the mask usually held firmly in place.   What seems like a bad thing turns into a blessing because it provides a glimpse of what lives in the person’s heart. It’s better to know what we’re dealing with.

It got me thinking about what I am at my worst. I’m there right now…

I struggle to keep seeds of resentment from taking root. I battle anger with regular exercise and prayers to “let it go.” I linger in lows where hope could slide through the eye of a needle.  Sometimes I feel like a doormat and I want to shout all the things I bottle up inside, but I refuse to retaliate with hatred. I seek peace instead.  Bad feelings might be around me, but they will not become me.

This is who I am at my worst.  I’m far from perfect, but I could be worse…

What do you think – is our worst a true indication of who we are?

Good Intentions Lost In Translation

My last post was a poem that was on the depressing side, so I thought this week I’d share a funny story.  Next week, I plan to have a fiction piece for one of Emilio’s photos ready to post.  I’d give you a hint of what it’s about… but I don’t know yet :)

Last month, my sons’ cats had their yearly vet visit.  My older son (he’s 12) was concerned about what he thought might be tumors so he talked to the doc about it and they took some fluid to test.  The conclusion:  fatty deposits.  My son asked questions and the doc confirmed that they would shrink in size if the cats lost some weight.

As soon as we got home, my older son announced he was going to take the cats for a walk.  With a raised eyebrow I asked, “A walk?”  He said yes.  So I asked how he planned to do that.  “A leash.”

I stifled a laugh.  I had a feeling I knew how this would go, but I helped him find a harness they couldn’t wiggle out of.  Lizzy was the first victim volunteer.  It was as if she grew ten more legs, but we finally managed to get the harness on her.  As he carried her outside and set her on on the porch, I told him to just let her explore in the yard .  After ten minutes or so, I went outside to find out how the walk was going.  This is what I saw:

"I'm not as into this walking thing as you are..."
“I’m not as into this walking thing as you are…”

When he heard the door open, he turned to me and said, “she won’t move.”  Apparently, his good intentions didn’t translate into feline motivation.  I asked what happened if he picked her up, so he lifted her to standing position and, as soon as he pulled his hands away from her belly, Lizzy fell onto her side again.  We laughed.

He learned a lesson that day:  you can put a cat on a leash, but you can’t make her walk.