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.

Letting Go, Reaching Out

Nothing says "Jesus lives" like processed sugar...
Nothing says “Jesus lives” like processed sugar…

Yesterday I went for a morning run. I jogged past houses with parents in robes watching their children hunt for Easter eggs. I smiled when the kids squealed with delight and knew they’d found one of the colorful prizes. I remembered those days when my kids would be so thrilled to find a bright orange egg “hidden” in the middle of a freshly-mowed lawn.

My boys are 12 and 9 so they are past this, which does make me a little sad. In fact, my 12-year-old’s reaction to his Easter basket was, “This is so lame. I got up early for this?” Well, he didn’t actually say these words (I don’t know if “lame” is even used by his generation) – I just put words to his grunts and eye rolls. Even the cookies-and-cream Easter bunny and enough candy to send him into a diabetic coma failed to impress him.

I feel both of my kids stretching for their independence and I struggle to step back and let them explore. I let them ride their bikes to the park without hovering over them (but make them call me every hour just to make sure they are okay.) The Easter Bunny must sense my desire to keep reaching out to my sons because they each received a game in their basket, which we can play together. I won’t push it, but if they ask for my time to play, it’s theirs.

My younger son hasn’t quite gotten to the separation age, so I have him for a while longer. My 12-year-old, on the other hand, is horrified at the thought of being seen in public with me.  At home, he will visit with me… sometimes. He may not be reaching out to me, but I have to keep trying.  When the day comes that he does need me, I want him to know I’m right here.

Always.

What Remains

Running low, but not dry yet....
Running low, but not dry yet….

As I was running one morning, this drainage area caught my eye.  At the time, I didn’t know why, but I stopped to snap a quick photo.  For nearly a week, this photo came to mind as my thoughts gathered regarding its significance.  Then, it finally occurred to me…

During heavy rains, this culvert fills with rushing water.  Ducks come to check out the new vacation spot and weeds flourish as the abundant moisture soaks their roots.  As sunny days pass by, the water level depletes until all that’s left are eroded indentions cradling the last evidence that a river temporarily existed.  Eventually, only hardened dirt remains, supporting the most stubborn weeds.  This “barely existence” goes on until the next rain, when the process begins again.

I realized I was drawn to this photo because it is a naturally occurring representation simulating life itself.  Specifically, how I’ve felt for a while now:  drained, like I have just enough energy to exist, and no nourishment for parts of my life that used to thrive.  I’m putting more effort into to finding “rain”- seeking out things that provide sustenance to counterbalance the demands being made of me.  This means devoting time daily to prayer and reading, embracing laughter, and taking in the beauty of nature around me.

More sleep needs to also be part of this. I’m working on that.  Baby steps….

Do you ever feel like this?  What is it that makes you feel alive?

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If I normally visit your blog and I haven’t, or if you have subscribed to my blog in the last three weeks  – please know that I will visit your blog eventually :)  I have over 200 unread emails that speak to my recent neglect, but other demands have cut into my blog activity.  I am crossing my fingers that I will have an hour each night to begin catching up… before I’m completely lost in the monster that is my email!

Thanks to everyone for the prayers and patience.  I feel stronger each day.