The Beast

01-21 Flower

It slithers through

subconscious caverns,

slinking around the darkest

corners cloaked by repression,

nourished by denial;

the sweetness, addictive-

the hunger, insatiable.

Shrouded in ignorance,

the beast dances the host

into quick-stepped slavery

in jeweled shackles of depravity…

The beast thrives,

while humanity dies.

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Bjorn Rudberg invited me to check out the First Quadrille at dVerse. The challenge invites us to write a piece in exactly 44 words, using the word “dance” as a verb including an object.  If you’d like to join in, the prompt is still open.

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For those of you who read the poem and are thinking, “huh?” this is where I normally help by explaining what I was thinking when I wrote it.  Unfortunately, I can’t be so specific as to name the addiction (and I can’t say why, either), but I can say I was writing about the  impulse (beast) that lives within, unchecked.  It thrives, hidden by our own denial, gaining strength as it consumes us.  Left alone, that impulse/behavior becomes us and we lose who we used to be.  The frightening thing is, others can see this happening, but the afflicted person is often clueless.

I’m sorry I haven’t had as much time to read and comment on blogs – I have about a week before I need to be out of my house, so things are crazy right now.  It will probably be a couple more weeks before I am able to really get back into things – please be patient with me!  Have a beautiful Thursday :)

Filled Slate

Another page turned,
365 days of memories
fresh in my mind;
like too-thick paint
on an oil-slicked surface.
I wake to the problems
of so many yesterdays,
yet resolve to remain resolute
in my desire to see hope
where I once saw darkness.
It’s hard to lift my chin
and I search my heart for praise
clutching a half-full glass,
trusting it will never be empty-
rather, overflowing with counted blessings.

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post- it just makes me smile :)
This picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post- it just makes me smile :)

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As I do with poetry, I’m going to explain the thoughts behind the words I chose.  I wrote this poem on the first day of the year.  I admire those who approach the new year with such a strong sense of hope and excitement for what the next 365 days might hold.  I want to hope- I really do, but if hope was a candle’s flame, reality would be the wind gust gathering the strength to snuff it out.

I woke up on New Year’s Day, hoping my heart would feel giddy anticipation for the promise of a new year; a clean slate of sorts.  Instead, my consciousness noted the fact there is no clean slate – my slate is already filled with the stuff that’s happened the last year, and it’s too gunked up to be wiped away.  Before the end of the year, I received a confirmed diagnosis of the culprit of my younger son’s pain:  juvenile arthritis, specifically, ankylosing spondylitis.  (He is an amazing kid who happens to turn 10 this week.)  The new year doesn’t change the fact I’m left with choices that don’t feel very much like choices at all.  The first seven lines of the poem speak to this.

Even under the weight of reality, I still want to hope and remember the ways I am blessed.  I spent most of 2015 in a suffocating darkness where I could see no reason for my next breath.  I don’t make resolutions, but I do resolve to do everything I can to not go there again.  Praise is a chore at times, but I want to trust with all my heart that under the thorns of my burdens lives a joy I couldn’t fully appreciate without the struggles.  The last part of the poem is a pep talk to myself to not let my past hog-tie my future and take away my ability to experience joy.

May you find peace today, tomorrow, and the days following- even during trying times.  Have a beautiful Wednesday!

The Right Time

Sometimes we don’t have the benefit of knowing when our words or actions affect someone else, and sometimes we can’t see how or why things happen.  This post is about a chain of events that has affected me deeply- where everything happened at the right time; so perfectly that I know it’s more than coincidence.  This post may get lengthy, but I do hope you take time to read it.

I saw this rainbow when I stopped at the store at just the right time
I saw this rainbow when I stopped at the store at just the right time

I’ve wanted to write this post for nearly two weeks, but I couldn’t figure out where to begin.  Now I’m thinking it simply wasn’t the right time because more has happened since the initial events I wanted to write about.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving, I sat in church as the pastor delivered one of the most dreaded sermons: giving.  It has to be one of the most uncomfortable topics to discuss, both for the pastor and the congregation.  I have sat through many of these sermons, and frankly, have found some of them to be offensive and condescending.  I felt differently this time, though.  I heard the right words at the right time.  The thought came to me that I should write and let him know.  Just as quickly, I told myself that was crazy talk because of our history.  Here’s a brief summary:

I won’t go into a lot of detail because my kids could possibly get their noses out of their games and come across this blog, but earlier this year, after I filed for divorce and other things didn’t convince me to change my mind, my husband scheduled a counseling session for us with my pastor- behind my back.  He isn’t Christian and rarely attended church, so I saw it as manipulation (also concluded by other things he’d done.)  I went to the session, but felt forced into it.  The pastor affirmed that divorce is wrong and made a comment about how my hardened heart would cause me trouble in the future.  I was upset because I felt unfairly judged, but I continued to attend church, however, avoided the pastor when possible.

Still, for nearly a week, my thoughts drifted to the pastor’s words from the giving sermon.  On Saturday night, I wrote an offering check to give on Sunday.  I then penned a hand-written note to the pastor and folded it around the check before sealing it in the envelope.  In this note, I admitted that I had been thinking I would give an offering once my credit card bills were paid and I wasn’t living in a house I couldn’t afford and I now realized that this showed my lack of faith in God.  That check was a symbolic leap of faith to show that I was finally putting my trust in God that He would provide.  I also wrote that I didn’t really feel welcome there since the counseling session, but the money was for God not the church.  I wrote other things- a full page, in fact, but I can’t remember exactly what.

To my surprise, I received a letter from the pastor.  I don’t check my mailbox often, but I did on my way to work on December 9th (over a week after he wrote it.)  In this letter, he told of how he’d been discouraged because the offerings once again didn’t meet budget.  Some of his exact words:  “I said to myself, “You know, I’m not going to preach on giving anymore because it never makes a difference.  I don’t know how people can take it so lightly.  Then I read your letter.  Wow! It didn’t raise the offering any, but it reminded me of the real truth that it is God’s money and He always provides.  Your letter was like the voice of the Lord to me.”  He then assured me that I was welcome there and to let him know if I needed financial or emotional support.

I teared up.  My words reached him at just the right time.  And the knowledge of that reached me at the right time as well.  I would never ask for a handout, but knowing emotional support was available came as a relief.  He ended the letter instructing me to be at ease and know they were here for me.  Life didn’t feel nearly as heavy.

That is where I first thought this post would end, with the message that we should never shy away from complimenting or showing love because it could very well be a case of the right words or actions being delivered at the right time.  But like most late-night infomercials, life said, “but wait… there’s more!”

The same day I read the letter from my pastor, I got home from work to find a pallet of pellets sitting by my front door.  (Pellets are a type of fuel made from recycled wood products and sawdust and are packaged in 40-lb bags.  I use these in my pellet stove to heat the house.)  I searched the plastic wrapping and found the store phone number and called because I knew there was a mistake.  The woman looked up my information and said, “aw, that’s so sweet…. all it says here is ‘gift.'”  I asked if she was serious and she said, “sweetie, someone gave you a $300 gift, be happy.”  I was, but I still cried.  I have no idea who did this, but I hope they know how grateful I am. I’m able to keep the house a little warmer, which is good for my younger son (that is another post.)

This is what a pallet of pellets looks like after I unloaded it into my garage
This is what a pallet of pellets looks like after I unloaded it into my garage

The gift of heat came at the right time.  Knowing I have what I need to heat the house until at least mid-January lifted a huge burden.  My house has been on the market since before summer and I’d been told winter months are slow for real estate, so I settled in for a long winter.

A few days after that generous gift, an offer came on the house – it’s now in escrow.  I found another (much smaller) house and she accepted my offer.  Inspections are next week.  It’s all happened so quickly and it’s a blur – especially during the holidays, but it’s all happened at exactly the right time.

Last week, I qualified for a home loan.  Even with the worst-case spousal support payout to my soon-to-be-ex, I qualified.  More relief.  As I was reading through the required documents, I saw ‘divorce decree’ listed.  The loan officer confirmed that the final decree was needed to fund the loan.  Trial is scheduled near the end of January, and my new house is scheduled to close the beginning of February.  If my house would’ve sold during the busy summer season, I wouldn’t have been able to get a loan.  I didn’t know that.

All of this is proof to me that even if things don’t happen on my time, they do happen at the right time.  It’s also shown me there is comfort in loosening my white-knuckle grip on control and trusting that God will provide.  I have a feeling that as I learn to share more freely, I will experience some positive life-changing side-effects.

If you’re reading this, it means you survived this lengthy post.  Thank you for not giving up!  I will keep up with blog reading as best I can, but the next month or so will be really crazy for me.  Just know, it is only temporary :)

Have a beautiful Monday and I hope you enjoy the blessings of the season!

Purple Nails, Sleeping Kitties & Ugly Sweaters… Life Is All Over The Place!

There is something I really want to write about, but I’m forcing myself to sort of stay focused.  There are some things that I need to close the loop by updating you about what has happened, and I’ve heard that loose ends should be tied up quickly before readers lose interest.

Uh oh.  I waited too long, didn’t I?

I could tease you like they do on the evening news, when they give you a little tidbit that seems interesting, and then follow it by adding “after the break.”  But I won’t do that because that’s annoying!  So I’ll get right to it…

In this post way back on October 24th, Timothy asked in a comment if I decided what color I was going to paint my nails.  I cringe when I look at the date and see that it’s taken nearly 2 months, but yes, Timothy, I have!  And a picture’s worth a thousand words:

My most favorite color- purple! Is it just me, or is "purple" fun to say? Never mind...
My most favorite color- purple! Is it just me, or is “purple” fun to say? Never mind…

In my last post, I previewed my ugly sweater creation, and a couple of you were curious about the results of the contest.  SO, for the two of you who were interested, or feigned interest, haha, here’s a picture (another thousand words… this post is getting long):

I won the ugly sweater contest and received a generous gift card. Now that I think about it, I hope the votes were just for the sweater and not my hair!
I won the ugly sweater contest and received a generous gift card. Now that I think about it, I hope the votes were just for the sweater and not my hair!

In this recent post, I stated that I was on a mission to find out how many pictures one could take of sleeping cats.  In the time since that post, I’ve added several to my collection (photos… not cats- yet!)  Here’s my favorite one:

This is how I feel as I wrap up writing this post. Nighty-night!
This is how I feel as I wrap up writing this post. Nighty-night!

There is lots going on, and so much more I want to write about, but I think this post has been random enough.  Until next time, have a wonderful week!

Ugly Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

My ugly sweater
My ugly sweater

The holiday party at my work is on Wednesday and they are having an ugly sweater contest.  When I first read the memo, I thought, “meh.”  Then the more the idea settled, the more fun it seemed.  I searched through thrift store racks for something so ridiculous no one could argue the ugliness.  Then, I began to think of ways I could make it look even worse.

Last night, I finally got around to sewing strings of bells onto my sweater.  I finished one sleeve and examined it, convinced it might just be hideous enough to win.

And then my older son walked into the room (he’s thirteen.)

“Why are you sewing bells onto your sweater?” he asked.

“Because I’m making my ugly sweater even uglier.”

“But it’s not ugly, it looks kind of pretty.”

Pretty?!  I stopped to look at his expression, certain he was messing with me, like when he convinced me a bee had landed in my hair.  (There was no bee, but I hope he enjoyed the show, because I have not forgotten… and I will get him back!)

“It looks fancy,” he said.

Well, fancy wasn’t what I was going for.  I decided that ugly was in the eye of the beholder.  And then my thoughts led me down the loopy path that became this post…

Ribbon and cats do not go well together
Ribbon and cats do not go well together

The gifts under my 4-ft Walmart tree are not adorned with bows or ribbon.  I have never lived with a cat who could not resist chewing and ingesting the ribbon.  It’s like ribbon is woven with tuna and catnip and is too irresistible to the feline palate.  Never mind the intestinal issues that follow… not even that will deter them.  This is why I have a strict no ribbon policy and no matter how much the kids beg for the “pretty stuff”, it won’t happen.

Some might see our gifts as not aesthetically pleasing; even ugly.  I’m so used to “plain” presents that I see the assorted wrapping papers and think, “pretty!”

Again, ugly is in the eye of the beholder.

Here’s where my thoughts looped again, and I associated this statement with people.  I’ve met people who, on the surface, seem ordinary or dull, but once I got to know them, they were quite interesting- whether it be fascinating travels, quirky sense of humor or unique hobbies.  What a pleasing surprise that is!

On the other hand, it’s a crushing disappointment to be enamored by the fluff and frills, only to discover that once all that’s gone, there’s nothing of substance.  When that happens, it’s hard to remember what I found so beautiful in the first place, because all I could see was the ugliness beneath it all.  It’s like even the memories were a fraud; they became fuzzy and disconnected from the reality I learned.

Ugly really is in the eye of the beholder.

Age has taught me a few things.  Like, gravity happens, but it matters less and less.  And, maybe my parents understood more than I gave them credit for.  And, the best friends are those who don’t need to be everybody’s friend.

And finally, real beauty isn’t observed in a glance.

Have a beautiful Tuesday (even if you happen to be donning an ugly sweater!)