If Only I Could “Netflix” My Life

There's only one way to discover where the path leads... follow it!
There’s only one way to discover where the path leads… follow it!

Last night I found myself in an unusual position:  it was 7pm and neither kid was watching the TV.  I decided to nab the opportunity to watch another episode of a series I started a couple weeks ago on Netflix.   Apparently, this has the same effect as when I pick up the phone to call a friend, or sit down to balance the checkbook- a few minutes into it, my younger son plopped down on the couch next to me.

“What are you watching?”

“An episode of a TV show I found on Netflix.”

After a few moments of silence.  “Is that guy his dad?”

“No, they didn’t meet until just now.”

“Why did  he call him Father then?”

“Because he’s a priest and that’s what people call priests.”  I glanced over at him.  “Did you want to watch one of your shows?”

“No, I want to see what happens.”

So we watched the show, but not in silence.  He had lots and lots of questions.  I had some answers, but not all.  See, I had the benefit of seeing the 19 episodes prior, so I knew the history.  History is good, but it doesn’t necessarily give an obvious clue as to the future.

It struck me that this is a lot like life.  It would be be nice if life were like Netflix, where I could watch the “good” parts over and over, rate the “bad” parts with one star and remove them from my watch list, and skip ahead when I just can’t wait to see what happens next.

But life isn’t like that.  Life is “old school” – I only get to see it real time, as it happens.  It seems like the difficulties and struggles linger while the peaceful times are as brief as a single breath…maybe two, if I’m lucky. I know where I’ve been, I know where I’m at, but I have no idea what happens next.  I have no choice but to meet one sunrise after another and take it in as it unfolds.  I may not like all the “parts,” but with God’s grace, surely I can frame my view so I see each moment as something to cherish.

Have a beautiful weekend!

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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.

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.

Being A Good Friend Is Hard

Sometimes a good friend can see what we don't...
Sometimes a good friend sees what we don’t…

Good friends can often see our blind spots.  It takes courage to tell us stuff we don’t want to hear, but they are there to comfort us when life is rough.

Recently a friend shared an observation which she’d kept to herself for years. What she said kind of hurt, but I wish she’d spoken up sooner. As I thought about obsessed over it more, I cycled through the possible motivations for silence and sharing. It could be a desire to not sway my choices (though decisions made on inaccurate observations are inherently flawed.) It could be that she doubted the strength of our friendship (sometimes when told something we don’t want to acknowledge, we lash out.) Maybe she kept her silence until she thought I could handle the truth. It could be a combination of these, and other factors. I try not to dwell on the reasons I cannot know, and instead, appreciate the fact she finally did speak up.

Sometimes life feels like a corn maze.  The greater design of my life is a mystery to me. I’m so focused on the day-to-day that I can’t see anything beyond the space my feet occupy.  Actually, I tend to see what I want to and rationalize the rest. That’s where a good friend can be invaluable.

Offering superficial approval, passive agreement, and placating compliments is easy. Being a good friend is hard.

My hope is that we can all have a good friend- and be a good friend to someone.

Too Close To Know (Poetry & Inspiration)

10-20 web

Gossamer threads

of gauzy dreams

lead me to the precipice

of altered reality.

Meaning unknown,

words scroll through my mind-

a late-night ticker tape,

a restless brain evading sleep.

Forces within, engage

in subconscious battle,

outcome, undetermined;

consequences, unforeseen.

Analysis becomes

a useless exercise in futility.

The obvious is obscured

by intimate familiarity.

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Poetry can be hard to read because often it is vague with little clues as to interpretation. I don’t want to take away your ability to assimilate my words to what you know, but in case you read this poem and came up blank, the following paragraphs give an idea as to where my thoughts were at and what lead to the writing of the poem.

This poem was written over several days, as seemingly random ideas came to mind. The first half in italics occurred as I tried to shut my brain down for the day. My mind doesn’t churn out anything useful after about 11pm, but still, it insists on idling until wee hours. What a waste.  These lines were me trying to find meaning in these fuzzy thoughts.

Now about the last two stanzas…

This morning, I thought about how another weekend away from the computer/internet has left me behind on writing on reading. I used to get worked up over it. Now, it seems, it doesn’t bother me so much. On the surface, it seems like a good thing… going with the flow. Maybe I’ve relaxed- accepting I’ll catch up, because I always do. But of course, being an over-thinker, I couldn’t let it go at that. I began to wonder if this shift was cleverly-disguised complacency; whether I’ll find myself in a few months not even bothering to style my hair, or staring at a black computer screen because I forgot my log in password.  Or worse- not knowing where I my laptop is!

For months, I’ve been unable to determine the root cause of my pseudo-complacency, which has shredded writing goals and given me an excuse to shrug off certain things. The last two stanzas are me acknowledging that maybe I’m just too close to me to figure out exactly what makes me tick.

This could be why I can offer advice to others, but rarely see when I should keep it for myself 🙂

If I can cajole myself into finding some sort of grindstone to put my nose to, I hope to ‘scare’ up some fiction to post later this week. ‘Scare’… October… Halloween… get it?

I know, that was bad! Sadly, I don’t have late-night to blame.

Hope you had a beautiful start to a new week.  Until next time…