Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Resolved to Mindfully Flourish

 Life seems normal, and then it doesn't. 

Car noise is dramatically reduced. I like that, but it's not normal.

Spring prolifically bursts forth. I love that, but I can't go to parks and view the beauty. Not normal.

The phone barely rings, people are less visible. Solitude is precious, I like it. But it's not normal.

We cook all our meals at home. Healthy, delicious, but it's not normal to be banned from restaurants.

Grocery shopping requires distancing, masks, paranoia really. It used to be a pleasant break in my day to go shopping, to wander the aisles, peruse the products and produce. Now, it's a mad dash in and out with a concise grocery list in hand. It's not normal.

The mail comes and we have to think about what we touch after we bring it in, we must immediately wash our hands, set the papers and packages aside as if they are time bombs, toxic, crawling with deadly creatures, with they very well might be. This is very abnormal, and very disconcerting.

I can't hug my children, my granddaughter, my friends. This is crushingly not normal.

Things seems normal, until they don't.

To say it is unsettling tries to describe the indescribable. 

Everything feels.....off. Out of kilter. 

We have little control. The virus has much control. The virus calls the shots. The virus - the invisible virus - terrorizes us, silently, psychologically, emotionally. It toys with our spirits, our minds, our roles and purpose. Mercilessly. Ruthlessly. Flamboyantly. Only in the sound of its gasping victims and the hissing, clacking rhythm of the ventilators does it speak to us of its power, its intent: to use us up until we die. To kill us. 

Thankfully, our own invisible immune systems fight battles victoriously, for most of us.

Still, we don't know which way it will be for each one of us. Which will we be in the end?

Uninfected and vulnerable for the next wave?

Infected and survived and thus immune?

Infected and killed?

The choice is in God's hands. And He has good reasons for it all.

Still, it is an abnormal world we now inhabit and it suffocates.

I feel immeasurable sadness.

Still, I have a choice in how I pass through this.

I could dance along the rim of self-pity's abyss - tempting, pointless.

I could languish helplessly in the middle of the brutal tug-of-war between social extremes of deepest tragedy and unparalleled acts of selflessness and beauty - exhausting.

I could ostrich my genuine reactions, masking them behind flimsy platitudes, supercilious spouting, or empty-calorie activities - untenable, unhelpful, unkind.

I could conscientiously face the disruption of normal life, look it squarely in its menacing face, grasp tender compassion in one hand, creative determination in the other, review my beliefs, inventory my haves and have-nots, summon truth, beauty, and simplicity, then, map a new purposeful path to walk for however long the abnormal is normal - mindful flourishing. 

The choice is entirely my own - I choose mindful flourishing.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Hemingway Himself

This post is for me. For safekeeping.

Years ago I read this snippet from Hemingway in the preface of my son's copy of A Moveable Feast.  Succinct and so Hemingway, it just struck me. Hard. I don't really know why anymore than that the sentence perfectly exhibits Hemingway to me, his style of writing. For some reason I laugh out loud every time I read it. When reading it out loud to my family, I laugh. They laugh. But do they laugh because I laugh, or do they get the same impression as I? Who knows. We do, however, oft repeat, ". . . and the ring was in the garden," when the subject of Papa comes up.

I dislike the book. I dislike the liberties Hemingway takes with people who were good to him, considered him an intimate friend. He was untruthful as well as unkind. A sad way to treat people. He paid for it for they, as forgiving as they were, never thought of him quite the same again.

Here is the passage, my favorite part in italics:

"For reasons sufficient to the writer, many places, people, observations and impressions have been left out of this book. Some were secrets and some were known by everyone and everyone has written about them and will doubtless write more.

There is no mention of the Stage Anastasie where the boxers served as waiters at the tables set out under the trees and the ring was in the garden.  Nor of training with Larry Gains, nor the great twenty-round fights at the Cirque d'Hiver. Nor of such good friends as Charlie Sweeny, Bill Bird and Mike Strater, nor of Andre Masson and Miro. There is no mention of our voyages to the Black Forest or of our one-day explorations of the forests that we loved around Paris.

The five people seated at the table, left to right are: Gerald Murphy
Sara Murphy, Pauline Pfeiffer, Ernest and Hadley Hemingway in
Pamplona, Spain, summer 1926
It would be fine if all these were in this book but we will have to do without them for now. If the reader prefers, this book may be regarded as fiction. But there is always the chance that such a book of fiction may throw some light on what has been written as fact."

Ernest Hemingway, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba 1960

This little personal post shall sit here, for me, just in case I need to get the quote right.

And the ring was in the garden.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

January 2nd

For me, January 2nd is the beginning of inward time where creativity makes promises along with already sprouting daffodils, where rest is plentiful, where warm glowing indoor moments are created under the sky's blanket of gray, where pensivity dominates, where my sun-hungry body determines it can withstand the gray days of January and February because Spring is coming. Spring is coming.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Perspectives on a Troubling Impeachment

As I ponder and wrestle with the facts and disinformation concerning the impeachment of President Trump, I remember what my dad used to say when I'd go to him for comfort during times of injustice and frustration.

"Cherie, the last chapter hasn't been written, yet."


I also remember that I am a Child of God before I am an American. As patriotic as I am - and I am! - it is important for me to keep my priorities in line and to trust God for all outcomes. It's important not to lean on my own understanding. God's ways are higher than mine. How can I ever expect to comprehend the plans He has for this world, or for a single country, let alone the fate of a duly elected President of the United States? God has proven to me over and over again that He is trustworthy. It's important that I live my life in the light of that truth.

All that being said, in all honesty, I am struggling with the impeachment proceedings. In the midst of this tension I find myself examining the thing that concerns me most, the struggle itself. I want to be on the other side of all of this, to have a conclusion, to have a proper mindset during the onslaughts of weirdness which keep shocking me. It's unsettling to have many leaders of our country and our mainstream media behaving improperly. It makes me feel unmoored somehow. However, to personally respond appropriately is crucial to me. To have no regrets about my responses at the end of the day, that is important to me as well. So, I accept the challenge and keep working at finding my balance once again.

Struggle clarifies. Alas, without times of struggle to help gauge our priorities, trust, belief systems, world views, and responses to the struggles themselves, we would be creatures most pitiful. Working out a proper perspective concerning the knotted information and others' disturbing behavior takes time but, as far as I am concerned, spending that time is non-negotiable. It has to be spent. Posturing an apathetic faux 'trust' shrug is not in my DNA. I can't just set it down, walk it off, rub some dirt in it. Impeachment requires sober thoughtfulness. Grasp and search and solve, these meet my needs, these provide a pathway to answers. From there, wisdom is born.

From deeply experienced, studied struggle come growth and wisdom, things quite valuable to us and to those in our lives as we share our gleanings. Without wisdom, we would be pouring from empty pitchers when comes the need to encourage and guide others. Best embrace the struggle, keep those pitchers full.
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace."
God will write a perfect last chapter.

Yes. Yes, He will.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Grand-mére et Mignonette

This quiet, foggy, early morning my daughter needed to use my jacuzzi tub to soothe back pain left over from a difficult delivery of her precious daughter six weeks ago. Her midwife suggested long, warm soaks enhanced with Epsom salts and the jets running.

Today was the first of such a treatment.

The joy of caring for my granddaughter fell to me. Fed, changed, and bathed the little darling tried to fall asleep. She was a bit fitful. Cute, but fitful. Cooing, but fitful.

Yo-Yo Ma to the rescue! Soothing cello music lulled both of us into restful repose. I'm a genius!

She was out like a light.

Serenity embraced me.

Grand-mére et mignonette.

An hour and a half later my daughter returned to the living room looking calm and pink and content.

"I haven't been this relaxed in.....two years," she said, thinking hard over the length of time.


This is food for the soul. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Grandmother Soothers

Tonight's Surreal Moment: I experienced vivid memory flashes of grandmothers I've known calming fussy babies for overwhelmed mothers even as I, for the first time in my life, found myself doing the same. As a grandmother. Hard to wrap my mind around this ancient tradition, this loving service, this sharing, this blessing.

I remember, as a kid, grandmas cuddling babies, cooing into their ears while the babies' mouths screamed in discontent and tiny limbs thrust rigidly into the air. I remember the ladies looking so calm. So very very calm. I didn't understand how they could be so calm, what with that pint-sized being screaming bloody murder into the ears of everyone in the room. I know I was tense. Why weren't they, I wondered.

I remember being the tired mom who needed a break from soothing my baby. I loved my baby with all my heart, but I was so very tired. Sleepless nights, trying to find a new routine, love and exhaustion, and a body recuperating from pregnancy and childbirth. I remember the grandmothers sweetly offering to help. I remember being amazed, once again, at how calm the grannies were, how they, confident and unperturbed, seemed to enter a different seemingly mystical world, child in arms, whispers flowing from experienced lips to delicate baby ears, rhythmic swaying as in a sacred dance which transcended the generations. The women's demeanor befuddled me. It worked! They soothed the baby, every time.

This evening it was my new-mom daughter who was weary from walking the floor with her out-of-sorts baby. I could see the pain in her walk, her back hurt. I could see the fatigue in her eyes; it had been another long day and her husband was away in night school. She looked at me, and I became those grandmas. Unaware of my assertiveness, I offered to take my only grandchild, brand-new, one month old today, red-faced and howling, from my daughter's arms. She gave her willingly, in trust and hope. Normally, I wait for an invitation to hold the baby. My daughter prefers it that way, and I understand. It's her baby. Tonight, I uncharacteristically offered. She gratefully accepted.

As I meandered around our cozy, warmly-lit home, tiny child on my shoulder, I patted and rubbed her back as she cried and squirmed so pitifully. Into her precious ear I spoke grandmother words, words that easily came.

"It's okay if you need to cry. You go ahead and cry, my little bambina. I will stay with you. You are safe. Your mommy needs a rest. Let's give her a rest."

I cooed. I hummed. We swayed. As calm as could be, confident, too.

How did this happen? I have never been comfortable soothing babies other than my own. Normally, I am tense and anxious.

But this evening was different.

I heard my daughter conversing quietly with her dad in the other room. They were confident in me as well. But I felt no pressure. No, instead I imagined gentle hands on my shoulders, hands of all the departed grandmothers in my timeline as if welcoming me to the Grandmother Soothers Club. I had flashbacks of particular women who set the example for me so many years ago, role models. I felt that here was the moment that all those other moments led to: my moment to step up and comfort a grandchild so that my own child could have a respite. I felt such honor! Still do.

To be spiritually connected to my family timeline both forward and backward, as well as in the present, thrills me and humbles me.

Grandmothers are important. To be a grandmother in the vein of my ancestral grandmothers is my challenge and my goal.

They set the bar quite high.

'Riders on Earth Together'

 "To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold - brothers who know now they are truly brothers." ~~ Archibald MacLeish

A picture of the our planet globe floating in the vast dark, starry beyond would better fit MacLeish's poetic quote, this I know.

However, the two birds, one living, one ceramic tile, depict brotherhood to me somehow, a knowing, a familiarity, a symmetry of form and beauty. Yes, the living bird doesn't see himself in the painted bird, it's all just a good camera capture. 

Yes, we beings created in the image of God can see beyond the mere physical to the poetic, to analogy, to discovering something relatable in the idea of brotherhood depicted in the photo.

MacLeish sees 'riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold.' Isn't that what we are? Can we recognize that though we are not exactly the same in intellect, emotion, and  spirit, that in form and essence we are the same. 

We are the same species. To recognize this fact, to grasp it, is to understand the brother as riders on the bright loveliness that is Earth. There is no escape, not yet anyway. 

Would it not behoove us to behave as brothers who get along? Would we not all benefit from knowing that to foul our brother's nest is to foul our own? On the other hand, is it not true that to beautify and benefit our brother's existence is to beautify and benefit our own?

I'm not referring to environmentalism or diversity, or climate change or globalism or any sort of one world government. 

No, I am referring to common respect, to civility, to unity because we are all in this together. 

Yes, we have differences and we have the freedom to pursue those differences. The differences can occur without division. Respect for privacy allows for differences. Basic civility does, too.

Too much chatter about how we should all live and how we should all expect others to live, how we should think, what our dreams for the world should be have drowned out any soft and reasonable voices of  commonality between Earth's occupants. We all really want the same things: to be safe, to be fed, to be loved, to be happy, and all of these for our loved ones as well. It's up to each of us to make those things happen. We are not, after all, our brothers' keepers. 

Is it not possible to see each other as similar to ourselves and thus give each other the grace to reasonably pursue our safety and happiness in ways that suit us?

Yes, there are weird things going on in the world. Odd and strange and abnormal things and harmful things. Fringe things that exist on the edges. But most of us do not participate in those odd, strange, abnormal, harmful things. Those things get the bulk of attention, but we don't relate to those things, those outer edge fringe elements. That is not what I'm talking about.

Cannot we, as a species and as individuals cut through the noise, listen to that still small voice that says, "We are the created. He is the Creator. Let's focus on His principles, His ways."

Therein lies the problem.

We do not all hear His still small voice. 

Some hear another voice, a malevolent voice, a lying voice.

Where do we go from here?

We do the best we can. We realize our brotherhood as best we can. We love and offer grace as best we can. We take care of ourselves and our own.

And offer a helping hand to our fellows riders whenever we can.

Because we understand that we truly are riders on earth together.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Social Media, Mental Dullness

Since I've begun using social media - and I only use Facebook with less than one hundred 'friends' - I notice I have become duller in my thinking, in my creativity, in my mental clarity.


This information was discovered just now as I searched my five blogs for a certain post, which I never did find. In wondering why that particular post was so hard to find, I tallied up my post count. Over one thousand posts since 2006.

What? Over one thousand posts? I let that sink it for a bit. How in the world did I do that?

Sure, many people have created more posts than I.

But did they post them while home schooling four children?

While being Highly Sensitive People, easily overwhelmed?

While being married for decades to a husband with Low-Spectrum Autism?

While doing home additions, planning weddings and funerals, gardening, making meals, cleaning house, running an online business, doing the family finances, learning two foreign languages, planning extensive overseas vacations, and otherwise just being the Girl Friday to a family of six and then eight?

Well, maybe they did.

But I am stunned that I have written each post. And they are good posts, writings that inspire and encourage and challenge me still today.

This is an unedited post, written quickly for the purpose of marking what I hope will be a turning point, a point at which I turn back to operating with a clear mind rather than one dulled by social media, which frankly has done me very little good and a whole lot of harm.

I do love my friends, though.

When they come to my Facebook page.

And engage.

But I'm not going to wait there so pathetically anymore.

I miss creativity. I am sad that my post count has drastically waned.

I am happy, however, to have this rope thrown to me to, pulling my stuck mind from the mental quicksand of Facebook.

On with life!