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."

True.

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.

Magic!

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.

Lazy-brained.

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!


Monday, March 04, 2019

Tea and Me

Piccadilly Tea, Whittard of Chelsea
"Believe it or not, most teas come from the same type of leaf - it's all in the planting, the picking, and the processing, you see..." ~~ taken from under the flap of a package of Piccadilly Loose Leaf Tea from Whittard of Chelsea, purchased in England

I do love tea, but not all flavors.

Some, like Piccadilly, excite and soothe me both at once. Intoxicating aroma when dry, delicious flavor when properly steeped, a bit of cream for me, please and thank you.

Some teas disappoint.

Upon learning that most teas come from the same type of leaf my mind begins to churn. Compare the fact that certain tea leaves are the starting point for most varieties of tea with the idea of human beings beginning as babies who grow into adults. While it's the picking, planting, and processing of tea which bring about varied results, it's in the childhood, chances, and choices where differences in adults are determined.

Okay, maybe in my alliterative attempt I have restricted the analogy. In any case, you are clever enough to flesh out the comparison.

Just as there are tea flavors I adore, and a few I dislike, there are people who bless my life and some who don't. Why the difference?

The difference is partly because of who I have become, and also partly who others choose to be. Not every tea complements every palate, not every person smoothly rubs along with every individual.

In tea - as well as in people - vive la différence!

If the little shrub can be knowledgeably planted, its leaves picked at the exact right moment in order to be thoughtfully processed to create the perfect cup of tea, cannot we likewise curate our lives with integrity in order to form the best possible version of ourselves? Can we not at least try?

I think this idea merits a good amount of steeping, don't you?

Let's take a little tea break, shall we, and mull over the notion that each of us plays a part in who we become, for better or worse. We cannot forever blame our parents, our childhoods, or the unlucky events that came our way for the less than ideal aspects of our lives. That being said, there are certain cards we are dealt that we must simply play. We understand this.

However, within our constraints each of us possesses power, space, and freedom to create. What exhilarates me is realizing that no matter where we find ourselves in this moment - right now - for the most part we don't have to accept what doesn't please us. The choice is ours. We are free to keep doing what we've always done, or change our course a little or a lot. With intentional cognizance we can determine what sort of man or woman we'd like to present to the world, who we'd like to be, how we'd like to move through our lives, what contributions we'd like to make, what experiences might enrich us, and what we'd like to receive from these endeavors. A little tweak here, a little discarding there, and the ever-embracing of the new and intriguing can enliven us not only in the day-to-day but in the long run.

Mixing things up a bit, aiming at a definite goal, taking control and responsibility for the outcomes of our effort can be quite enjoyable and most satisfying. At the very least, we will learn about ourselves, others, and the world around us.

It's all about self-examination.

And courage.
"I believe that happiness comes from looking around us and finding the good and the beautiful." ~~ Letitia Baldrige

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Lessons from a Storm


One simple cluster rose bush
Hibernating
Yet, aha! 
Tiny red buds
Life!

Contrast
Dark Fence
Light white snow
Dark branches
Light gray clouds
Happiness
Fear
Hope
Discouragement
Understanding
Bewilderment
Joy!

Perception in opposites
Supporting the whole
Trains 
Relieves tedium
Forces new vision
Strengthens
Enriches
Clarifies
Wisdom!

In solitude 
And cycles
Life reveals
The already known
Growth persists beneath
Inside
Tenaciously
Dependably
Security!

Truth
In nature
Soothes
Gratitude!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Not of a Kind

Sparky lives in water,
In simplicity.

Funny thing about Sparky,
While new leaves appear now and then,
Sparky stays the same size.
Always.

Sparky remains immature.
Sparky survives.
Barely.

Sparky cannot reach his little shoots
Out toward the sun or receive fresh rain.
Sparky prefers the status quo.
And for Sparky that's okay.
It's all he is capable of being or doing.


Sometimes Sparky grows reactive in anger
When expectations are not met.
Clenching fists and fits
Flibbertigibbet
Sparks, but no fire.
Ever.

Sparky is content to
Merely exist
In self-imposed restriction.
It is safe there,
Insular,
Doesn't take much work,
Just living is not enough...one must have sunshine, 
freedom, and a little flower.
Hans Christian Andersen
Or thought,
Or self-examination.
Sparky baffles his world.
Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility. Sigmund Freud
But Jasmine,
Darling sensuous Jasmine,
Captures air, soil, and water,
Dares, stretches, thrives,
Vibrates with vitality.

Jasmine expands and curls
Supple, dark green tendrils around Her trellis.
She reaches toward the sky,
Spreads wide and tall,
Roots deep and vigorous,
Leaves nourished in sunlight.

Jasmine bursts forth with
Blossom upon white blossom.
Delicate Beauty,
Delicious fragrance carried on the breeze,
Available to all.

Jasmine thrills at life,
Energized by possibility,
Courageous and wise,
Tenacious in hope.
Explores, enjoys, understands.
Jasmine grows.
Jasmine matures.
Jasmine enriches her World.
The secret to happiness is freedom...and the secret to freedom is courage. ~ Thucydides




Wednesday, January 23, 2019

"Only Bad Writers Think That Their Work is Really Good"

You know how, after eating a lousy meal, you feel remorse so strongly that you do something about it? Right away? You make a flavor-rich meal in your home kitchen, or you return to a trusted restaurant knowing your taste buds will be expertly stroked instead of murdered. The bad taste is removed, the high ground restored.

In the same way, reading bad writing can send a person reaching for a sure antidote in fine literature perhaps authored by a curmudgeonly broken angel or divinely-gifted human. Savoring the creation of a wordsmith genius replaces involuntary shuddering with magnificent profundity or delicious bliss or both or more.

In each case, a world is righted.

There are many ways to be poisoned.

Keep antidotes nearby.


Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Here When I Need You

Me, journaling in an olive grove in northern Italy, 2017
When I get to feeling this way - sort of lost in the dreary and solitude that yesterday felt so essentially necessary - I re-read my blogs.

I am a good writer. Why this continually surprises me, I do not know, but it does.

My words set me aright, comfort me, inspire and encourage me.

I don't know if my writing helps anyone else, but I do know it is there for me when I need it, like a trusted friend who completely understands and knows just what to say.

It's a rather remarkable thing when your own creation stuns you.


Gertrude: Copied and Pasted

“The one thing that everybody wants is to be free...not to be managed, threatened, directed, restrained, obliged, fearful, administered, they want none of these things they all want to feel free, the word discipline, and forbidden and investigated and imprisoned brings horror and fear into all hearts, they do not want to be afraid not more than is necessary in the ordinary business of living where one has to earn one's living and has to fear want and disease and death....The only thing that any one wants now is to be free, to be let alone, to live their life as they can, but not to be watched, controlled and scared, no no, not.

~ September, 1943” 
Gertrude Stein