Thursday, November 26, 2009

The calm before the storm

Rising early, I met the coming day with a sense of anticipation, a modicum of dread, and just a bit of awww, as in, “Awwww, we’re having our first major holiday together in our home”. I stepped outside to gather my thoughts in the soft morning glow and was greeted by the calls of roosters on the farms nearby. Somewhere else a dog howled mournfully, probably due to it being rather chilly at this point in the day. The best part though, were the calls of the turkeys. It was difficult to tell whether they were excited to know they had been spared this year or if what I heard were lamentations for their fallen brethren. Either way, it made an interesting start to the day.

The Girl and I had talked about this day weeks ago. What began with just a quick thought passing between us, evolved into a day filled with laughter and joy. The Boy and his Cousin played throughout the day, wrestling, running around, screaming, yelling and pretty much being constantly underfoot while Mr. Cat tried desperately to find a place where they weren’t. Personally, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I come from a large family – 6 of us kids split evenly along party lines, but separated quite oddly by our ages. The three older ones being a year apart, a 4 year break and then myself (my parents probably needed it), another break (I KNOW they needed it) and then my two younger sisters, also separated by 3 or 4 years. I try not to think of my parents consciously ‘planning’ because that brings too many other thoughts to the table. I choose to think that their plan was as simple as they go through each day – live life as it comes with the faith that the answers needed to surmount any obstacles will come, while also remembering that they must play an active role to achieve success. My parents’ faith is strong, but it’s also interlaced with realism.

They taught all of us to enjoy life and to remember to be thankful for all we receive, both the good and the not so good. As we children have grown into adulthood, we may have taken different paths when it comes to how we believe and incorporate their teachings, but the base is the same and it’s very strong. While I may have chosen not to practice as they do, it doesn’t mean that I have walked away from that base. I have a simpler way of looking at things and He and I have an understanding – I don’t ask for things I don’t need and He doesn’t give me things I don’t want or things I can’t get through. When I do need a bit of help, I usually call on my namesake, simply because I figure He has enough on his hands currently. As the patron Saint of “hopeless cases and lost causes”, St Jude has always been by my side. Not too shabby to have a personal guardian of such stature.

And now, at the end of the day after a wonderful meal with all the trimmings, I find it a bit difficult to grab all the esoteric things to be thankful for and reshape them into tangible assets. There are, of course, the obvious things: my parents, brothers, sisters and their progeny. They are in my thoughts each day as I’m sure I am in theirs. There are other things that are new to me and so I suppose today it’s important to recognize their significance. I’m thankful not only for the roof over my head and because it’s not just a house, but a home and that I have a wonderful person by my side who helps to make it that way. I’m thankful to be in the presence of a child that helps me to be a better person and who also allows me to teach him what I have learned. I have a second family that has welcomed me into their hearts as well as their homes and friends that accept me as I am while also helping me to grow within myself. I’m thankful for my abilities as well as for the faith and confidence that things will change and my talents will be recognized and appreciated once again. I’m thankful that during this time I’m on a ‘forced vacation’, I can be of service to others. I’m even thankful for the trials and tribulations of life because they strengthen me while teaching me new things about the world around me. I am thankful today and every day for these things and all the other unnamed ones.

I hope that all of you can find something to be thankful for and, maybe more importantly, be someone that others can give thanks for as well.

Friday, November 13, 2009

And now for something completely different....

No, not a man (or his brother) with a tape recorder up his nose or any of the wonderfully silly things that Mr. Cleese introduced. Not the slowly fading green of the back yard (even the weeds add to the ambiance), the soft violence of the trees shedding their frocks, or the impending craziness of the holidays rushing up upon us. They exist whether locked up in digital limbo to be brought out when a giggle is desired, or forced upon us to prove that we have no true power to stop them. Time passes and memories are an instant away from being deleted with the touch of a button. Change is a universal constant.

I'm still getting used to many things: The almost daily visits of George, The Orange Fence Cat; the soft *tap*tap*tap* of the scrub jays hammering winter stores into the lawn, meticulously camouflaging them only to have a squirrel come along and "re-hide" them; another day of making busy work to fill the time that would have normally been spent keeping a network from crashing around my ears, all while trying to find the next career.

Maybe this would normally be a 12/31-1/1 post, but looking back over the expanse of the past year or so, I find that I have gone through some incredible changes. I have found a new life. One that is more complete than it has been previously. Ever. That whole "it's the journey that matters" pop-philosophy thing keeps running through my head. The path here has been circuitous and, at many times, crazy, yet the arrival of this particular moment is a significant stopping point. A rest stop on the road that is for reflection as much as for relief.

I'm happy. Truly happier than I have been for most of my life. There is something about being that person in someone's life who is needed, wanted, desired, and respected above all others that can be the best gift anyone can ever receive. As I stand here on the cusp of my 43rd year, I am thankful for the journey and all the lessons I have learned. More than that, however, I am thankful for the arrival of this point in time. It is a testament to my strength in overcoming adversity and my ability to enjoy life for all the things it brings, both good and bad. Life is what you make it, not what is made for you.

Thank you to all who have brought me here and thanks for all the lessons you have taught me. Without you or those experiences, I would not be the person I am today. Thank you for showing me the esoteric "could be" and ultimately helping me to make it become real. Thank you for allowing me to grow beyond what was and into what is. Thank you for helping me realize that there is more to life than what I was previously offered, that I don't have to settle, that I don't have to just accept what is put in front of me, but that there is a whole menu of selections awaiting me.

On a day that is normally filled with dread and dismay, I stand facing the sun, warmed by it and my good fortune.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Vagaries of Life

I spent the past two days in the company of a good friend who is trying to get his life back together after suffering rather extensive injuries from a motorcycle accident. Three months later, he no longer looks like a steam-punk porcupine. He’s a bit bummed he couldn’t keep all the hardware due to the officious antics of one of the attending nurses, even after getting clearance to keep it from the attending doctor. Stay the course, no matter what anyone else says.

His attitude throughout all this has been amazing and inspiring. He has never lost his sense of humor and has been gracious to all who have been concerned with his care. With all that he has faced and continues to deal with as the road to recovery stretches out before him, he moves forward with power and determination. His strength is truly awesome and I am glad to be his friend.

If there is one thing that all this has reinforced within me is that everyone deals with change in his or her own way. Some take the lemons of life and only see bitterness. They suck on the sourness and make sure everyone knows how unfair life is, and God help anyone who dares not to toe their line. Others, like my friend, will take those same lemons, add their own sweetness and share the results with those around them. In the end, they will be the ones who gain the most because they are most deserved of it.

I have always said, “Shit happens. It’s what you do with it that shows your true character.” I choose to grow flowers and cast the weeds to the side, all the while enjoying my friends and their gifts of lemonade.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I am the Walrus

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."

Here we are, day 3 of NaBloPoMo, and I’m just getting to the first post. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say, but more a trepidation of how to say it. The first post of a blog is probably the most formidable. Like the opening paragraph of a novel, it sets the tone of what is to follow. For example: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…..” In one small paragraph, Dickens captures your attention and, perhaps, your soul. While based on a period in history, he transports you to a world of his own design; he brings you into his story.

Do I think anything I write will be of that same caliber? Not quite. However, it’s difficult to quantify that which comes from within. The mental scribblings which you paste to the inside of your cranium as you go about your daily life can only do so much good there. The process of communicating them to others gives them life. Some are a bit crazy, for sure, but others bring a perspective that may light a spark in someone else. To inspire someone to simply take a moment and think about another point of view is important and ultimately why I’m here. This has been a process that has been simmering slowly over the past few years. My inspiration for proceeding came from The Girl and her own blog (, not to mention the plethora of blogs out there. Everyone has something to say, so why should I keep my light under a bushel basket? Opinions may be like the tertiary sphincter of the alimentary canal, and some are less pleasing then others, but what issues forth has equal ability to pollute as it does to promote the growth of something pleasant. It’s just as easy to fertilize a discussion, as it is to drag it kicking and screaming down into the bowels of the sewer.

My goal is a simple one and my rules for life are equally as challenging: I invite you to visit as I share my toys with you, just please remember that they are important to me. Some are old and some are new, but they have been given to me by those who have great meaning in my life, so treat them with respect. Play nicely or you will be asked to leave.

Welcome to my sandbox.