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Living with “No”

20 Sep

It wasn’t too long ago that my husband and I were living with, “Yes.”  And with, Yes, came some fun opportunities.  Hollywood parties, cavorting with celebrities.  Travel possibilities.  In fact, Yes is quite fun to be around.  She is very pleasing on the eyes.  Her scent is fresh throughout the day.  Yes is never tired, she is never boring.  She is a grand adventure!  The morning was exciting to wake up to, while she made our life her home.  But then slowly, one packed suitcase at a time, she began her move away from our world.  Oh she was kind about her departure.  Never once did she utter an unkind word.  She left no abrasive lesions upon us, and even her scent lingered for a while–long after her goodbye was said.  I miss her as our house guest.  Her presence brought sunshine when the sky provided none.  She, was a friend I like to have.  “Yes” is good company.

…now we are living with “No.”

No, is not so bad.  He, too, is not unkind.  Nor is he selfish.  But No, is blase.  He bears no scent.  He shines no light.  Being with him provides no adventure.  And travel does not seem to be to his liking.  And while he is a part of our life, our chores seem more abundant.  The spring in our step not so springy.  The gray of the day permeates, and sleep does not bring sufficient rest.  Though I would prefer to exchange his presence for his predecessor, it seems the good Lord has it in His will for us to entertain the present house guest a while longer (another aspect to No is the end of his stay is occluded, thus leaving us in the dark as to when he departs).

I honestly wouldn’t mind his living with us so much, but while having him here I have picked up certain habits that I’m not too fond of.  For instance, while living with Yes, I was motivated to care for myself and invest in activities that provoked excitement.  Waking up to No every day, I am struggling to even remember what those things were that used to motivate me.  Funny thing is, No doesn’t take up too much space but his stature hovers over much of our life.  So much so that I find myself pulling in ear marks of Yes, such as in my clothing, to help offset the drudgery of No.  For instance, I have resurrected my 1970’s floral print pants and am wearing them in circumstances of monotony (such as to the Long Beach VA).  Vintage Floral Pants

I have also taken to wearing a dress while walking the dogs.  Who needs exercise clothing when one can sweat in style!  I admit, the Nike’s are not the best accessory to my Leon Max creations, nor my Brian Bent’s for that matter.  But I am finding a glimmer of joy within the sheer absurdity of how I look as I ambulate, perspire, and shine while ‘Mutt and Jeff’ tag along on leash. 🙂

Fashion by Brian Bent

A Brian Bent original

I even thought I would fool my freeloading boarder by deciding to grow out my hair.  That’s right, my hair grows whether No wants it to or not.  However,  yesterday as I was readying myself to leave the house my daughter shyly asked, “Do you like your hair like that?”  To which I answered, “NO.”  With a sigh of relief she said, “Oh good.”  ‘Oh good’ was all she gave me…obviously the influence of Yes had worn off of even her.

So here I am, living with No.  He is a tough guy to be around.  And to help offset the heaviness of his presence, I am learning how to use new tools.  You know, the ones in the toolbox that are there but one hopes to not have to use.  One such tool is the “art of redirecting.”  That is right, I am redirecting my thoughts to the time of Yes, when I am faced with another No answer.  Another such tool is the “reminder wrench.”  The reminder wrench is used when thoughts of abandonment try to ease their way into my soul.  I take the wrench and use it to remember the word of encouragement from the Holy Word that says, “I shall never leave you nor forsake you” (Deut 31:6).  And, from the 55th chapter of the book of Isaiah:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”

The ‘reminder wrench’…a good tool!  I know there are other tools still in the box, untouched.  It could be that I will have to peruse the contents and learn, yet another, instrument of peace, motivation, excitement, and elation before the year is through.  But for now, the ‘redirector’ and the ‘reminder wrench’ are doing the trick.  I have even borrowed a necessary item from my neighbor…the tire pump.  Yep, the tire pump is a good tool to have on hand for when No takes a nap.  Oh the places to go with just a few pumps of air.  More on that next time…

Raleigh bicycle

My Raleigh and Me

Look What the Cat Dragged In

17 Aug

I am readying myself to attend a two day wedding affair.  And though such a celebratory event should bring forth prose or poetry reflective of the joyous occasion, I don’t have time to come up with anything at the moment.  The following was written by me during a very dark time in my life.  No, not last year when my son Cole was diagnosed with the brain tumor.  It was written in 2008, six months after I had nursed my mother-in-law through horrific suffering and then removal of life support.  I came across this writing while searching my files for a piece I had written on love.  If anything, I can look back at my struggle to live by faith and realize that a yielded spirit to the will of G-d, above all else, brings forth a great presence of peace.  It is almost as if my time with her was a ‘boot-camp’ preparation for what was awaiting me(us) with my son’s diagnosis.  At any rate, I don’t have much time to ramble on about it because I need to pack my case and hit the road.  Take from it what you like, or leave it all together.

“I was just thinking…

My package is being torn apart…the package I bought into.  If I do this, I will yield that.  And I have done this, and it hasn’t yielded what I expected.  The fault is putting my faith in the package, not in G-d’s will above all else.  And while I am getting to a place where I am willing and fully accepting of G-d’s will and not putting expectation in the package, the disappointment, for me, lies in my disillusionment with my failed expectations.  Thus, the pain, or hardship, for me is in the inner struggle I still have between G-d’s will and what I thought my actions or faith would yield.  No man can fix that!  The words of men cannot comfort me here.  I am on my own with G-d and his timing to meet me in this.” 4/2008

I am happy to report that the good Lord did meet me.  He brought me out of the darkness and I have not been without his peace since.  Even when,  a year or so ago, my son looked as if he would be a vegetable for life.  Our G-d is faithful.  The great ‘I AM’ can be trusted.  My son is not a vegetable and we are not alone in our struggles.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Spark Notes

10 Aug

Today’s title, ‘Spark Notes’, has been patiently awaiting my attention while in the holding cell of my “drafts” folder.  In fact, my opportunity and drive to write, this week, has been somewhat prolific.  And I say, “take it while I can get it,” because I expect next week to have to linger on the tails of my past three postings (this one included).  I have even had time this week to peruse a few blogs I have been introduced to over the past year.  I feel much accomplished, as far as having invested in a few writings and readings that give me a little spark.  AAAhhhh, my segue into the title at hand.  What is your spark?  What is mine?

Now obviously I cannot answer the question for you.  But I can share a bit of the sparks in my life, and in that, in the lives of my nuclear family.

For me, dyed black hair is a pleasure I enjoy.  And if I encounter true, naturally black hair, elation wells up within me.  I began dying my hair black back in high school.  My then boyfriend (who happens to now be my husband) and I bought a bottle of some sort of “cover the gray” black rinse and we applied it, each to the other, without the use of protective gloves (uh oh, in the category of teenagers this could sound like a covert innuendo–I promise it is not).  And because we used our skin exposed hands for the job, we consequently went through the next month with the evidence not only imprinted onto each of our strands of hair, but also emanating from every skin pore on the palm of our hands.  The box said, “washes out with several shampoo’s,” and though our hands recovered after a months time, my long tresses did not.  In fact two years after the occasion, on my wedding day, my long hair was sporting a half and half d00…the top half naturally brown and the bottom half unnaturally black.  My husband, on the other hand, had shaved his hair off long before our betrothal.  Now in between that time and now I have experimented with reds and blondes and blacks.  I like the reds though I don’t like them with my skin tone.  Blonde, I am just not.  So black it is for me.  And though it began as a love affair with the color, it has sadly become my battle cry against father time and his minions in white.

The Black Bottle

Naturally, unnaturally beautiful!

I realize that sharing hair dye as one of my “sparks” is a little weak…at face value.  But truly my greatest spark comes from humor.  Humor in all things, aging included.  And in consideration of the humorous undertone of the black bottle bit, you can better understand my spark.  I am also fueled by that which fuels my husband and children.  I find their happiness to simultaneously fill my cup (this is a very weird sentence structure–any help on it, if it indeed is incorrectly written, is most appreciated).

Thus I will indulge my fancy further by writing about the newest spark in the Bent clan…

A sailboat.  Yep, a 25ft fiberglass hull vessel.  My husband and son have ventured into this purchase together (one has the money and the other has the brawn–read my past post to guess which is which); and it is through their adventurous spirit the rest of us (my daughter Esther, and I) become sailors.

As most of the readers of this blog know, Cole has suffered a very significant loss in his quality of life.  He was a strapping and strong young United States Marine, prior to having his brain tumor removed.  And now he is dependent upon others due to the physical impairments which are his.  Result of cranial nerve damage from having a growth on his brain stem removed (death was the alternate option).  In all reality, we are so very fortunate to have him alive and in as good of shape as he is in.  We know that, but he doesn’t.  He struggles so much–every day.  Every night.  And so becoming an owner of a boat, alongside his dad, is a step in the right direction.  The hope is that there will be a piece of flint lurking about his new adventures…it will find its way to the concrete of his soul and scrape against it.   And when it does, I pray it will create a spark which will turn into a roaring fire.  A fire within my son’s being that will give him back purpose, feeling, and desire.  I do believe G-d can do this with a little 25 foot sailboat.  I just don’t know when.

Brian and Cole

Gilligan and the Skipper

Cole catching a fish

Fishing off the stern

Yet in the meantime the four of us are enjoying the open seas, the calm of the harbor, and each other…at least we are making every effort in this direction (I am prone to seasickness of all things).  We have yet to spend the night on her, but these warm summer nights are like a siren’s call.  I’m sure it won’t be long before we yield.

Esther at the bow

Ahoy Matey! Esther catching some sea air

My last two posts (‘Shut the Hell Up!’ and ‘Betwixt, Bothered, and Be-Whining‘) came fiercely and quickly as the intervention of my cathartic pen was needed for the health of my psyche.  But this post, this patiently awaiting its time, post…this is my spark note.  Please feel free to share yours.

Brian the Skipper, Cole as Gilligan

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this tropic port
Aboard this tiny ship.
The mate was a mighty sailing man,
The skipper brave and sure….
source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/tvthemes/gilligansislandlyrics.html

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