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The Disney Way

29 Mar

This morning I took some time to cut my hair.  Yes, I do cut and color my own hair.  And when I’m too tired to invest in the effort it takes to transform my brown into black and cover the albino intruders, I pluck  the most prominent of the alien class to buy a little time before hitting the bottle (the dye bottle that is).  Well this morning I had to invest in me a bit, as my hair was so long it had lost all opportunity for style.  My husband and daughter went off for a coffee adventure (down to their local favorite spot) and I proceeded to machete my locks.  For my Sunday ambiance and mood, I put Pandora Radio on to the Sister Rosetta Tharpe station–gospel music at its finest!  As I was chop, chop, chopping, a song came on that was new to my ear.  I have since lost the tune, but the chorus went something like this: “…anything you want, ask Jesus and he’ll give it to you.”  I think it was Mahlia Jackson.  Anyway, tonight as I write this, I honestly don’t remember the exact words, I just remember my response to the notion of them.  My response, this morning while listening was, “I want a happy ending.”  And that thought was followed by a deep sigh.  A sigh because my request is unfounded.

I want a happy ending so badly.  But I want “my” happy ending.  Not having our son (my daughter’s brother) in our little nuclear unit has robbed me (us) of our expected output.  Someone just the other day asked me a simple question, “are you happy?”  Unfortunately I let the truth of my puzzlement slip off of my tongue before I could wrangle the best substitute for the job.  I said, “happiness…I don’t even know what that looks like any more.”  No explanation point needed, it is just a stated fact.  This notion really struck me a few days ago, while I was conversing with our Creator in my think tank of prayer–my car.  As I was asking for help and strength for the day awaiting me, I realized I was also simultaneously complaining about the day awaiting me.  Complaining about my dissatisfaction with an obscure something.  Then the spiritual lightbulb within went on–how do I even know what it is that satisfies me?  The question is a very raw one because it cuts to my core.  When facing the question honestly, I find I have no answer because my soul satisfaction has been tied to my happy ending notion.  Without that in view, I’m still living in the obfuscated survival mode.  Now can you imagine your child asking for a chocolate ice-cream cone, you fulfilling their request, and them (in-between licks) rattling off laments of an ungratified nature?  Well that was me in the car.  I was the child with the proverbial cone and the light bulb that shone illuminated my condition.

Now I have to say, just because I have had this new awareness provided for me, doesn’t mean I am “arrived” at a presence of integrating its message.  I think this will take time for me to apply and/or learn.  After all, I daily face the fact that my fairytale is more Grimm than Disney and this truth bears with it an insurmountable amount of pain.  Yet somehow I get a sense that even just the small step of awareness will help inch me ever closer to healing in this area, and with healing can come an openness (perhaps) to…whatever it is that is now different than I expected it should be.  Which is truly the crux of the matter.  My “should be” is being cramped by my “is.”  And I need to watch-it for that vantage point will disallow for satisfaction to reside, not comfortability, but satisfaction.  Without satisfaction, the soul will be nomadic–ever searching, ever lost in the desert.  The Bent 3 (myself included) are trying.  We are doing our best to navigate our loss, but gosh it is so darned painful and everywhere we turn the unhappy ending of our story is revealed.  But we are faith filled human beings, so we simultaneously realize our unhappy ending isn’t the end all and be all of the story, there is still more yet to write.  Though I would be lying if I pretended this chapter had our seal of approval, it doesn’t.  But at least now I know how to maneuver in my prayer life.  I will stop asking for the chocolate ice cream as I swallow another bite.  I will seek to recognize that my fairy tale ending–or my expectations in life really–aren’t the only link to my happiness.  Even if in this moment they truly are.  That is the best I can do for now.

I have come across many people who, much like myself, have had their expectations in life thwarted.  Some of them have carried on with grace and purpose.  Some have allowed the dissatisfaction of their condition to sour their temperament.  I can say that I do see the warning in the latter…”there but for the grace of God go I.”  Seeing the world through my sorrowful lens of dissatisfied results is not good measure for purposeful intent.  I am thinking willingness just might be a good place to start.  A small step to be sure, though when one is carrying the heavy weight of sorrow upon them, even a tiny fissure can appear to be a monumental chasm.

“Lord please give me patience for others whose own pain might be cause for a surly remark.  May others be courteous with me as I process my own dissatisfied results.  Amen.”

 

IMG_8521

The Empty Room

 

 

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

Shut The Hell Up!

8 Aug

This past weekend I had the pleasure of traveling north to Santa Barbara and meeting my sister and her friend for the weekend.  As we perused the street vendors and kitschy wall hanging plaques we laughed out loud as we read the crass slogans which illuminated truths about our lives.  For instance, one plaque had a picture of a woman in an apron and alongside her read, “The menu for the night? Take it or leave it!”

Now fast forward to Sunday evening when I was again home and surrounded by my motley family (dogs and all), we had a visitor who happens to be expecting her seventh child.  She had a moments reprieve from her “little birds” and came over to our house for a visit (because she acquiesced to my daughter’s request, not because she had some free time with nothing to do!);  now as the dinner hour fast approached, the subject of feeding the family was laid out on the table.  And of course with that subject comes much comedy especially when two or more mothers are gathered and interject their own trials in nutritiously satisfying the varying palates of their brood.  So it was with appropriate context that I shared the kitschy plaque about “take it or leave it.”  To which my friend answered, “I don’t want that plaque, I want one that says, Shut the Hell Up!”  Now you have to understand why this is so funny to me…it is because my dear friend, who has six little ones with another gaining speed, is such a loving mother and wife.  Her passion is taking care of her family and loving the great I AM.  So this crass response was just absolutely hysterical (my word choice here is no coincidence for those of you who love language, look up the etymology of hysterical and you will understand its perfect fit), and of course I love her rendition of the plaque much more than the original.

In fact, I have found myself uttering those very words this morning…

I was in the bathroom, having some private time (or so it should have been), the door was closed and the fan was on (now that should be clue enough for everyone to get the gist of what I was doing in the loo) when my husband decided to have a sit down near the door and converse with me about details of, who knows–I can’t remember, all I remember is the subject was not pressing and the details could have, should have, and would have to wait!!  In that moment, just about an hour ago, I found myself thinking the uttering of my friend, “shut the hell up”!  Now I realize it could be argued that a response such as that is warranted given the circumstance of the situation, however, I personally feel that such abrupt and rude language is never the appropriate manner in which to respond; so I didn’t use it…out loud.  But I thought it.

And the fact that I thought it bothers me.  I will tell you why.

There is an old adage that goes something like this:
“Be careful what you think because your thoughts become your words.  Your words become your actions, and your actions become your character.  And character is everything.”  So truth be told, my thought life has been a bit polluted for a while now.  And when considering the truth of the referenced proverb, I am in for some trouble if I don’t let the thought police come and do a bit of housecleaning.  I am in trouble because I don’t like the slippery slope of negativity that the “shut the hell up” response suggests.  No, not the “shut the hell up” said in a humorous context of kitschy plaques and dinnertime, but the “shut the hell up” thought toward my happy go lucky husband who is undeserving of such a response.  Actually, he is undeserving of me nurturing such responses, as is the rest of my family, as are my neighbors, as are the anonymous drivers on the road, as is the community in which I live or travel to, as is my G-d, as is myself.

Granted, my husband sitting outside the bathroom door while I’m taking care of “business” is definitely not a habit I intend to encourage.  But I will employ a gentler attitude when I stand firm upon the platform of “absolutely not.”  And the impetus to my decision is this:  love builds up, it does not tear down.  If I allow “shut the hell up” to fall from my lips upon the ears of any one of my beloveds, then I have failed to express the true essence of love.  So I avow at this moment to climb up the rope of the slippery slope backwards and by doing so redirect the course of my actions.

Thought Police, permission granted to come aboard!

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